Embarking on the 2nd Decade

When writing this I am listening to the traditional ceremony of December 22nd, with children singing out winning numbers for the Spanish Christmas Lottery, perhaps the biggest lottery worldwide. The total amount of prizes paid out is about 2,3 billion euros.

This year I bought a decimo for 20 euros. The entire sheet or ‘number’, costs 200, but since many consider this too expensive, the tickets are usually sold by tenths, the payout being ten per cent of the published prize.

It is customary that a group of people buy one or several entire tickets together. This is the first time I participate, so it is all very exciting. Now I already know that I was unlucky in the first category El Gordo (the Big One), but there are still chances with four more draws to come. On television, I see people sharing a ticket sitting together around tables in front of the TV, following the draw, their feet warmed by small heaters (estufas) under the table, drinking coffee and small glasses of chinchón the anise liqueur which is a must in the Spanish Christmas culture. On the table, I also see churros and all kinds of high-calorie buns and cakes.

There is a lot of excitement, humour and playfulness around this huge event, organized every year since 1812 by a branch of the Spanish Public Administration, now called Loterías Apuestas del Estado. Next year will see the 200th-year anniversary of the event. Huge celebrations are called for.

With the New Year knocking on the door, one is inclined to do some kind of summary of past events on a personal, as well as a general, level. Being a somewhat ‘private person,’ I won’t go into the personal part more than saying that everything has been “so so” during 2010. I can’t complain. On a general level, the things that pop out first in my mind is the worldwide economic crisis, the happy outcome of the mining accident in Chile, and how I nearly fell in love with Chile’s president, Sebastian Piñera, Spain’s victory in the football championship, the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, the attempted terror attack in Stockholm, where the suicide bomber lost his life, and last but not least, the Wikileaks revelations and the unbelievable Julian Assange.

On New Year’s Eve it has always been customary to promise something that will make you a better person, physically or otherwise. Most people promise to start physical exercise, stop smoking or drinking or start learning something new.

Talking about exercise, one day when having parked my car on the market place in Almuñécar, I met a man in his 70’s walking energetically on the paseo with a small note book in his hand. I started walking with him, and he told me that he ticks off every round of the market place, to be able to calculate how many kilometres he is walking each time. Six kilometres per day is what he is usually doing.

While accompanying him, I met a group of five men of the same age doing the same thing. I asked ‘my man’ if this is his doctor’s recommendation, and the answer was:, “Sí, pero mi médico soy yo” (Yes, but I am my own doctor). This is something I have heard from so many men here (never women). The masculine population of this generation seems to take their health in their own hands as long as possible.

Now the lottery draw has come to an end. I didn’t win in any of the big categories. Have to go and check with the muchacho in the kiosk downtown, to see if I’m lucky enough to get my investment back.

Marianne Lindahl

Born in Helsinki, Finland, many decades ago and a resident in Almuñécar since 2001. I have a M.Sc in Economics and Business Administration and an Authorized Translator´s exam. Prior to this I studied art in Helsinki and Paris. After a career in business I started painting again, (oil, impressionist with a touch of naivism)and have participated in many exhibitions in Spain and Finland. I am active in Asociacion Hispano-Nordica in Almuñécar, a meeting point for people from Sweden, Norway and Finland. I am married, with 3 children and 9 grandchildren. Hobbies: Cats, golf, trecking, jazz. 


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