‘Back from a wonderful few days in the South of Spain and Portugal. There weren’t many Internet connections along the way, so it was a real vacation, disconnected from the office and the social network. The travel loop led through the mountains near Ronda, around Seville, and across the Algarve: weather was temperate and very windy.
I had originally planned to drive the Costa del Sol from Malaga to Gibraltar, up to Cadiz, and then around into Portugal, but I very quickly tired of the coastline. There is absolutely rampant construction everywhere, with cranes dotting the horizon and white condominium developments crawling up every hillside. The agents are asking well over 100,000 euros for units: who is buying bits of these vast tracts of new construction? There are lots of British in Spain, Germans in Portugal, but do they all have enough disposable income to buy in these volumes? And to stay?
I also wonder at the impact of the changes on the local economy, culture, and environment. The people that I talked with in cafe’s and grocery stores were happy for the jobs and money, but resentful of the overwhelming number of visitors and the escalation of prices. The land seems fragile and arid, and unlikely to be able to sustain the cumulative pressure of people that is being placed upon it. The small towns already look more like strip malls, sterile and empty much of the day.
Somehow, Globalization should be more respectful of local scale.
At the moment, once the world economy identifies what an area is good for, it overwhelmingly exploits that single aspect. The Costa del Sol is good for vacation homes, so thousands are built, erasing towns, agriculture, and coastal wilderness. I don’t think that the resulting monoculture can be viable or adaptable over the long term. Thus, the short term elevation in living standards would seem to be only a temporary benefit. Like Algernon’s mouse, it has the potential to leave the region in worse condition when the boom ends, having lost the historic culture that lived from and supported the region.