Saturday 22 May 2021

Strange people

 I suppose every city has its league of drop-outs, beggars and people who are not quite right in the head.. or people who are just plain stupid (like me many times). And Arrecife has a few. No more than any city I am sure but, because the city is not very big, I get to recognise each one.

But something on the beach upset me this afternoon and it prompted me to write this post.

I went earlier than normal so I spent some time under one of the palm trees at the back of the beach because the sun was very strong. There was a guy nearby just standing, wearing street clothes. And he just stood there, or wandered around. It made me feel uncomfortable although, of course, I was not under any threat. I was a short distance from the street. Later he left, so that was OK.

Then I moved down the beach into the sun, I went swimming. At low tide, there is only one entry point into the sea, free of rocks which was about 20m to my right (I am sure it has been carved out like that). When I came back, I was relaxing on my towel on my back when I heard a kind of sniffing sound. One of the two guys who I had seen earlier in the sea walked right past me, barely 1m away. And this was on a half-empty beach where my nearest neighbour was about 20m away. And he had no reason to walk past me, he would have had to make a huge detour from the sea to where he and his friend were based. Ridiculous as it sounds, I could not come to any other conclusion than that he had come to look at me. It left me feeling very unsettled. The two guys were about 40, slightly overweight. I don't even know what nationality they were. Maybe he was just plain stupid with no idea of distance, Covid or no-Covid. The fact that I am vaccinated doesn't make much difference to how I feel - I am still very careful.

Who next? Outside my local supermarket there is always the same guy with his cup which he rattles in front of people entering and leaving. He also accosts people passing in the street (Actually it is a pedestrian zone, called Calle Real. But in fact it is an extension of my street, Calle León y Castillo). He is always there. And he always approaches me despite my having ignored him for about 5 months. But the Spanish are more generous that us Brits and some people chat with him and give him money. Obviously this guy does not have mental defects, this is the only easy way he can see to make money.

Up to about a month ago there was a guy, large but not fat, about 50 I guess, who seemed to live in Calle Real but he wasn't begging. He had a kindly face. He slept in the entrance to a bank and spent the day sitting on a bench. I often used to wonder about how he had arrived in such a state. Unlike the guy outside the supermarket, who was younger, I felt sympathy for him. And then one day, he was lying on the pavement with his wrist bleeding surrounded by a number of people. One woman was getting very aggresive which is unusual in Spain. It was obvious that it was not life-threatening and I passed by. Next day I saw two people from social services talking with him. A couple of weeks later, he was no longer there. I hope that they are taking good care of him.

I met a woman at the pension where I was staying and she tended to chat with almost anyone whereas I am far more reserved. One day I was passing la Charca and she introduced me to a black guy who she said was a musician. I regretted that meeting because he now holds court on a couple of benches close to where I walk up to my flat. I don't know where he lives, maybe under a bridge somewhere but he is almost always there with a small crowd of acolytes. He used to address me with a loud, "Good afternoon" but I now ignore him. He begged for money a couple of times so that was my excuse. His English was very good - maybe he is English.

There is a very skinny woman about 50, I was sure she has sisters because I would see her so often in shop entrances. She begs, but not agressively. There is another girl, almost like a younger version, and she zooms around bars asking for money. Actually she is quite sweet... but she is still begging. Both have short hair in a classical lesbian style.

There is a very sad guy about 60, again in Calle Real, who shakes a plastic cup but wthout much hope. Another middle-aged woman seems to be a friend of the black guy. She looks like any other middle aged woman but the back-pack is a clue to the fact that she is probably homeless. And the fact that sometimes she is seated on the pavement outside shops, talking loudly. Yes, I guess that is a clue too.

Other people in Arrecife...

There is a man, middle-aged, who always rides an old blue bike and he is always topless. Another man is extremely tall and rides a bike with lots of bulging paniers which I guess is his life. I imagine that he lives under a rock somewhere. I suppose one can do that here because the nights are not as cold as in the rest of Europe. One man I often see looks like a sea-captain. He has one leg and one prosthetic metal leg.

Maybe people consider me a little strange. I don't see many guys with long hair. I don't see any guys with long hair! When I get my courage up, I want to be more feminine when I go out. Next time I come back, I will bring more of my girly clothes. That will shock my neighbours! When I was on holiday in Fuerteventura last year, I went out wearing a dress. One of the first things I want to do when I get back to Catalunya is to paint my nails. I didn't bring the UV lamp or the varnishes with me this time. The colour will be my favourite, swimming pool blue!

Something that I knew some time ago, the singing voice is not the same as the spoken voice. I sometimes stop to listen to a young Spanish guy singing with his guitar outside the bars in el Charco and I drop 50 centimos in his guitar case (only 50 cents you say!) But when he introduces his songs, it is evident that he has a terrible stammer. His songs are all in Spanish unlike one guy who appeared in Calle Real a few weeks ago. He had a horrible rasping voice and he sang all the corny old 70s favourites, such as Running Like the Wind, to his guitar. No 50 centimos for you, sorry.

I feel fortunate to have income from the UK so in no way am I being critical of these people. It makes me feel lucky because at times in my life, I could have gone up or down. Maybe not living on the street but not far off it. 

Things that annoy me. Well not much. Spitting is so disgusting and dirty, I hesitate to mention it here. I normally say something. Guys spit here... and also in Celrà, so it is not unique to Lanzarote. It is unhealthy also but more so during the pandemic.

There sems to be a number of sad guys who feel the need to feed pigeons around el Charco in spite of notices which say, "Don't feed the pigeons" in three languages. They tend to bring an entire loaf of bread and scatter it around the part just above the water. I was greatly amused a few days ago to see a guy on a racing bike stop close to the bar where I was having a beer. He was wearing cleats, the serious cycling shoes. And I looked up to see that he was nursing a pigeon in his hands. Stroking its tail, its wings. Much love. I exchanged quizzical looks with another couple in the bar who had also seen this chap. He fed it water from his bottle. Finally he rode away with his pigeon in his hand. I joked with the couple that maybe it was now a pet (mascota in Spanish). I think they were German so maybe they didn't understand my Spanish. However, we enjoyed the joke!

sorry, reverse angle!
my lounge/kitchen is on the left

Noise tends to be a problem wherever one lives in Spain.... or maybe in the world. This is a narrow street for neighbours only (there is a sign to say so) next to my lounge which is on the left. These two cars are not permitted to park as they don't have a permit. The 4x4 nearer to the camera is not even a neighbour and this guy really takes the mickey, he parks there almost all the time. I went and reported him to the local police but, guess what, nothing happened. I wrote an email to the local police and nothing happened. I spoke to an English guy who lives just down this street and he said that the police do issue parking tickets...... once a year!

The problem for me is the state of the paving stones next to the wall on the left. They are broken and loose (they are for pedestrians, not cars), and they rock during the night when a car attempts to pass the parked cars. So it tends to wake me up. And it is annoying during the day too. I wrote an email to the Works department in the Town Hall, nothing happened. I wrote two more times - no reply. I spoke to a guy in one of the trucks of the Works department and he promised that he would look at it, but nothing new so far. He said words to the effect, "Huh, don't waste your time with the Town Hall, nothing happens"! They have a warehouse up by Ikea which is about a 30 minute walk (which I know well!) If the same state of affairs is still here when I return, I will do a Denuncia with the local police. Then they and the Works department have to do something.

But this is one small thing among many great advantages of living here, so I have no complaints really. I certainly landed on my feet here (at the second attempt at buying a flat!)

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