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Sharpening The Knives


Mallorca has moved rapidly into the 21st century, away from the 1950s when the island was a rural society and pretty impoverished. The Illes Balears were amongst Spain’s poorest regions in those days and had been all along during the years of the Guerra Civil and the Franco regime.

Today, Mallorca is not a rural society any longer, by any means. Yes, there are still some old customs alive and traditions such as the matançes (autumnal slaughtering of the pig, coming up any time now), the algarroba harvest or a village blacksmith, but few and far between.

Occasionally, you can come across a symbol of yesteryear when for instance a knife sharpener like the one shown here comes into town. I met Jesús years ago, a self-confessed gitano, when he rode a moped and stopped in the pueblos to offer his services. The hind wheel of his ciclomotor Vespino used to keep the grinding stone in fast motion which was employed to sharpen the knives. Much later, he afforded himself a Piaggio three wheeled motor vehicle, again as a means of transport and doubling up as a mobile workshop. To anounce his arrival in let’s say, Ca’s Concos d’es Cavaller, Jesús would play the panpipes to attract his customers. Last week I saw the knife expert for the first time drive up his mobile workshop unit in a Microcar, I think of the Aixam brand, which for its small volume engine (50 cc) can be taken on the road with just a driving licence for mopeds. These small vehicles cost up to 10,000 €, would you believe it? I think one can safely assume that the knife sharpening business keeps our good man in good stead. His skills can be recommended; my wife can vouch for that.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 30th, 2009. The time was 13:24:29.

1 reply »

  1. We still have a knife sharpener here who comes on a bicycle and announces his presence with panpipes. But his visits are far and few between now. I hope to rush out and take a photo next time I hear him. I’m so glad that I lived in Mallorca years ago and my two daughters grew up hearing the sound of those panpipes, as well as the conch shell being blown by the ambulating fish monger. Another nostalgic sound which heralded the end of the day was that of the newspaper vendors calling out “Ultima Horaaaaa” on street corners. Saludos, Sharon.

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November 2009


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