Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Life In The Third World

There is a tendency in Spain when something seems to have been handled badly to exaggerate the prowess of other countries in handling the same set of circumstances. This tendency has been on frequent display recently as an unusually harsh winter has occasionally caused transport chaos. The response is a lament about Spain's "third world" inability to cope compared to other supposedly more advanced European countries. Last Sunday, as the Madrid region endured another day of snow, we saw this attitude emerging again as some of the main roads entering the city were cut by the snow for a couple of hours.

Well this week is seeing a bit of a backlash against this attitude as both Britain and France struggled to keep their airports open and motorists were trapped in the snow. In reality, Spain copes a bit better than some other countries with icy weather, not least because parts of the country gets more of it than most of Britain or France does. The idea of mountain passes being closed to all but those who have fixed chains to the wheels of their cars is not uncommon here in winter. The main problem is that people seem to expect to be able to go anywhere in any weather these days, and even the best prepared city can't prevent some disruption if there is a heavy snowfall - short of having thousands of people equipped with snow clearing machinery on permanent alert.

No comments: