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Blowing air

I've just walked back from the pictures. This is not an exciting event in itself. In fact this isn't an exciting post. It's here because I'm feeling a bit guilty. I've just realised that I didn't make a single Life in Cartagena entry all through December. How can it be that there's more to write about in sleepy Culebrón than in the city?

So back to the pictures. We tend to go to a multiplex run by a local cinema chain in the Mandarache Shopping Centre. The truth is that but for the cinema the centre would almost certainly have closed by now. It's a shopping centre that has never worked properly. The majority of the shop units are empty, even the Burger King closed down, but for months now there has been structural work going on and a big gaudy sign outside to say " Economato - Opening Soon."

I just presumed that Economato was the name of some ultracheap supermarket chain but apparently not. In the past economatos were stores that sold their goods to specific groups of people - maybe the workers from a large factory, a mine, members of a mutual society or the families of ship's crews out at sea - often they were co-operatives and over the years they simply went out of business in the face of competition from newer forms of retailing.

The new Economato is an amalgamation of several independent businesses in one single 6,000m² space. The meat counter, the fruit and veg section, the fishmonger etc. all have different owners. There are seventeen separate businesses in all but, as far as the shopper is concerned, they behave as one retailer. Payment is made against a single bill. According to the press article I read even the tills are different. The staff in what would normally be the checkout area unpack trolleys and pack carrier bags. Payment is dealt with by a machine, rather than a person, so the shop employees never touch either money or plastic cards.

One advantage of this shared space system is that recentish legislation has made it possible for shops of less than 300m² to open when they like so the Economato will be open on Sundays which is a real novelty for Spain. It was closed when I came out of the flicks though.

We used to live close to the cinema but, since we moved to the town centre I've hardly been back to the area. Rather than catch the bus I decided to walk the long way home just to have a bit of a nose around. 

I passed the circus. Christmas circuses are big in Spain. I walked on attracted by the Christmas lights on el Corte Inglés department store and on the way I noticed a new freiduria or fried fish and seafood restaurant (which the WordReference dictionary prosaically defines as chippy in English) almost next door to yet another new English language school. 

El Corte Inglés was open. I was surprised but apparently they have extended their opening hours through to either eleven or midnight for the Christmas sales period. Christmas is far from over yet in Spain and the big gift giving night is still to come. 

Walking down the Alameda I passed a sort of disco lounge place called Soho. I thought it was new but as they joined Facebook over two years ago I must just have missed it. They have a door policy of 25-50 year olds anyway so I won't be popping in there for a port and lemon anytime soon. There was a 24 hour food shop more or less next door too and I don't remember that either. Maybe it's just early stage dementia.

I don't read much UK news but I still have the Guardian World News feed on Google reader. The last two Spain related headlines are "Economic woes drive down car sales" and "The pain of austerity deepens" I know it's all true. I could just as well have talked about all the unemployed twenty somethings, the closed shops and bankrupt businesses but it's a New Year and I definitely approve of the optimism I walked past tonight.


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