I was online in my virtual classroom when the familiar dingdongdingdongdingdong bang Bang BANG sounded at the door and there was nothing to be done about it – my junior pupils pay through the nose for their 25 minute classes (at least five times what I am paid for teaching them, at a guess) and there’s no question of putting them on hold and sauntering off to deal with a delivery. Strictly verboten. When school was over for the day I collected the notification from my postbox and made a mental note to get up early in the morning.
We’re lucky, in Velez, to have a correos at all because as towns go we are tiny. Stamps, and weighing of letters, is actually done at the tabacos and parcels have to be sent from Motril but we do have a tiny branch office and it is much appreciated. It opens early and at 10 am the local Postmistress General* shuts up shop and sets off on foot to deliver post so the window of opportunity, for a night owl like me, is narrow. I glumly reasoned it was probably an official letter from yet another authority with the sudden passionate desire to see my NIE, (tax document) there had been a couple of those lately, so I wasn’t hugely motivated and when roadworks rattled me awake at 9 I went back to dozing. The alarm went off at 9.30 (snooze) and only when it went off at 9.45 did I remember the delivery. Bugggerrrrr I was up and in yesterday’s outer clothing, hair hastily brushed, face still unwashed (masks do have their uses), dog in harness and striding down the street in 4 minutes. It took a minute or so to register it was raining a little. It does, even here, and normally is very welcome but bugggerrrrr. The farmacia street clock said 10:02 (no way) but we quickened our pace anyway. The rain quickened a little, too, and as I rounded the corner of the correos I peered in the window. Open, but a queue. Buggggerrrrr! Leela, my former dog, was stoical about being tied to the school railings and left for a few minutes, even in rain (she’d lived in Scotland, after all, rain was no novelty) but the very last word that could be ever applied to Purdey, my fairly new rescue podenco, is stoical. She is excessively timid, very flighty, and a Houdini into the bargain, and we’ve not started working yet on Waiting Outside On A Lead. I wasn’t prepared to emerge to an empty harness. I squared my shoulders and took her in with me.
I do love living in a small town in Spain, you know. The postmistress blinked, vanished for a second, and reappeared with a beaming smile to hurry past the queue with my delivery. We were out and on our way for the important business of the walk with barely a check. (Best of all, the delivery was a parcel for Christmas, YAY, well worth the collecting!)
*I don’t know if she’s the Postmistress General but a recent official had-to-be-signed-for letter about presenting my NIE to the water department within 10 days or be disconnected was signed by our “Mayor President” so I think she probably is. As a teacher I am, in Spanish, a Profesora or a Maestro. We do nice titles.
That was a mission in itself – I don’t work on Mondays, so trotted up to the ayuntimiento on the following Monday with my NIE, oops, long weekend. Returned on Wednesday to learn the policia have taken over the offices. The policeman was nice, even spoke a little English, and told me where to find the ayuntamiento, opposite the Casa de la Cultura. Except – not. The first person I could find in the Casa de la Cultura said the ayuntamiento was now next to the Jardin Nazari. And so it was, no sign up whatsoever but a long queue because there was temporarily no electricity. I had to fill in a form, in Spanish, saying what service I wanted (Mayor President he may be but his letter was obviously not sufficiently explanatory for burocracia) and the whole business of showing the authorities my NIE and letting them take a copy took a lot of walking and the best part of an hour – the other side of living in Spain.
Next time I go to the ayuntamiento I might take Purdey, it could work as a queuebuster again.
