Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


THE CESTA DE NAVIDAD, Christmas Basket, is a traditional Spanish gift consisting of wine, liquor, sweets, other treats, and cured ham.

A Cesta de Navidad. Image from

 The Guardian, December 21, 2021, offers a variation of this theme, this one incorporating a new meaning to the term “High Holidays.” 

Narco-basket. The Guardian reports, “Spanish police have arrested two suspected drug dealers who were raffling off a Christmas basket containing cocaine, hashish, alcohol and a leg of cured ham, they said on Tuesday.”

“Officers,” The Guardian continues, “discovered the unusual lottery when they raided a drug den allegedly operated by the two men, a Spaniard and an Argentinian, in the eastern city of Murcia, the police said in a statement, without adding when the arrests took place.”

Regional Tidbits. Murcia is the seventh largest city in Spain, 250 miles southeast of Madrid. It is the birthplace of Charo, whom many may remember as the fiery wife of bandleader Xavier Cugat. The University of Murcia was founded in 1272. Charo’s birth year is disputed; maybe 1941, maybe 1947, maybe 1949, maybe 1951. 

Charo at the 2013 Alma Awards. Image by Richard Sandoval.

Er…, Back to Narco-baskets. The Christmas lottery was to cost €5 ($5.65). A second drawing with €10 tickets was to take place on Epiphany, January 6. Also known as Three Kings’ Day, the Dia del Niño, Day of the Child, is a major holiday in Spain.

It Pays to Advertise. The rascals even promoted descriptions that enhanced holiday celebrations, apparently hitherto unavailable in traditional Cestas de Navidad.

Image from The Guardian, December 21, 2021.

My Internet search of English equivalents is incomplete, but not without illumination: Coca, as expected, is cocaine. Farlopa is powdered coke. Polen is reserved for Cannabis pollen. Hierba is another name for marijuana, aka Maria. Hierba is related to Yerba, literally “herb.” 

I couldn’t find a drug equivalent for Casa Rosa, Pink House, though Pink is another term for Methamphetamine. Jamon is ham, the real kind.

Police said, “The basket… included cocaine, hashish, tobacco, cash, and even an eight-kilo [17.6-lb.] cured ham.” They also seized 165 marijuana plants as well as 33 halogen lamps used to grow them. 

Holiday Economics. The Dia del Niño promo states “50€ efectivo,” i.e, 50€ cash, the equivalent of $56.50. However, I have no idea of the street value of the drugs included. Or, for that matter, the cost of a carton of smokes of one’s choice. 

I suspect economics of the deal were beneficial to the conmen, but maybe they too were on a Christmas High.

Speaking of which, this Christmas Eve edition of SimanatisSays comes with my traditional Holiday Hiatus. SimanaitisSays will return with appropriate New Year’s thoughts on January 1, 2022.

Have a Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year! ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021  

4 comments on “HIGH HOLIDAYS

  1. Mark W
    December 24, 2021

    Merry Christmas, happy solstice, etc, Dennis. Thanks for the entertaining and educational tidbits all year!

  2. Michael Rubin
    December 24, 2021

    I’ll also wish you and your daughter a Merry Christmas and hopes for a better 2022 in so many ways. Many thanks for ongoing enlightenments on multiple subjects, from gift baskets to vintage aircraft.

    • simanaitissays
      December 25, 2021

      Thank you, Michael. By the way, Daughter Suz tells me that Charo has a very lively website. Go, Charo!

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