Two things of which there has been no shortage in Nerja, particularly during the summer, are bag sellers and beggars.
The number of people asking for money has been increasing steadily over the past few years, although the problem is nowhere near as serious as in the larger towns and cities, Madrid for example being horrendous.
Some are obviously genuine cases of hardship, some are individuals or groups swigging beer or wine and hoping to raise funds to replenish their stocks, and some are undoubtedly professional, as seems to be the case everywhere. It is not always easy to distinguish.
I have seen one poor woman spend her days collecting funds with a man, trying to look inconspicuous, watching carefully in the background. Periodically, presumably when sufficient had been collected, he would quickly approach and relieve her of the cash.
The use of animals, for the sympathy vote, is part and parcel of the scene, but this year there have been many comments and complaints, particularly via social media, that at least some of these cats and dogs have been doped.
Particularly for the genuine cases of hardship as a result of the financial crisis, there seems to be neither the political will nor social mechanisms in place to alleviate the problem. As it was politicians and bankers who caused the problems, and they themselves will never endure financial hardship, perhaps we see why the situation has never been properly addressed, except for an occasional ‘commitment’ just prior to an election.
Bag sellers have been the big thing this year. Last year it was wooden handicrafts, jewellery, sunglasses and dodgy headphones, this year it is bags. An endless stream of purveyors going from bar to bar, table to table. No need to worry about having just missed one when you sit down for a quiet drink, another one will be along in about thirty seconds.