I’ve been living in this charming historic theme park for just over a year now. People have asked me what it was like when I first arrived. Harking back to a handful of harassed diary entries to jog my memory, I’ll do my best to illustrate…
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
I AM IN TOLEDO!!!!
[An event preceded by me purchasing a one-way plane ticket for the second time in my life.]
I’m exhausted. I’m exuberant. I’m all over the place. I’ve been up since 4am.
It is now 3pm. Sofia, my lovely landlady, meets me at my new sparkly clean flat, then rushes out to get some sheets for me, and toilet paper, milk, yoghurt (two plain, two strawberry), water and flaky pastries filled with chocolate. Great. Trip to the supermarket can wait till tomorrow.
I’ve got one suitcase with me. My 40 boxes full of clothes, books and household debris are due to arrive in a couple of weeks. Luckily, Sofia has left me plenty of cutlery, crockery, pots and pans in the kitchen, so I won’t need to eat off the floor.
4pm. Am pacing up and down the flat to get the feel of it. I’ve been here only once before, just over two months ago, for a very brief viewing.
I absolutely love the closet! Now that would give Carrie Bradshaw an instant orgasm. Ooooooh, the pull-out shelves, especially the ones with the little square compartments for keeping the smalls organised…! The bathroom mirrors are useless for picking zits.
Oh my. I’ve actually done it. I’ve moved country. Again. My Spanish is diabolical. I’m all alone. I can’t work the TV. Nor the oven. There’s mold growing in my washing machine and a waft of rancid cooking fat seeping through my open window. Feeling at a loose end. I have nothing to do, nothing to read, nobody to see, no internet. I want it to be 11pm, so I can rightfully go to bed. But it’s only 8.
Wednesday, 14 September 2011
My first morning of red tape frustration is over. There will be many more.
No joy opening a bank account. I don’t have the ‘right’ papers. In fact, I had to go to three banks to ascertain what the right papers are. As soon as they hear the word “freelance”, they start twitching. Nobody is interested in seven years’ worth of statements proving that I’ve got a steady income, and neither do my assurances, that I don’t want any credit cards, loans, nor launder money extracted from the rent boy racket I’m running in my spare time, appear to help my case in any way. All I want, I try to convey to the stern bank people in my best Tarzan-inspired Spanish, is an account for money to go into. But no. I might as well be badgering the Vatican to ordain as a priest.
So, at the end of all this, I gather that they *might* heed my pleas if I provide the following:
- Residency Registration Certificate
- N.I.E. (akin to a National Insurance number)
- Self-Employment Registration Certificate
- Endless Patience
How do I go about obtaining any of these things? Nobody knows. Am especially hung up on the last item.
But before I can even tackle more bureaucracy, I’ve bodily needs to attend to. Time for some food shopping in the local supermarket (the crapness of which warrants an entire blog entry to itself). I spend €60 on virtually nothing. The prices are crazy. I’m going to have to live on fruit, yoghurt, tinned fish and salad until I get paid, I decide. Paid, that is, into a bank account. Aaaaaaaahrgh.
Oh, and while gazing at shelves stacked with pickled octopus, I attract my first local admirer. A weedy, hairy, gerbil-like creature with a desperate stare. Just my type! There’s a brief conversation of sorts, then I manage to shake him off. He won’t be getting anywhere near my bodily needs, this much I know.
Next in line, thank God, is a relaxed social: coffee with my friends Maxi, Elena and her sister at their house. Just what I need, a round of smiley faces. (Elena and Maxi are the people I stayed with when I first started to investigate Toledo as a future relocation option.) They invite me for dinners at their place until I get myself sorted – how very sweet of them. And Elena offers to take me to the Town Hall tomorrow to get the residency registration done. That will be one problem down. What would I do without the kindness of barely-no-longer-strangers…!? Bang my head against the nearest two-millennia-old stone wall, that’s what.