A couple, their son and daughter-in-law have been homeless for two years, when they were evicted from a house they occupied
Isabel Muñoz remembers New Year’s Eve as if she had celebrated a wedding banquet. That day, she and her husband, José Fernández, dined “like kings.” Puff pastries, expensive sausage, ‘ceviche’ stuffed with tuna, nougat and even a bottle of champagne. Viands that filled the hollow of their bellies. To end the feast, that night they said goodbye to the year eating grapes in the Cardenal Belluga square, in front of the Cathedral of Murcia. “We seemed like a normal marriage.” But with the sound of the last bell, the fable ended and Isabel and José, 64 and 63 years old, respectively, collected the sudden happiness and returned to the arcades of the temple, where they had piled up an army of blankets and warm clothes.
There, they began the ritual of assembling their bed on the basis of thick cardboard and reality once again took the happy smile off their faces. Isabel remembers Christmas as a time when people solve their day. “There is more generosity. They give more alms or they give us food. The abundance is noticeable. But those dates have passed and the crowds are once again noticeable on the street. “There are many asking,” he laments.
The couple set up the bed inside the wooden structure, last Thursday afternoon. /
Isabel could only get two euros last Thursday in Plaza Fuensanta, next to El Corte Inglés. With that money the whole family ate: she, her husband, her son, her daughter-in-law and her dog. “We bought bread and sausage and made sandwiches.”
The canopies next to the Malecón are highly sought-after makeshift bedrooms. “If it doesn’t rain, it’s like the Palace Hotel”
The four of them and the pet have been sleeping for two weeks in the canopies that are in the San Francisco map, next to the Malecón garden, in Murcia. Cubicles are in-demand makeshift sleeping quarters for some homeless people. “If it doesn’t rain, it’s like the Palace hotel on the street, although sometimes the police throw us out of here,” he says.
The days for marriage are as predictable as the day before. They wake up before dawn, but they endure under the sheltered mountain until eight in the morning. They pick up the blankets and walk with their skin stiff from the cold and the hunger in their pockets. “The worst thing about the street is the cold and not having enough for a coffee to warm you up,” says the woman. They stroll through City Hall to kill time until it’s ten in the morning. At that time, Isabel takes up positions on a street corner in the center of the city. Her husband sits near her, on a bench. “He doesn’t ask.” Sometimes, he explains, they have to go to more remote areas, where alms are scarcer. “There are many of us asking,” Isabel reiterates.
The past time was not better
It is seven in the evening and the couple has just occupied one of the compartments. They place cardboard in the cracks of the structure to prevent cold air pipes from entering. They mount two thick quilts that act as a mattress and, on top of them, they stretch another four thick blankets under which they shelter. The marriage has been living on the street for two years since the Police evicted them from a house they occupied in Águilas. “It was from a bank and we got in because we had nowhere to go.” The fact is that for the couple there are not many better past times.
They lead a life from corner to corner, pushing their cart with bags of stale food and blankets with years of ‘driving’. There is only one parenthesis in which the marriage enjoyed a more comfortable life. It was more than a decade ago, when José got a job in the French vintage. “At the La Poma company,” exclaims the terse man. But he lost his job due to illness and since then “it’s over,” says the woman. “That’s it!” repeats José out loud, sitting on the edge of the makeshift cot.