I decided to pursue a business opportunity in Javea. It had then around a 25,000 population year-round and grew to 60-70,000 for the six to eight weeks of high season. There were three main areas, the Beach (Arenal), The Old Town (Pueblo) and the Port (Puerto). Each area, and the gaps in between, boasted restaurants and shops. I found that I tended to go back to the same half-a-dozen restaurants when there was a choice of over two hundred.
I set out to produce a listing of all the restaurants, shops and services in Javea. I walked the streets and learned how to request a tarjeta or business card to get all their details correctly. I then laid out, with Matt, a 40-page desktop published glossy booklet that we called JaveaGuide.com.
Once I had the data, the design and print costings, I produced a simple brochure and went back around the town to sign people up for advertisements, they got a free simple listing, but did they want to get properly noticed!
They did, I took suitable photographs and agreed their copy. Matt, my son, applied his PhotoShop skills to clean-up my pix and laid out the pages for me. We printed them in the UK and shipped them for distribution in Javea.
The finished guide’s cover looked like this:
I made it difficult for myself by showing all the key text in Spanish, French, German and English, and we redrew the maps of the town, using a Tube Map style, not geographically accurate, squaring off many bends but ensuring the right roads intersected properly.
The Guide was distributed, largely by me, into villa and apartment buzons (post boxes), and were spread around businesses, with extra quantities placed at key locations so that opportunities-to-see were maximised. It worked, and I kept (or got?) fit while doing this. There was only one nasty moment when a marauding pack of wild dogs cornered me inside a buzon building in a remote part of Javea, once they realised I had no food they moved on.
What I loved about the Guide was that I got to know everyone in the town, the movers and shakers at least, I knew who was planning what, who owned what – and got all the gossip.
|ASIDE: One advertising client was a ‘South-London boy’ with a restaurant on the beach. When he first moved in, he said a big guy turned up and thrust his hand across the counter saying, ‘I’d like to introduce myself’. Being a friendly guy, he took his hand as the guy went on to say, ‘I’m the guy who’s going to tax you!’. My customer kept a hold of his hand, reached beneath the counter and came out with a big spanner. He hit out at him and chased him off.|
Imagine the client’s concern when a few nights later, out with his wife and children, he saw the guy again. The guy came over and he expected trouble, but the ‘tax-man’ merely said ‘Respect!’ gave him a thumbs-up and left.
I tried to sell an advert to a bar at the back of the beach and realised that it was the place where the gang bosses received their tribute on a Friday night from the illegals, mostly South Americans, working on the black in the town. They all had to show up on Friday night and hand over the agreed tithe for their passage to Spain, and ongoing confidentiality. But this makes the town seem seedy, it was not, it was just that my work drilled me down into this underbelly of crime – it did nothing to spoil the enjoyment of the place.
I also looked at the girlie bars that sat outside Javea’s town limits on the N332 road. They had huge neon signs and the car parks always appeared busy – surely a rich vein of advertising. Backed up by Matt and Mark I went to the best known one, locally called the ‘Honky Donkey’, though its actual name was Don Quixote. As soon as we entered girls allocated themselves to us and got up close and personal, The best I could do was to leave a brochure for the boss – never heard back from him or her.
JaveaGuide caused something of a problem however, which was whenever I made it down to our holiday home, I was always selling ads, collecting ad monies, distributing copies, checking the database, and could never relaxing!
There was a more pressing issue as we began to realise our globe-trotting was being curtailed, any break we got was in Javea. Worse there was a spate of robberies in the town. One of the first was a bank raid at the beach. The raiders, wearing George W Bush masks, got into the bank and had a gunfight with the police before getting away. It was subsequently more risible when the police had put up scene-crime tape, but the Spanish are not as respectful of authority as Brits. Within minutes locals were stepping over the tape and walking through the broken glass to get to the hole-in-the wall and take out cash.
But it got closer. Our street had only 40 villas but three had raids across several weeks, of course our urbanizacion had plenty of points of entry and egress. These happened in the middle of the night, window rejas(Bars) were pulled off by a chain from a 4×4 to the reja. A group of guys would climb in and take any valuables. In our next-door neighbours, a banker, they also drove him off to a hole-in-the wall to use his card an withdraw the maximum – if they’d known he was a bank manager they might have ordered him to do more!
I remember wittingly sitting down to consider that I could not imagine stabbing someone even in anger, but I selected a good lump hammer that I would certainly swing at an intruder. My neighbours mostly acquired guns, you certainly didn’t go and knock on someone’s door late at night around this time!
The police did successfully catch the Mittel-European gang who were living in nearby Moraira and the problem went away. But this took some of the gloss away, so in 2006 we sold the villa. I handed the JaveaGuide business over to a guy who looked as if he could and would make a go of it. But I perhaps underestimated the amount of commitment that I was prepared to give it. He produced just the one issue and let it drop. I never heard whether it was the selling or the physical effort that killed it for him.