Setting examples for the kiddies at Christmas

Small towns make for big stories.  Nothing better than local politics for amusing characters and drama.

Unfortunately I didn’t witness this story go down.  Damn, I miss all the good stuff.   The truth is elusive and I’m sure it is stranger than the second-hand fiction I will recreate here based on the neighbours’ “he said, she saids” and various biased newspaper reports, some examples here and here,  all of which disagree on the facts and context.  But here is the Not So Spanish version:

Picture the scene: Christmas parade, small children, twinkley lights, good cheer.  Two local police officers sauntering through the crowd put a ticket on a car parked inside the parade route.  While the officers are still on the scene, the city councillor in charge of parades informs the officers that the vehicle is actually an unmarked car belonging to the city.  Official parade business, don’t you know.  The officer replies something to the effect of, “What, do you think I’m stupid?   This is your car, the street is closed, I am giving you a ticket”.  Shouting and general unpleasantness ensue.  The councillor’s parting jab is to demand the police officers give him a military salute since he is their superior.

Two hours later, the Mayor is enjoying a post parade beverage and cavorting with his citizens.  And since it’s a small frigging town, the mayor spots the two officers from his bar stool.  Mr. Mayor saunters out, drink in hand, and rips a strip off the officers for ticketing buddy’s car.  The newspaper reports that “elevated voices were heard by the many parade goers in the area”.  And to my eternal glee, my favorite detail of this entire story is confirmed in the union report.  The mayor did not put down his beer while punctuating the Christmas glow with verbal aggression, in front of his voting public and their under-age children.

Now, the two police officers high-tail it over to the health center to get a blood pressure test and are placed on immediate paid leave of absence.  Workplace stress they call it.  Those small town christmas parades are killer.  The traumatized officers charge the Mayor with harassment.   Your move Mr.  Mayor.

Upon realizing just how much shit has hit the fan, the Mayor reports the officers for subordination and lack of respect.  The city councillor excuses himself from the situation saying that his foot hurts, duh, that’s why he can park anywhere he pleases.  Even in front of his own parade.  And everyone drives their cars home.  Good chance their won’t be a road block tonight since the police officers are all at home lowering their blood pressure.

And the seasonal cheer has been packed up for another year.  The city workers are taking down the lights and sweeping the parade route.  The collateral damage articles are coming out.  Some call for the Mayor’s resignation; this is yet another example of entitled politicians thinking the rules don’t apply to them.  Others say the officers should resign, you can’t just run around putting tickets on important people’s cars, especially if they are filled with candy and are driven by drinking politicians.

I am still slapping my forehead for missing the show.





Gold Medal Recycling or Gold Medal Drinking?

Did you know, Tarifa recycles more glass per capita than any other town in our area.  Isn’t that great news!

The various towns in “Campo de Gibraltar” are engaged in some friendly competition designed to improve recycling rates and provide more photo ops for the mayors during election season.

Have you seen our prize for reaching this distinction?  A big gold recycling container.  The eyesore enormous trophy is now installed in front of the tourism office for all to enjoy.

gold recycle

I hate to break it to them, but the high rate of glass recycling here is not due to our conscientious population.  It is due to the unusually high summer consumption of 1-litre extra-large beer bottles.







But hey, let’s celebrate that big ass garbage can while it’s ours.  Because if La Linea gets in gear and starts drinking more beer, they might win it back.

Sticking around the Christmas tree – 2012

Christmas tradition time!   Here we go,  the third annual wonky Christmas tree extravaganza at the Santos-Fraser household.

I’ll remind you of previous entries.



Low tech, efficient, portable.



Perfect for encouraging a closet clean-out.

But this year the kids are older and we have new needs to fill. Banging for example. We are always in need of appropriate opportunities to bang that begeezes out of something. Sticks are also popular. And we  mustn’t forget the perennial toddler favorite, picking garbage treasures off the beach.  So we went beach combing for Christmas tree ingredients.

Cheaper than Walmart!


There was heated debate over how many sticks we could haul home on our bikes  the attributes of various components.


But I did all this just for the boys.  I didn’t have any fun at all.


Tada!  This is what we came up with.

Pros:  no needles to vacuum.

Cons:  no evergreen fresh smell.  Whatever.  I’ll buy an air freshener.

I put it outside for a week to annoy the neighbours, so the whole complex could enjoy our work.


Then we moved it to the patio to decorate it.

How long until one of those monkeys climbs it?

Like a Virgin

So, what is all the fuss with the horses and the polka dots?

What is everyone gathering to see?  It must be a huge draw.

Maybe the Beastie Boys?  Van Halen circa David Lee Roth?  Hell no.

It’s Madonna!

Ñot in the flesh.

If a bunch of folks gather with polka dots and horses, good chances there will be some Catholic paraphernalia to create a fervor.

Ho hum.  That’s just Jesus.  Fish and bread?  Yada yada.  Resurrection?  Child’s play.

But,here come the main event.  Holy hymen horsemen, it’s the virgin!

 And the crowd goes wild, holding their Bic lighters in the air.

That’s one thing that Spanish culture gets right.  Celebrate the Mom.

Dressed to impress your pants

We followed Manolo and saw Tarifa in its finery.

Tarifa consists of three distinct parallel universes. They can be easily identified by their uniform:

  • The beautiful surfer people.  Tans, beads and lots of hair;  they are an exotic species.  Unfamiliar with their customs and hair products, I admire them from afar but use caution when approaching.

  • The hippy dippys.   Comfortable, laundry challenged, prepared to drop into downward dog at any moment.  These people may have raided my closet.
  • The local village people.

They raided the tickle trunk.