Purdey the podenco has now been with me for a month – my lovely Dutch neighbour, who handles animal rescues and rehomes dogs all round Europe, borrowed a chip reader from the policia and there was a truly nasty moment when it pinged – she was chipped after all, against all expectations. Oh hell. She hadn’t been emaciated when found, she had adjusted so very quickly to walking on a lead, was she a loved runaway pet after all? The law requires notifying the owner, who has three weeks to respond. M got the owner details from her vet – she’d been chipped 3 years ago, reported as missing shortly after. M rang him from my house and all was well, he didn’t even remember her, was intrigued to learn she’d been found near Los Tablones, didn’t want her back. In Spain we are in municipal lockdown and my small municipality doesn’t have a veterinarian, so an appointment was made with a vet in Motril. Armed with the confirmation on my phone to show to the policia if I was stopped, I drove into town for the first time in WEEKS and got the chip officially changed to my name. The vet, who by the way looked like a teenager, hell I must be getting old, did her shots, created her ‘passport’, and gave me a printout authorising buying dogfood while I was in town. Although we have mini supermarkets in Velez their range of petfood is very limited and the cat went on a hunger strike in protest at the range they carried, living on dry food and tuna and tripping over his lip. CATS. I grabbed the chance to buy other things the local minimarkets don’t stock for their predominantly Spanish customers – Ryvita, marmite, Bournville cocoa, cheddar – my stocks were alarmingly low as the lockdown extends, and extends, and extends.
We’ve got our Christmas guidelines, by the way, while on the subject of permission to cross municipal borders – the message is please stay at home but if you MUST go out, family gatherings of up to ten people only. Curfew is extended to 01h30 on special days (including, naturally, NYE). Family being important to Spanish life, municipal, provincial, even regional, borders can be crossed, depending on local restrictions. Close friends is a bit hazy – some authorities say si, some say no way José. The burning issue of whether this will be an honour system or whether permission must be obtained in advance is still hanging. While the thought of spending a whole day with a good friend after all these weeks and weeks of almost uninterrupted solitude is dizzying, neither of us fancy being stopped at a checkpoint by armed officials expecting a fluent well-worded plea to continue outside municipal limits. Bugger. Watch this space.
Back briefly to Purdey. She and the cat have signed a peace treaty and are now locked in a quiet but determined struggle for territory. Anything the cat can do, Purdey feels she surely can too – I do have washable covers on the sofa and bed so had no objection to her getting up on either, but it took a while before she did. The cat has his own preferred baby blanket and she folded herself up onto that first . . .
It took a while but a chilly evening, a fire, and a long day for both of them, achieved a breakthrough.
The Spanish couple who rescued Purdey from a tumbledown finca in the middle of nowhere had advertised extensively for her most recent owner and got a reply last week – a month after he took her hunting. She vanished the first time he fired a shot. He doesn’t want her back as she is of no use to him, but he’s glad she has found a home. She does HATE shots, the first time she heard the hunters in the hills round Velez she turned firmly for home and led me straight to the door. That was a few days in – I was pleased she knew the way, pleased she sees home as a safe refuge.
Oh and yay, we had a breakthrough on using the great outdoors as the bathroom of choice. It took a while, filling her to the brim with food and water before long long walks, and she still prefers the privacy of the terrace, but since it seems to please me so very much when she uses the outdoors, and she likes to make me happy, she now performs dutifully. She does still insist on kicking over her traces when outdoors so pavements are still out, but we have patches of wasteland a few minutes away in two directions which are patronised by other town dogs and fascinate her. She’s shy with other dogs, but slowly making the occasional friendly contact, ducking behind me to avoid unfriendly or bossy dogs. Like other pods, she communicates through dance – springs about like Tigger when walks or food are in the offing, sits hopefully in front of me (sometimes nearly tripping me) when wanting attention or treats or me to stop stroking the cat please, and jiggles from foot to foot when she needs a walk.
Living with a podenco? It’s great. Three walks a day is doing me a world of good, too –
I’m no expert. Total newbie, in fact. There have been many dogs in my past and for a large chunk of that past they’ve been rescue dogs of the bullbreed type, mainly staffies. The last 8 years, for example, was spent with a bulldog / Frenchie cross with a will of iron who only went into rescue because her doting owners unexpectedly produced a baby and she refused pointblank to accept the interloper. To the end of her long life she wasn’t to be trusted near a crying baby. Difficult rescue dogs? Been there, done that. A podenco couldn’t be more different, and I hadn’t expected such a learning curve. So here’s what I’ve learned so far: some of it I looked up, some of it was passed on from others, and most of it from Purdey.
