No doubt about it -- the news of the week was Wednesday’s that after more than four years the old-style Residence cards are to return for British expatriates and the useless green certificates which replaced are to be assigned to the wastepaper bin where they belong. The Balearic Parliament approved a motion in favour of the reintroduction of the cards (which include an identity photograph unlike the certificate) and the Bulletin’s report said it was likely that the change will take effect by the end of the year and be accompanied by various improvements in how the cards are issued.
The campaign to bring about this very welcome change has been long and complex and involved lobbying and negotiation in Madrid, Brussels and Majorca in which the Bulletin has played its part by persistently briefing visiting MPs and VIPs from the UK about the problem. At the centre of much of the action has been Europeos por Espana (E-por) and its President, Kate Mentink, who said after the Balearic parliament made its decision, “After a four-and-a-half year battle I think we can now say that the green certificate is now history.”
China Moves Into Hotels
Also big news, on Tuesday, was the purchase by a Chinese company, Jiangsu GPRO, of the five-star Palma hotel Valparaiso for 48 million euros. The presentation of this news at the hotel was led by the Chinese Ambassador to Spain, the Chairman of Jiangsu GPRO, the Mayor of Palma and several senior representatives of the Balearic government. The Valparaiso purchase is one of a number that the Chinese company is making to create a chain in Spain. The possibility that Air China might extend its services from China to Majorca was also under discussion.
A tribute was paid to Gordon Rees, “a journalist of the old school and a key part of the Majorca Daily Bulletin following his death in Palma where he had chosen to live after retiring in 1994, from the newspaper he had joined from the UK in 1971. As chief reporter of the Bulletin during those years he was one of the team led by the editor of the time, Andrew Valente, the local news editor Irene Taylor and Riki Lash whose column sometimes ran to eight pages. Gordon Rees was present at the 50th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Bulletin by Pere Serra in 1962. As well as his background as a court reporter in London and on the Jersey Evening Post he had the unusual ability to take shorthand in English and French.
In his weekly Rural Life column, Doctor George Giri reported on a new experience after decades of living in Mancor de la Val: “Last Sunday I had an invitation I could not refuse, a mini supper at Cas Puput, our pub by the Town Hall, to watch Barcelona play Real Madrid on the largest television screen in the village. I went early but the place was already full and I had difficulty getting to my host’s reserved table. There were well over a hundred there and in front of me was a round table where about fifteen teenagers did not all have seats. They turned out to be one of our village teams that at present are top of their Majorcan league and had a special invitation. We were so many that extra waiters had difficulty getting to the tables and everything had to be passed from one table to another, hoping to get to the right one.” (George Giri describes a scene that was probably repeated in villages all over Majorca for the “El clasico” encounter between Barcelona and Madrid. There is always something very similar in our village with the addition that the windows of the bar are opened so that smokers or passers-by can watch from the outside. R.F.)
Cycling on Majorca
In an article “In Praise of Cycling” Andrew Ede responded to what he called “a lot of hot-under the-collarness” about the growth of cycling activity on Majorca which had been the subject of complaints in Letters to the Editor of the Bulletin and were summarised on this page last week.
The article traced the origins of holiday cycling on Majorca to the Swiss cyclist,Max Hurzeler who in 1989 founded Bicycle Holidays which “caught a wave” and led to a favourable study of the characteristics and econonomic potential of bicycle tourism by Balearic businessmen in conjunction with the government. Andrew Ede wrote: “Of course, not all the cyclists that Bicycle Holidays and others bring to Majorca meet with everyone’s approval. Frankly, I despair. What do people want or expect? Nothing it seems or nothing which entails a bit of inconvenience whilst driving. The vitriol that can be levelled against cyclists can be staggering and beyond rationality.” (Since the writers of the Letters to the Editor were not permanent residents here perhaps I should say in their defence that their complaints -- which I share in principle -- were not primarily about the numbers of cyclists but their lack of consideration for other road users and often dangerous cycling in built-up areas. R.F.)
There is probably a figure for the number of cyclists who come to Majorca each year but another interesting statistic given in the Bulletin was that of the 60,000 bird watchers who come to the island annually. They were mentioned in Humphrey Carter’s interview with the publishers of Mallorca Birding Map which lists in English the 75 best birding points for observation of the remarkable range of birds that pass through or settle on Majorca. A team of four has been responsible for the Map and they talked about the special attraction of Majorca for birders in that in one day it is possible to drive round the island visiting three observation points and see as many as 140 species that on the mainland would need days to see.
One of the world’s most powerful warships, the US aircraft carrier Harry S Truman, arrived in Palma for a short visit with its crew of 6,000. Its presence stirred memories of the frequent visits of the US Navy to Palma in the 1980s and 90s.
Another naval visitor to Alcudia and Palma in connection with the centenary of the Spanish Oceanographic Institute was the Spanish research vessel Ramon Margalef which had recently been involved in disputes between
Britain and Spain over its presence in Gibraltar’s territorial waters.