Another month has gone by and we are into our first Spanish winter. There has been some glorious weather which has meant that we have been able to spend more time at the beach and generally enjoy the sunshine. There has been some serious rain at times too. We were told that everything comes to a standstill here when it rains, and sure enough when there was a severe weather warning last month all of the schools closed. Closing the schools for a bit of rain? Selena wasn’t complaining as she was able to get a free day off but it was just as well that we were both at home. The rain fell incessantly for 24 hours and by mid morning we noticed the living room floor was wet at one end. We hastily gathered up our belongings and furniture at that end of the room and tried to establish where the water was coming from. Unbelievably it was coming up through the floor at two points, between the tiles, and at such a rate that we were mopping and spreading towels on the floor for several hours until the rain stopped. It seems that these Spanish homes and streets aren’t designed to cope with substantial downpours. There is no drainage pipe work beneath the house, the storm drains just feed the water from the back yard down below the ground and the buildings.
The wet weather has made a difference to the house generally. At night the house is very cold, with no heating system upstairs, so we have been using electric oil filled radiators to take the damp and the chill from the bedrooms. It’s a far cry from the intolerable heat of August, almost from one extreme to the other. I remind myself that at least we can get warm under the covers when it’s cold, but there’s no escaping the heat.
Activities in town have also been affected by the weather. We turned out to the Halloween street festival along with many other families, most of which had made significant efforts with costumes and make up, and waited at the monastery steps for the show to begin. As the crowd gathered the inflatable castle and sound system were dismantled and loaded into a van before our very eyes. Not a word was said by the workers but it was evidently because there had been some drizzle, not even real rain, so the dejected onlookers wandered off to do some ‘trick or treating’ around the town. It took some persuasion to get Lizzy to go home that night!
If the weather has tried, intermittently, to dampen our spirits, it has been nothing compared to a recent injury that has been dragging me down. One of my ageing knees has decided to develop a problem and I haven’t coped particularly well with being less mobile. Having just begun to play football regularly and having paid my subscription as the team joined a local league, for the last three weeks I have been on the injured list. These Friday evening matches had quickly become the highlight of my week, with a chance to grab a beer or two after the game, as we discussed the performances, so I’m hugely frustrated at being sidelined.
The injury didn’t occur during a match, it just began one day and got progressively worse, coinciding with the arrival of Selena’s father. Although I managed to get out and do plenty of sightseeing with him, the activities were hampered by my hobbling somewhat. At the weekends Selena was around so she was able to get to the top of Mount Picayo with him, and do some cycling too.
Still, at least I would be able to test out the medical care! Surely that would be straight forward enough? After two weeks with no improvement I bit the bullet and headed for the local health centre. I had already been, not long after we arrived, to register ourselves as a family, and Selena was granted a medical card, but this was our first requirement for any medical attention.
I called in duly armed with all of my documentation and some rehearsed, knee related, vocabulary. Unfortunately the staff at the counter didn’t fancy trying to understand me so they called an ‘English speaking’ member of staff from upstairs. He arrived at my side and spoke less English than my Spanish! With a mixture of gesturing and ‘SpanEnglish’ we were getting somewhere. I think I understood, so I checked in my basic Spanish.
“So I come back here at twelve thirty and wait by that door”
I am then handed a printed piece of paper, and told “Monday at 11am”
Imagine Manuel from Fawlty Towers as I am now bemused. “Que?” I didn’t actually say that but that’s how I felt!
“So I am to come back on Monday at 11am?”
“What about today at twelve thirty?”
“So I come back today at twelve thirty and again on Monday at 11am?”
It turns out that I was required to return at twelve thirty that day to get some paperwork done, and my doctor’s appointment would be on Monday at 11am! The paperwork was completed fairly swiftly and punctually. I was issued my medical card, overriding my E111 (why this wasn’t done when they gave me Selena’s I don’t know) and sent on my way. This was a Friday, so getting an appointment on the following Monday was impressive.
Monday morning. I was extremely grateful to still have Selena’s father here. It meant that he could stay at home with Lizzy rather than me having to keep her entertained at the health centre. Randomly we also had some gardeners coming to prune the trees at 11am that same day, so he could be there for that too.
I was directed upstairs to a typical waiting room and took my seat near my allocated doctor’s door. I was ten minutes early and there were several others waiting too. The female doctor reappeared at 11am precisely and a lady rose from her seat to greet her. I presumed she was the next patient to be seen. The pair greeted each other in familiar fashion and obviously knew each other well. With that the doctor locked her door and the pair wandered off to the staircase and I noticed that she was no longer wearing her white lab coat. As they descended the stairs I double checked my appointment slip, along with the time, and proceeded to hobble after them. I caught up with them in the foyer and showed the doctor my slip. “I’m just going for a coffee break, I’ll be back in half an hour or so.” What?? I couldn’t have felt any more English at that moment. To me it seemed beyond belief but evidently that’s actually quite common! I was dumbfounded.
Sure enough she came back at 11.40 and my appointment went ahead as normal. She was very thorough and sent me off to the chemist with a prescription for 40 anti inflammatory tablets and a knee support/stocking. I went immediately to the nearby chemist where my knee was measured and the items dispensed straight away. Grand total 2.78 euros!! I have to say that the service was first class. The random coffee break was just a cultural difference, and I was told that if there was no improvement in the next 7-10 days then I should go back. Early signs are that I’ll be heading back there for another go.
Next up is my long awaited appointment for my NIE (no pun intended), having already been passed from pillar to post, so I really hope that this one goes to plan. It will give Lizzy and me our ‘registration number’ effectively, without which you can do very little in Spain. Then it’s car hunting, which has already proved to be a headache, and selling the trusty English Transit van.
We also have more visitors incoming so it’s all go here, albeit on one leg!