The Spanish have a reputation for cruelty to animals – it must immediately be said I’ve had Spanish guests here at the Casa with their dogs and even, in two cases, their cats, and they were devoted to their pets and couldn’t bear to be separated from them. The town has a conventional complement of much-loved house pets, often met out on walks. Like many generalisations it is not true of the majority. But – podencos (it literally means hound), a group of Mediterranean hare-hunting sighthounds, differing slightly by region (eg Ibiza, Andalusia, Canary Islands, etc) aren’t often as lucky. They are quite literally considered tools.
A working pod will often be kept in a dark shed, and is generally half-starved during hunting season to make it keener for the hunt. When the season ends, many are turned out to fend for themselves, and the persistent are driven miles away to be dumped, or worse. Pods have been dealt a fairly crappy hand in life and many people, both in Spain and out, are stepping up to adopt rescued ones. They make marvellous pets but they are not like other dogs. They are not, by the way, a breed as such, more an unmistakable type, with enormous ears, jaunty tails, and strong wiry frames. They come in three sizes, small, medium, and large, and can be rough or smooth coat.
Purdey is a almost classic Andalusian medium-sized rough coat pod but has no tail – I don’t know whether it was deliberately docked, amputated after a mishap, or is a birth abnormality. She is around 3 years old, was found living alone in a tumble-down house in the campo, and handed over to me a fortnight ago. She looks dainty and rangy by turns, is immensely strong for her size, and uses her wonderful ears like semaphore flags.
So far she has proved charming, gentle, and increasingly affectionate. I was concerned that I’d not be able to give her marathon walks and runs, and that the household, especially during this covid year, is excessively quiet – me and an elderly cat. After all, research says that they like children, love a bustling household with a lot going on, and many have taken to agility training and enjoy it very much. Turns out, though, they don’t need to be galloped twice a day, or worn out before they can sleep, but they do need regular walking. Great for me – that’s why I wanted a dog.
Loving and affectionate, yes. Lapdogs, not so much. Purdey likes to be near me, or where she can see me, but far from having to be chased off the bed or sofa, she won’t even sleep on a thickly padded dog bed and prefers a knobbly old dog rug with no padding whatsoever. She’s used to alone-time and doesn’t nag for constant attention, although when I do reappear she is flatteringly delighted. She would probably stand rockstill to the end of time if I would just keep brushing her – it is one of her passions in life. When it stops she sighs, does a nose-poke thank you, and heads to the knobbly old rug. Great for me – I don’t like dogs that demand constant entertainment and playing. She has no concept of play at all, and looks oddly at me when I bounce a ball, or squeak a toy. The one exception is the kong, which she considers an admirable way of serving dog pâté. We’re working on play.
As dogs they are hardy, robust, and fend remarkably well for themselves when turned out, as so many are, after hunting season. The downside is that they are skilled scavengers, and she ransacked the rubbish bin the first time I left her alone. She’ll also pinch the cat’s food and anything left out, even when she’s just had a meal, and gives me a guilty grin when I scold. That’s improving already, with regular food, but I don’t think she’ll ever completely lose the habit.
I’m warned I may never be able to let her off the lead on a walk because however devoted they are to owners, they are insatiably curious explorers. Be aware, also, that a podenco puts Houdini to shame when it comes to wriggling out of collars and harnesses. A collar will likely not be enough and a harness must be fitted snugly. Purdey’s was adjusted by another half inch on each side after she showed me just how good she is. That was an exciting half hour through the streets of Velez, with her trotting anywhere between ten to fifty yards ahead, sublimely unaware of my cold dread that she would pop out in front of a car as I panted in pursuit.
