Valencia is considered the Spanish city hit the most by the economic crisis. As with most topics that I study, I had theoretical knowledge that this was true. I read about Spain’s dealings with Europe and it’s debt, mostly because it is similar to Greece’s crisis. Today I spoke to a man who, without any hesitation said, “Spain is fucked up.” Valencia, he said, has suffered the most in terms of the economy.
I encountered this man while he was walking the street with a basket attached to a bike, a thin metal prodding stick and a single work glove. He is without a job like 22.7% of Spaniards according to Eurostat.
At a stop for some “comida,” the restaurant owner told us about how many of the shops in a main shopping street near the market, “la lonja” have shut down recently. We took a stroll through and saw that dozens of shops had closed their doors and had signs that read “se aquilar” or “se vende”—for rent or sale. An entire street was void of activity, other than the lively street art and graffiti.
Some without a job have resorted to deceptive business, such as collecting scrap metal. I have noticed several individuals picking through the public trash bins on the streets, sometimes pulling out pieces and attaching them to their bikes.
We soon later spoke to an older man who works in a metal manufacturer who, told us that the people who take the scrap metal do not deserve it. He said he worked hard for the metals and that those people should go back to their native countries. He is a conservative man, he said, and also shared with us—a group of Americans—his negative opinion on the United States.
He believes America uses people from different countries like Spain to build its reputation as a powerful country. Talented artists, geniuses educated in Spain go to America and they are used. While this is happening, he said, Spain’s economy and reputation are suffering. Strange to tell a group of Americans, but he said he is a tolerant and wants students studying in Spain, like us, to know that despite these opinions, Spaniards are good people.