Prosaic update

Hi everyone, here’s a quick overview of recent events, but warning you upfront it’s not terribly exciting, so we won’t blame you if you stop reading now  🙂

Life largely continues in its recent holding pattern, which we know is pretty darned good in the grand scheme of things.  One noteworthy event was the installation of the new HVAC system in our flat.  When we signed the lease 11 months ago, the landlords of the newly rehabbed unit duly informed us that there had been a holdup in the permitting process and the new cooling units hadn’t been installed.  They assured us this would be done by spring and that the installation should take a half day or so.  In Madrid, most A/C units are installed on a wall outside a window or on a Juliet balcony, so we figured they would just need to drag in a new box and hang it where the old one was.

Wrong.  Covid-related logistics issues delayed the equipment delivery.  Moreover, the installation itself turned out to be a three-day project that involved cutting into the ceilings of both bathrooms. 

This times two

Dust, equipment, tools, and building materials were scattered and stacked throughout the flat the entire time.  Once we had confirmed the actual construction schedule, we elected to take an AirBnb to have some place to go during the day, at least.  This involved schlepping the cat and a backpack full of electronics and important paperwork nearly a kilometer back and forth everyday.  The AirBnb was pleasant enough with an appealing view, but it smelled kind of like a Motel 6 between the disinfectant (a good thing) and the vague scent of tobacco (not a good thing).  And the weather was chilly and showery that week, so we could only open the windows for so long to air the place out.

Dani, the contractor, was very considerate of our desire to spend nights at home, so he and his crew organized the equipment and tools at the end of the work day so we could maneuver around them. 

They left the place pretty clean, all things considered, but managed to damage two radiator connections by setting the heavy A/C units on them, or kneeling on them.  Oh well, we don’t own the place, so I simply sent pictures to the management company to make them aware of the damage (which isn’t very noticeable if you aren’t looking for it), and that’s all we need to worry about.  I sure don’t miss the responsibility of owning property!

The other (relative) excitement was the renewal process for our resident permits.  Our initial cards expired on 4 November (our Spaniversary), but the renewals will be good for two years.  This process involves (i) submitting paperwork and a payment receipt in person at a government office (the payment must be done separately at a bank, not where you submit the paperwork); (ii) waiting about a month for approval of the initial paperwork and then taking that paperwork plus some more paperwork and another payment receipt (which also must be done separately at a bank) to a police station that issues the cards (nearest one is 8 km away) and getting fingerprinted; and finally (iii) returning to the same police station six weeks later to pick up the actual card. 

Step One was easy because we hired our relo consultant to manage it for us, and it went off without a hitch (thanks, Arcelia!)  Step Two was a bit more complicated because the on-line appointment booking system is grossly inadequate to handle the volume —  it can take scores of input attempts to get an appointment.  Despite her best efforts, Arcelia could only obtain an appointment for me, but not Robert; however, we all figured that since we are married, one appointment would suffice.  When we arrived on Thursday, it was much busier than last year, and we stood in three different lines for nearly two hours (thankfully it was a sunny and pleasant afternoon, and most of the waiting was outside). 

Aluche — not the most scenic part of Madrid

When we finally arrived at the window, they would accept my paperwork but not Robert’s because he didn’t have an appointment.  Arcelia pleaded our case admirably, but the civil servant would have none of it — quite the disappointment.

Afterward, it took nearly 24 hours of all three of us independently working the barely functioning computer system to obtain a separate appointment for Robert so we can go back and stand in line for another couple hours on 14 January.  Step Three will involve making another appointment to pick up our cards, but thankfully those appointments are more accessible.  Good thing we’re retired and have nothing better to do than fill in paperwork, make copies, shuttle via Uber back and forth, etc.  Are we complaining?  Mildly, of course — the process is nonsense.  Just the price to pay to live where we live, and we’re happy to do it.

We hope everyone remains well, and wish all love and a fulfilling holiday season.

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