It's a Job

Getting a decent job in Spain in the twenty-first century is not an easy task. Especially if you're young. Or if you're over forty. Or if you don't have a college degree. Or if you have too many degrees, masters, or even a doctorate. Youth unemployment is now at thirty three percent, the highest in the European Union. Which explains the crowds this past Sunday.

This Sunday were the exams to access jobs within the postal system. Public employment in Spain is accessed by exams. The prospective employee tends to spend more than a year studying the material, generally by paying and attending classes at private academies. Then, when an exam is held (which doesn't happen every year), they register and attend an all-day x-marks-the-answer marathon. 

Our daughter joined the crowds this Sunday. Only, she didn't have much time to prepare, just about four months, on her own. Hopefully, she'll pass, which means she'll be on the substitute list. That will allow her to tem…

Writing, Writing

I've abandoned my blog this month. This doesn't mean I haven't thought about things to write; I have some ideas in my head, and at least one in draft. Rather, I've been using my energy in other endeavors. 

It's been a year of transition, really, which has affected me strangely, in a way I can't describe because I'm not sure yet of the effect. It's been my first full year trying to avoid salt (bwaa-ha-ha!), and of trying to walk every day (but not in the rain), of turning the half century mark (!), and of watching my daughter trying to find her way, post university (it's no country for young people). 

I've been to some places this year. I've returned to Porto, my husband and I went to various different places within Galicia, including taking his mother to San Andrés de Teixido, where, according to the legend, if you don't go in life, you will go in death, reincarnated as anything, including a bug. Which is why you shouldn't kill any bug…

Christmas Means Giving of Oneself

I have mentioned, just about every year, that I have grown to hate Christmas. I don't hate its message, nor the warmth of waking up and knowing it's Christmas morning. What I hate is what it's become. This year, there's yet another reason for it. 

Since Vigo began last year (or was it the year before?) going absolutely bonkers on its Christmas lights to attract tourists, other cities have emulated it. One city is Madrid. This year, with a right-wing government newly elected, one of its most important expenditures is Christmas lights, so it could out-rival Vigo. They've spent over three million euros. Reactions from people in the streets, and local politicians are the usual. "The lights symbolize the spirit of Christmas." "Let's hope we get more tourists, now." "They're so pretty!" "People will be happy and spend more money."

Explain what the expenditure and those lights mean to the dozens of families applying for refuge…

The Devil Rises

So, the elections are over and done with. And PSOE's Pedro Sánchez didn't get what he wanted when he forced them. I'm sure he was thinking that, since he had risen in April, and since he had been forceful about not bending to leftist Podemos to form a coalition government during the summer, he was going to get more seats in the Cortes. The best-laid plans tend to backfire.

He got three seats less. Podemos got seven seats less. Centrist-leaning-to-the-far-right-or-left-according-to-expediency Ciudadanos lost over forty seats. The conservative PP went up, but the winner of the night was undoubtedly far-right-Franco-loving Vox. 

They garnered fifty-two seats, up from twenty-four in the last election. They have become the third force in the Cortes, behind PSOE and PP. They now get a seat on different committees, and, more importantly, will be able to contest laws in the courts.

Which is most assuredly what they will do. They will contest the Law of Historic Memory, and try to sto…

Be Informed, Be Aware

There was a general debate the other night, between the candidates of the parties with the most representation in the Congreso. The leaders of the PSOE (Socialists), PP (conservatives), Ciudadanos (conservatives), UP (leftist), and Vox (ultra-right nationalists), faced off on stage. All spent more time talking about one or two things they thought would sway undecided voters. UP also spoke about policies they would implement in general, and Vox used the air time to extend their xenophobic, nationalist agenda.

This last candidate spewed much rhetoric and few truths. Just about all the data he used to "prove" his points was false. Yet no one called him out on it. He went on and on about illegal immigrants and that: 1. They were the cause of just about all delinquency. 2. They were the perpetrators of almost all gang rapes. 3. They were the ones who battered their wives. 4. They were costing the state millions in healthcare. 

He also condemned the semi-federal state we now have, w…

The Slime of Politics

One would think that, in a working democracy, the most important consideration would be to get the citizens out to vote. After all, that is the basis of a democracy - participation by the electorate. Spain, however, is different.

Over the past week or so, a campaign has been underway on Facebook, and in various cities, with an image of Pedro Sánchez (PSOE) in red, and next to him an image of Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) in purple. Underneath, in white, "No contéis conmigo" (Don't count on me), with a hashtag, "yonovoto" (Idon'tvote). The posters have gone up in neighborhoods that have traditionally voted for parties on the left. Apparently, there's a group out there that is fed up with the difficulties of agreement between the two leaders, that have led to yet another general election.

But, no, it's not a grassroots movement. It's an underhanded campaign being led by followers of the conservative PP, to get leftist leaning voters to stay home. Traditi…

Keep Him Dead

Finally, finally, Spain is not an exception among European countries. Finally, finally, her dictator is no longer interred in a national monument created for his adoration. 

Last Thursday, Franco was finally taken out of the mausoleum he built outside Madrid, the Valle de los Caídos. This being Spain, and gossip being king of just about every television channel, it was plastered on every television screen. Even an online newspaper, of which I have an app, was sending out minute by minute notifications. "En directo..." The only ones allowed to be present were the crew carrying out the exhumation, the Minister of Justice, and part of the Franco family, now grandchildren. The press was only allowed to film outside. Absolutely no filming, not even by the family, was allowed at the exhumation nor at the final burial.

So, news coverage was ample that day, showing every moment, every hiccup, every "Viva Franco" uttered, every outstretched hand upraised, every pre-constituti…