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Giant Paella - Giant Fiasco

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 19th Aug 2011

As much as I love living in Spain and the Spanish, it winds me up that not one of them could organise a prayer in a Mosque.

And this observation of mine was demonstrated with staggering (in)efficiency at the yearly 'Paella day' as part of my Town's yearly, fortnight-long Fiesta the other week.

The Giant Paella is one of my favourite days on the Fiesta Calendar. At around 1pm in the afternoon of the designated 'Paella day', a couple of hundred of the locals head down to the Car park in the Town, under the shade of the trees and between the river and the Outdoor Municipal Pool. We set up our respective patio tables and chairs and listen to the various Bands playing, whilst we enjoy a beer and watch the team prepare and cook the giant Paella over the orange-wood bonfire.

The Municipal pool is opened up to the public free of charge for the whole day so everyone can nip in and out to use the 'servicios' and to take a dip if the sun gets too intense. Later in the day, and after the paella has finished, a couple of water tankers will arrive and a massive water fight will take place, so the Golden-Oldies usually shuffle off home and everyone else knows either to expect a soaking, or brings a change of clothes.

The ticket costs 3 Euros per head and the Festeros hand out Nuts, olives, bread, pickles and wine that have all been sponsored by local businesses.

However, this particular year things struck me as having gone slightly pear shaped.

For one, my Town is tiny by British standards, and few tourists venture this far inland. The ones that do come for two reasons , and two reasons only - 1.) The Rastro - Massive in comparison to the rest of the town and very popular, and 2.) The Co-operative Bodega, situated bang opposite the car park where the Rastro is held, and who does a booming trade selling cheap and locally produced wine to the visitors.

On an average Saturday there may be a Dozen or so coaches ferrying tourists in from the Coast, and many, many more venturing inland in their hire cars.

The dozen or so Cafe's, Bars and shops situated opposite or around the Rastro and Bodega all benefit from this trade, which is by far the busiest day of the week.

So why decide to hold the Paella day on the Saturday ? - Surely it could have been held on the Friday, or maybe even waited until the Sunday ?

OR - if it simply HAD to be held on the saturday, why not hold the Paella in one of the other Plazas or Parks in the Town ?

Better still, why didn't anyone inform the coach-tour operators that the Rastro had been cancelled for that particular day ?

Although the Festeros pretty much have free reign in organising what they want, and when they want during for the Fiestas, the Ayuntamiento must be aware of the situation as they take responsibility for providing and delivering the tables and chairs, and opening up the Swimming pool to the public etc...

I can only guess at the loss of revenue for the shopkeepers and Bodega at what I imagine could and would have been the busiest day of the year for business.

Better still, I was left wondering why the Local Wine Bodega, who Sponsored the Free alcoholic drinks for this year's Paella day, decided to provide us with Beer, which they bought from the local Supermarket, instead.

Comment on this Blog

Hi Maxine, I agree 100% about NOT wanting or needing to change the Spanish way of life and Bastardise it into any different. I just feel for the Bodegas, Shopkeepers and Stallholders who missed an opportunity to earn what could have been a decent wage that day - especially at a time when more businesses are closing than opening around here at the moment. Not cultural differences, just basic economics.
Mr Grumpy - Wed, 24th Aug 2011
I take it this refers to Jalon. I have lived here for over 20 years & wouldn't presume to understand the thinking behind actions. But I do know it works !! Did you really come here to enjoy the ambience or alter things to the British way of thinking? Well most of us made the move to get away from "lateral thinking" "Allergic responces"
Maxine Kemp - Tue, 23rd Aug 2011
Yes, I think that if I had to make one fundamental(ist) complaint about this country is its lack of organization. Is it a cultural inability to engage in lateral thinking? Is it due to an allergic response to leadership? Or conversely, is there a tinpot dictator in every person? I donīt get it. Perhaps coordination is the true stamp of progress.
Mo - Sun, 21st Aug 2011

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