They are gently stubborn – once they have decided a course of action, it is hard to convince them otherwise. Purdey learned instantly, when I squawked, that peeing in the middle of the atrium was not going to be popular. Her home loo became the terrace, which is near the hosepipe and easily washed down. It has also become her only loo. She loves walks, she is fascinated by what other dogs have left on the street and in the rough grass, but no matter how long we stay out, she pops up to the terrace with a sigh of relief when we get back. After the first week with me she did start peeing occasionally when out, and seemed embarrassed by my lavish praise. I’d welcome any advice on getting her preferring outdoors to indoors.
They are sighthounds, those huge ears are like radar antenna, and they have hunter reflexes. Introductions to cats must be handled carefully. There was no problem introducing them, but my cat is furtive around dogs, and likes to make quick dashes from hiding, especially outside at night. With a bulldog, no problem, he was out of range before she had her legs sorted out. With a sighthound, a couple of heart-stopping dashes until Purdey finally accepted his resemblance to a rabbit was purely coincidental. Me shouting NO devastated her: telling her she was a Bad Dog, the second time, reduced her to quivering jelly. Sprinting after small animals is what she was bred to do. In this pic (I’m a rubbish photographer) the cat looks nearly her size but is merely nearer the camera. They’re not friends, not yet, but settling down together.
Pods may be hunters, but they are unexpectedly timid. I’m used to imposing my will on difficult stubborn dogs – hence the shout NO. Purdey is highly intelligent and desperate to please, and that’s characteristic of the type too. If danger beckons they will remove themselves and expect you to have the sense to do the same. Your pod will not be challenging visitors, or bringing up the rear barking defiantly while you get to safety. On the bright side, they won’t pick fights with other dogs, and will go out of their way to avoid confrontation. This is proving immensely restful after all those years of bull breeds.
She was so timid at first that I tried her in a thunderjacket – she didn’t object, but then she never does. It could help for high-stress outings like vet visits. I might need to change to a female vet as she is definitely afraid of men.
If you want a roly-poly bundle of lively fun which will chase after balls and bring them back, be delighted by toys, and protect you to its dying breath, a pod won’t suit. My friend has had his eight years and Purdey is newly moved in, but in these things they are the same – very traditional dogs, bred to work for their keep, self-effacing, independent, needing only food and exercise, gratefully returning kindness and a place in your home with affection and the desire to fit in. His dog barks at the approach of cars (but then that’s out in the campo, so it usually means a visitor) and both dogs literally dance with delight at moments of high excitement.
My phone takes awful photos which don’t do her justice. She’s utterly lovely.
During lockdown my phone became my companion to the outside world and I let it live by my bed at night, because any notification could be important, and checked it over morning coffee while my computer was still warming up. I noticed it occasionally notified me about the weather – told me what the temperature was, for example. Or what it would be tomorrow. I hadn’t asked it to, but that seemed harmless enough.
More recently it decided I need to see news items, including news items from media which don’t share my views at all. As fast as I swipe left, more take their place. It loads games I don’t want, which take up space. It tracks my movements and tries to control my banking (with the support of my bank, which has some functions which can ONLY be done by phone). There’s talk the tracking app may be optional now but all future phones will have it built in.
I’m – puzzled. A little concerned. Add a tiny dash of paranoid, if you like. I’m not on iPhone so Siri can’t start telling me what to do but at what point will Alexa, or another of the android options, load themselves? Will the wake-up be when my phone decides to ignore my alarm settings and wake me earlier? How bossy is my phone going to get?
Oh, that was all I really had to say, the rest of this I’m just bumping my gums. Phones and I go way way back. We had black Bakelite phones in the 60s when I was a kid – and yes, phones plural, one upstairs, pretty cutting edge. Back then extra jacks cost, and not a little. An extension phone was something you thought seriously about and budgeted for. Was it really necessary?
