17 February 2022: Water (mis)use; Speedboats and narcos; Disco danger; EU (non)funds; & 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

As mentioned, we have a drought here in Spain. Where per capita use of water is the 3rd highest in Europe – assuming Turkey isn’t really in Europe. This is 7 times more than Luxembourg but only a mere 50% more than France. I wonder what they do with it in Estonia. And here, of course. All those golf courses down South can’t help. Astonishingly, UK consumption is only 54 cubic metres per year, meaning that Spaniards use almost 12 times as much. Room for considerable savings, one might conclude.

I’ve just checked my usage over the last 12m – 82 cubic metres. But this reflects both visitors’ use and leaks. As well as the one-off watering of my (destroyed-by-my neighbour) hedge.

The finding of very powerful speed boats abandoned on Galicia’s beaches is not exactly uncommon. For a few years now, it’s been illegal to construct boats here of more than a certain length. Naturally, the business has moved to other parts of Spain and to (more-convenient) Portugal.

Which reminds me, I think there’s a new TV series on Spanish TV called Narcogallegos. I suspect I’ve mentioned that I like to ask visitors what they think is the source of wealth along this coast. They never come up with the right answer. At least if they’re not Spanish.

As in Pontevedra, no one in nearby Vigo seems to know where the medieval walls of the city are. Or those in power with most to gain from ignorance pretend they don’t. Or didn’t until some passer-by notices that the road construction company has just exposed some remains. I’m reminded of the comment of my late Dutch friend Peter Missler that Spain’s archives are in a shocking state. Possibly not everywhere around the country. Only where money has been short

I suspect it was a mistake to ask the group of 7 ladies I do Pilates with about the La Luna discoteca (in)famous for rapacious widows of a certain age. The one who chats and jokes throughout the class is now talking of having a ‘fiesta’ there. And another has quietly counselled me not to go . . .

The EU

The rift in the European Union deepened yesterday after the European Court of Justice ruled that Hungary and Poland could lose funding worth more than €100 billion for failing to abide by its core values. The judges ruled that Brussels could withhold funds to member states seen to be violating the law on judicial independence, migrant quotas and LGBT rights. . .  EU aid is critical to the 2 countries’ economies. It is worth 5% of Hungary’s GDP and accounts for 3% of Poland’s national wealth. See the article below on the EU’s ‘core values’. I wonder to what percentage of Spain’s GDP EU funding eventually grew, massive corruption notwithstanding.

The Way of the World 

I think we live in the Age of the Bureaucrat but this writer says it’s the Age of Collective Schadenfreude.


Un sambódromo: A sambadrome. Not really any the wiser. So, Wiki to the rescue: ‘Sambadrome’ is an exhibition place for the Samba schools’ parades during Carnaval in Brazil. So, it’s actually Portuguese not Spanish. But it might also be Gallego . . .


These are some of the phrases that have entered modern French, not all of which are yet in modern Spanish, I believe:-

– Le fooding  

– Le shooting (a photo shoot, not a murderous attack), 

– Le co-working  

– Le Start-Up 

Finally . . . 

I’ve long thought robins were gardener-friendly because they can smell fresh earth. Turns out they’ve evolved to think humans are pigs/boars snuffling in the ground . . . Which is a tad insulting. Though they are bird-brained . . 

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.


What are the EU ‘values’ at the heart of the dispute? The Times

What does the European Union mean by “rule of law”?

Traditionally applied to concepts such as judicial impartiality and independence, corruption, legal accountability of politicians and non-discriminatory legislation, for decades rule of law has been largely uncontroversial. Countries with endemic corruption, such as Italy or Greece [and Spain, which always seems to get a free pass on this issue], have, mostly, escaped Brussels decrees on “rule of law” and kept EU funding but the definition has become politicised since applied to newer members.

What has changed?

The definition has been expanded to include the EU’s “fundamental rights and values”, taking it into areas such as LGBT rights, openness to refugees and other aspects of liberalism. Viktor Orban, Hungary’s populist leader, regards “rule of law” as a cultural crusade at odds with the Christian, traditionally and socially conservative majority of Hungarians, a view echoed in Poland.

What has the European Court of Justice ruled?

ECJ judges upheld the legality of a “conditionality mechanism” that would allow the European Commission to cut funding to countries at odds with “community values”. Although seen as a “rule of law” power, it is limited to potential misuse of public money so the freezing of funds could be for technical breaches of areas such as procurement law or judicial enforcement. However, the commission is under intense pressure from MEPs to protect LGBT and abortion rights. Last autumn Brussels told five Polish regional councils they may lose funding unless they abandon a declaration that they are “LGBT-free”. Hungary has been warned over new legislation against “promoting or portraying” homosexuality.

What is happening in Hungary?

Last summer Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, told Orban that his plans for anti-LGBT legislation meant “Hungary has no business being in the EU any more”. But, to begin with at least, the commission is more likely to trigger a funding freeze over procurement rules and corruption allegations linked to EU cash.

And in Poland?

The big problem is judicial independence and ECJ rulings ordering Poland to scrap a politicised disciplinary chamber for its judges. President Duda has recently tried to settle the dispute with new legislation on judicial independence.

What next?

Hungary is expected to be first in line to trigger the funding freeze. However, the procedure is slow and will take at least six months to play out, probably delaying any realistic prospects of cuts to funding until next year.


  1. As regards water usage, do the British not bathe and shower as much as other nationalities? Years ago, my Spanglish niece returned home from school upset because her classmates had accused the English of not showering every day. Or maybe it’s just that we have fewer wimming pools dotted about the country.


  2. Years ago I read that the per capita use of soap was a good Indicator of cleanliness and that this was low in France. If this is still the case, they’re still using a lot more water than the UK. . . . .
    As for showering in Spain . . .no idea but I guess in the summer down South some might shower more than once a day.
    Yes, pools is a good point.


  3. How about all the irrigated agriculture? There are huge irrigated rice paddies in Extremadura, Not to mention the mega plastic “farms” in the south eastern desert. that supply a lot of Europe


Comments are closed.