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The Cockroaches of Benidorm
Is Benidorm hoaching with cockroaches?
Benidorm, situated as it is on the coast of the Mediterranean in Southeast Spain, is famous for its clement weather, for its sunshine, and for its all-year round tourist attractions.
Permanently warm, it is also home to millions of cockroaches, that every business does its best to hide from the constant influx of tourists.
You can have the cleanest bar on the Costas, but at any time one or two big ones can climb out of a nearby drain, or come up from the beach, and enter.
Within seconds of being spotted, you can be sure that your bar will be completely emptied of all its clients, as people quickly finish up and leave, believing your bar to be infested.
This is tragic for a business, because you can be sure that those holidaymakers will not return to your bar for the duration of their vacation, and that they will also advise others not to go.
This is why every bar does their utmost to ensure no cockroaches are seen by tourists.
An advert for Cucal
Hide the Cockroach!
It doesn’t always work.
Sometimes they came in and got spotted by the clients before the staff.
When this happens, as a bar owner you can expect a dip in business for at least the next fortnight.
Cockroaches are especially horrible creatures.
They actually don’t bite, nor spread diseases, but they are UGLY!!
And if you’ve ever watched them, they can move at lightning speed when they put their mind to it.
And that makes them scary!
You see one on a wall, or on the floor, and you are approaching it with a can of Cucal (the absolute BEST cockroach killing spray you can buy here), and then the bugger spots you and runs!
Then it's a mad search for it.
Where did it go? Did it go near a client? Did it go down my top (as one did before)?
I always look there first.
I remember once we ‘lost’ a cockroach in the bar.
We were frantically searching everywhere for it, and telling the customers that we had lost a contact lens, and could they stay back in case they stood on it, when I felt a tickle.
Looking down, I saw the two feelers waving about from between my breasts.
I don’t think I have ever stripped so quickly in my life before! I did remember to run into the kitchen first, which fortunately hid me and my activities from everyone in the bar.
I was having a panic attack, but by the time I had stripped off, the cockroach had gone off again. I couldn’t look for it; I was too busy trying to stop my heart from racing!
That day in particular, I ended up phoning up the cockroach exterminators and pleading with them to come and spray the bar again, as about six or seven big cockroaches had appeared.
They didn’t come.
They’d sprayed my bar about two months before this and explained (again) that big cockroaches aren’t a problem.
They come in from outside.
The poison the cockroach exterminators had already laid in the bar would stop them from breeding, and that they would visit next day to see where the cockroaches were coming from.
It turned out to be from an air conditioning unit installed low down in the kitchen – just the right height for the cockroaches from the grass outside to climb in.
We got it blocked off permanently that day.
A Cockroach Nest IS a Problem
Big cockroaches aren’t a problem. Little ones are. Little ones means there is a nest in the premises.
Once a bar has a nest, instead of getting cockroach exterminated once a year, they must pay the money to get exterminated TWICE a year.
This used to mean closing the bar for 24 hours, but fortunately a new gel has been developed that can be laid in the bar, and will kill the cockroaches as they nibble on it as opposed to having a spray substance in the air that can be breathed in by humans.
I had a nest once, but it took me six months or so to realise I had developed a problem.
These tiny little beetle-like insects started appearing. They would run along the bar surface, and myself and customers used to take turns squashing them with beer mats.
They looked harmless –cute even, I had no idea they were cockroaches!
Anyway, the time of year came around for my annual cockroach extermination, and they were identified.
Know your Baby Cockroaches
Since then, I can recognise them anywhere, and the amount of (especially) Spanish bars that have them are ridiculous.
The staff there must know what they are, and completely ignore them.
Likewise their customers.
I’ve been in Spanish bars where a big cockroach has come in, and the Spanish just see it as an opportunity for some fun, using it as a football, until the poor thing has died, else escaped back into the street.
English Bars are a different story as I have explained.
The English associate cockroaches with dirt, and big cockroaches as being an infestation, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Cockroaches live in Benidorm.
No matter how much you try to kill them all off, it’s never going to happen.
