Previous diary page is here.
Hustled to catch 1300 bus to Sanlucar. Driver drove fast, too. To Sanlucar, bought a couple of bunches of flowers, to sister's house. No sister or niece, just Dora's parents there. Had a nice lunch with them. Talked for a while, but the house is cold, Dora's cough is acting up. Went outside to go to the bus station, and it's warmer outside than in the house. Caught 1610 bus back to Jerez, home by 1715.
Out with Dora at 12:45. Caught 1 PM bus to Arcos de la Frontera. Arrived there around 1:45. Immediately hopped onto a local bus and over near the health center where Dora will be working a 17-hour shift, 3 PM to 8 AM. Into a cafe and had coffees and snacks. Lots of time to kill, loafed and talked.
Out before 3, and Dora headed for work while I headed out to be a tourist. Confusing town, with old town up on cliff-tops, and I'm down low in the unfashionable end of low town. Someone had pointed us to where I could take a bus to the top, so I walked up a bit and found a bus stop. But it's for the wrong line, the "bajo" line instead of the "centro" line. But a guy waiting there assures me the centro bus will come here.
By the time a bus appears, he's gone, and it's the "bajo" bus, and the driver tells me no "centro" bus here, it's a short walk up to the top. So I start walking.
Yes, it's a fairly short walk, but about 120 meters of vertical, and I'm hot and puffing by the time I get to the top. And I'm coming into it from the far end, with no map.
I wander along, finding various plazas I saw mentioned on the internet when I researched this place. I'm here during siesta time, so lots of stuff is closed. And the main basilica has a "closed for repairs" sign on it anyway. Tourist Info is not in the basilica plaza as I thought it was supposed to me.
I stumble across Tourist Info and get a map. Retrace my steps and down to find a scenic overlook on the back side of town, but it's disappointing. Back up and through old town, and eventually emerge out to the proper entrance. My legs are beat by now.
Hard to take pictures in the narrow crowded streets of this town, but long views from the cliff-tops (150 meters high): pics.
Wander down, finally getting to a plaza with a "centro" bus stop by 4:50. But I've missed a bus by 5 minutes. Could wait 25 minutes for next one, and if anything goes wrong I'll miss the Jerez bus at 5:30 (but there's another at 6).
There's a Tourist Info kiosk in the plaza, so I ask directions to the bus station, and get a "down, left, right, it's easy" response. I set off, and get most of the way there on my own, but it's not nearly as easy as said. Arrive at station a few minutes after 5, and sit and doze and listen to my MP3 player.
Bus arrives on time, to Jerez, home by 6:15 or so. Spaghetti for dinner.
The casserole was a success. Dora still feeling tired and sleepy. After a while, we napped. I went out to Mercadona at 4:30.
Then we went out before 5 and to the center; there's supposed to be a parade. No sign of it. We walked and went into a couple of stores, then into a cafe for coffee and churros. Still no sign of parade. Headed home, and near our apartment, at Plaza Las Angustias, police are clearing out parked cars. They say the parade will be here around 9. Home, and I see that the parade route does include this plaza. So I guess the parade started at the other end of town at 5.
I went out at 8:30, and should have gone earlier. Parade in full swing through Plaza Las Angustias, crowds of people, balloons of hippopotamus, gorilla and snake etc, lots of floats with people in costume throwing candy to the crowd. Hard to get any decent pictures: pics. Parade moving fairly slowly. I watched for about 40 minutes, then headed home.
Watched Barca play Atletico on TV. They struggled, as they have all season. Down 2-0 at the half, pulled back to 2-1, got a 2-man advantage with 10 minutes to go, and could manage only a couple of shots on goal even then. Lost 2-1.
I go home, and Dora says she's never cooked a ham, so I look on the internet. Microwave the ham a bit to thaw it. Mix up some oil-garlic-seasoning glop, put it on top. Get it into the oven around 12:40, the recipe says it will cook for 4 hours. Ten minutes later, Dora says her parents and sister and niece have arrived downstairs, go bring them up !
So I go fetch them, and they're hungry. What to do ? I get out the leftover chicken-mushroom casserole from yesterday, we make rice, I make a salad. We have just enough chicken-mushroom for the six of us. Eat around 1:45, and then we all sit around and relax. The pork is starting to look good, and around 2 Dora says she thinks it's at risk of burning, let's take it out. So I turn off the heat and leave it in the oven, I think it's fine.
