At a time of great instability, with the Spanish Government clinging to power with fragile coalitions, Andalusia governed by a far right assembly, Britain sinking beneath the waves with the Brexit shambles and the USA, well reaching tipping point, it seems that the world needs to sit back for a moment. To step back and think things through, without concerning ourselves with winning elections or staying in power. Of course it won't happen, at least not in any productive way for that is how the system was set up, to patch the leaking holes and float on for a few more yards.
So in the absence of a true revolution....
The gazpachomOnk has been planning a return. At the moment, he's wrapped up in unpleasant stuff, but will soon reappear on the table top of tapas. Writing the complete SLOW ROUTE HOME novel is taking up a lot of time. But expect it out sometime late Spring 2019.
So we had this idea: To hold onto something your must learn to let it go.
Back in early 2015, my partner (Cherry) and I realised that to continue working from home we had to leave the home behind. To find the motivation and stimulation for online work, we realised that you have to get out and move about more. Otherwise, what happens? Work gets stagnant or worse, repetitive and you end up just repeating what else is being written. And that's not a good.
So we packed in our jobs in town, scribbled about the process, invested in a little mobile equipment (tripods, easels, gorilla stands, microphones, flask, a bigger portable hard drive and a travelling water bowl for the Hound. Then planned stage 1.
1: The Works
After 20+ years in Spain, and accompanied by a 15 year old Hound, we moved out of our home and into rented accommodation and began to turn our house into two flats. The idea was to 'Airbnb' part of the house as we travelled (to finance the accommodation we would need).
2: The Delays
Yawn: Same old story. What was intended as a 2 month reform, turned into a 6 month delay, finally completing at the end of last year. But talking about building works is rather dull, and people tend to get obsessive about listing minute and uninteresting changes to floor colours and window frames, so lets skip this part. We spent just one month back in the new place, preparing it for rental, before Hound mobility issues compelled us to move on. The Airbnb rental page was in place, 2016 had arrived and we had found a cheap flat in Portugal.
3. Portugal & Airbnb
Expect only the unexpected. Portugal was an inspiring, cultural, linguistic and climatic challenge. We produced a lot of good creative work and despite a few mishaps, the experience was very positive. We even got our first few Airbnb bookings. The future looked as though it was working out the way we had planned it. Ha ha. We should have known better. First off, news came of the changes that Andalucia were introducing to accommodation booking where an online financial transaction took place. These new regulations (targeting Airbnb) would necessitate yet more structural changes to the flat that were completely out of character for an old house in an old part of town. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Andalucia was insisting on a whole series of measure that would make it impossible for us to conform to the new regulations. The hotels celebrated. The digital revolution stepped back. Hosts began to desert the platform on mass. We joined them. But, we now needed a new plan.
4: Almeria and the new plan.
The hound meanwhile, was not well. He could no longer travel and needed to stay in one place. Fortunately, friends offered a house-sit in the dustiest province of Europe, and as the Hound wobbled about, we threw ourselves into work. I produced 15 new videos each month, podcasts, articles and some great new musical collaborations. But the rental issue remained unresolved. We clearly needed a solution that did not involve an online financial transaction, but one that would enable us to balance letting out our flat in exchange for moving around in other peoples homes. So we looked at home swapping.
House swapping was always a bit of an organisational challenge. Given the logistic difficulties in finding a swapper that wished to come to you the very week you wish to go to them, it was never going to an ideal solution for many people. But then, someone tacked on a clever little addition: points.
The point system works this way: someone stays in your flat one week (whilst you are about travelling) and you accumulate points for this. Those points can then be used to stay in someone else's flat (anywhere in the world).
Suddenly, we had a new option.
5: Month by Month
So now, its June. Next week we are moving on. We have registered with a site called Guest to Guest. It has more choice, more information and is far cheaper than some of the competition, that may look prettier but are far less comprehensive.
June also represents new changes and challenges. Britain votes on leaving the EU, and Spain votes on either staying exactly as it is - or - to change. Whatever the outcome of these elections, I don't wish to be passively watching from a fixed position. Another term under Rajoy will drive us away, and if the UK pull out of Europe then the call of lands further afield will be difficult to ignore.
