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Letters Blog Letters Blog | Barrie Mahoney

'Writing Inspired by an Island in the Atlantic'

Agatha Christie and the Canary Islands

Agatha Christie visited the Canary Islands in search of a tranquil and recuperative environment to help her calm a troubled mind. In February 1927, at the age of 36, she visited the Canary Islands to recover from a number of events that had taken place in her life and were having a serious impact upon her mental health. She mysteriously disappeared for eleven days in a ‘fugue state’, a rare psychiatric disorder characterised by amnesia of identity, memories and personality. The state is usually short-lived - sometimes a few hours, but others may suffer for a few days or even longer.

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'Denuncias' and Drag Queens

When I first arrived in Spain, one of the more common words that I often heard being bandied around was the word, ‘Denuncia.’ Usually the word was uttered as a major threat at a time of great anger and stress and usually the recipient was likely to be builders, property developers and Telefonica – not necessarily in that order! When the word was used, one was expected to look suitably impressed and feel comforted that this magic process would solve the problem – any problem. How wrong I was…

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The Role of the Notary when Purchasing and Selling Property in Spain

Alongside the priest and the doctor, the Notary is usually regarded as an important person in Spain and the Canary Islands. Although they are public figures, they obtain their fees from individuals and companies. They play an independent role in drafting and witnessing many types of legal contracts in Spain. Essentially, their job is to ensure that both parties to an agreement understand the terms of the contract and that the terms of the contract do not contravene any laws. Notaries also ensure that the appropriate taxes generated by the transaction are paid.

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Beware of Submarines and Drug Smuggling Grannies

All this puts into context the number of pensioners who have been caught smuggling drugs from the Canary Islands in recent months. Apparently, drug smugglers prefer to recruit elderly and disabled people to carry out their drug running operations, because no-one would suspect an elderly, innocent-looking granny of carrying drugs in her bra, or that smart looking elderly gentleman of carrying a supply in his colostomy bag! Maybe a submarine is the next logical step for the determined smuggler?

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The Whistle Language of La Gomera

There is a small and very beautiful Canary Island called La Gomera. The island has a population of around 22,000 people, and the islanders have maintained a very special way of communicating with each other. In early times, the aboriginal population, the Guanches, used a whistle language to convey complex messages across the deep valleys. As a whistle can be heard from a long distance away, it was far more effective than shouting, and much faster than travelling across the rugged landscape.

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