11 August 2022: Free trains; Drug tours, here and there; Portuguese problems; Strange Spanish idioms; & Other stuff

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de Spain/Galiza

HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for this article showing the train routes which will be free from September. Lenox points out that this offer is available for tourists as well as residents and cites this ThinkSpain article on the process. Which I suspect I’ve already cited . .   

Houses in rural areas offer a bigger, cheaper and quieter place in which to work and, with post-Covid changes in working practices, this has naturally led to soaring price increases. Buy now!

Here in Galicia – in the drug capital of Vilagarcia – you can take a tour of the mansions belonging to our narcotraficantes. Extremedura goes one better and offers you a helicopter ride over an illegal settlement built by their narcos. Apparently this Trip to VillaNarco shows you more than 100 illegal chalets, with swimming pools and hideouts for drugs and money.  

Spain recently introduced an animal welfare law with several odd elements. One is the prospect of fines for beggars accompanied in their panhandling by a dog. Most of Pv city’s mendicants don’t bother with these. And I guess the ‘jugglers’ and ‘pipe-players’ don’t count as beggars. Sadly.

I guess temptation was just too much for this chap.

I should have said yesterday that the Pontevedra-Cambados-Sanxenxo-O-Grove-Padrón camino is called El Camino del Padre Sarmiento. Just in case anyone’s researching it.


Another HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for this Guardian article on an unusual failure of the Portuguese in respect of resident Brits. In contrast, Spain was exceptionally efficient at issuing our new TIEs. Well, in Pontevedra at least. And if a 5-week process can be called ‘efficient’

The Way of the World 

A large-scale review from scientists at Peking University has found that leisure activities were effective at protecting against dementia, lowering the risk by 17%. Some hobbies were found to be better than others. Mental activity – which includes reading, writing, watching TV, listening to the radio and playing a musical instrument – was found to slash the risk by 23%. Against only 17% for physical activity – including walking, running, swimming, dancing and yoga. And social activities like visiting friends, going to church or volunteering saw only a 7% drop. So, keep reading.

It’s said that, if you don’t know anything about Persian history, you’re not really educated. I suspect I’d be ignorant of it, if I hadn’t had the great luck to live there in my 20s. More on this theme tomorrow. Right now, I have to marinade ribs now for my 8 guests from Madrid. Who are disappointed that there was none of the famous Galician rain last night. Quite soon I hope to be told whether we’re having these for lunch or dinner, life being very spontaneous in Spain.


My guests asked me last night what my Chinese screen would called in English and then claimed the Spanish word – biombo – was far prettier than ‘screen'(normally pantalla). I said that biombo didn’t sound very Spanish – or even Arabic – to me. And it isn’t; it comes – via the Jesuits? – from the Japanese words byóm (protection) and bu(wind).

From someone . . . 10 Spanish phrases that make no sense in English               

Por si las moscas: ‘For if the flies’. Just in case

Poner las Pilas: ‘Put batteries in’. Get ready/Wake up or be alert  

Montar cachos/Poner los cuernos: ‘To put horns on someone’. To cheat or be unfaithful  

No tener dos dedos de frente: Not having two fingers of forehead. They are not smart or are stupid  

Sacar de quicio: Take out of the doorjamb or frame.  Exasperate     

Sacar la piedra:  Take the rock out (of someone).  Frustrate/Upset or cause anger.  

Tomar el pelo: Grab or drink the hair. To kid or fool someone, similar to pull someone’s leg  

Echar el muerto: Throw the deceased. To place the blame/responsibility on someone else.   

Que onda?: What wave? What’s up?     

Poner la mano/las manos en el fuego: Put your hands in the fire. Be 100% sure of something or have total trust in someone


To amuse . . .

For new readers: 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.