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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

I Might As Well Get It Out Of My System
18 November 2020 @ 10:17

I was once asked to make a list of ‘things I didn’t like about Spain’. It would be easy enough to make one about the things I do like, and it would run to many pages, but the things I don’t? Hum. Well, there the bureaucracy which drives us all, Spaniards and foreigners alike, up the wall. Las cosas de palacio, van despacio, say the Spanish sententiously, as if by giving the creaking bureaucratic system an excuse, wrapped up in a popular saying, it all makes sense. In the past two years, for example, no one has managed to get Spanish nationality because the twenty-five thousand people whose job it is to sort out the paperwork have instead taken a disturbingly long lunch-break.
People sometimes have to live rather poorly – a house with no water or electric for example – for a number of years because of some elusive bit of paper trapped in the bottom of a drawer belonging to a public official who has been off work with a runny nose for thirty-six months, but absolutely should be back any day now.
I try and live with the system, since I love it here. My Spanish wife knows nothing of HP Sauce and shepherd’s pie, and she has never had a Yorkshire pudding or even a mushy pea. I am nevertheless proud of her as she sips her afternoon cup of English tea with milk and one sugar (my only remaining British weakness).
But, we were talking about Spanish wrongs – like corruption. How they get away with it defeats me. The country is positively leaping with crooked bankers, politicians and manufacturers of ladies hosiery. They stash millions in off-shore financial paradises, pay no tax, and – most remarkable of all – are highly esteemed by large swathes of the population. OK, in my personal experience, I’ve had more trouble from thieving Brits that crooked Spaniards (lawyers maybe – there’s always hungry lawyers here), but over the years, I’ve found that owning nothing helps keep them away, along with plenty of garlic.
So, the list. We’ve done bureaucracy and corruption, there’s also littering.
How can a proud nation like the Spanish merrily toss as much garbage into the countryside as is humanly possible? The beaches, the roadside, the streets and the public buildings are caked in debris. Everywhere is thick with plastic, flattened beer cans, bottles, graffiti, cardboard and rubble. I take my trash home with me, or at the very least, leave it on the back seat of the car for a few years, but our friends and neighbours? They scatter it everywhere across this great country with gleeful abandon.
Noise, I suppose. This country is deafening. Happily, with the passage of the years, I have become quite deaf, so am immune to the cacophony of the world’s second loudest population (after the Japanese whose houses, for Heaven’s sake, have paper walls).
Lastly (and believe me, I’ve been thinking about this list for years), I would say, parking. There’s never enough, as though the designers feel they can squeeze more money out of shops and buildings if there are as few parking spots as possible. Then the few spaces that are there will as likely as not have a caravan of dustbins clogging them up.
As if there was a serious litter problem here!
So, many people (at least in my local village) will park two abreast – en paralelo – with their warning lights on. ‘I’m sorry, I really am, but I just needed to stop the car for a moment as I zip into the bank, buy a lottery ticket and have a very quick coffee with my lawyer’. You can always get past. Yesterday, I had to drive at least fifty metres along the pavement, because the road was completely blocked by two double-parked cars. Luckily for us all, they both had their warning lights on.
But what are a few minor niggles, when compared to the endless wonders of this great country we have chosen to call home?


Like 1




4 Comments


Doncolin said:
21 November 2020 @ 08:59

Nice, Lenox. There are some things we Brits can never get used to, however much we love Spain . . .


Ten66 said:
21 November 2020 @ 09:27

Yes, until you live somewhere you don't realise all the things that are 'bad' and will niggle you.
But until you live there you don't get to enjoy all the really good stuff either and; not just in Spain.
As most of us find out, the good far outweighs the bad, yay!



hrespana said:
21 November 2020 @ 10:02

Sadly I find the list of things I don't like about Spain far too easy. So why not leave I hear people say. I would if I could sell my house, which because of illegal building nearby and local authority intransigence (for the last 10 years) has proved impossible. Spain is a beautiful country with friendly people and, provided nothing major goes wrong, I can understand why so many love it so much. However, for the few that end up trying to get justice, it is a nightmare yet we are so few, that I doubt this is significant.


rob_j1 said:
21 November 2020 @ 18:04

I've found using a scooter to be vey helpful. Cheap to run, and a real joy when the sun is out. Manouverable, zips through traffic, and you can park very close to wherever you're going.

Can't really help with the other things though.


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