Technology whizzed on but there were still reminders of the not-so-far past – in my teens I had a horse stabled in the country and if I needed to phone from the stables I had to pick up the headset and whirr away on a little handle to reach a switchboard operator. I couldn’t, of course, if someone was already using the party line.
In my first job in the 70s I was expected, as a junior, to do lunchtime cover on the plug-in switchboard, which gave all us quivering juniors nasty little shocks as we pulled plugs in and out. You booked international calls in advance back then and I accidentally disconnected the CEO who was on a Hong Kong call which had taken two hours to come through. Rite of passage. He shouldn’t have been making calls during lunch if he didn’t want to be disconnected, am I right? I found the identical, I swear, photo but this board is circa 1900. Evil old thing, but phones really lasted back then.
The last really big catering function I worked on, we were re-opening a major shopping centre with several thousand guests expected. Four bar points, eight catering points, the function kitchen set up in the parking garage, hectic. As function overseer I had cellphone in one breast pocket and walkie-talkie in the other. They were both enormous and weighed a ton and oh my the years have flown, that was 25 years ago.
Cellphones got much smaller over the next few years. I moved to the UK and learned to call them mobile phones. I enjoyed my flip phone (beam me up), then a slimmer phone, which was tiny, the last of the truly tiny phones because they started getting bigger again as they got smarter. I was late to Smartphones – all I really wanted was a phone for when people wanted to reach me, and to get hold of people I wanted to reach, but the slimline phone / text type was nearly obsolete by 2015. I wasn’t crazy about the upgrade, half the time I forgot to put it in my handbag. It wasn’t a big deal. The fact that I could send emails and photos and stuff was handy but not vital. My next Smartphone was bigger and could do more, but I could still take it or leave it, I wasn’t addicted. I really wasn’t.
And now – it is trying to influence me. I bet that old plug-in switchboard is spluttering with laughter.
Just as well the whole safety-belt-in-car business was hammered out before we all became so aggressive or you can imagine the furore now. Furious complaints about being constrained. Argument that it stops you being able to reverse easily, or reach a crying child in the back seat. PROOF that wearing a safety belt won’t stop you being injured or killed in an accident. Passionate refusal to be immobilised in the car. How DARE you tell me what to do? Toys being thrown from a million cots.
Look at the stubbornness when it comes to texting while driving. To some, it is so obviously stupid that to do it at all should carry an automatic charge of attempted manslaughter. Others will argue they’ve never died or killed anyone as a result so it is ipso facto ridiculous to think that it is dangerous. The belligerent will insist that if they need to read or send a text while driving, they will.
Wearing a mask, even a scarf or a bandana over your nose and mouth, won’t stop the spread of this virus in its tracks. It won’t guarantee you won’t get the virus. It won’t guarantee you don’t spread the virus. I know we’ve been told we shouldn’t, then told we should, then confused further by the muppets in the public spotlight who don’t. Our leaders have lost some credibility in recent months, and we are all loudly forging our own paths. I’m not shouting about much and I actually hate wearing a mask. It’s like putting on a safety belt when driving. It’s a nuisance, hot, uncomfortable, and yes you have to live with your own halitosis while in public. 🙂 Grow up, shut up, put it on and improve all our chances just that little bit more.
Our law here right now in Spain as we move into the prolonged stage between “Alarmed” and “100% Normality” is that we must wear one “when contact is unavoidable” – shopping, public transport, etc. Already I can see some who carry one but only put it on if a policeman hoves into view. Seriously? It isn’t about tricking the authorities, you gloop. It’s about reducing the impact and spread of the bloody virus. You enjoyed lockdown so much?
ONE HUNDRED DAYS IN A STATE OF ALARM WAS SO MUCH FUN?
It’s about never having to go back into lockdown. If an occasional mask in the fierce heat of Spanish summer is the price of avoiding that, it is one I pay gladly and it won’t actually kill you to do the same basic courtesy to your community. Kill you hell, it might save your life. Just like that nuisance of a safety belt.
