Annoying things in Spain

The Week from Hell!

It all started on Monday morning when I nearly had a punch up with a posh banking women on the metro. Okay, it was partly my fault for penning all the commuters into a tiny space with my wife’s enormously long bike, but mine was being repaired. I’d acted like an professional sheepdog, mounting a blue push bike and barking at everyone to get back. To be fair, there was a tiny gap for people to pass by and gain access to a huge open area, but they’d somehow gathered like frightened sheep, no doubt hungover on a Monday morning.

Let's get those bikers
Let’s get those bikers!

The metro stopped at my penultimate stop, and loads of people got on.
“Can’t you move your bike?” asked a blond banker, wearing her shades with pride.
“Do I look like I can move my bike?” I said, turning round to highlight just how much space I didn’t have. My smarmy answer caused a stir.
“But no one can pass.”
“There’s plenty of room there,” I said, looking back, but as I did the driver pulled away and a different woman almost fell over my bike. The banker woman squeezed past and continued to have a go.
“I have a bike like that, and I wouldn’t dream of bringing it on the metro.”
“I don’t normally,” I said, in a softer, more apologetic tone, looking for some sympathy. “It’s just mine is broke and I have to take this one.”
“You should be more thoughtful of other people.”
“Sure, sure, just like you, you mean?” I looked ahead as my blood started to boil. Who did she think she was? What right did she have to assume I wasn’t thoughtful of others? I’d spent the whole night worrying how I’d affect the sheep on the train and had attempted to find the least offensive place, but it turned out to be the worst one.

Recently I’ve begun to hate going on the metro in the morning with my bike; tolerance levels are zero, especially from stuck up bankers. She really pissed me off. And I blame her for kicking off my worst week in a long time.

I rushed home after class, still annoyed from the woman, and barged through the door.
“Is he coming?” I said to my wife.
“He hasn’t called,” she said.
“Typical.” I said, referring to this guy we know, Mani Manitas; the local handy man who comes round and does all the stupid jobs that I can’t do, or am too scared to do. He’s fixed our oven, light switches, changed locks, and our latest project is to fix a dodgy antenna, which has been swaying back and forth this winter like a pole vaulting champion’s floppy stick.

I wasn’t surprised he hadn’t called, because he’s about as reliable as a Spanish politician, but it was probably just as well as the rain had started to pour, and the bad luck omen I had hanging over my shoulders would surely have caused a catastrophe.

Then came Tuesday, and until about 10.30pm, I was doing fine. I’d got through the day at work without too many aggravating moments and enjoyed a couple of classes, but suddenly I felt cold, strangely cold, and began to shiver on the way home. When I turned up, I was physically shivering. Luckily my wife had done some thoughtful soup, and within 30 minutes I was shivering in bed.

Wednesday morning I considered calling in sick. I’d slept terribly, had been shivering, felt dizzy, and my back was hurting. But I forced myself up so I could take my kids to school, took a mix of paracetamol and ibuprofen, and managed to edit some of my novel for a couple of hours. By then I wasn’t too bad, and managed to get through the day at work, even if the last 30 minutes were quite painful. That night I sweat it all out again by shivering and wet the bed- with sweat.

Thursday morning came and I still felt weird, but I battled on. After we dropped the kids in, we went for a coffee and waited for the local bike shop to open so I could pick up my own bike, and avoid any unwanted penning in of innocent commuters on the metro the next morning. I almost got into a ruck with the woman in the shop though.

Just to fill you in with a bit of a flashback; I met this woman before when she tried to overcharge me for a previous bike repair, only by 3 euros, but still, it was the way she looked down on me because my Spanish wasn’t perfect. Sound familiar?

So we turned up and I asked about my bike. This is how the conversation went, all in Spanish.

“Hi, I left a bike here the other day.”
“Oh yeah, it’s not ready yet; we are waiting for a few pieces.”
“Oh right, it’s just I need it for tomorrow.”
“Right, well, it probably won’t be ready. You see, a guy came the other day and brought the wrong wheel.”
“I see.”
“Yeah, and it was missing some parts, the, actually, why bother telling you the bits as you won’t understand me.”

I frowned in annoyance and was about to blurt out something when my wife stepped in.
“Sorry, but my husband has lived here for 12 years. He understands you perfectly.”
“Oh, you’re Spanish,” she said, blanking me now. “Oh, well in that case I’ll tell you.”
“But he understands you,” she said.

At this point I would have normally gone in with some harsh words, but I just didn’t have it in me. We arranged to come back on Friday at some point.

I left fuming. Why had she just completely blanked me once she knew my wife was Spanish? It was such a typical response from people here in the town. The rest of the day wasn’t too bad, but that woman’s disapproving look lingered in my thoughts.