Actually, the traditional dress code for local village folks from Tarifa is similar to Algeciras.  Lots of tight pants and high heels.  Except at feria.  Like everywhere in Andalusia, polka dots rule the festival season.

Love the shoes.  Do you think I should invest in matching polka dot heels for the boys?

Work it girlfriend.  She’s eight and knows how to walk in heels. I have trouble with rubber boots.

Sometime I just want to plop down on the sidewalk with a bag of Doritos too.

Suddenly my yoga pants seem decidedly ho-hum.

Look at this gorgeous Mini-Manolo. He’s dressed to the nines.  I’m imagining trying to dress my boys in pressed pants and matching jackets.  Surely they would willingly roll up their cuffs and comb their hair for a big event.

Or maybe not.

They’re Back!

We’re back!  The Canadigaditano family is back to haunt  your internet.    It’s been a slow start this fall, technologically speaking. In other words, we’re trying to get by without bucking up cash for internet and I need a microscope to see this screen.

I thought the blog might have died.  So might have you.  But it turns out I can’t stop myself from saying stupid things on the internet.  I suppose there is now a term for my condition.   I’ll have to google it to find a treatment.

We’re back from Canada and Tarifa hasn’t changed; it’s still beautiful, windy and full of dog crap.  The tourists have high tailed it home and just the toque wearing locals remain.

It’s nice to see all the familiar faces.  But we hardly recognized Manolo.

Manolo generally doesn’t bring his horse to clean the pool.  But since he was in the area and his ride was thirsty, he stopped by the showers to get a bucket of water for the herd.

Hmmmm.  Manolo is wearing tight pants and a fancy hat.  Something must be ahoof in Tarifa.

I wonder where he is going?

Stay tuned folks.  I promise I’ll be back.

I’m too sexy for my dress

“Look at me!”

“SPF 40 shirt, fleece toque, sunglasses and rubber boots. Am I working it or what.”

“Looking good in a skirt isn’t enough, Río.  In this climate a fellow must be prepared for any weather or fashion eventuality. Except pants.”

“Wow, bro.  I wish I had your creative hand with safety accessories.  I dressed in anticipation of a more formal affair.  Perhaps I should have gone cocktail instead of floor length with this brim.”

“Safety first, I always say there, Mr. Ear flaps.  Puddles, snow storms, a run in your stockings.  Danger may be lurking behind any sand dune. “

“Danger?  Really?  Or perhaps an event worthy of this ball gown off in the distance?”

“No, it’s a small crustacean!  Careful Río, such creatures could ruin your pedicure.”

“No, not my twinkle toes!   Every skirt wearing man for himself, Bro.”

“Run, penguin man, run.  However, I applied top coat so BRING IT!”

Pave paradise, put up a parking lot

Valdavaqueros beach, in Tarifa’s backyard, is one of southern Europe’s last undeveloped beaches.  It’s crucial bird habitat for many species that launch their migrations to Africa from Europe’s shores.  It’s a paradise.

And now some rich moron wants to fill it full of hotel rooms and houses.

Spain has more unsold housing than the United States, although it has only 10 percent of the population.  Much of Spain’s economic woes are warped around the housing bubble, construction fraud and mortgage debt.

Some politicians, bankers and builders continue to sing the same old song; that construction is the solution to Spain’s problem.  Maybe creating a few short-term jobs will get them re-elected.   But destroying paradise won’t save the economy. Just as leaving one last little happy place won’t kill it.  The same politicians, bankers and builders who paved over the Costa Del Sol have already done that.

This article in English sums up the political scene.

If you haven’t yet signed this petition, (yes it’s in English) please do so.

And you can follow the folly in Spanish on the “Save Valdavaqueros” Facebook page.


In Algeciras, we were surrounded by Antonios.  This was handy for people who have trouble remembering names.  Yell out “Antonio” to any male resident of our building and you had 50-50 odds of being correct.

In Tarifa, put your money on Manolo.

Our complex has an awesome maintenance man.  His name is Manolo.  Manolo has an assistant.  His name is Manolo.

Yago LOVES Manolo.  He has hoses and power washers and paint brushes and all manner of apparatus that little boys love.  You don’t need TV if you have a Manolo.  Everyone should have a couple Manolos.

“Yes sirie bob, I love work.  I could watch it all day.  Looking good over there Manolo.  And Manolo.  What should I call you two?  Maybe Manolo 1 and Manolo2?  That’s how Dr. Seuss solved the issue in Cat In the Hat.  Thing One and Thing Two.  So, one needs to be Manolo 1, and since your name is Manolo too, you can be Manolo 2.  Get it?  Get it?”

“I think I hear your Mother calling you, kid”

“Nah, she’s busy stalking someone on Facebook.  Besides, I think my management skills are required here.

“Although I  do appreciate manual labor, Manolo.  And Manolo.  But I’ve been studying the angles of those last tiles you laid and  according to my calculations you forgot to compensate for today’s UV index.  I’d add some glitter glue to that grout if I were you.  And if I were you, my name could be Manolo too.  Or three!”

“Look kid!  There is a rhinoceros climbing that palm tree!”

“I’m afraid you must be mistaken Manolo 1. Rhinoceros are kneeless ungulates and thus incapable of climbing palm trees.   Don’t be shy with the elbow grease there, Manolo 2. “

“The kid is killing me.  I’m making a run for it.  Hey Manolo 2 call your cousin Manolo, the deaf one, and see if he’ll take over this job. “

“Please boss, don’t leave me with the kid.  My ears are going to fall off.”

“Wait Manolo 1!  I didn’t show you my Lego power washer ,complete with oscillating power train, that I made in your honor. Manolo 1, come back!”