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Arguing about all sorts: the third year of our Spanish adventure

This account of our life in Spain is loosely based on true events although names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals. I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories and from my diaries of the time. I may have also changed identifying characteristics and details of individuals such as appearance, nationality or occupations and characters are often an amalgam of different people that I met.

'It's fine to call a Spaniard a liar and a cheat.'
20 March 2014 @ 18:47

I had also taken a Norwegian woman, Liv, down to La Gloria to view houses with Pepe. I'd driven her the one and a half hour round trip in my four-by-four, as she had no transport. I'd hit it off with her partly because she spoke German and had agreed to only speak to me in it, so that I could practise (my only German friend, Beate, had the infuriating habit of constantly going back into English despite the fact she could speak English all the time with her many British friends).  
So I'd ferried 'Liv' down to La Gloria, and we spent a couple of hours going around the valley, with me translating while Pepe showed us various houses he thought might suit her. I even ended up paying for the drinks (as well as paying for the diesel and giving up my free time). What do you do when you’re with two people in a bar, it's time to leave and neither of them will get their purse or wallet out?  Liv said she’d fetch me a Mohnkuchen (poppy seed cake) from Berlin, as she was going there the following month, so I licked my lips in anticipation (I’m still waiting for it).  
Anyway, after having given up a day for her, she rang me up:
'I've got a list of 12 questions for Pepe, so if you can write them down and ring him, that would be great,' she said.
Well, actually I've always hated talking on the ‘phone (it's almost a phobia) and even more so when speaking a foreign language and even more so when speaking to Pepe as he was incomprehensible face-to-face, never mind on the ‘phone.  Also, why the hell should I?  
'Look, I know someone who can translate for you,' I said, 'because it's not my thing.'
‘Oh. What will that cost?’ she asked.  
‘About 20 euros an hour, I think,’ I replied.  
‘That seems a bit much,’ she answered.  
Yes, I thought, if you assumed that I, as a relative stranger, would do it for nothing, then 20 euros would seem a lot. I gave her Beate's number and left them to it.
Come to think of it, she had been a pretty awkward client, generally having no interest in anything she was shown. Instead, she'd point to a ruin in a ravine, on the shaded side of the valley.
'Kannst du fragen, how much is that one?' she'd ask, pointing, even though it wasn't for sale.  So I'd ask if Pepe could find out if the owner would consider selling and if so, for how much?  (TIME WASTER!) Towards the end of the morning, however, Liv expressed some interest in a shed on a large piece of land. The owner was there and said he wanted 80,000 euros for it.  
I thought nothing of it until a week later Adrian and I were seated around a large table in the garden of a friend's house for the joint birthday party of their daughter and ours, when we overheard German Martin's loud voice as he addressed Pepe.
'Eres mentiroso y  engañas,' he was saying casually. 'You're a liar and a cheat.'
Pepe's face fell. Up until then he'd seemed  to be enjoying socialising with a group of mostly expats in Adreimal, having been delighted when we'd invited him. He'd brought his wife and children, all dressed in their Sunday best. His face turned ashen as the insults registered.
But Martin was enjoying himself.
'Hey, don't vorry,' he said to me in English, when I tried to intervene, 'you don't understand dee Spanish people. Dees Spanish estate agents neffer mind being called liars and cheats. Dey know vee know vot dey are like.'
'Martin, that's nonsense,' I replied. 'Pepe isn't used to being spoken to like that. You can see he's furious. Stop it!'
Martin carried on. He was 'explaining' to Pepe how the Norwegian woman had told him that Pepe had inflated the asking price for the finca by 20,000 euros which Pepe presumably intended to pocket himself. Liv said she'd returned to the piece of land another day (she'd persuaded another Brit we knew to take her all the way there as she had no car) and the man had quoted her 60,000.  
I said to Martin: ‘If that's the case, how could she have found it out, when she speaks no Spanish, the guy who took her doesn't either and the man at the house only speaks Spanish?’ 
When Adrian told Martin off again later on, saying it wasn’t acceptable for him to call Pepe names at a party and that he didn’t even know him, Martin couldn't care less. 
'Dey are used toovit. Dey don't care at all,' he repeated. 'Dat is vot dee Spanish are like vizz each udder.'  
But when Martin strolled off to the other side of the terrace, presumably to insult someone else, Pepe said, 'I can't believe what that man said to me. All I did was tell the Norwegian woman what the man wanted for the finca.' I was a witness that Pepe was telling the truth.  
Of course Martin may have had an ulterior motive in polluting the Norwegian’s mind against Pepe, as he was always on the lookout for buyers.  Now that his wife had done some translating for Liv, he saw her as the client of both of them and he'd been showing her a few places on his books. 
I felt the whole afternoon was ruined, especially when Adrian added that he felt the whole drama was partly my fault. 
‘If you hadn't been such an idiot, wasting your time showing properties to strangers, none of this would have happened.' 
Thanks. So I get blamed for being nice. Of course, it was this altruism on my part and the fact that I'd also performed the same service for Layla which resulted in us benefitting, since we ended up buying the house ourselves. Good turns sometimes hit you back in the face; at other times, they can turn out quite nicely.

 

 



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