I’m about to go out, so I have spent 20 minutes dressing and putting on (eye) makeup (masks are a great timesaver) and doing my hair, humming under my breath. There’s a full bag of rubbish waiting by the front door, I’m planning to take that up to the town’s central bins. I’ve always liked the Spanish system of big central bins emptied daily anyway, and now it’s a double boon. You poor buggers who have your bins on your own properties!
Was a time I’d have struggled up there laden under the bag and the recycling bags to save extra trips, oho, none of that now, play my cards right there’s three good outings in that lot. Life is change.
There was, until Tuesday past, dog walking – quarantine law allows for a dog to be taken up to 100 metres from the house. There’s less clarity on whether owners must then turn back or can traipse back and forth until nature takes its course. The cantankerous old trout who inspired the dog Maggie as far back as Three Four Knock On My Door in 2013 has mellowed and faded a great deal over the years and on Tuesday her story had to end. In the weeks of quarantine it has been I wistful for walks and she who groaned reluctantly and humoured me. This pic was taken back in Scotland. RIP old girl. You are missed.
I’m used to friends popping by, work intermittently being done on the house, Spanish classes and trying out my abominable Spanish on the patient. Since May 2018 the house has also had a steady trickle of guests. Being alone was sometimes a luxury. I won’t deny that a month into enforced solitary I’ve not felt the strain sometimes. Lurked at the window to watch for people walking by, that sort of thing. Red letter day when someone goes by without a mask and I can feast my eyes on actual features. Ooh! A nose! A mouth!
I did get one unexpected social outing one day – my battery-powered thermometer became, I think, unreliable (25 degrees is quite low – but on the bright side, no fever) so I decided to walk to the local farmacia for another. Wow, unplanned treat! Five of us were at one point queued in the street, 2 metres apart, all masked and gloved, and as all the gloves were all different colours there was a definite air of fiesta. Everyone talked at once, the colourful hands flew, I was dizzied by the sociability of it all. Sold out of thermometers, though.
I did see a bloke from my Spanish class the other day and we stood on opposite sides of the street catching up on quick news. He and his wife had bought a house just before we went into lockdown a month ago. He said they’re living in it now. Well – camping in it now. The furniture couldn’t get through in time. They seem to be coping okay. He was on his own but then under Spanish quarantine only one member of each household can leave home without specific, written, dispensation. They mean it, too. Fines are becoming epic, thousands issued, doubling and tripling (or serving a future jail sentence) for repeat offenders. This couple always came across as companionable and affectionate but he was still probably pleased to have a break, I’ve seen jokes about couples stuck in quarantine together, you know, begging each other not to blink so loudly.
This is a big (10 roomed) house, would it have been fun with someone else sharing the space or would we be planning murders by now? I’ll never know. It’s quiet.
Very very quiet.
Oops, that’s it, siesta over, I can sally out with my rubbish bag and maybe there will be glimpses of other people taking theirs. This is so EXCITING!
It seems to me that this wretched virus seems to bounce fairly lightly off the young and/or active and home in on the sedentary and if that’s true, lockdown is more than just the opportunity to write uninterrupted but presents some unusual challenges.
We’re in full lockdown in Spain and my elderly dog, who entirely approves of brief constitutional outings, is slightly indignant at being hauled out several times a day instead of the usual morning and evening. I do also have the whole house to paint, alone, since my usual support and helper is similarly locked down, but it isn’t enough to keep me as active as I suspect I need to be.
So that’s it, back to my Zumba DVD 20 minute workout three times a week. It turns out all the work of running and maintaining a guesthouse, plus the dog-walking, didn’t keep me as fit as I had thought (puff puff). I’m planning now also to download some of the more hectic songs from my teens and create a playlist to dance away the virus on non-zumba days. Who’s with me?
I carry a concertina file with every single piece of paper I may need to prove my identity and / or address every time I go near the authorities.
