Camino de Ronda is a seaside path that crosses the abrupt sea coast of Costa Brava between the villages of Blanes and Portbou. It is a historic path that was created with the basic functions of communicating the villages, beaches and creeks. Of the sea coast, whilst it was a guarantee for fishermen and sailors as a return point to their places should they wreck against the seaside rocks, but it was especially used to fight against smuggling and straperlo or sea black market by official authorities.
Although the construction date of Camino de Ronda is uncertain, we can imagine it is a millenary path that was used for the communication of the seaside since remote times, but the name of Camí de Ronda or Camino de Ronda became popular during the XIXth and XXth centuries, especially because it was used by policemen and Spanish military guards to do “la ronda” and control the illegal activities of smuggling and straperlo that took place on the coast.
CARRABINERS OR GUÀRDIA CIVIL. Who made "la ronda"?
The Royal Cors of Coast Policemen and Spanish Frontiers was the armed corps created in 1829 with the aim to monitor the coast and the frontiers to prevent fraud and smuggling. The functions of this corps were assumed by the Spanish Military Guards from 1940 on, since during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), the policemen were for the republican government.
SMUGGLING and STRAPERLO What is it? What products were used in smuggling and straperlo?
Smuggling is the ilegal trading of goods, consisting of carrying forbidden products by hiding them, skipping custom charges.
Straperlo consists of the ilegal sell of smugling goods or the fraudulent sell of products in the own country that are subject to taxes and duties. This fact has prompted the usage of the word straperlo as synonym to black market.
Blond tobacco was the main product affected by smuggling and straperlo (mainly of the brands Philip Morris, Pall Mall, Lucky, Chesterfield and Winston), but there were also other products such as penicillin, coffee, sugar, pepper, chocolate and other minor goods such as makeup sets, shimmer powder, lingerie, jewelry and silk clothes.
HOW WAS SMUGGLING ORGANIZED AND HOW DID SMUGGLERS WORK?
During sunset or at night, large draught ships that made international routes approached the Costa Brava seaside and, without docking at any port, but decreasing the speed, downloaded the goods with small fishermen ships that did hide rapidly in small corners of the abrupt Costa Brava.
Next, the smugglers gangs, in groups of 15 to 20 people, carried the goods from the hideouts of the coast to a truck that was waiting for them onshore and distributed to suppliers and markets of the territory.
WHAT WERE THE FAVORITE HIDES OF SMUGGLERS?
Usually, they were looking for places who were easy to access by sea but difficult by land. This is how they managed to skip policemen and Spanish military guards and, yet, they kept the secret of the hideout.
The most emblematic places with hideouts where goods exchange took place, as between the coast of Begur and Palamós. Among them, the cala de Port d’Esclanyà, the villa of sa Perica in Tamariu, the cala del Tabac, the cala del Cau, the cala dels Frares located underneath the Cap de Sant Sebastià cliff and the Golfet beach.
WHY SOME PEOPLE DID SMUGGLE AND STRAPERLO?
High prices and the impossibility of finding certain products in the market contributed to the burst of smuggling and straperlo. Although these activities have increased and decreased throughout history, one of the peaks was during post-war, especially between 1940 and 1958, when Spain was isolated commercially of international markets and many products were rationed, restricted or simply forbidden.