Living in Spain, warts and all

I came to Spain for an easier life. Less stressed, slower, more relaxed.

At the back end of my days in the UK, running a busy accountancy and taxation practice, I suffered frequently from the dreams that have haunted me on and off all my life. The first, that I am in a familiar building but with errors – staircases with gaps in them with chasms below, doorways so narrow that I can barely squeeze through them sideways – and I am in a hurry to reach someone dear to me, but struggle to surmount the obstacles. The second, that I have to make an urgent phone call, but I can’t find the right number, I enter the number incorrectly, I can’t make the buttons respond.

I’m sure that these dreams, or at least some variation on the theme, threaten us all when our waking selves are under pressure.

Last night, I didn’t sleep well. Following our sleuthing with the guardia civíl on Thursday night, I had a visit from two different officers yesterday morning asking me to record to disk all the details we had watched from the hard drive of the camera system. So, never having had the need to do this before, John and I tackled the task, instruction booklet in hand.

When I checked the recorded disk in my computer yesterday afternoon, it scrambled my operating software. Fortunately, I keep a full system back-up, so all was soon recovered – however, I am unable to access any information on the recorded disk. In fact, it is invisible to my computer.

Furthermore, the camera system itself is set to the highest possible resolution, and so manages only to record for a couple of days before looping back on itself to over-record.

Yes – all our video footage of the felons moving up and down the camino in their car has been overwritten.

So last night I tossed and turned, dreaming fitfully of the police station full of odd traps and obstacles that I tried in vain to surmount in order to deliver a charred and warped CD to the desk, while fearing that I would be arrested for destroying vital evidence and impeding the course of justice.

My second stressy dream I actually lived in real life this morning.

As John and I were out in the parrot house feeding the birds and the dogs at around 8am, we heard the sound of a car on the camino, descending into the valley. I groaned, thinking it was the police returning to collect the dreaded disk. John peered out of the parrot house door and up to the camino, and was suddenly galvanised into action.

” It’s the Escort! Phone the police! Phone Juan-Fran!!” he yelled, and darted off to the front of the house towards our own car, opening the double gates at the top of the drive with the remote control as he ran. Jumping in the car, he started her up and then stepped hard on the accelerator, all memories of his lectures to me about allowing her warm-up time before putting her under load flying out of the window.

He burned rubber up the drive, and then left her parked in the middle of our single-track camino, effectively blocking the escape route of Juan-Fran’s thieves.

Meanwhile, I am scrolling through my mobile phone contacts list, looking for Juan-Fran’s number. To no avail. By now, I am sitting in front of the computer with a Google search running for ‘guardia civíl Bullas‘. This gives me a Murcia main desk number for the guardia civíl, which I mis-dial. My ‘stop’ button is a bit dodgy, so I can’t cut it off immediately. When I finally do, I get through to an agente who doesn’t see any need for urgency (“tranquila, chica, tranquila!”) and asks me to repeat myself slowly six times before he tells me that the Bullas cuartel (police station) is not open until 9am, but that he will get a message through to patrol.

I then tried to phone Val, a mutual friend of myself and Juan-Fran, but she doesn’t have his number. She tells me to phone Danielle, her daughter. By this time, the adrenaline rush is making my fingers shake too much to do anything useful apart from whisk eggs so I mis-dial again, fumble and drop the phone, which parts company with its battery on impact with the ground.

Putting the phone back together, switching it back on and entering the password takes an eternity, but eventually I am speaking to Juan-Fran.

“They’re trapped, your thieves – get here NOW!”

“Who….??” he replies.

Juan-Fran … Deborah .. los ladrones …. AHORA MISMO!

Two minutes later, he’s flying towards us along the camino from town, his face a curious mix of delight and seething anger.

He is followed by five guardia civíl patrol cars. By this time, Pedro and all our other neighbours are craning their necks over the fences above us to see what the devil is going on at la casa de los ingleses below them.

The three men in the Escort claimed that they were looking for the footpath so that they could go for a walk. When Juan-Fran challenged them about the number of ‘walks’ they have taken in the last week, they denied having been anywhere near here before; but faced with the fact that they had been seen on cameras which were clearly in view, they subsided. In the boot of the Escort, the police found a little bit of steel, a large knife and a hand axe. The driver’s paperwork was in order but that of his two allies was wildly adrift, so they were carted off in separate patrol cars.

Juan-Fran gave us a huge thumbs-up and drove off after the convoy.

It has taken John until now to flush the adrenaline from his system and actually shut up about it.

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Comments on: "The Hills are Alive (with the Sound of Si-rens…)" (8)

  1. How exciting! A mixture of Keystone Cops and Pink Panther!

  2. Sue Keelan said:

    Here’s hoping that your temporary secondment to the Guardia Civil gives you some brownie points towards getting your decibel lady access to Grumpy McGrump from Grumpytown next door!

  3. Hilarious and wonderful – though I see how stressful it all was. I thought I´d have a quiet life here too, but no dice. Never worked so bloody hard in my life! Anyway, I get that phone dream too, although I´ve never had the misfortune of having it happen in real life. Good job Debbie with the ladrones, that´ll teach them to mess with los ingleses!

    • Read on, Mo. It gets worse.

      I’m beginning to formulate a theory that it is not the issue of language that eventually sends people scurrying back to their native lands in frustration – it is the sheer incomprehensibility of the methods and the cock-eyed logic that defeat them. I speak pretty passable Spanish, and I make my way without the need for interpreters. But I cannot sit and argue about the injustice inherent in so many of their day to day processes, mainly because to them it is so normal.

      I’m almost at the point of tearing my hair out and rending my clothes!

  4. I’d like to leave a comment but I’m just going to head for the next installment!

  5. […] on Monday. Still anxious to show us her appreciation of our efforts to apprehend her thieves (The Hills are Alive…), she wanted to give us a trailer-load of steaming goat excrement. Now this might strike you as odd […]

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