An open letter to Fanny Serrano, Torrevieja’s Councillor for Tourism
We thought we would write to you expressing our sadness as another one of Spain’s beautiful beaches and promenades is being inexorably metamorphosed into another of your brilliant country’s appalling Concrete Costas.
It’s a long letter but it really only contains one simple question … why do those in power want to turn your historic and beautiful beaches into the equivalent of Britain’s shameful hang-dog high-rise tower block estates?
I once lived near Miles Platting, a suburb a similar distance from Manchester as Rocio del Mar is from Torrevieja. It was a place you averted your eyes from as you drove by.
Miles Platting had no charm, only ugliness. It was a carbuncle of huge brutal-ist tower blocks, poky maisonettes and flats on gantries and gangways, cripplingly small Lego-land two-up and two-downs – supposedly family homes – scabby gardens, dog shit, dead cats, noisy people, screaming babies, plastic footballs punching holes in walls… dispossessed old folk remembering when it was all flickering gas light, trams and Victorian walkways.
But you know what Fanny, those old people were also remembering music in the air at night, music from the pubs, from street-corner troubadours, grannies entertaining families in their drear but proud little homes on the old Joanna.
Sadly though, when the powers-that-be in Manchester poked their bony bejewelled fingers up to the sky and decided that people should live there for the next century, family on top of family, on top of family on top of family driven mad by the constant tap-dance of heels on the ceiling, the blare of the neighbour’s telly, intimate creaking of high-rise beds at night, ear-wigging at intimate family secrets and ear-splitting rows…
No, the powers-that-be had their heads in the clouds – or more intimate places – and had missed the whole point of high-rise apartment living. They’d missed the point of Le Corbusier’s dream of raw concrete architecture and just gone instead for the brutal.
But at least Manchester had the excuse of social housing, what is the Spanish authorities excuse Fanny?
Unfortunately, whatever the reason, the effect was and will be the same – music stopped as the community and its history died.
And do you know Fanny, the thing which gave this area it attraction is dying too … the thing that brought the British and so many other nations here, charm and history and sea and sand (even though a lot of it was shipped in).
But why would we ever again come to this new Concrete Costa we have often thought of calling home?
We first washed up here seven years ago – and then the authorities were allowing houses and apartments to replicate over the hills and far away on the inland side of the deadly N332– little white houses, big white houses, white apartment blocks, it looked like somebody had fitted bleached reptilian scales to the hillsides as far as we could see.
But the beaches on the other side of N332 told a different story … we crossed the road to sunshine and sea and a micro-climate so delicate barely a fly survived.
And we saw the historic beauty of Spain’s Salt Lake City, we walked by olive groves and lemon groves, we saw the walled royal land and the imposing Finca Ferris.
But now Fanny the area has become a kingdom of beef burgers and cheap fizzy lager… where are all the Spanish restaurants, Fanny? There is one by the sea I can think of and it cost us 12 euros for a pink gin last time we were there! And if you are unlucky enough to live on the inland side of it all you have to cross the one blue bridge which services miles and miles of the killer N332.
And where has all the Spanish music gone, Fanny?
Thousands of Brits and Spanish music lovers were shocked recently to find that the beach’s iconic wooden shack bars were closed without warning after a decade.
One ex-pat said: “This is a calamity for our way of life, these three bars by the sea were buzzing with live bands and thousands of people, ex-pats from all nations, and Spanish families got together every week.”
The owner of the Bola-Bola bar has apparently filed a court complaint over the closure.
Oh dear Fanny, how can this be a good thing?
Thousands of ex-pats from the UK, Scandinavia and Russia have been flocking to the area since the early 2000s cashing in on the weather, the low cost of living and, yes, house prices that hit rock bottom after the banking collapse of 2008.
But now what is there to attract them?
The Strip? It’s a long untidy verandah of bars, curry and pizza houses, beef burgers and fizzy lager.
And now the authorities appear to want to build more noisy unedifying tower blocks where the chiringuitos used to be.
One final thing Fanny, while we think about it, why haven’t the authorities fixed the N332? Why are people still dying all the time on it?
This road is the true Terror of Torrevieja. At least one person a week is apparently pulped into a memory just trying to get to the beaches along its length. Pantechnicons, salt wagons, Winnebago’s, stretch-limos, fallen angels, death-wish people come tearing by.
Yet, do you know, still for a few seconds at a time, sometimes, we can believe we are exactly where we want to be – in our Spanish Dream.
The nights are as dark as fate and a million stars mark out an alleyway to the moon. Crickets are singing and the ocean does a soft-sea shuffle with the rocks and the shale on the beach. Fishing boats ring them bells …
Why take that away from everybody, including the Spanish, Fanny?