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Showing posts from October, 2010

Faster than a speeding bullet

Because we are live permanently in Alicante, which is part of Valencia, our free health care is provided through the Valencian Health Authority. We can get emergency cover anywhere in Spain but in order to get cover for routine access to doctors and other medical services here in Murcia we need to go along to our local health centre every three months and renew a "displacement order."

When we came back to Cartagena in September we renewed the dispalcement order and for some unknown reason the cover was only extended into October. My order ran out yesterday and as the form can only be renewed on Thursdays we went to do the renewal first thing this morning.

There was one person in front of us. He seemed to be renewing his health card which is a very routine procedure. It took 20 minutes for the dozy looking clerk to deal with him.

When we got there it turned out that Maggie's form expires on 30th October so they turned her down flat. Bizarrely my form, renewed on the same …

Art in odd places

There is a series of arts events on in Cartagena at the moment grouped together under the banner of Manifesta 8. The exhibitions are looking at past and present day Cartagena with a focus on links between Southern Spain and North Africa.

We've been to three of the eight venues so far and top marks to the organisers for choosing interesting spots.

In the Casino, once a Gentleman's Club and now a sort of social centre with incredible tile work and extravagant decorated ceilings there's an exhibition that focuses on the mining, now long gone, near La Unión. The link is the silver on the glass photographic plates, the very same metal that the miners dug from the earth.

In the 18th Century "Autopsy Pavilion" where medical students once learned about anatomy by cutting up corpses there was a silent film looking at the defences in and around Cartagena and the Navy presence in the town.

Venue wise though the old Prison of San Anton opened in the 1930s and only recently c…

An illustrious audience

I was doing an English conversation class with about eight students the other night. We were talking about important dates in their lives and one of the students explained how he had been a team member of the Spanish handball team that had won the World Championships in Tunisia in 2005. I was impressed.

A couple of days later I was giving an individual class to a young woman who had been in the group of eight students along with the handball player. Somewhere along the way we ended up talking about her job as a swimming coach. This young woman has a visual impairment. She told me that she had competed in the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 and again in Beijing in 2008. I was impressed.

A small step forward

Last year we were thwarted in our attempts to find a Spanish class in Cartagena. This year there's nothing for Maggie because of her work pattern but, as I'm free on Monday morning, I've been able to get a place on a course run by a set-up called called Funcarele. I can't get to the session on Wednesday but something is much better than nothing.

It was the first class this morning. Just six of us and a very pleasant young woman teacher called Rocio.

I suppose they'll change my timetable at work now.

Go away

In the Third Century BC Hannibal used the silver mined from the area around what is now La Unión to pay for his elephants. In fits and starts tin, iron and lead have been mined from the same hills right up to 1990.

La Unión looks like a pit village, not exactly the prettiest town in Spain, but top marks to the locals for setting up a park based on the archaeological history of the area. Bottom marks for letting people into it.

We tried to get into the park when we went to the Mining Museum one Wednesday afternoon but we were turned away as it was nearly closing time. We had another go last Saturday and they attempted to turn us away again.

"There's only one train per session and it's gone and you need to reserve a ticket"
"So can we reserve a ticket for tomorrow?"
"No it's full"
"Can we walk into the park then?, the leaflet says you can"
"No we only have guided visits"

Bit of a flutter now between the two people on the des…

The Hippopotamus Song

We went to San Pedro del Pinatar today which is a small town on the edge of the Mar Menor.

The Mar Menor, the Little Sea, is a hypersaline lagoon linked to the Mediterranean Sea only by a series of locks and weirs. It's shallow and warm and, particularly at it's northern end, it has a mud that people like to slart all over themselves for its therapeutic qualities. Apparently Hippocrates, the oath man, recommended mudbaths sometime between 460 and 337 BC and what's good enough for him is good enough for we Murcianos.

As if Hippocrates weren't sufficient a 1995 study by the University of Murcia "revealed" that the mud contains a high percentage of cations, anions, calcium, magnesium and potassium fluorides, chlorides and sulphates which can be absorbed by the skin to improve skin conditions like ulcers, boils, sores and acne. What's more it also eliminates toxins and reduces the inflammation caused by rheumatism, arthritis and gout. Good or what?

It's …