In the summer of 1976 when I was a member of a team studying pipe-shop operations in European shipyards, I spent one night at the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, a Parador built in 1492, in Santiago de Compostela. Paradors are historic buildings that the Spanish government converted into charming hotels. Since we arrived after dark and left the next morning, the little I observed of the huge cobblestone Plaza del Obradoiro bordered by centuries-old edifices, was tantalizing. Thus in 1991, during my forth visit to Spain to teach modern management in the shipyards operated by Astilleros Españoles, I was pleased to learn that I was again going to Santiago, but this time I would be accompanied by the handsome and always cheerful, Carlos Puig de la Bellacasa.
We were to fly into the airport near Santiago, stay two nights in Vigo and the next two nights in El Ferrol. I was in both seaports before, but wanted to see more of Santiago de Compostela. Since each of our two destinations was only about seventy miles from Santiago, gracious Carlos arranged for four nights at the Parador and for us to commute via a company car to Vigo, and afterwards, in the opposite direction, to El Ferrol. So thanks to Carlos, I also saw much of the countryside in the provinces of Pontevedra and La Coruña in the region referred to as Galicia, the green land of the Celts.
Eucalyptus trees for the production of paper pulp were replacing olive groves because labor associated with the former was a fraction of that required for growing olives. At the same time I saw many vineyards that employed hand-hewed granite posts to support grape vines. Spain’s agriculture was modernizing while there was still much more that the Government had to do to wean rural people away from labor-intensive archaic methods.
Since I was absorbing such details while enjoying the peaceful nature of the green countryside, at one point I said to Carlos, “I don’t like this car’s dark windows.”
Carlos brought me quickly to the reality of breaking away from traditionalism. In his very animated wide-eyed arm-waving Latin style, he said as if I should have known better, “This is our anti-terrorist car!”
Copyright © 2006 (text only) by Louis D. Chirillo