Living in Spain, warts and all

Posts tagged ‘neighbour’

The Farce, The Ostrich and Cops and Robbers

It has been levelled at me by those who do not strut the stage of my life alongside me that I spin my exaggerated stories from the imagination of a mind with a tenuous grip on reality.

You don’t share it. Those who do, know otherwise.

Since I last ranted wrote in these hallowed pages five days ago, a couple more Scenes have been added to the current Act as follow. Believe them or not, as you will.

The Farce:

Pursuant to the abortion of the sound tests last week, which occurred because the ayuntamiento had set me a circular problem of cause and effect, I spoke to Salvador, my ingeniero agrónomo. I have the greatest respect for Salvador, even though I should by now own him body and soul, given the teetering stack of crisp notes I have handed him throughout the two years of our acquaintance.

Salvador told me to submit all documentation in my possession immediately, disregarding the absence of the test results. I obeyed.

To cut a long story short, the farce proceeded thus:

To oficina técnica to deliver papers (PUT YOUR LEFT LEG IN); back to ayuntamiento main desk to get papers stamped (YOUR LEFT LEG OUT); back to oficina técnica to lodge papers (IN, OUT, IN, OUT); back to ayuntamiento with justificante for payment of fianza (bond) to reclaim it (and SHAKE IT ALL ABOUT). Upstairs to see an official who needed to hand-write a claim for repayment of fianza (DO THE HOKEY-COKEY); back to reception to lodge claim (and TURN AROUND). Back to oficina técnica to deliver handwritten and stamped claim form for their consideration (and THAT’S WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT!)

In through one door, out through another on a different level. Pure farce. Although had there also been the dropping of trousers, I ‘d have been on the next plane out.

Another mini-farce screening concurrently: yesterday I received a quote from a company for the contract for removal of  poisonous waste from the kennels, which came in at 198€ per annum. I telephoned to speak to the guy in charge to protest the fact that I wouldn’t actually have any poisonous waste to remove.

“Ah, but you will!” he said. “We will need to collect, every six months, all your empty plastic containers that contained dangerous liquids.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Like cleaning fluids,” he replied.

So the stuff I use for cleaning in the kennels, like floor wash, disinfectant, washing-up liquid and so on, becomes a dangerous waste purely because it is used in a business environment, even though I may use a veritable mountain of the same products in my house and dispose of the containers via the recycling depositories.

Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? And this, from a country that allows supermarkets to stock agua fuerte (literally “strong water”, but in reality hydrochloric acid to you and I) which is clearly marked for authorised use only, and, further more, to stock it on the lowest shelves available just to facilitate its collection by the smallest of mobile infants.

The Ostrich:

I had a phone call two days ago (Wednesday) from Inma, the technician from the authorised sound-testers. She told me that she would be running the tests for acoustic contamination Thursday (yesterday). I therefore scrambled to borrow some noise-makers from kind friends who had taken pity on me and offered up the services of their beloved canines. A big thank you on that score to both Gill and Rosanna.

Inma was very happy that I was able to provide her with nine dogs to test. Despite the fact that the ayuntamiento had assured her that she could test with my own four dogs and extrapolate, she was concerned that these instructions were verbal only and could, of course be later denied.

She commenced testing at 5:30 pm, while the dogs were still at large in the outside garden runs. Despite the various bits of misinformation I have been given by different authorities on the subject, including Salvador, the testing itself was to be fairly minimal. Inma wandered around with a large microphone that bore a huge busby-style hat, attached to a small sound meter. She was to take readings at various points south of the barn, from one end to the other, at around 6pm, and then again at 8pm and 11pm.

So she commenced with the first set of readings. It took her a while, as she dropped down into the scrubland below the kennels to make the sweep, but still it amounted to very little in the way of readings (maybe five or six only, from what I could see). And of course, her passing to and fro in direct view of the dogs caused them to bark where they weren’t doing so before her passage.

Upon her return, she asked if I would take her to the house of my vecino (nemesis neighbour), since she had an appointment (made  by the oficina técnica with the neighbour and then also confirmed by Inma) at 6:30 pm to enter his land, the field directly behind the barn, so she could take readings there. It had to be then, apparently, because he says he never sleeps at the house but returns to his town house. Which will be why he has insisted on sound tests, then.    !*!!**!

This necessitated a car ride, since to reach his place I need to go back towards town and then out along a different camino, despite the fact that I can (should I ever find myself with the overwhelming need so to do) touch his land through the fence at our rear boundary.

As I dropped her off, she was met by el vecino’s daughter, who is a lawyer. Inma asked if I could pick her up again in an hour’s time, and I left her there.

Half an hour later, she reappeared at my door, having walked back on her own.

“??” I said.

“They have denied me access,” she announced.


Apparently the daughter had proclaimed that they were not allowing her to make the tests, because should they turn out to be favourable, we would be granted our licence. And they don’t want that.

Yeah, I said what you have just said, too.

Now, everyone is saying things to me along the lines of “….shooting themselves in the foot”, “…no credibility”, blah-di-blah-di-woof.

But I have a niggling worry about this. It’s the course of action you might expect from a brainless idiot – if I don’t let it happen, they can’t continue. The ostrich syndrome, really. However, this woman is a lawyer and therefore (I’m guessing) not in reality a brainless idiot. So does she know something that we don’t about the stupidity of rules here? If they prevent us from carrying out the tests that they have forced upon us in the first place, can the test in fact be deemed void?

