It came to me this morning as I was driving around trying to find a parking spot to do a three-minute transaction at the bank. As I was driving around for over a half-hour for that miracle of someone pulling out of a legal parking space, I realized what was wrong with that scenario and so many others in this beautiful, egotistical country.

In the past years of bonanza, when the money from the European Union was pouring in like milk and honey, that money was being spent to turn urban streets into pedestrian areas and to pave over areas of wild coastline. Once upon a time you could actually drive into a town, easily find a parking space and quickly finish whatever business you went there to accomplish. Now, not only can you not simply drive in and drive out, you can't catch a bus, either.

Instead of spending all that money on embellishments that scream "money", the local governments should have invested it on decent paving and sidewalks, parking garages with symbolic rates and improved bus service. 

But I realized this morning that what had been done was something extremely Spanish. Go out on a Sunday afternoon and you will find the humblest family wearing their absolute best. They will look as if they shop in the finer boutiques for their clothing and accessories. A family will sit at a terrace and order rounds without seeming to think about the cost. When they go to pay they take out a nice wad of cash and count it out. When out in public, everything they do is for show. They want to show they are as rich as their neighbor, as well-dressed and as cultured. At least in the small towns. Which is where I live.

So, of course, the cities and towns had to spend the European money where it would be seen; in pedestrian streets, walkways next to the wild beaches where once only fishermen ventured and other extravagances. Because a working transportation system would not be visibly obvious, and no one then cared that for a three-minute transaction a neighbor would have to drive around for over a half-hour, wasting time and gas.


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