Chinatown, Extremadura

For a population of nearly seventeen thousand there’s nearly one square meter of Chinese merchandise for every person
Merkachina, xxxxx
I’m not sure why Zafra is popular with the Chinese
Known as little Sevilla
Yet, I have the impression there’s more Chinese in Zafra than Sevilla, a city fifty times its size

Some of the shops are like aircraft hangers; lengthy aisles of largely low quality, poorly made, inexpensive products
Sometimes there are surprises

The galvanized buckets, hearth equipment and brooms of Cytisus scoparius still have a rustic simplicity and sense of frugality about them; I imagine made in a forge or workshop somewhere in the mountains of the meseta where Spain still has traditional crafts

Conversely much of the kitchen utensils, crockery, bathroom accessories, lamps and storage jars are over designed with decals, flourishes, unnecessary curves and embellishments; manufacturers wishing to make something that’ll beat their competitors succeeded only in increasing production costs, end price and customer apathy

The cleaning materials: abrasive creams, Ducks, bleach, anti-bacterial sprays, detergents, oven cleaners, washing-up liquid, Brillo pads, sponges and kitchen paper all seem inexpensive, standing in the aisles of the Chinese shops
But I often see in Carrefour or Mercadona, what I’ve just bought elsewhere, cheaper and more effective

The abrasives are a little less effective, the Ducks and bleaches scented with sickly perfumes, the washing-up liquid a little less viscous, anti-bacteriacides a little less efficacious, the degreasants still leave the oven ingrained even after many hours, the metal pads rust, the sponged scourers fall apart quickly and the cardboard roll of the kitchen paper appears rather too quickly

Choosing carefully there are a lot of good purchases to be made
The building tools are especially good value, often of metals softer than they should be and poorly made, but they will work for a few jobs
Sometimes I need them only for the job in hand so it makes economic sense to buy these

Either they break while removing the packaging or taking off the price tags, seemingly glued with industrial strength adhesives
If you successfully remove them, a memory of unwanted glue remains, attracting dust and dirt in the exact shape of the ticket that had been removed

They also sell a product to effortlessly remove the tags and tickets
This is typically good business savvy, as the demand has been generated by themselves

The Chinese machinery for el campo is significantly cheaper but goes wrong
Counting the bills for spare parts and repair is not recommended, it emphasises what you already know; you’ve made a false economy

Though the KPC brand is sufficiently durable it does spend lengthy periods in Motos Antonio‘s repair shop after I’ve tried to repair the problem
Antonio‘s father is an inventive genius who can navigate a mechanical problem like a ship through uncharted waters, calmly and efficiently; hardly soiling his hands with grease, using whatever comes to hand and will do the job
Now a few years later the bastardised telescopic multi-use chainsaw, hedge trimmer and strimmer looks like a weapon from Mad Max or another dystopian world

After hours trying to find out what a problem is, much less resolve it, in seconds he will deftly, twist, flick, grease and cajole the motor to start
I never cease to believe that it won’t work or that in a humble motor repair shop in Zafra a small miracle has occurred

Commendable that China, like Spain, still has an industry manufacturing basic goods, even though the years of manufacturing nous are lacking


This entry was published on February 22, 2017 at 9:33 am and is filed under Travel. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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