By all that’s just, I’m sure we would all be appalled by such a ridiculous imposition. But hey! this is Spain. I’ll let you know.

and The Cops and Robbers:

As if I didn’t have enough on my plate yesterday, I also got a phone call from a different neighbour, called Juan-Fran. He informed me that a good quantity of steel had been stolen recently from his property, which is the delapidated Mill in the Middle for which our land is named, located between the river and our bottom-most boundary on the western edge of our finca. He asked if I had seen or heard any vehicular movement on the camino, which is the only route down to or up from the mill.

Normally I only hear the comings and goings of cars belonging to my four neighbours up at the top at the entrance to our land, but it just so happened that on Wednesday, as I was feeding the parrots telephone directories to shred (a relatively long-lived toy, for any parrot owners out there!) I heard the passage of a noisy engine dropping into the valley. Because it is fairly unusual, I actually took note of the time. I confessed this to Juan-Fran.

He knows that we have,  in and around the house, video surveillance running in four-day looped recording mode. This is because I detest and refuse to have grilles at our windows and doors, on the basis that I don’t need to feel as though I am imprisoned – possibly an echo from a previous life?

So he asked if we could look back through the recordings. I explained that John was due to arrive here yesterday evening and until he did, I would have no idea about how to set about replaying recorded stuff.

John arrived here around 8:30pm, delivered into my tender care by dear friends Avril and Iain, who had heroically volunteered to do the airport run in my stead given that I was otherwise engaged with the sound engineer. About half an hour later, as we were finishing a coffee, a knock on the door heralded the arrival of Juan-Fran. Without preamble, he asked if we could examine the video footage captured by the camera at our entrance gates that points directly up the camino – and then promptly led in two officers of the Guardia Civíl.

The recording device is in our walk-in wardrobe. The computer screen is on the work desk in our bedroom. We couldn’t immediately put our hands to the remote control for the recorder, so John is up a ladder inside the wardrobe trying to control manually the time, direction of play and speed. Juan-Fran, two cops and myself are in my most personal space huddled around the screen looking for the movement of a vehicle.

Fortunately, because I had made a note of the approximate time that I had heard the engine noise the day before, we didn’t have to trawl too much. However, John was replaying at 64x and at that speed it is virtually impossible to pick up the passage of a vehicle across the camera field. But we had an eagle-eyed cop with us who managed to spot a blip that the rest of us could not. So with John trying desperately to fine-control the thing with four different people shouting “There! Stop! Back a bit! Slowly! Forward a little!” and so on, we finely managed to freeze the offending vehicle mid-frame.

From this, we managed to read all but the last letter of the matriculation plate (about an hour after we’d started) and everyone patted backs and congratulated each other. The police were profusely grateful (it can’t be a bad thing, I suppose) and Juan-Fran was ecstatic.

As they filed out, John turned to me and said, “I’ve only just arrived and they didn’t even give me time to draw breath!”

Welcome to my world, hun. And I have witnesses.




The plot thickens

Inma’s office have just emailed me.

They have spoken again to the oficina técnica this morning to ascertain the nature of the tests to be carried out.  They have been told that the tests are indeed in accordance with the Real Decreto 1367/2007 which demands that the noise levels are recorded with animals in situ.

Further, that I have permission to put my dogs in there for this to take place.

Finally, that I must provide contact details for my esteemed neighbour, whose land abuts mine right behind the barn (although his house is some 300m away) and who has caused me all the problems so far. This is because they need to put measuring equipment at his house.

OK. I have a couple of issues with this.

This is the guy who, when we first bought the land some seven years ago, informed us on first meeting that he owned our barn because it was built on his land. We had to pay a topógrafo to ascertain that this was not so. Following that, he said that, because the barn was situated on the party boundary (which would be illegal today but it is too old for this law to be applicable) he would make sure that we could never do anything with it … unless we paid him 9,000€ hush money.

Of course, we declined his generous offer. However, we were still fairly new to Spain, and also intensely aware that we were coming to a very rural area, where everyone is related to everyone else in the village, as witnessed by the sheer number of extra eyes / oddly-placed ears / hunched backs etc. So we diverted our attention away from the barn (in which we had originally intended to create our home, just as all the locals had done) and concentrated instead on renovating the old casita further down on the land, even though it was a great deal smaller.

That, of course, turned out to be a different story – we paid a builder and his architect to validate the antiquity of both buildings, and to submit plans to renovate the casita. Unbeknownst to us, this didn’t happen – the work went ahead without licences, although we were told that all was in order.

The house was denounced – I’ll give you just one guess by whom, because that’s all you’ll need. He couldn’t possibly see the casita from his land – he must have driven into town and back out along our camino to take a look – and he then asked to see the licences, which weren’t there. So he denounced us. He was, please note, at the same time building a second illegal house of his own just behind his first. But obviously in his feeble brain, natives are allowed to do what foreigners must not. Or something.

Not only was it denounced, but it was also sealed off by the police, since Mr Personality has relatives in the town hall.

Anyway, back to the kennels. We have therefore been über cautious, with the development and opening of a business in the barn, that we comply to the letter.

He has tried his damnedest to prevent it. When the notice of intent was posted, he wrote a three page letter of objection stating that we would create too much noise, too much smell, too much damage to the beautiful environment in which we live (‘the lungs of Bullas’, as he put it). Besides which, we were sancionados (previously fined for wrong-doing) and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to touch the barn/create a business/breathe.

It is apparently for this reason that the ayuntamiento have demanded so many different papers of compliance.

So, my worries are as follow. How much do you think he can impede the sound tests by refusing or at least considerably delaying access to his land? And, further, would you think him capable of placing a dog near the testing equipment and making it bark long and loud? Am I just being paranoid?

Or am I learning from a master about thinking like an utter bastard?

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