If You Watch Spanish TV You Should Watch This – 21 Días

Posted: August 27, 2010 in Life, Spain, Tenerife
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m normally quite scathing about Spanish TV and I defy anyone to accuse me of being unfair especially after what happened last week.

There we were watching one of our favourite programmes when half way through some bumpkin of a technician clearly accidentally hit a switch and the programme switched to being the same as one on a sister channel. I could just visualise them sitting, chatting in the station with no-one actually keeping an eye on what was going on. It was a full 15 minutes before some eejit noticed, the button was switched back and our programme resumed…just as the credits were rolling. I was so incensed I sent an email to the station (noticing that other people had done the same…over and over). It won’t make anyone more efficient, but it made me feel better.

Inefficiency aside, there are actually a few half decent shows being screened at the mo. I always enjoy the travel shows like Callejeros Viajeros and the ones which have a look at life on Spanish beaches in summer – this usually involves extended families sitting around eating and breaking into impromptu flamenco, except when they venture on to a beach with young Brit lads and then you really get to see the cultural differences between the Spanish and ourselves.

But there’s an absolutely cracking programme currently being screened called 21 Días with journalist Samanta Villa. Samanta is an amiable and game girl who will do anything in the name of social journalism. The programme involves Samanta spending 21 days immersing herself in different occupations and activities.

The other week she went 21 days without eating and last week she spent 21 days working in a remote hell hole of a Bolivian village where most of the 200 or so inhabitants worked in a mine that was more of a death trap than anything else. Spunky Sam spent her first day squeezed into a hole smaller than the grave, chipping away at the rock face from dawn to dusk…not that you could tell what time of day it was. After that her bottle went and she spent the rest of the time working above ground.

She stayed with the only woman in the village who worked down the mine and her children in what was basically a hut . The night time entertainment was provided by the woman’s estranged husband who regularly turned up in a drunken stupor demanding his conjugal rights and terrifying the family. It was a dire existence. There were no redeeming features in the place at all, even the scenery was mean. The family had to go to the nearest big town just for a shower (either once a week, or once a month – I never quite caught that bit). For risking her life on a daily basis the woman earned a grand total of €10 a month.

Programmes like this serve as a reminder of how lucky most of us are. Even when we think times are hard, they don’t come close to what some people in this world have to make do with. It can be easy to forget this.

When Samantha left the family after her 21 days she broke down. It was impossible not to cry along with her. This was in part because of the sheer desperation of the family’s existence, but it was also partly because there was a little bit of guilt that at the end of the experience we were able to turn off and resume our comfortable lives.

21 Días can be compelling viewing. There are two programmes screened on Tuesday nights from around 11pm on Cuatro.

  1. islandmomma says:

    Sounds marvellous, I remember seeing the ads about that first one, and then forgot. However, here I find myself at odds with Spanish programming and way of life. I just love early mornings, especially at this time of year, before the heat of day has built up, which means generally I am going to bed around 11pm……and I never invested in a dvd recorder, maybe it’s time! I did invest in a very small new tv when we went digital, and only the other day was regretting the expense!

    • dragojac says:

      Most of the time it’s fascinating – this week she spent 21 days smoking marijuana to study the effects of consistent usage (probably a reward for the Bolivian mine experience – not that she enjoyed the MJ experience) and that was quite dull, but then for the 2nd programme she spent the 21 days living on the street.

      Trouble is this Spanish habit of screening programmes back to back. The second one doesn’t start till after midnight which is a bit too late for us during the week and we don’t have a DVD recorder either.

  2. Richard says:

    “Programmes like this serve as a reminder of how lucky most of us are” … absolutely ! If any of us ex-pats living in Paradise are tempted to whinge, just remember the plight of those miners in Chile stuck underground for the next few months, and told that they have to lose enough weight to fit in the rescue shaft (< 35" waists).
    Come to think of it, perhaps the NHS could use the same system: Chuck all the fatties down a mine shaft and tell them that they can't come out until they're skinny enough to get back in the lift 🙂

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