Work meanwhile continues at a pace, new workshops each month, podcasts, new courses and - perhaps most significantly of all for us - the hound is no longer here. He made it this far, but was called away last week to attend to other more celestial matters.
So, where to go next month? Another province in Spain or further afield? How will the June elections affect this decision? Will Andalucia backtrack and rewrite the rules for Airbnb or will Guest to Guest prove to be the future for a new travelling generation? I wish I knew the answers, but then again, I don't. The fun is in seeing these answers unravel month by month.
You can follow my crazy production schedule, over at teapotmonk.com, check out the images on Instagram or Pinterest (follow - teapotmonk), listen to the podcasts or catch the videos on Youtube (teapotmonk)
This weekend marks an anniversary special, thats worth noting down: 79 years for the Republic (what republic!) - the one that the people voted for, that one! Since it was sadly overthrown in a military uprising, no-one has deemed to ask the population if they would like it back. Maybe one day....
Then we have the birthday of Durruti (who?) - ah well, you'll need to read this to find out, and stay tunes, as his wacky and unbelievable bio is to due to be released later this year. Subscribe for details as to when.
Finally the mOnk too has been celebrating, not just his own birthdate, but those of family and friends around the world. So sit back, and for 15 seconds, tap your foot to the sound of a turning tide
12 Changes in the Law You Need to Know About
1: If you photograph security personal and then share these images on social media: Up to 30.000 euros fine (particularly if photo exposes violence being used against a member of the public). It is possible that this fine may be increased depending on the number of Instagram followers you have.
2: Tweet or Retweet information or the "location of an organised protest" can now be interpreted as an act of terrorism as it incites others to "commit a crime" (now that "demonstrating" in many ways has become a crime). Sounds 1984-ish? Read Orwell and his time in Spain.
3: Snowden like Whistle-blowing is now defined as an act of terrorism. If you write for a local rag, careful what you print, who you speak to and whether the budgie is listening.
4: Visit or Consult terrorist web sites - even for investigative purposes - can be interpreted as an act of terrorism. Make sure you use “Tor" browser, reject cookies, don’t allow pop-ups, and don’t post it on your FB timeline! Hmmmm. Is Speaking of Spain a terrorist website?
5: Careful with the royal jokes! Any satirical comment against the royal family is a new crime “against the Crown”. For example, "What did Leticia and the Bishop have to say after they...(SORRY CENSORED)
6: No more hassling elected members of the govt. or local authorities - even if they do say one thing in order to be elected, and then go and do the exact opposite. Confronting them about this hypocritical behaviour - if you see them in the street chatting to that street cleaner , dining at their favourite expensive restaurant, or having their shoes shined by that physics graduate who can't find a decent job in the country - hassling them about their behaviour is now a criminal offence.
7: Has your local river been so polluted by that plastic factory along the edge that all life has been extinguished. Well, tough! Greenpeace like protests are now finable from 601 - 30.000 euros.
8: Protest in a spontaneous way outside Parliament - for example if Parliament passes a hugely unpopular bill, or are debating something extremely important to you or your community - is now finable from 601 - 30.000 euros. TIP: Use Google Maps to protest "just" round the corner - only don't tweet the location!
9: Obstruct an officer in the course of their business (evicting someone from their house for example), or "resisting arrest", refusing to leave a demonstration when told to do so or getting in the way of a swinging baton - are all now finable offences from 601 - 30.000 euros.
10. Showing lack of respect to officers of the law is an immediate fine of 100 - 600 euros (Answering back or asking a disrespectful question, making a funny face, showing your bottom to an officer of the law or telling him/her that their breath reminds you of your dog's under-parts is now, sadly, not advisable)
11. Occupying or squatting or refusing to leave an office, business, bank or other place until your complaint has been heard as a protest - 100 - 600 euros fine (No more flashmob demo’s).