This is in part sensible practice, because you often have no idea what may be required (I list some of them below) and it saves an awful lot of running back and forth and standing in the same queues more than once. It is also in part because my parents generously gave me four names at birth, none of which are remotely Spanish, and the Spanish authorities must have, so far, at least seven variations on record.
My favourite variation came from Movistar, the telephone service, which has my middle names, Joanna Lamprey, as Yoanha Lanprey. My car is registered to Elizabeth Jonanna Lamprey (i.e. my actual surname doesn’t appear at all) and my new driving licence has, I think perhaps fortunately, been issued in the same name.
The main problem is that in Spain most people have at least four names including two surnames, their mother’s and their father’s. The mother’s surname customarily comes last. Most choose to use father’s surname as main surname but you do have the choice, every Spanish form you will ever fill in asks for 1st apilledo, and most have a separate spot for 2nd apilledo.
So along comes Elegsabiff with four names and quite often the authority I am dealing with decides I am too ignorant to know that my 1st apilledo is the third name, so they correct my mistake for me. Quite often said authority is in Madrid, or Granada, or Jaen, so I’m not there at the time to correct it back.
Even the ones that get it right struggle with the spelling – hence Elisabeth, Yoanha, Joann, Jonanna, Lanprey, etc. Those who do add in my actual surname invariably do spell it right. Nobody can pronounce it, though, so I always have to spell it out. It includes a Y.
Y is pronounced i griega. No, no reason, just thought you’d want to know.
So, flipping through my concertina file, I have
My NIE – número de identidad de extanjero – has my name perfectly, in full, but shows me as being born in Durban, United Kingdom. Oh well, we in Natal always did call ourselves the last outpost of the British Empire. You’re asked for your NIE all the time. Learn the number by heart.
My Padron – Joanna was skipped as being unnecessary / too difficult to spell / not needed on voyage.
My official bank certificate, for bank details – Lamprey was skipped as being confusing.
My permission to run a guest house from the Turismo y Deporte – Joanna not included
My registration as self-employed (autonomo/a) and a tax payer is perfect – now – but originally had me as Elisabeth Joann etc
The Fremap one reversed 1st apilledo and 2nd apilledo.
My escritura (deeds for my house) are, phew, perfect. That’ll make the will much easier, so long as the name is right on the will.
My medical card is almost right – who needs the final A in Joann?
My residency card is perfect, but took three tries and the translator I luckily took with me getting really, really emphatic.
My name on the tax register had two errors and eventually I had to get an accountant to correct it.
Six photocopies of my passport – which I carry on me at all times.
In every single case I had to provide either my passport or a notarized copy at the time. I really hope there won’t be tears before bedtime with all these variations, not one of which was me being ditzy. If I lose this concertina file I suspect I will cease to exist.
I do rather wish my parents had liked the name Maria, and hadn’t bothered with the others, useful as they have proved as pen names.
If you are living and driving in Spain, no matter which country you come from, you get six months grace before you have to go to the DGT (Dirección General deTráfico for a Spanish licence – the permiso de conducción.
Getting the replacement driving licence is something the authorities have not been too rigorous about up to now. They want you to, they encourage you to, you are supposed to, and there are threats of fines if you don’t, but they haven’t been nasty about it before.
Oh, hello Brexit.
Don’t be using your UK licence, when living in Spain, after the UK leaves the EU, or you will have to retake your test. In Spanish.
Well if you’re going to be like that about it …
I used, and recommend, DrivingLicences.es – you register with them, load all your documentation (I’ll go through that in a minute) and pay them a fee which works out around 40€. They check everything is in order, tell you step by step what you have to do, make the appointment for you at the local DGT, (mine was Granada) and give you a letter in Spanish to give to your burócrata which explains you don’t speak good Spanish and provides the answers to the commonest questions they may have.
So what you need is:
Residency certificate or card and at least one copy (if card, front and back)
Valid passport from whichever country issued your current driving licence, and at least one copy
Two suitable photographs
Your original driving licence
If your address does not match your residency certificate, you’ll need a current original padron and at least one copy. I took one anyway. Just in case.
