The small but perfectly formed Balearic Island of Menorca once again offered a chilled-out late summer, early autumn, vacation. Menorca, however, like mainland Spain and other countries of Europe, has financial difficulties.
On the surface Menorca is open for business, as always. Between the start of May and the end of October each year the island is alive with tourism. Without an influx of visitors, pockets virtually stuffed with Euros, Menorcans would face a tough time. As it is, for many Menorcans each year, as October draws to a close, they face a lean winter.
Locals will tell you that work which could help fill the lean days of winter is drying up. Even cleaning jobs will be thin on the ground with too many seasonal workers chasing such jobs.
Se Vende, for sale signs, are everywhere. There were always some but more now are tattered having been there for sometime. They adorn broken down homes. It is a buyer's market as house prices drop but buyers are hard to find. Even if you are prepared to cut your losses and sell at any price finding a buyer is not easy.
But Menorca is not mainland Spain. The illusion is in tact and wealth is visible. Luxury cruisers line up along the harbour of Mahon, the island's capital, but the rich poor divide is growing.
There is a faint promise of recovery for Spain. It will be fragile and could easily be broken. This week The China Post reported
Spain's government sees light at the end of the tunnel with the end to a two-year recession but analysts warn joblessness will continue to weigh down the euro-zone's fourth-largest economy. “The deterioration of the job market has hit bottom,” Budget Minister Cristobal Montoro told public television TVE.
“Spain in 2014 will be in condition to grow and create jobs.”
Montoro spoke as the government said the number of registered unemployed rose in September by about 25,500 people from the previous month to reach 4.72 million as a summer jobs boom ended.
But the government stressed this was the smallest increase in joblessness in the month of September since 2007.
The government estimates the Spanish economy emerged this quarter from a double-dip recession brought on by the bursting of a housing bubble in 2008 and will post growth of 0.7 percent next year.Spanish tourism received a welcome boost in 2013. Brits who had taken vacations in Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia, as the currency is not the Euro, opted to visit Spain instead. Middle eastern unrest has hit the tourism industry in those countries but boosted tourism in Spain.
Vacations though are a luxury many can ill afford.
Fancy buying a property in Spain? If you have the money you can pick up a ramshackle property in Spain, in need of full renovation, for a song or even a half-decent house with a swimming pool for a pittance.
Mahon airport was hot and humid with the first rain for two weeks, as we prepared to depart Menorca. Our check-in desk was manned by a worker struggling to keep cool in every sense of the word. The airport was packed with Friday morning tourists either going home or just arriving. Stress for the workers with added heat.
Then there was the temperature heat. She managed to a have a laugh with us but woe betide any grumpy or rude travellers. She would have eaten them alive.
As she weighed our luggage and queried the allowance we explained we had paid extra for an increased baggage allowance. A Spanish shrug of the shoulders and an "I don't care" statement said it all. As it to illustrate Spain's dire financial straits she pulled out a traditional Spanish hand held fan and waffed herself rapidly......"No electric fan?", we asked. No austerity had put paid to them.
Was she joking?
Perhaps not. After all Spain is "Se Vende".
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com