Around 3, we have a second round of food. The pork is okay (it's really roast pork, not ham), but a little bland. We eat lots of cake, and everyone is satisfied.
They leave around 4:30. I'm glad they came over, we had a nice time. And they left us a lot of nice food-gifts: a bottle of cava, the remainder of the roscon, some roast chicken and fries, a box of pannatone bread.
Still headachey in midafternoon; took a paracetamol-plus. Out to locutorio to recharge Dora's 912 number, then to Mercadona for groceries.
Started doing my Spanish ETE tax form, due the 20th. I made a big omelet for dinner. Dora home at 8:15, had some leftover roast pork for dinner.
Dora messaged that clinic wants her to work into the evening. I'm glad that she's getting more and more hours, and in clinics here in town. But sometimes she isn't too happy about it when she has to get up before 7 to start going to work.
Out to Mercadona for groceries. Spaghetti for dinner. I went out for a long walk in the evening. Dora home before 8.
Out after noon. To Tourist Info office in Plaza Arenal. Work crew outside picking all the oranges off the trees: pic. In the office, asked where there are any movie theaters in this town, and they say there is one, in the big Luz shopping center at the west edge of town. Asked about discotecas, and they came up with only one, Kapote, that I'd already heard about. To Mercadona for groceries.
Home, started cooking chicken soup from scratch, and Dora home suddenly after 2. Had chicken soup over rice, with salad, for dinner. Dora didn't like the chicken soup too much: bland, not enough chicken. But we'll doctor up the leftovers and see if we can make it better.
Out with Dora around 7. Long, slow bus struggling through traffic to Carrefour Norte. In and to the computer section, found a model we wanted, as usual it turns out to be a display model only. And then they couldn't change the password on it, so we'll have to come back in a few days to pay for it and pick it up. HP something, 15-inch screen and full keyboard, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB disk, 1-year warranty, €239 but with 21% IVA will cost about €289.
Bought a printer ink cartridge. Bus back was much faster: much less traffic. Home after 8:30. Hot drinks and pie and ice cream.
Back to the bus stop. Street art: pics. Shortish wait for bus, winding trip back to near home. Into the Centro de Salud to see about Dora getting registered here. She has to go back next week with some photocopies. I need to find an INSS office and get a Social Security number, according to them. Home after 1.
Chicken-soup over rice for dinner. Later Dora not feeling well, crashed for a long nap.
To Sanlucar, windy here, cold walk to sister's house. Sister is working in a clinic in Jerez today, but Dora's parents and niece are here. House is cold, as usual. We have a nice chicken-rice dinner, talk a bit, the niece finally comes downstairs for a little while, then we leave to catch the 4:10 bus back to Jerez.
We get off at the hospital, and barely find the bus stop and start looking at the schedule before the 9 bus is there. Perfect !
To Carrefour Norte, and after they search the back room for a while, we buy our laptop (or at least a box that feels like it has something inside it) and head out. Miss the 9 bus by 3-5 minutes. While we're waiting in the bus shelter, I open the box and confirm that indeed there is a laptop and charger inside.
Home after 6:15, tired and cold. Beef, rice, salad for dinner.
Set up the new laptop. Took off the McAfee and Avast stubs, connected to W-Fi, installed AVG and Malwarebytes. Installed Chrome and Firefox browsers. No problems, everything as advertised.
Headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Still headachey in middle of the night; took a Neobrufen.
After noon, we're out. To the National Police office, where they say my residency renewal is still in process (coming up on 4 months in process!), and say the online status will change when a letter is sent. To INSS office, where there's a long line and we don't have a cita, so we don't wait. Backtrack to Centro Salud near National Police, and ask several questions about getting me onto the state healthcare. Get a couple of answers that match what I thought (I can't attach myself to Dora's healthcare), but a couple of key questions still are open: do I have to get a Social Security number (I think only workers can get them) and can I do Convenio Especial while my residency still is being renewed ? Looks like the only way to find out is to fill out the application forms, get citas, try to apply, and see if they reject the applications.
To Mercadona for groceries, then home. A chunk of delicious hot bread from the supermercado to tide us over. Meat-rice-salad for dinner.
