Is it men in general, or just me, when it comes to being a little bit stupid when it comes to refuelling? We went on a day trip to some hot springs at the end of October and I had checked the route and distance. It would take ‘about an hour’ (my standard estimate for any journey) and was only 50 miles away. The 100 mile round trip would be no problem as the van’s fuel gauge was telling me that we had 176 miles in the tank.
There was no problem as we travelled along the motorway, but after fifty minutes we turned onto the mountain roads, winding our way up and down, negotiating a series of bends as we headed deeper into the mountains. I had said to myself on the motorway ‘I think I’ll stop when we see a filling station’ but of course we didn’t pass one. Now that we were on these country roads I was changing gear frequently and rarely getting above third. The fuel gauge prediction had fallen rapidly to 25 and then 11 miles remaining in the tank. I began to wonder if we had a leak, and could feel my heart pounding. The sun was beating down and we were miles from anywhere, on a road that consisted of one hairpin bend after another, with no pavements or shade. Lizzy was oblivious but Selena was eagerly researching on her phone for nearby fuel stations. The one and only fuel station was at Montanejos, which is where we were heading, so we kept our fingers crossed. It was a Sunday, and we had already been driving for an hour and a half. We glided down the hill into Montanejos with 8 miles on the fuel gauge, to see the petrol station on our left. As we approached and pulled onto the forecourt it was clear that it there were no signs of life, with shutters down on all windows. Feeling embarrassed and annoyed with myself I considered our options, but then, to my amazement I spotted a cashpoint machine in the wall, with a sign indicating it was a self service point!! What were the chances!? Thankfully it was working, so we were able to use our bank card, and the fuel pump did the rest. Sheer relief and a lesson learned. Why do we do that to ourselves?
The trusty Transit van is soon to be replaced but even though I have chosen another car and paid a deposit, there are still hoops to jump through. Incessant scanning of documents and emails to and from the garage shouldn’t be a surprise but it is grinding me down.
The bureaucracy here has always been common knowledge, but until I had found myself a victim of it, I had no real concept of what it was like. I like to think I’m a laid back person, but it has pushed me to the limit, and it’s not like I have work pressures to deal with as well!
The continuing saga of the search for NIE for Lizzy and me was finally resolved a few days ago. We had to go to a Police station ten miles away to make our appointment, and were given one for six weeks’ time. We had already taken various admin wrong turns and wasted time due to conflicting information. So when the day finally came I was nervous and excited. I had ensured I had all of the paperwork required, and the cash in hand, and just wanted it to be over. I walked into the Police Station with Lizzy, armed with snacks and toys, anticipating a delay but feeling suitably prepared. I cannot describe how far my heart sank when I showed the lady my appointment slip and she looked at me blankly. She flipped back through the appointment book and found our names on a page for the previous week! She pointed to the handwriting and informed me that the date didn’t say ‘19th’ but ‘14th’. I could not believe it. Not for the first time I was guilty of not checking or double checking something. It looked totally like a 9!! Why didn’t I confirm it at the time or get the Policeman to write the day as well as the date when he wrote the appointment slip? In my defence, with the language barrier, you just want to get in and get out of these situations before making a fool of yourself. Later that day, when I explained what had happened to Selena, she told me that the children write their fours like nines….
In any case I asked the lady at the Police Station if we could be seen that day as it was a genuine mistake and we had been waiting for weeks for the appointment. “It should be ok, take a seat” was her response. After five minutes, with more people arriving in the waiting room, I could see that she had done nothing with my appointment slip and it was getting covered with more and more bits of paper, so I asked her again. “It should be okay” she repeated. “After all of these people?” I pleaded. “No maybe two or three”.
So Lizzy and I sat and waited. More people came and went and the lady at the desk was replaced by the illiterate Policeman who had written my appointment slip in the first place. I asked him a couple of times during our wait, “What’s happening?” “How long please?” to be told “It’s okay just wait” which isn’t so easy with a three year old in tow.
FOUR HOURS in a Police waiting room. Once everybody else had come and gone we were shown through for our three minute session to go through the forms and application. Unbelievable. Child cruelty. Having to look at that man’s face for hours and wanting to tell him how to write a 9 properly. I was not happy.
Inevitably we were sent away again anyway, and told to return a week later with another photocopy. I can’t even begin to tell that tale. The short version is that we went back and Lizzy and I now have our NIE, but they certainly made us work for it.
If the red tape and form filling wasn’t enough we were unlucky enough to witness this region’s worst storms for years. In my last post I mentioned some flooding in the lounge of our rental property. A few weeks ago we had a storm of biblical proportions that flooded the whole of the ground floor. On this occasion Selena was at work so I was fending for myself, whilst keeping Lizzy fed, safe and dry. Apparently we had well over twice the monthly average rainfall for November in one day. The only solution was to physically sweep the water out through the front door as it rose up through the ground into the house. The tiled floors were a blessing, rather than carpet obviously, but the stairs are treacherous at the best of times, and Lizzy slipped and went down hard a couple of times, thankfully without hitting her head. As a result the walls are now showing signs of mould, as have our clothes and belongings. We spent a few days at the local launderette as the weather was too we to dry anything and we have invested in a dehumidifier which is working overtime. The sunshine has now returned in earnest so that difficult period should be behind us.
To be honest I have probably struggled mentally with the last month more than anytime I can remember. The flooding and damp problems, along with cold, dark nights have contributed. Add to that the never ending battle with bureaucracy and the increasing frustration with my knee.
The good news is that the rain has gone, the weather is back to its glorious best, the knee is on the mend and we have our NIEs in hand!
We were also fortunate to have more visitors as Selena’s sister and family spent a weekend here. We had a great time exploring the city and Lizzy was delighted to have her cousin as company for those few days.
We head home to the UK for Christmas in a few weeks, so we can catch up with family and friends, and Lizzy will say ‘goodbye’ to ‘Los Chopos’ in readiness to start school full time in January.
Los Chopos was also affected by flooding during the storms
Lizzy was delighted to have Lucas staying for a few days
We’re lucky to be able to spend so much time outside in the sun