Friday morning I was back on my wife’s bike, and had to get out a stop before my usual one as the carriage was filling up and I didn’t want to run into any moany bankers. I was still feeling weak too, and my throat was also beginning to hurt.

When I got back home and picked up my daughter, they informed me there was a virus going round (surprise, surprise) and our daughter had the squits.

The week just wasn’t getting any easier.

I shot off for a quick class, then when I came back, I stupidly left my daughter in her pram on a step outside our front door. As I was cleaning some pee pee off the floor from my son, I heard a crash, followed by a scream. I ran outside and my daughter was lying on the floor with the pram on her, with her face all cut up. My son did look guilty, but he was also smirking a little. I had to have a go, but felt bad afterwards. It was my fault for leaving it there after all.

On Saturday I woke up with a clenched throat, dreading going to 4 hours of oral examining. Luckily we had some antibiotics left over, which worked a treat and I got through the afternoon stress free.

So that just left Sunday; Father’s Day. I was allowed a lie in till 9am, to chill out after an exhausting week. I woke up in a decent mood, rested, and my throat was okay.

We were chatting in the kitchen, when the dog started to lick the floor. At first I thought she’d been sick, but then realised the dishwasher was leaking. A perfect extra job for Daddy to do on his ‘day off.’

We managed to sort out the mess, and did have a reasonable Sunday, largely helped by half a bottle of my favourite red wine, Beronia, and a victory by Spurs.

What a week though!

Annoying things in Spain

The Dreaded Movifart Monopoly

They’ve got us good and proper, ain’t they? Bloomin’ Movistar, controlling the telecommunications market like that; not letting any of the other companies in. At least not where I live I old boy.

Movistar spain
It’s the Monopoly guy! Photo by Jamesks

We’ve been with Movifart for about ten years. They seem to be the best telecommunications company in Spain, but I haven’t got loads to compare them with.

We were with orange for a while, but they messed us about with bills and ridiculous, deceitful offers.

“Sure, you can have free minutes, but they are not actually free, and in fact double the price that we quoted you.” When we tried to cancel the deal, even though we were at the end of the contract, they still took money from us. It was also a nightmare transferring to Movistar.

Our relationship with Movistar has been an addictive, dependence one; like a strange hypnotic drug which gets into your blood stream and takes over your mind.

At first we just had the telephone line and a mobile, then we got a TV deal, and then we got football and movies. The price has gradually risen over the years, but it’s like the Euribor, there’s nothing you can do about it.

The football package is pretty darn amazing though. It used to be only 25 euros a month for everything: 5 premiership games per weekend, 8 Spanish ones, including the big derbies, and also all Champions League and Europa League football, so it’s not a bad deal.

The great thing is that you can record the games, useful when your team plays on Monday night and you are working late (like most ESL teachers), or if the games are on when your kids are running riot.

My daughter seems to know when Spurs are playing, as it’s the only time in the week she actually latches on to me. A couple of times she’s almost ended up in our bedroom when we scored though: it’s directly above the lounge. I managed to hold on to her, albeit a tad loosely.

My son is not really into football yet, although he know who Spurs are (but only because he doesn’t really know the other teams yet). He picks the opposite team every time I ask him though.

“Spurs or Liverpool?” (Me)

“Liverpool.”

“No, rubbish.”

“Spurs or Seville.”

“Seville.”

“No, rubbish.”

It’s the same every week.

Admittedly he said he preferred green to red the other day, when Seville were playing Betis, and in the end he was saying Verde Caca…Green is pooey.

Anyway, back to Movistar. Since Christmas I’ve been on an amazing deal, which included all the footy, films, series, and a great playback option so you can see everything in the last 7 days. The package was worth 65 euros a month, and we got it for free. But now we have a taster for it. Damn you Movifarts.

Right now I’m paying 70 a month for normal Movistar TV, a landline, and one mobile line. The problem is we don’t have football, or decent films anymore. So it’s a bit of a rip off.

As it’s the end of the football year, I want to be able to see Spurs mess up the season again (it’s only tradition). Plus it’s about time I had a contract too, and I only have an iPhone 4, which is a great phone, but waiting ten minutes for my emails to load is starting to get annoying.

So I’ve been shopping around, but I’ve realised that I’m stuck.

Orange have a great deal, for two phones, plus TV for about 70 euros. The problem is there’s no premiership games, plus a friend of mine said you have to actually rent most of the kid’s films and series, which is a typical orange scam. No thanks.

Vodafone seems okay: two phone lines for about 70 euros, but they don’t have the rights to fit the TV lines where I live. Plus they don’t have the premiership games.

So, if I want footy, I’m stuck with Movistar. I know I could stream it, but I just can’t deal with that anymore. Also I want to be able to record it, and get decent movies for the weekend, although I normally end up dribbling in my own saliva on the sofa most Friday and Saturday nights: such is the life of fatherhood.