Online, tried to get a cita to go to the INSS office, and instead was able to get a Spanish Social Security number assigned to me ! Done, no need to go to the office.
Put together papers to apply for Convenio Especial to get healthcare in the Spanish NHS.
Headache; took a paracetamol-plus. Headache got worse; napped for a couple of hours. Still have headache; took a sumatriptan.
To a nearby cafe for coffees, then home.
Online, downloaded a big TGSS form, but stuck on filling out parts of it. We'll have to go to the office and ask. Got a cita, but it's for 8 days from now. Probably will just walk in tomorrow, wait in line.
Out at 5 for a walk and groceries.
I went out at 11:30 or so. Slightly colder, and a stiff wind cutting right through you, feels very cold. To ATM, then to theater to pick up opera tickets.
At 12:15, walked Dora to her appointment at the employment office, but I didn't stay to wait with her because there was nowhere to sit.
Cold afternoon, even staying inside with heater running most of the time. It's very cold all over Spain today, electricity authority saying this is the highest demand day since 2012.
Online, I see that my residency renewal was marked "resuelto - favorable" yesterday ! Only took 4 months, and now I should get a letter and go for fingerprints and then wait for a new card.
I put together a sort of scalloped-potato-ham-cheese casserole, somewhat winging it. Had a lot of potatoes that need to be used up. Dora didn't like it too much; she doesn't like potatoes.
Watched Barca play Real Sociedad on TV, and they won 1-0. pics. Afterward, to a cafe for coffees.
Headache just before bed. Took a paracetamol-plus in the middle of the night, and a Neobrufen before dawn.
I went out in late afternoon for a walk to the center, then to Mercadona for groceries.
After midnight, again not sleeping well, sinus pain. Took a paracetamol-plus before 6 AM.
Out with Dora at 10:30. Up to INSS office for my appointment there. Figured out the cita system, waited 5 minutes, in to see a lady about Convenio Especial. She didn't know what it was, tried to put me on Dora's insurance, but I already knew that was impossible, we're not married or legal partners. She called over a man, he knew a little about Convenio Especial, said it was not for Americans, but we have to go to TGSS anyway, it's not an INSS thing.
So, off to TGSS on Calle Ancha. On the way, ducked into an open church for a minute, because I've never seen it open before.
No wait at TGSS, in to see a man. Who tried to say it wasn't for Americans, consulted with someone else, then I showed him the royal decree number (576/2013) listed on a Salud form. He printed out the decree, and highlighted a part which says we have to apply at Salud, not TGSS. We've been there already, a week ago, and Salud said I have to get "alta" with INSS or TGSS first, and anyway Convenio Especial is not for Americans. But they're all wrong about that; the decree he just printed shows it's for anyone who is resident, on padron, and not covered by another SS system. I satisfy all three requirements. And the decree says nothing about what country you're from. This man also says you can't apply while your residency card is being renewed, and your padron has to be dated within last 3 months.
To a cafe for coffees. Down to Plaza Angustias, and ducked into a church for a minute, because I've never seen it open before. Then down to Centro de Salud.
No wait, right in to see a lady. Who again tried to say it's not for me, but we showed her the royal decree. Then she said there's no way to pay for it here. I said fine, we'll pay at TGSS or something, once I get on it. Then she said I have to go apply at the central hospital, not here. So I gave up for today, we'll have to go to the central hospital. Went home.
Spaghetti for dinner. Later, found a document online which clarified a lot of the Convenio Especial questions.
Rainy and windy in early evening, then more windy in late evening. Thought of trying to find a bar to watch the Barca game on TV, but not worth going out in this weather, and we still haven't found a good game-watching bar here.
Dora called the hospital for me about Convenio Especial, and the lady who's supposed to be the one who knows about this is not too certain about it. Wants to send us back to INSS, but I think that's for an SS number, which I already have.
Out at 11:30 or so with Dora. Up to the banking area. She stopped at one ATM to update her bankbook. Into another bank to pay the tax man. To a third bank to do something.
Then we went to the National Police office to get my new residency card. Foolishly, I thought I'd just be exchanging old card for new. But no, I have to go pay €18.54 tasa at a bank, come back with 2 photos and a copy of my passport ID page. Picked a cita for 1000 on Monday.
