2 November 2021: A visa trap; A cultural difference; Spain’s police forces; Halloween and death; & Other stuff.

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops
Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
– Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

Cosas de España/Galiza 

This is a salutary tale for people visiting Spain and planning to come back again at any time in the future. And it’s a classic case of Spanish bureaucracy demanding to see a document you can’t provide. And possibly meaning that – through no fault of your own – you can never, ever come back to Spain. If you live here, warn your visitors from the UK. Or from anywhere else outside the Schengen area, I guess.

In 2019, in the Nordic countries, c.25% of young people aged 18-34 lived with their parents. In Spain it was 65%. This, of course, is a reflection of the high unemployment rate among the young. And of the absence of stigma. And/or of a parental push towards independence. Those of us who left home at 18 see it as a very different – though not necessarily bad – world. One which is in line with the Spanish advice to ‘Live off  your parents until you’re old enough to live off your children”.

A British understatement, if ever there was one . . . You might have been confused on the question of how many police forces there are in Spain and what they all do. If so, see the helpful article below – with a couple of notes from me – on who’s who and whom to call. Warning: You might not emerge much clearer . . .

There’s been yet another death in Galicia from an overturned, cab-less tractor. This time in my barrio of Poio. Will these ever be illegal?

The EU

Exactly the sort of thing which raises doubts about the future of The Project.


Heathrow – Heatrow, in the VdG at least.

Finally  . . .

Halloween: Until a thousand years ago, this was a Celtic festival (Samhain), centred on death. Though not on the past deaths of loved ones but on future deaths during the year’s hardest season. Britain’s conquered Celts – the Welsh – called it Winter’s Eve (Noson Galan Gaeaf*), commemorating the end of the autumn and the harvest season and the beginning of winter. The Catholic Church – again adopting a pagan festival – turned it into something else, centred on its new doctrine of purgatory.

* If you put this into Google Translate (which is, of course, American) you get ‘Halloween’ in English but Víspera de Todos los Santos in Spanish.

Talking of old things . . . Here’s a nice article on the outstanding feature of a place – Yazd in Iran – that I visited some decades ago. 

Kids again . . .   While standing on the pavement in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year-old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that a proper burial should be performed, they found a small box, lined it with cotton wool, then dug a hole and made ready for disposal of the deceased. The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: “Glory be to the Father, Son and into the hole he goes.”

This blog can be seen on Twitter 

and on the Facebook group page – Thoughts from Galicia.  

Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here.


A guide to the different police forces in Spain: The Olive Press

You might have noticed just how many police officers there are patrolling the streets in Spain but who is in charge of what, and whom you should call to report a crime? 

From the green-uniformed officers of the Guardia Civil, to the heavily-armed Policia Nacional, you’ll also see Policia Local and Policia Municipal patrolling urban areas as well as regional police forces, depending on where you are in Spain. The different roles and duties undertaken by each force can be confusing to the outsider. [Something of an understatement]

Broadly speaking, there are 3 different police forces operating in Spain: the Guardia Civil, the Poli­cia Nacional and the Poli­cia Local. But within those bodies there are different departments that take on specialist duties as well as regional police forces and there can be a crossover between them all.

Local or Municipal Police – Policía Local (Call 092)

Recognised by their blue uniforms, these are found everywhere in urban areas with a population above 5,000 people and are attached to and recruited by the local town halls. In some cities, such as Madrid, they are known as Municipal Police while in Barcelona they are called Guardia Urbana. You’ll find them ‘on the beat’ walking the streets, zipping around on scooters or driving around in white and blue patrol cars. They carry guns.  

These are the police officers who will most likely be first on the scene if an incident is reported within an urban environment such as a traffic accident, a domestic disturbance, a burglary or if a denuncia has been made.

Their main responsibilities include:.

– Order and control of traffic in urban areas including parking tickets

– Reporting of traffic accidents in urban areas

– Protection of property

– Dealing with civil disturbances

– Cooperating in the resolution of private conflicts

– Monitoring and safety in public spaces and special events such as fiestas and demonstrations.

– Liaising with other agencies and security forces when required. [There must be a lot of this]

If you need to report a minor crime – called a denuncia – such as theft, parking issues, traffic control or bylaw infringements, this is where you start.

National Police – Policía Nacional (Call 091)

This is an armed civil force that deals with more serious crimes. Unlike the Local police who are overseen by town halls, the national police are managed by the Directorate General of Police and Civil Guard. This means that they are under the authority of the State Department of Security in the Ministry of the Interior. There are over 87,000 Policía Nacional officers, who operate in all the capital cities of Spain’s 50 provinces and others as designated by the national Government. They can be identified by their black uniforms and are normally stationed in larger towns and cities with a population of over 10,000. 

The type of crimes they deal with includes sexual assaults, muggings, violent crime and drug offences as well as organised crime, border control and terrorism.

They are also called in to maintain and restore public order and security at special events such as demonstrations. This means they are often called in when protests take place and have special riot units.

The Policia Nacional are the force responsible for issuing national identity documents such as NIE, TIE, DNI and passports.

National police officers in Spain can often be seen at road checkpoints and border control.

They also have dedicated units charged with:

–  TEDAX (Explosives Unit): Team of specialists in the neutralisation, deactivation and intervention of explosive devices. 

 – Special Operations Group (G.E.O.): Elite unit specialising in high-risk operations.

– Canine Guides Unit (U.E.G.C.): Teams that use police dogs


In certain regions of Spain, the autonomous communities have their own regional police forces that operate as Policia Nacional. These are the Ertzaintza in the Basque Country, the Mossos d’Esquadra in Cataluña and the Policia Foral in Navarra. In the Canary Islands you will also find the Policia Canaria, which works alongside the National Police as an additional police force on the islands.

If you need to report a more serious crime such as robbery or violent crime call 091. You can also visit the Policía Nacional or follow them on Twitter. 

The Civil Guard – Guardia Civil (Call 062)

This is the oldest law enforcement agency and is a military force (with military ranks). However, in peacetime it operates in the same way as the Policia Nacional under the civil authority of the Directorate General of Police and Civil Guard at the State Department of Security in the Ministry of the Interior and has no extraordinary powers. But it also falls under the remit of the Ministry of Defence and in war time or if the country declares a “state of siege” it reports exclusively to it. Officers from the Guardia Civil wear a distinctive dark-green uniform and are responsible for patrolling Spain’s highways as well as rural areas where there is no local police force. A Guardia Civil team from Tráfico is the most likely to arrive on the scene if you have an accident on a main highway outside of urban areas.

They also operate specialist departments including:-

– Nature Protection Service (SEPRONA): responsible for the conservation of nature and water resources, hunting, fishing, forestry and any other nature-related wealth.

– Special Intervention Unit (Unidad Especial de Intervención): teams brought for cases of hostage-taking, counter-terrorism, detention of criminals considered particularly violent and dangerous, riots and the protection of VIPs.

Their remit is far-reaching and they regularly work on joint operations with the Policia Nacional. [Whom I’m sure they treat with the utmost respect  . . .]

Guardia Civil has units of officers that are specially trained in fiscal crimes, cybercrime, explosives, surveillance, counterterrorism, mountain search and rescue, and criminology.

If you are in any doubt about who to call in an emergency you should always ring the main number in Spain, which is 112.