The latest Movistar deal with two mobile lines, the complete football package, or just Spanish football with films and series, plus a new mobile is about 125 euros. I’m edging towards it, but only because it’s our only form of entertainment at the moment; we haven’t been to the cinema in four years.

It grates me that I can only have Movistar though. They have a total monopoly on the TV and telephone lines, which is no wonder they are so expensive. Maybe there is another solution?

What do you think? What telephone company are you with? Have you had enough of the Movifart Monopoly?

Annoying things in Spain, Humour, Seville

The Nutters of Sevilla

nutters-in-sevilla
Daisy are you out there? Photo by D0282

I met a fair few nutters on my trip around the world. The scariest was a 6ft transvestite called Daisy, who I met while on a greyhound bus on the way to L.A. She told me she was going to see her Mum because she’d got her a job as a show girl. Also on the greyhound bus were a drugged up couple. One of which was wearing illuminous pink shades. They both got off the bus at every chance to pop another pill. And not forgetting the obese Chinese guy I met in Siem Reap who had a go at me for going to see Angkor Wat because he said I should prefer seeing natural wonders of the world.

Continue reading “The Nutters of Sevilla”

Annoying things in Spain, Culture Shock

Lateness in Spain? No pasa nada!

The other night I was waiting for a film to come on Antenna 3, one of the more popular Spanish channels. It was about 10.30pm, and the film was due to start at 10.30pm. Now this wasn’t during the Olympics, a long tennis match, or a delay on TV thanks to some stupid political debate between stupid Spanish politicians. It was just your average Sunday night.

late-in-spain
Always late, for a very important date! Photo by Laura2008

“How can the TV be late?” I asked my wife. She looked at me, sighed, and raised her eyebrows, knowing what was going to come. “It’s the TV. Surely, it’s automatic these days. When the clock clicks to 10.30, the film comes on. Or is there still a funny little chubby guy with a fat moustache loading up the reels at Antenna 3. Maybe he’s having a fag break or something, and just forgot he was supposed to be putting the Sunday night film on. Or maybe he is getting paid cash in hand for allowing a couple more adverts on, just to wind up the public.”

“What does it matter?” my wife said. “It will be on in a minute.”

“It’s just not right. It’s three minutes late. Back home people would be starting riots, burning down the TV station, and out in the streets with placards complaining that the television world has gone into crisis.”

“But this is Spain. No pasa nada,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, just as the film came on. Continue reading “Lateness in Spain? No pasa nada!”

Annoying things in Spain

Thieving Scumbags of Sevilla

We thought we were safe, we thought we were very safe. But it turns out that living in a reasonably quiet residential area on the outskirts of Sevilla is on par with the level of safety in the Latin Kings district in Madrid.

Bike stolen
Where is the other wheel? Photo by Nella2010

The only sign of violence or bad feeling in our first year here has been the sparrows fighting in the nispero tree. So I’m still a bit miffed about what happened last weekend in the early hours of Saturday morning.

So there I was, dribbling on my pillow with one leg hanging out the duvet thanks to the sudden rise in temperature, when I heard my wife shouting.

“Babe, babe, tu bici.

It took me far longer than it should have done to register what bici meant. Then when I realised my wife was talking about my bike, while holding our daughter in her arms, I freaked out.

“What do you mean? My bici.

“Your bike, it’s gone.”

Continue reading “Thieving Scumbags of Sevilla”

Annoying things in Spain, Expat Focus blogs

What to Watch Out for with Dodgy Del Boy Estate Agents in Spain

Dodgy estate agents
Dodgy dodgy estate agents… Photo by MsSarakKelly

We all know that most estate agents would sell their own grandmother’s ancient ballerina jewellery box to buy themselves a crusty bacon roll, so just imagine the sort of dodgy tricks the ones in Spain are trying to pull.

If you’re thinking of buying a place in Spain via an estate agent then there are a few traps you need to be aware of which could save you thousands.

Check out my latest article for Expat Focus titled Be Careful of Dodgy Estate Agents in Spain to get an insight into the types of sneaky scams these conniving money suckers are trying to bring off, including hidden fees, illegal tax evasion techniques and plain daylight robbery.

Cheers

Annoying things in Spain, Humour

Who, who, who, who, who don’t clean their dog crap?

Not to be read if you are about to have lunch, especially if you’re thinking of serving up sausages, mini chipolatas, or chocolate flakes.

Expat dog poo
Wouldn’t mind a bit of that over here. Photo by Big Richard C

A couple of weeks back, on a chilly morning as I took out my dog Pepa to do her daily necessities, I had an uplifting chat with an elderly Spanish lady. Pepa was scrunched up in a ball, squeezing out her chocolate tum tums, when I caught a glimpse of a seventy-odd year old couple waddling towards me.