To yet another bank to pay the tasa, and it was slow slow slow. Not a long line, but the first 2 or 3 customers were refinancing the nation debt or something. Finally got to the counter, paid my money, stamp stamp stamp, out of there. Home before 1:15, tired.
Leftover turkey and rice and salad for dinner. Waiting for the gas-refill guy. Out to a print shop to have photos printed for my residency card. Later out to Mercadona for groceries; cold out.
We're supposed to pick up the Sanlucar niece at the bus station at 8. SNAFU. I thought she would be spending the night here at our apartment. At 7:15 or so, we get a call, Dora's father is at the station now. I'm told he's taking the niece back to Sanlucar tonight, they're not staying at our apartment. We get together some stuff for him to take back to Sanlucar, and head to the station. I assumed he came in the car, but no, he came on the bus. And now we're told no one knows when the niece will arrive, she's at a movie with a bunch of other girls and out of contact. I look at the bus schedule, there's no 9 PM bus, father and niece will have to take the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar or spend the night at our apartment. We head to a cafe for chocolates and churros.
I hit an ATM. Back to the station by 8:30 or so. Still no definite word on the niece. We wait in the cold station. By 9:15, I decide there's no point in three of us being cold, and I go home.
Gas-refill guy never came.
Dora home at 9:50. Niece showed up, and father and niece will take the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar.
Out with Dora around 5:30 for a nice long walk down to the Alcazar and up through the center.
Out with Dora after 5:30. Walked about 6 blocks down to Teatro Villamarta for a performance of La Traviata at 6. We didn't realize it was going to take 3.5 hours, but we stuck through it, and it was quite nice. Theater a bit plain compared to the Palau Musica in Barcelona, but then most places are. We had nosebleed seats, top row all the way on one end, and the place was full. Lovely music (Orquesta Filarmonica de Malaga) and singing, great acoustics. Singing in Italian, but an electronic board showing the lyrics in Spanish. I was teary during the death scene at the end. Pics. Home before 9:45.
Back into Extranjeria. Handed everything over. Guy grumbled that I handed over copies of same photo I used 1.5 years ago, but accepted them. Lots of electronic fingerprinting of my index fingers, pressing them, then rolling them, several times. Finally done, but no new card yet. I couldn't quite understand what he was saying, but sounds like we'll get an automated phone call or SMS in a couple of weeks, come pick up the card somewhere. Out and home by 10:30.
Gas-refill man finally came in early afternoon. I went out for a walk with Dora later, then to Mercadona for groceries.
We went out at 8:45 to find a place to watch the Barca - Atletico game on TV. Tried on Porvenir, then over toward Estaciones. Found a decent place near the train station, and the game turned out to be on a channel we get at home ! Watched the first half, had fun cheering as Barca went up 2-0, had drinks and some food. Headed home at halftime. Watched the second half, pretty exciting, Barca won 2-1.
After dinner, out to Mercadona for groceries.
Dora is feeling down because she just can't find a job here. She had some work around the holidays filling in for people on vacation, but now there's nothing.
In the evening, thought of taking Dora out to a movie, but she didn't want to go, and then I got a headache anyway. Took a paracetamol-plus, and later a sumatriptan.
Then I went out at 4. Walked down to the south of town to a Jerez Industrial CF football game at Juventud stadium.
A little confusion at the stadium, since there are two fields next to each other, and two games at same time. Got directed around to the right stadium, but then very confused at the door, and I thought they were directing me all way the back to the first stadium to buy a ticket, and my lousy Spanish language knowledge deserted me entirely. Then I saw that they were directing me to a little hole in the wall, with a little sign above it, and that was the ticket booth. It probably had someone standing in front of it when I walked past. €5 to get in. pics.
In and climbed up to a seat, and the game started right away. A fun game, lots of good play, plenty of shots on goal. Probably 300 people attending, and I did my best to try to help make some noise. Nice stadium, some interesting views of part of the city. Juventud 3-2 at halftime.
Decided it was a degree or two too cold, and breezy, to wait out the halftime and watch the second half, so I left. Uphill walk home. Some nice street art: pics.
Watched Barca play Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final. A tense game, 1-1 in the final minutes, and Dora kept switching back to watch some of her telenovella. Game ended 1-1, and then she informed me it was the semi-final, not the final, and Barca advances because of the tie.
