Dear Sir,
The small island town (“GL”) where I winter in the Philippines, is in a shallow bay, with about the same population as Pt. Pollensa. It could be a twin town. During the last major storm, what wasn't flattened by the typhoon winds was dragged into the sea by the tidal surge's backwash. Afterwards, official aid was embezzled, so the people had to reconstruct everything for themselves, from the ground up. It took almost a year, but now the town is fully back to normal. (The hotel bill from the local Bishop for those who took refuge in the stone-built church is still unpaid). GL only gets about 20 tourists a month, but the Lady Mayoress knows their value. She stopped dynamite fishing, and created a marine reserve, by getting her large husband to thump any errant fisherman. I complained to her once about a noisy motorcycle problem. He solved it by stamping on the bike's exhaust and crushing a few other bits. Together, they organise an annual International Surfing Contest, a Mountain Bike Competition, a couple of rock concerts, beach parties, a canoe regatta, and a rip-roaring Fiesta. GL's bay has exactly the same sea-grass problem as Pt. Pollensa, but anyone who doesn't clear his own bit of beach front has his very useful fertiliser stolen by neighbours. There are no metre-high banks of rotting vegetation being washed back and forth near the beaches. Before the first tourists, the beaches weren't quite pristine, so the Lady Mayoress made every family dig its own cess-pit, instead of using the beach. Nobody needs a blue flag now to see that the sea is crystal clear. GL has no mains water, so I get my drinking water from my street's handpump. It is sweet and cool, without a trace of salt. In GL, I bath in the sea. Here, I have to go to Alcudia for a healthy swim. Each street (not asphalt, only coral sand) is swept daily and very quietly by its own little old lady. Rubbish is collected , late morning, in householders' own bags, in front of each house, and the trashmen clean up afterwards. Anything recyclable is kept. GL people can't afford, on average earnings of $3 a day, to throw away anything like a plastic water bottle, which has a thousand uses. (Buoy, cocktail shaker, plant pot....). Ten inches of rain overnight is not unusual in the season. Storm drains were needed, so the government paid for digging and lining drains down one side of every street, but not for covering them, or for culverts. Each parish held some open-air “bailes” - street dances - to fund the extra work materials, and did it themselves. Not a single street was closed to traffic in the three months it took to complete all the work. The Lady Mayoress asked householders to plant between their house fronts and the drains, and they did. Flowers now line every street. The town has no pavements at all, so they aren't a badly maintained and deadly hazard to pedestrians, especially the old or invalid, like Pt. Pollensa's. GL's Local Police (man) doesn't strut around in pairs harassing motorists, street entertainers and vendors, but, if asked politely, he will take someone drunk or objectionable quietly home. There are local thieves, but he knows them. If they steal from tourists, he simply puts them on the next ferry to the mainland. Away from family and support, they mostly decide to go straight. The local language, Surigaonon, spoken only by islanders, is quite incomprehensible, but nobody inflicts it on any of the 6 billion of us in the rest of the world who might possibly visit, apart from “Mayang buntag, mayang gabi'i” (Good morning, good evening). With a welcoming and quite genuine smile. Everyone speaks American, at least. The Lady Mayoress and local government have wisely refrained from erecting vainglorious signs claiming credit for what they haven't done. Especially on the first beach in the town, which is, even now, still a bit of a mess. After coming to Pt. Pollensa for over thirty years, I have never before been so disappointed with it. I will go back to that little Third World town with some relief after this summer in Pt. Pollensa.

Richard Parker, by e-mail

Andratx parking problems

Dear Sir,
We have just returned from a most enjoyable two weeks at Puerto Andraitx, spoilt only by the fact that for some inexplicable reason the local authority decided to close the car park for re-surfacing on the 1st July - just when the peak tourist season was beginning. We have a house on the Mola, and have visited Andraitx every year since 1964. A shortage of car parking has been a serious and increasing problem over the last five years. To close the only car park on 1st July seems to us to be a most extraordinary decision. We were quite glad to return to England last week!

Anthony & Margaret Tittle. By e-mail