"Queremos el cielo que veía Chanquete"

One morning in Madrid, on my way back to the hotel, I almost collided with a few demonstrators.

A handful of demontrators with a few banners. Very quiet. On the corner of two streets. Trying to establish a contact with passers-by.

Obviously it was all about air pollution. I don’t know whether it was about pollution in Madrid or in Spain in general . One of the banners said: «Nos estan fumigando.» («They are smoking us out» - no relation with tobacco though since other banners were pictures of the traces aircrafts leave in the sky.)

I suffer so much from respiratory allergies due to city air pollution that I kind of laughed. I was breathing so well in Madrid. Not many cars around besides cabs. Nothing to be compared with the terrible pollution in Paris and Brussels due to traffic congestion.

So I looked at the demonstrators, took a few pictures. I did not dare to start talking with them. I am too ashamed of my rusty spanish. It’s good enough to walk around but definitely not apt to a political discussion with students. (They definitely looked like students.)

And while I was walking away, I noticed a policeman who was obviously getting ready to hand a ticket to one of the demonstrators.
I then read the banner the girl was holding. It said: "Queremos ver al cielo que veía Chanquete." ("We want to see the sky that Chanquete was seeing.")
Quite different from the other banners all about air pollution.

The sky that Chanquete was seeing? I tried to remember what I knew about Spain and famous Spaniards.

I called Popeye: "Tell me, who is Chanquete?"

He had no idea even though he’s almost more Spanish than French.

So, what is left to do when you have access to the web in your hotel room?

Google «Chanquete» of course.

I was expecting to discover he had been one of the first Spanish environmentalists... since he obviously was no longer alive but was still fondly recalled during an anti-pollution demonstration.

How wrong one can be!

Chanquete is totally fictional. He was the hero of a Spanish tv show from the 80’s called ‘Verano Azul’ (Blue Summer).

Antonio Ferrandis was Chanquete .

Chanquete was an old fisherman living in his old boat, in a small village in Andalucia (Southern Spain). Teenagers came to vacation there. The whole weekly show was about lessons taught by a very wise old man to those kids to help them have a better life.

Chanquete died at the end of the show. I imagine that "lesson time" was over... The 90's were looming.

"Verano Azul" still is very famous and it is aired every summer in Spain. It also was on the air in France as well... in the early eighties. (I know now that by not watching tv, I have been missing a lot...)

When something goes wrong in the world... like a pollution problem, I always wonder about what my great-grandfather (Bon-Papa) would have thought about it. And I know that I kind of look back on his life with nostalgy - even though he had to go through two major wars.

Spanish people also have a grandfather to look up to - Chanquete, of course. It makes it far easier for everybody to understand that once, there was a better world, environmentally speaking.

Muchas gracias, Chanquete.

*Good Luck, and Good Night.

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