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Chasing the dream in Spain. Part 2

A continuation of the original blog, telling of two 'Brits' settling down in Spain, the many trials and tribulations they come across, and the days when everything just goes right. If this blog dies too, due to 'technical issues', a copy is posted on

A Year Goes By
12 February 2012 @ 20:13

 My apologies for not having written much lately, life has got a little hectic, by Spanish standards anyway. We have now been "over here" a year now, so I guess you could say we have settled here. There have been a few ups and downs, but thankfully more of the ups. Although we pay a very reasonable rent, we have twice come close to getting on the property ladder. Due to the banks being told to get property off their books, there are a lot of "special offers" floating about. They are now selling some places for less than the outstanding debt on them. It is now possible to pick up an apartment in some places for €40k plus fees. The CAM bank rang me just before Xmas offering me an apartment in the next block for €37k and a 90% mortgage if I could complete by the first of January. I had a look, might as well, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. A short time with sun in the morning and a view comprising mostly of concrete. It wasn't that cheap to consider with that aspect, it would have been ok for holidays, but no good for living in. After in excess of six months living in a village you get a feel for what you want and what works, there is less of the getting swept along by things, the niggling design layouts become obvious and there are some things you can't change. One offered to me in a nearby village was five years old and had never been lived in, it was in remarkably good condition, just as the builder had left it. Automatic shutters on the windows, granite work tops in the kitchen, not even any of those hideous flowery tiles that you usually find. An asking price of €42k for a two bed apartment with an en suite bathroom to the master bedroom is good, it even had a communal pool on the roof. But the reality check said no to that one as well. I like the village and go there on a regular basis, but spending an afternoon there realised that it was not for me. I would miss the village I live in too much. There will be others I'm sure, I might even get brave and build a place. Maybe. There's bound to be the odd can of worms on that route.

I had a thought just before Xmas, I had not had a holiday that year. Yeah, I know, I live in Spain so life is one big holiday. That's what most people, including family members, seem to think. But since I live and work here, why should I not have one? If I had stayed in the UK I would had a few during the year. I managed to get away for a week at Xmas, I went back to the UK to see friends and family, and little Lottie, the new grandchild which I had only seen photos of. I spent the first three days nearly housebound, I picked a bug up on the plane. It was great to go back for a while, shorts not required in that weather though, it seems I have acclimatised to Spanish weather. I don't realty see enough of the grandchildren, but we can't both keep flying back and forth, the budget won't stand it, so Linda goes on her own most of the time. We also managed a weekend in Benidorm, Linda managed to find a cheap all inclusive deal on the Internet. A lot of people that live round here seem to go for Xmas, it's only just over a hour along the coast. While wandering round the streets burning off breakfast and dodging people on electric scooters, can you believe they do two seater ones now, we came across the hotel where they filmed the TV series. We had a wander round it, just being nosey, no one bothered us. The pool looks a lot bigger than it did on the TV, it's huge, no sign of Mateo at the pool bar, it must of been his day off.

I have the dubious honour of being probably the last swimmer of the year, the first of December would you believe. It wasn't  actually intentional, more like an occupational hazard. It was the day I had finally given up wearing shorts to work and got the jeans out, it was getting a little nippy in the mornings. I had just reset all the valves  on the pump and was standing up to close the lid on the pump house when I must have caught the back of my foot on the edge of the pool. Splash! I went over backwards and luckily, or unluckily, depending on your point of view, I landed in the pool rather than on the concrete at the side. After a few seconds the shock of the cold water subsided and a thought hit me hard enough to spur me on at dragging myself out of the water. Because I was wearing trousers I was carrying items I would not normally. Back pocket, wallet, complete with the required "paperwork" that one carries over here. My cheap but necessary Spanish mobile lurking in one pocket, and my now not so shiny, extremely damp, iPhone! Oops just does not go far enough. Thinking everything in my wallet will dry out later, I routed through my pockets for both phones. My Spanish phone still worked, so I rang work and told them I was taking the rest of the day off and why. The sound of people having hysterics on the other end was not being hidden, and I'm sure somebody had an "accident". With a sense of dread I fished my iPhone out of my pocket and gave the case a shake to get rid of some of the water. I opened the case and gave the home button a prod, which is apparently the worst thing you can do. The screen lit up, it was still working! After a fifteen minute drive home and a change of clothes, I rang the insurance company. They wanted me to send it back to the UK registered post, to see if they could repair it. The thought of my phone crawling it's way across Spain to the UK still full of water, by which time it probably  would be beyond saving, to be bodged back to health, possibly, then wait a couple of months for its return, didn't seem worth it for a two year old phone. I start to resign myself to purchasing a new one.

What happened next I do not recommend anyone else trying. It requires a very steady hand and an awful lot of bravery/stupidity. The first thing you are supposed to do with a wet phone is switch it off and take the battery out. Switch off, no problem, SIM card out, ok, battery??? It's buried inside the case somewhere. Laptop on, launch Google, search for how to disembowel a 3GS. YouTube had some promising results, which I watched, seems relatively straight forward to open the case, and of course totally void the warranty at the same time. One last shake of the phone and more water comes out of the slot where the SIM card used to be. Two small screws at the base of the phone by the speakers, no problem. A search through the kitchen drawers provides me with one of those cheap "precision" screwdriver sets you get at the local Chinese shop. I select the smallest one with a pozidrive head and out they come. So far, so good. Insert plastic case opening tool, available for $3.95 plus postage, I end up using another screwdriver and a light touch. Place suction cup over home button, support top of the screen, and pop it open. Being resourceful and not having a suction cup, I realised the sun shades in the car are held in with them, so used one of those. Open it did, but one of the ribbon connectors came undone but after a little fiddling about it went back home. After tipping to one side to get the last of the water out, I used Linda's hair drier on full for ten minutes drying the insides out, I might have got a little carried away, but I had nothing to lose at this point. After letting the phone cool off for a bit, I put it back together and switch on. It actually works better than before as all the dust has washed out of the speakers! The downside of this is Linda was going to buy me a new one for Xmas, which I now did not need. More socks. Perhaps I should have let it die quietly.

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