If you’ve spent a lot of time outside of Spain’s main cities (Which I haven’t) you might have observed something I saw when descending on my first flight in: Holes in the ground. Not natural holes, but holes of the man-made kind. Most of these holes were accompanied by work sites and construction machinery, not looking particularly attended. On my next trip, a long train ride from Madrid to Valencia, my late friend Amal and I stared wide-eyed out the window at a continuous scarred “war-zone” of a landscape, which did indeed have a lot of holes in it. More interesting still, many of the holes were accompanied by abandoned looking worksites complete with rusting earth moving machinery, then a mere kilometre later, we see a fully active worksite centered on another large hole.
Conceptually, I can understand the need to dig a few holes from time to time, but what I cannot understand is a good reason to dig new holes, when there are other half-dug holes a short distance away. Indeed, digging holes is a very Spanish occupation; this observation was further bolstered on another trip in to Barcelona where I saw (once again, out the plane window) what could have been the mother of all holes, likely visible from space, a few dozen machines were carving up the topsoil at a frenzied pace, assumedly for some kind of large-hole-needing development.
The thing that’s puzzled me about all of this is: Why Spain? I’ve not really seen all of this hole digging, and abandonment of thereof anywhere else, at least not on this scale. A better informed person would quickly point me to the matter of Spain’s failed construction boom, and ailing economy, which, even though true, doesn’t really satisfy me.
At one point, I was standing in Valencia’s main train station, staring at a large billboard of a Spanish construction company. It depicted a beautiful green landscape (like none I have ever seen in Spain) but with an army of machines digging holes in it. In the bottom right hand corner a single word read: “Progreso” (Spanish for “Progress”). Without even realising it at the time, I had just been given my answer.