At 8:45, suddenly power went out, just in our apartment. A couple of breakers flipped, not sure why. Only one heater and TV and laptop and a couple of lights and maybe the fridge were running; not running the washer or microwave or stove or oven or second heater or lots of other lights. Flipped the breakers back on, and all is okay. Replaced batteries in the LED flashlight.
I started putting together a lasagna, but Dora's mother invited us to Sanlucar, so we'll go there instead. So I turned off the burner and put the stuff away.
Out at 12:45, rolling a big suitcase full of stuff. To bus station and caught 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's place, and had dinner (tuna-spaghetti, which I didn't like) with Dora's parents and sister. Waited while Dora talked to them for a while. House is too cold, as usual. Then caught 4:10 bus back to Jerez. Home at 5:15.
Had an interesting internet experience: While editing one of my web pages, I found a spot where I'd accidentally erased some text some unknown time in the past. Fired up my free IDrive backup utility, and found that restores actually do work, but all ten versions of the file going back two months had the problem. I guess free version of IDrive only keeps 10 latest versions of each file ? So I went to the Internet Archive, and found it had taken snapshots of my site about 20 times over the last 4 or 5 years. Went back about 8 months and found a good copy of that missing text, pasted it into lastest version of the page source, problem fixed.
Made a nice chicken-veg-sweetpotato dinner. Out for a walk in late afternoon.
I offered to take Dora out to a restaurant for Valentine's Day, but she's cold and doesn't want to go. So I went out to Mercadona and bought a cheesecake, plus groceries.
Watched some of the Barca - PSG footbal game on TV, while drinking some cream sherry and eating some cheesecake. But Dora kept changing channels to her telenovella. And Barca got clobbered, 4-0.
We caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. The driver backed straight out of the slot, instead of turning, and hit the wall. Otherwise uneventful trip. Walked to sister's house, buying some flowers on the way, and they were a big hit with Dora's mother. Loafed, talked, had some dinner, went for a walk along the beachfront. More loafing, niece came home from school and we had lit candles on birthday cake for Dora's mom. Then off with Dora and her son to the 6:15 bus back to Jerez.
Online, I bought plane and bus tickets for Dora's son to go back to medical school in Slovakia.
Took a sumatriptan after noon. Went for a walk. Cooked spaghetti and salad for dinner. Bought plane tickets to go to Barcelona in April for a football game. Went for a long walk with Dora.
Out to Mercadona for groceries in the evening.
Out with Dora for a walk at 5, but it's cold and very grey and threatening rain.
Watched football on TV, but during one of the times Dora flipped to her telenovella, one of the teams scored 3 goals.
Headache in late evening; took a sumatriptan.
Out at an intermediate stop, called for a taxi, and went to La Abuela restaurant east out of town. Met Dora's parents and sister and niece and son there, for a small birthday celebration for Dora's mother. Nice place, but a bit noisy, and the menu is nothing but meat (well, some potatoes too). Had a nice time, then to sister's house in two shifts of the car.
We thought of taking an early bus back to Jerez, but then they all settled down to watch a Cantinflas video. I watched 15 minutes of it, then went out for a walk. Over to the riverfront, and did a long walk up the beach to the small town of Bonanza. This is where the fishing fleet docks, there's a huge haul-out facility that looks mostly rusted, lots of small fishing skiffs moored or pulled out onto the beach. Walked back along road and then beach, and home by 5:30, feeling tired and having a bit too much sun.
Drove to the station for the 6:15 bus, and it was 15 minutes late. Off at Jerez, stopped at locutorio to recharge Dora's Lebara SIM, home by 7:30 or so. I'm tired.
Wanted to watch Barca game on TV, but too cold for Dora to go out to a bar that would have it live. Game was supposed to be repeated on our TV at 10:00, but they changed that to 10:45, and then only showed highlights. Since they repeated every play 8 times, that took 25 minutes.
Slow-motion train wreck: finding that Dora has been carrying fairly large balances on 3 credit cards (probably mostly from her Las Vegas - California trip last year), and not paying a fine from the Barcelona Metro last year. So about €2000 to pay to zero out the credit cards. Or less to pay, just to stop the huge bleeding from the interest payments and penalties for not paying anything at all each month.
On closer inspection, one of the credit cards has a zero balance, not €300 as we thought.
