Having already written two blog posts on this islands peculiarities you would think I’d have exhausted the subject, but no, the place is positively heaving with idiosyncrasies.
Not least on a practical level. If you thought the health care left something to be desired you really need to try the building, plumbing and electricity arrangements.
Our first house that we fell in love with in a very naive British immigrant way, because it was pretty, was a country house in a small village. All was well until the first storm. This was the point at which we realised it actually rained more inside the house than out. Water gushing through the window frames, I remember frantically hurling videos that were stored on the sill into the nearby playpen to save them from drowning. If video hurling isn’t an Olympic sport it damn well should be. I excelled. The child from the playpen meanwhile was sitting on the floor in a corner drowning in an ever increasing puddle. In the same house the plumbing had a mind of its own. The bathroom was upstairs and the water heater downstairs, through a courtyard, through the garden and behind a wall next to the road. I still haven’t figured out why. Anyway it broke and after numerous attempts to fix it would still not stay lit for more than ten minutes at a time on a good day. To have a shower therefore entailed turning it on then sprinting back upstairs like Linford Christie, disrobing as you ran, hurling yourself in the cubicle and praying to God it lasted long enough to rinse the conditioner off. If it didn’t you had to repeat before you could rinse, naked but for a towel and freezing in winter. God alone knows what the neighbours thought. Especially since the neighbour was the village bar. I must say we did get some odd looks whenever we went for a drink.
Tubes and Tenors
Of course we called the plumber on several occasions for this. Then we had a problem with the electric sockets in the house. So we called for an electrician. The same guy arrived. Err… no we wanted an electrician we explained. “Si” he replied. It seems here that they are in fact one in the same. The theory seems to be if it runs through tubes the same guy is qualified to fix it. I’ve yet to meet the local urologist or gynaecologist and I’m in no rush to do so. He definitely won’t be attending to my plumbing.
The pipes at night made such a weird howling noise that it really sounded like a bad rendition of Nessun Dorma. Regular as clockwork at 1 AM every night. It took us a few nights quaking in our bed to work out what the hell it was. After that we nicknamed it The Three Tenors and tried to get used to it serenading us to sleep.
Suffice to say, we moved on. Several times. I have to say every house has had similar issues. Spanish systems just aren’t designed to cope with modern demands, especially with large families. If the electricity isn’t cutting out the cess pit is overflowing. Yes really.
The St Valentine’s Day Massacre
I remember one particularly memorable Valentine’s Day when I spent the whole day up to my armpits in the contents of our cess pit trying to unblock the outlet. Hubby meanwhile left me and the house owner to it claiming he felt ill. What the hell did he think I felt like scooping out bucketfuls of everyone’s bodily by products from the upstairs pit to the downstairs one whilst ramming a tube down it to locate the blockage? It was like a Hammer House of Horror episode of Mario brothers. I didn’t believe him for a second. I kinda smelled a rat, among other things, when he stood on the top terrace laughing and singing a bad rendition of The Stranglers “Golden Brown” at me. I did, however make sure I gave him a big Valentines cuddle when I got back upstairs…before I’d showered. Every year we look back fondly on what we now term the St Valentine’s Day massacre. And they say romance is dead.
Sparks will fly – or not
Electricity here is also somewhat below UK standards. Plugs have no on/off switch, there doesn’t appear to be an earth wire on most things and many houses have bare cables hanging out of walls and ceilings yet to be finished off by the plumber. The supply is so abysmal that the main house switch cuts out if you have the audacity to try to make a cuppa and cook dinner at the same time. I think the island equivalent of the national grid must be approximately the size of the Times crossword but a lot less complex. Let’s just hope they never import Coronation Street here. The drain on the so called grid when all the expats put the kettle on in the commercial break would mean the whole island would be plunged into darkness at 8.45 every evening.
You do get used to the shortfalls eventually. Especially the fact that whenever there is a storm the internet will go down and eventually the lights will go out. After a few years you just sit down, light the candles make yourself a cuppa in your newly acquired stove top kettle and actually talk to the other members of your family. It does have its compensations .You just need to make sure you guard the number of the local plumber/electrician/urologist with your life.
If you liked this post please share on Twitter and like us on Facebook