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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.

A man called 'Hyacinth.'
10 June 2014 @ 16:37

That wasn't the last argument we had (of course) during the building project.  Following the recommendation of Benjamín, we usually got our supplies from a builders' yard in a nearby town. The owner was great; he would let us have whatever we wanted and then bill us at the end of each month. Everyone called him (not to his face) the 'Povrecico' (Pobrecito - the poor, little one), as the locals pronounced it.
One week, however, we needed materials more urgently than the Povre could supply them, so Adrian ordered several pallets of bricks from the builders' merchant in our village. Unfortunately for the machista image of this Peter Sutcliffe lookalike his name was Narciso (Hyacinth). 
When the bricks  arrived we opened one of them to find that all the bricks were broken. So later on that day, we spotted Narciso near the bar, so we told him, he nodded, and we thought nothing more of it. The next week, however, when we opened an envelope which had been pushed under our door the bill inside it included 70 euros for the pallet of broken bricks. 
He was standing outside his almacén as we drove through the village. Adrian stopped the car to tell him about the mistake. 
‘You still have to pay for them,’ he said.
'Uh, we’re not going to pay for a pallet of broken bricks,’ I replied. 
'Right. Well you can tell the company which supplies the bricks then,' he said, and he tapped a number into his mobile ‘phone and shoved it a few inches from my face. 
‘You’re the one with the contract with them,' I answered. ‘Our contract is with you. You talk to them’. 
I knew he was trying to humiliate me. 
He glared then with a face full of hatred and spat out: 
‘You’re a mujer muy agresiva, and everyone in the village knows it.’
‘Ya esta. That's it,’ I said (silently flattered that I might be so famous in the village). I got out of the car and stomped home (a minute’s walk away). 
'I will never speak to that man again!' I fumed to Adrian. 'And don't order one more thing off him. If you do, don't expect me to liaise with him. He's a filthy pig! I knew he was no good. Everyone knows he's a bloody cheat. Well he's not going to cheat us!'
The following week he told Adrian that the company had taken the bricks back and hadn’t charged him for them! He'd made all that fuss over nothing. 
It was only now that Benjamín told us a story about him.
'Si, he is no good. I did a job once which involved using thermacillas [insulating bricks] and then one Friday my wife was sorting out the bills and she asked if I'd used the small bricks, because he'd billed me for four pallets. Pero mira, I hadn't even used bricks on the job. I told him, but he wouldn't have it. He said he had definitely supplied me with the bricks. So I paid him but I promised myself never to order a thing off him again - ni un saco de cemento.'
‘Well, that’s the difference between you and us, Benjamín. You pay him and don’t use him again; we don’t pay him and don’t use him again.'
We really didn't seem to be having a lot of luck with some of the characters we came across. During our first three years in Spain I'd lost count of the number of disputes we'd had with the local low-lifes. I mentioned to one of our more trusted workmen that by now we knew all the baddies near and wide.
‘No, you don’t,’ he laughed. ‘Take my word for it - there are loads more.’
‘Tell us who they are then, and maybe we won’t have so much bother all the time,’ I pleaded with him. But he wouldn’t give names. He felt it wasn't his role to bad-mouth others - people whom he'd known all his life; we had to make up our own minds about people (through being regularly ripped off by them). 
That's not the approach I took with friends or with anyone for that matter. I often warned new-comers against some of the baddies. What did I care? I was only telling them the truth about what people are like and what they’d done, and I saved many people a whole lot of trouble by doing it (didn't tend to get any thanks for it, mind). 
But if someone had had the decency or could have been bothered to warn us, we would have done so many things differently – for example, if someone had told us that we really did need a lawyer when purchasing property, the lawyer might have insisted the paperwork be sorted at the cortijo before we bought it. Because no-one mentioned this and because we thought the property was so cheap and a lawyer would be an unnecessary expense (Pepe Lopez, the corredor whom we bought through, convinced us of this), we just went ahead without a lawyer. We had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. 
Being risk-takers who have bought a lot of property in the UK and Spain we expected to make some dud decisions occasionally. But take Ricardo, the slimy dumper-man-come-mule-trader-come-con-artist - couldn't anyone have told us beforehand that we should have nothing to do with him? When we're there in the middle of some big, God-damn awful conflict (again) and they say, 'Oh yes, I could have told you that man was no good!' 

We have two holiday lets in Spain, with some vacancies for this year:



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