You could probably do the whole thing yourself but I found paying the DrivingLicence.es fee worth every cent for peace of mind.
The photos cost 5€ to be done by a local photographer but a photo booth would have been fine.
The only tricky thing about the medical certificate is that it has to be current so I waited to know my appointment date at the DGT (because of Brexit, the delay in certain areas can be months, but mine was three weeks, ideal). It was then a case of finding the nearest place which was authorised to do the medical test – look online. Rather than try to book an appointment (cita previa) over the phone I pitched up in person to make the appointment in my limping Spanish and they very nicely tested me there and then.
You need to take your residency card or certificate, and your original driving licence. They’ll fill in the form (do check that they entered everything that is on your current licence, or it will only be filled in for driving a car) and do two separate examinations in two separate rooms. The first is eyesight and hearing tests, blood pressure, height and weight. The second is a reactions test, and fun – you get a fifteen second trial run at keeping on two sets of tracks which twist and turn (and occasionally go in two different directions, exactly the way the wheels on a car don’t) without being beeped at too often, then do it for real. Your photograph is taken and your certificate, with photo, printed out. The cost was 45€.
The DGT appointment was made with a reference number so when you get there, find a terminal in the main hall to punch the number in, and it will tell you which floor to go to and which desk you will be seen at. You then sit and wait for your number to come up, which mine did bang on time. I had a very nice burocráta who spoke not a word of English but briskly processed everything, took away my UK licence and gave me a form confirming I had applied and paid (24.10€) to present to any enquiring policia before my temporary licence arrived, which it did within the week.
The card licence arrived today – in the name Elizabeth Jonanna Lamprey. Oh well. Matches the car.
I don’t suppose Spanish bureaucracy is any trickier than French (which is infamous) or English (which is tortuous) but it’s all in Spanish and my command of this lovely language is still strictly limited. Don’t shout at me – 90% of my guests speak English as their second language if not their first and I teach English every day. Even my Spanish guests wince so much at my slow careful pronunciation they suggest I let them practice their English instead.
However, matters bureaucratic must be conducted in Spanish. Getting my Tarjeta Sanitaria (health or medical card) was actually pretty easy. I went to my local medical centre for a form to complete, then returned that with my passport and a copy of same, a current padron* and copy of same, and a letter downloaded by my accountant off the tax website confirming I am registered as autonoma and paying my Social. The receptionist checked it, said Madrid would be in touch if there was a problem, and sent it off a few weeks ago – card received today, and now I am covered completely for any illness, issues, or coronavirus symptoms I care to develop. At the same time I got a letter inviting to get my innards checked as I’m over fifty, very efficient, AND my name is 100% correct, which is more efficient than very nearly every other authority I’m registered with in Spain.**
*The Padrón Municipal de Habitantes was on another blog, but in brief your local town council, or ayuntamiento, needs to keep track of how many people are in the town to do accurate forecasts for town necessities. Anyone living more than 6 months of the year in the town should therefore go to the ayuntamiento, complete the form, and present it with proof of address ( your escritura (deeds to your house) or your rental agreement) plus your passport. The form is issued promptly and efficiently and has an effective shelf-life of several months, although few are sticklers about that. Getting a replacement, at least at my friendly ayuntamiento, is just a question of handing in the first** and saying your address hasn’t changed, Bob’s your uncle (which is not Bob es tu tio, I haven’t yet learned the equivalent colloquialism because my Spanish, as mentioned earlier, is still decidedly basic despite free local lessons twice a week and listening to the excellent Michel Thomas CDs whenever I’m in the car).
**I always have my concertina file containing every piece of paper ever issued to me when I go near the authorities, just in case. It saves a lot of running back and forth and if I lose it I might as well jump off a cliff as I will have ceased to exist. There’s going to be a blog about that too.