01 April 2006
Thoughts on Ladronia
John Laughland has an interesting article in The Spectator on the often forgotten but quite fascinating country that is Ladronia. It must be 25 years since I last visited this jewel of the Balkans, and Laughland's article has brought back many happy memories.
The Ladronians - or the Ladrones as they should more properly be called - are a curious mixture of South Slav and Mexican. This is a fact that is often overlooked in any study of this quite remarkable country. Mexico's involvement with Ladronia dates back to the Spanish Civil War when Mexico used the good offices of Ladronia to funnel military supplies to the Spanish government. Many Mexican who were involved in those shipments chose to remain in Ladronia and married into the local population.
This has led to a very interesting adoption of many old Mexican customs and Spanish words into everyday life of Ladronia. For instance, when one asks a Ladronian official to give an estimate of the time needed to produce a document from the voluminous archives, the reply is invariably the Spanish word for tomorrow - mañana - but meant in the Mexican sense of not-today and-I-don't-know-or-care-when. This comment is invariably accompanied by a raising of one hand to the level of the head and then bringing it down, at the same time flexing the hand in a forward gesture. This is the Mexican-Ladronian way of telling the person that he, the official, wishes you to go and do something obscene with and to your mother while he gets back to doing nothing.
During the summer months, the male ladron will sit outside with his friends playing dominos all afternoon. His curious habit of lifting his shirt, exposing his large stomach - the famous gran goot in Ladron - and then stroking it lovingly, is a another good example of an imported Mexican cultural norm. It signifies that the man is at ease with his life and has no intention of doing anything with it.
All in all a fascinating country to visit.
Cheers: Neil Clark