They can supposedly even survive an atomic war, so what chance do our cans of Cucal really have at the end of the day?
Benidorm, the TV series
There is a British TV comedy program called Benidorm, which is just about to start filming its 4th series, and many of my friends got accepted as extras.
I was jealous because they were paid something like €50 a day plus meals, and that seems like a fortune when you are running a bar that doesn’t have a lot of trade.
But that was half my problem, I was running a bar. I simply couldn’t take time out to appear in a TV show.
John & Joseph's Restaurant, Benidorm
I think it was possibly the first series that was being filmed, and I bumped into some good friends of mine that were being paid as extras, even though to be honest I never saw their faces on the show.
It was approaching lunchtime, and I tagged along with them when they went to eat.
I couldn’t believe it when I saw they were being treated to a meal at JOHN & JOSEPH’S!!
To explain, John & Joseph’s is the name of a British-type restaurant ran by Spaniards that serves what is probably the cheapest food you will see in the whole of Spain.
It is the butt of all the comedians’ jokes, who suggest that anyone who eats there is quite likely to die of botulism or worse.
Up until that day, I’d avoided the place too.
My daughter used to work in the Black Chicken karaoke bar, just round the corner but joined via the ceiling space to John & Joseph’s.
She explained to me how the cockroach problem was a nightmare there.
It didn’t matter what the bar owner did, the cockroaches kept coming back, in their hundreds if not thousands.
In fact, all the businesses in this vicinity had the same problem, and all blamed John & Joseph’s. It didn't seem to matter how many visits they got from the cockroach exterminators, the cockroaches kept re-appearing.
I remember sitting in The Black Chicken one day, when it was absolutely mobbed as it always is (it’s a very popular bar), someone was up singing but I couldn’t look at them – I couldn’t take my eyes off the cockroach that was crawling up a fat woman’s wide sleeved arms, sitting opposite. She was totally oblivious to the cockroach!
Life is unfair. Some bars must serve something in their drinks so that the client simply doesn’t see the cockroaches that are hoaching the place.
Anyway, there I was sitting in John & Joseph’s, a first for me, contemplating the menu and adding the centimos in my purse to see if I could afford to eat out. In those days, I really didn’t eat much at all, neither in nor out .
I couldn’t believe how cheap the food was. It was something like €3 for curry and rice, or chicken and chips, or meat pie and chips or spaghetti bolognaise or whatever else was on the menu at the time.
I chose fish and chips. One of my friends chose chicken and chips. Both meals came with the plates piled high. It really was a bargain.
We were laughing and joking about eating at J & J’s. My friend was himself a comedian. I did point out that tainted chicken would make him ill, but he assured me it was lovely and cooked to perfection, and yes it really did look and smell good.
I didn’t see him for a few days after that. Apparently he was ill!!
Now I’m not blaming J & J’s, because I ate there that day. The food was lovely and I was fine.
Another friend, Elaine, who worked as a cook in Benidorm and so knew all about hygiene laws told me that she only once ate there, and had to ask the waiter to replace her plate of food because the chips came with traces of tomato sauce already on them, the suggestion being that they came from another diner’s unfinished plate.
I checked my plate carefully, the day I ate there, and it all looked as if it had been freshly prepared just for me.
When I first arrived in Benidorm, I had eaten at a Chinese Restaurant on the other side of J & J’s.
The meal was lovely, and really cheap.
Chinese food in Benidorm is an absolute bargain, if you ask for the special menu at the back of the menu book.
The special menu offers a three course meal for less than the price of a single main course. All the Chinese restaurants offer it, but it generally only people who live locally who actually know about it.
My daughter had suggested I eat there, and told me to ask for the ‘special menu’.
I had a lovely meal, but I did have to pick out some very small insects that had made their way on to the plate. I’m not one to make a fuss, so I just picked them out, and ate the meal anyway. I have since realised that they were, in fact, baby cockroaches!
Benidorm Video Clip
Just to cheer you up a bit, because no-one like thinking about cockroaches, watch this short video clip taken from the TV series 'Benidorm'.