Of Grapes and Man  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012



These aren't the places tourists see. Stinking pools of congealed sewage mud that form ripples as aesthetically beautiful as any desert shot. Crumbled buildings hidden under layers of detritus the town has no use for. Piles of fetid fruit mulching the ground in the corner of the fruit farm, and the inevitable frame of flies festering around it.




A google search of Alzira shows the old city walls and the PlaƧa Major with its coffee-tables-on-concrete kind of trendiness. These walls nod to the city's Moorish history. The coffee tables to its modern Europeanness. But the back streets and industrial areas illuminate its current plight.




Eerily deserted processing factory shells have become a wasteland for drying palm fronds, and yet more litter. The car parks are as empty as a gesture of help from a checkout girl in my hometown. A routine question. Half built housing complexes are riven with weeds and fog trees, which seem to have evolved a strong survival gene, much like the horseradish in England, but tastier.




Nowhere here are the tapas bars and neon signs of Brits abroad resorts.




Yesterday, as I walked to the central park, I was stopped by a young man from Madrid. He explained that there was no work there, so he'd come here to look for work in the country. On a fruit farm, I guess. After a few minutes, we were joined by his slow, drunk seeming friend, clumsily stumbling over to try and stroke my necklace. (If it all goes wrong, we'll meet by the river)...




Sound familiar? Me too. But this isn't a scene from 1930s Dustbowl America, but a growing town only 30 minutes from Valencia in 2012. It's served by a tube for fuck's sake!




As I was out walking in the wrath of the evening sun, I chanced upon an overhanging vine, and scrumped some grapes from a farmer's field. Hearing the siren of hounds as I clip-clopped over their bridge, I fled for my salvation, accidentally smuggling some ants. In my head, I practised the Spanish to negotiate with the farmer, and offer some work in exchange for the fruit. We had become good friends.




Of course, he didn't chase after me for a few over ripe grapes.




It led me to thinking, though, about how many tourists don't see this side of Spain. And the truth of the financial collapse. And as usual, I questioned if really this isn't exactly what we need? Do away with the economy. Start from scratch. And there'll be no more tourists, for people will have to work for their keep. And there'll be no class system, for we'll all work together.




But.




There'll always be scrumping, though. And therein lies the problem. We have evolved in such a way that survival of the fittest has been modified as a capitalist ideal. And there will always be some avaricious bastard who'll scrump your crops and sell 'em off...

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