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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.

'I strongly advise you against buying it.' 'I strongly advise you to shut up.'
02 April 2014 @ 15:52

It turned out that, to our later cost, advising buyers against buying seemed to be our lawyer's default position. If there were any kind of complication, which there was with every single property purchase in Spain, Ingrid would tell the buyer not to go ahead.  Several years later, she was to advise someone strongly against buying a piece of land from us, which had the tiniest possible complication and they took her advice and we lost the sale (instead they bought a cheap, substandard house from a local speculator, which moved in a storm and became worthless. Several years down the line, we recently met them for the first time and they said how sorry they were they hadn't bought our place, as it was so much better, so much nearer the village, had drinking water and so on; instead they're stuck out in the sticks, because they didn't dare buy when a lawyer said they shouldn't. We all lost out).  
Anyway, shortly after the purchase of the casa we found a better lawyer and had all our paperwork transferred from Ingrid's office. She had always been a nightmare to deal with. Even the old guy's daughter, from whom we bought the casa, couldn’t understand Ingrid and she came from the same area.  It really gratified me when I heard the daughter say to Ingrid: ‘No t’entiendo’ on the ‘phone.  It didn't matter if she spoke Spanish or English; she was incomprehensible in any language. 
Also, it was very strange how her 'advice' worked. We would start with a problem and she would suggest Solution A; we would point out the difficulties with that, so she would suggest Solution B; we would all talk a bit about Solution B and through this discussion would seamlessly arrive at Solution C. It would then turn out that Solution A would have caused us expensive complications further down the line; but if we had just accepted that she, as the expert, knew better than us, we would have ended up in a complete mess. Although our next lawyer was far easier to deal with and a very nice person, she also seemed to follow this pattern whereby the client did more thinking and working out solutions than the lawyer did. 
Going back to the casa, we completed in August and were now hoping to get the building work done as soon as possible as I was not at all happy about staying out in the campo, especially during the times when Adrian would be back in the UK, as he was for about ten days each month. Life with no mains electricity and no drinking water, with a five and six year old was not going to be easy, especially during a Spanish winter. We already knew that the idea of Spanish winters being warm and even the idea that heating wasn't necessary was an outrageous lie. And we weren't sure how effective our log burner would be in keeping the whole cortijo warm enough. It was an expensive 1,000 euro Scandinavian burner, so we assumed it would be good enough (it wasn't). 
I at least found comfort in having the children with me. Maybe it’s just me, but I really hated being on my own. I especially didn't like it at night, as the cortijo was set on its own, with not a soul living nearby. 
A German woman we'd recently met in La Gloria, called Steffi, thought I was a bit of a weakling, when I told her about this in the local bar one day. She interpreted it as a character defect on my part. 
'Vot? Vot do you mean you do not like it? Vot is de matter? De countryside iss so pleasant in de night-time, vissout the pollution frrom dee lighting. It vood not bozzer me at all. I vood seemply loff eet.'
She'd love it, but she chose to buy a house in the village, surrounded by people who would come running if she screamed. Nobody would hear my screams out in an isolated house in the middle of nowhere. And (for your information, German person) I didn’t meet one Spanish woman who would have been happy either – they all huddle together in the villages and towns and only venture out to the campo on sunny afternoons to do a bit of pottering – with the old man nearby. Steffi was talking absolut Quatsch (nonsense), to quote an old German teacher of mine.
But I had to grin and bear it for the time being, for a few months at least. We got into the routine each morning of driving into the village, dropping the children off at school, having a café con leche or two in the bar and then walking over to the casa to see how work was progressing. Naturally, the process was not going to be smooth, primarily because it is impossible to find a builder willing to simply do a fair and reasonable job in exchange for a decent wage. Stupid me to think it would be possible.



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