12. Digital protests: Writing something that could technically “disturb the peace” is a now crime: Bloggers beware, for no-one had yet defined who's peace you could be disturbing.
Of course a lot of this is impossible to enforce (yet), but, nevertheless, should you be out and about and see a commotion in the street - a dog disrespectfully peeing up the tyre of a police patrol car, a lost tourist doing a quick selfie with a Civil Guard in the bar - think twice about snapping an image on your mobile phone and posting it to your FaceBook timeline. It could an expensive post.
Like this? You might also like to read....
Over the last 20 years I have lived in at least 12 different houses or flats in 6 different provinces in Spain.
Some people ask what have I learnt from all that experience of moving around, and my reply is always: "not a lot". However, if you were to ask me surreptitiously about where best to live in Spain, I might be tempted to pass on the GazpachomOnk’s 5-Point Warning List for Buyers in Spain
Of course, not all Estate Agents are carnivorous, some I've met personally* and can vouch for their high standards and honesty. But I've also had dealings with a dozen others, none of which I would feel safe to leave my budgie with.
So here it is - the Property-Speak Nonsense that needs deciphering: Print it out and keep a copy tucked down your socks at all times. Ready? Steady? Go...... (read on)
You may be forgiven for thinking that the terms in the title of this short post are mutually exclusive. Particularly if you have been listening to any of the absurdities spouted by politicians these last few days.
In the aftermath of the 2015 local elections, it appears everything is up for grabs - including truth - and the sight of politicians salivating publicly in their lust for power, or resorting to defamation and libel as they see power slipping though their podgy fingers, is enough to make one despair and turn aside. But hold on, the story is not over yet...
A Clash of Values
The fanatic struggle for power in Madrid is bringing out the best and worst in people. With Espe Aguirre's ego dented and the threat of being ousted by a group of what she calls "bolsheviks micro-funded online and renting cheap offices in the capital", her once rock-steady boat in the centre of Spain has been dutifully upturned.
And its precisely the figure head of Manuela Carmona that appears to be doing the rocking, merely by offering herself up as a candidate free from corruption, as someone that cycles to work rather than rides in a limousine, someone free from any manipulation of the media, no history of dismantling public services and no history of speaking without thinking first.
But it's not just what Manuela has not done that is important, it's what she has done. Manuela Carmena - has always been a defender of workers rights. As an active lawyer she was arrested under Franco, fighting for the rights of the oppressed. She co-founded the lawyers office in Madrid that fought for workers rights - the very same office that went down in history as Black Monday
On the 27 jan. 1977, as the transition to "democracy" limped painfully forward, the office of Manuela Carmona at Calle Atocha 55 was invaded by right wing armed militants. They shot nine people. 6 died.
2015: May. Espe Aguirre - sinking in her own pile of excrement - accused Manuela of being part of a threat to "democracy" and offered to lead a coalition of all other parties to save Spain from the biggest threat to western democracy: Manuela Carmona and her political party - Ahora Madrid.
It is difficult not to conclude that Espe is - once more - playing the manipulative politician here, or - like Thatcher in her final days - she is mentally unstable. As someone who once worked in a psychiatric institution, my professional opinion is that were she to be brought to me for diagnosis, I would have her incarcerated immediately and placed in an isolation ward - for the safety of the general public.
Democracy in Spain
So what do we mean when we sling the word "democracy" around? Well, it would not be unreasonable to define it as a form of political representation that encourages participation from citizens, rather than passivity. That it means giving all people a voice rather than always speaking for them, and it means honesty, transparency and accountability. Perhaps most important of all, it means speaking from an informed point of view as opposed to making up facts on the spur of the moment to suit your own agenda.
When Aguirre was questioned where she got the idea that Ahora Madrid would be establishing "soviets in the barrios of Madrid", she had to admit she had never read their political program at all.
As an old an venerated politician once reminded us, the questions we should ask when talking about democracy are: "What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?"
I would add to this just one more: And have you been taught to read?
And Watch The Tortilla Intro Video here...
Why Orwell is essential to understanding Spain today. More here
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