Damn, she’s bound to say one of the following, I thought.

“Take her to the dog park.” (What the one about 3kms away?)

“How can something so little make something so big?” (I ask myself that everyday)

Or

“That’s disgusting, can’t she do that in your toilet.” (I’d like to see you try train her, luv). Continue reading “Who, who, who, who, who don’t clean their dog crap?”

Annoying things in Spain, Humour

Neighbours from Hell: Bike Hobbits contd…, plus the Boxer.

By the time Tim came back, I was in bed asleep, but luckily he managed to get in the house without getting his face ripped off. The next morning I found out what had happened.

“Tim, Tim,” I said, whispering in his ear as he lay sweating on a li-lo.

“Eh? What? Jennifer?”

“No mate, it’s not Jennifer. What the hell happened last night?”

“Not much, I couldn’t find any old ladies to chat up, so I just got drunk in Merchants again.”

“No, I mean with the door.”

“What door?”

“The door that you left open, the one that was stopping thieving gypsies stealing the hobbit’s bikes.”

“What? Oh my god, the door,” said Tim, rubbing the sweat away from his eyes. “I’m sure I…” I could see the clogs working in Tim’s mind as he realised he had left the door open. I filled him in on the night’s pleasant chat with the Son hobbit. The fact that he was after the culprit, and was demanding five-hundred euros from us.

“But why didn’t he have the bikes locked up?” he said.

“That’s what I thought, but you try telling him that.”

“He can’t get the money off us. He can’t prove anything.”

“I know, but he could beat it out of us.”

“True.”

Umpa
Umpa Lumpas. Always gets a giggle. Photo by kapchurus

As we sat on the sofa, both startling now and then as noises came from next door, I suddenly had a brainwave.

“Let’s go see Joaquin.”

“Who’s Joaquin?”

“My landlord.”

Luckily Joaquin also had problems getting out of doorways unless he was sideways on, but he wasn’t a hobbit, rather a giant. We nipped up the road to his Tanning Shop, where people often came out as orange Umpa Lumpas. After I told Joaquin what had happened he just laughed. Continue reading “Neighbours from Hell: Bike Hobbits contd…, plus the Boxer.”

Annoying things in Spain, Humour

Neighbours from Hell: The Bike Hobbits – Part 1

We’ve only bloody well done it again. Why do we pick those flats, which at the start seem so perfect, so pleasant, such a step up from the previous one, only to find that once we are settled, with books on the shelves, photos on the wall, and all the light switches found, the neighbours begin to chisel away like an annoying wassup message tone.

Following on from my two blogs about Why housemates are so weird, I thought I’d expand the theme onto the rowdy, boisterous, and even aggressive neighbours we’ve had to put up with over the years. These anecdotes are in chronological, and possibly hate, order.

Bike Hobbits
A Hobbit cave, and a bike, what a coincidence. Photo by I_am_Allan

The Bike Hobbits

First up were the Bike Hobbits. They weren’t your ordinary, friendly, welcoming hobbits, but a family of bike obsessed hobbits. At least I think they were a family, I never saw the mother; it was just the son and father who I had to deal with, or to put better, hide from.

The Bike Hobbits were my neighbours while I lived at the end of the Alameda, back in the day when botellones– street booze parties, were merely frowned upon by the police. Now they are supposedly banned, but I think they must still go on, not that I ever get out to join in on them now. Anyway, the Alameda is known for its mixed range of habitants: students, hippies, families, dog-lovers, and even transvestites. Unfortunately, I chose the only flat with two aggressive, psychopathic hobbits as neighbours. Continue reading “Neighbours from Hell: The Bike Hobbits – Part 1”

Annoying things in Spain, Humour

Why are housemates so weird? Part 2

My next roomy, Pedro, was not potty in the slightest, especially compared to the last two. He was an art student, loved football, and had even adopted Spurs as his preferred English team (okay, maybe that is a bit barmy).

The Alameda, where all the crazy housemates gathered. Photo by Juan G.
The Alameda, where all the crazy housemates gathered.
Photo by Juan G.

His high level of English added to our male bonding. We could have a beer, hang out and talk about travelling and Spain, and we even had a couple of parties. Also, we could both sit in the lounge together, doing our own stuff, and not aggravate one another. Our humour was the same too. He understood sarcasm and irony and we could laugh about the same things and take the piss out of each other easily. Even my girlfriend thought he was a reasonable chap, probably because he never tried it on with her.

That’s why I was gutted when Pedro announced he was leaving. He had only been there two months and was starting to enter my list of top ten people I’d lived with around the world. He would probably have sneaked into the top five had he not gone home. You see Pedro, or Pete as he preferred to be called by his mates, was not actually Spanish, but from Norway. Continue reading “Why are housemates so weird? Part 2”