So, out with Dora. To my ATM to get a chunk of cash. Across the street into Caixa to pay the Barcelona Metro fine, and also a Barcelona apartment water bill. Also paid off half (€200) of a 4th credit card that I didn't know about. Also found out she has a couple of loans at other banks with balances totalling around €8000. I sort of knew about those, tried to get details out of her long ago, never got a straight story, she was afraid to tell me.
Long walk through center of town to another bank, and canceled €200/month life-insurance that Dora signed up for just a couple of months ago (I didn't know about that).
Back home, and made a chart for Dora to fill out, showing all the cards and loans and their balances and interest rates etc. She started calling banks.
So, we figured out where to start. Pay off one card that has a €1000 balance and a 53% (!) annual interest rate. Put enough money in her accounts so the monthly payments of the other cards and loans don't bounce, incurring penalties. Fortunately her biggest loan has an interest rate of only 8.3%, so we can let that one go for a while. And we're about to get rid of the Barcelona apartment, so that will kill another set of payments.
Wondered if she should file for bankruptcy, but doing that probably would take a year or more and cost as much as just paying off her debts. If the bank wasn't completely wiping out the mortgage on the Barcelona apartment, bankruptcy would have been a better avenue.
She still has a lot of medical professional fees and insurance she has to pay each month, even though she has no job. Some of those fees are in arrears.
In early evening, Dora feeling lousy, she took a pill and we crashed for a couple of hours.
Dora's son arrived at 7. Around 8, I went out to train station, and then to Mercadona for groceries.
Trip to Barcelona:
Out at 12:40, to train station, bought tickets to go to airport. A little confusion figuring out which platform, but we have extra time. Onto train, off at airport, no line at check-in. No line at Security either, but they have a stupid setup where you have to carry multiple trays of your stuff across a room, hard to do when you have 3 or more trays.
To gate area, and wait. FInd that my phone battery is nearly dead; apparently the charger has died.
Onto the plane, I'm in a middle seat, and my knees are jammed against the seat back in front. But after the door closes, the lady next to me moves back one row, the guy in front of me moves sideways, and we get him to put the seat back up to normal. Now I have a little room.
Uneventful flight, but all clouds and haze, so can't see anything of Spain out the window. Dora is a bit sad, since we're going to clear out and vacate an apartment she owned and lived in for 10 years, and she likes Barcelona. But it has to be done, and we're committed now anyway.
Land and off the plane by 4. Bathrooms, get bags, shuttle bus to other terminal, and I can see the train is already in the terminal, which means we're going to miss it. We waste no time, get over to the train area, and they've changed the ticket machines, can't figure out how to buy T-10 cards. Lose a minute floundering around and buying the cards at the window, and miss the train by 1 minute.
Half-hour wait. Onto train, comfortable but longish ride to Sant Andreu Comtal, Metro to F-i-P, walk to apartment. In by 6:10 or so, tired.
As usual, Dora's son left the place with the security persianas open, and the stove a mess, but the rest looks okay. Food in the refrigerator and kitchen looks edible, so we don't need to buy much. Lots of cookies and candies lying around, so her son has been bad.
My phone charger is working again. Maybe something just wasn't plugged in firmly enough.
Started cleaning the kitchen and getting set. Dora started a load of laundry. Started making some tea. Then Dora said tonight is the night a truck comes around to pick up large garbage/used items, so I start hauling stuff down through the elevator and out to the curb. Hauled down two small bedstannd cabinets, one large cabinet (a bit of a pain), a heavy bookshelf-thing, a bigger but lighter set of shelves, two chairs, and an exercise machine (useless as designed, missing a part or two, and Dora paid a fortune for it).
For dinner, we ate some of the "lasagna" her son left (it's really more of a ham-chicken casserole with a lot of flour or something in it). It didn't kill us. Later had some cheescake that was very heavy but nice. Opened an ancient bottle of wine that turned out to be fairly dead; dumped it down the drain.
Around 11, heard the municipal truck pick up the stuff I hauled down to the street, minus several items that other people grabbed earlier.
Slept well; the bed here is bigger than the one in Jerez, and I think the mattress is better.
Out with Dora around 1. Dropped more stuff next to the bins, then across the street to one of her banks and paid off almost all of her 53% credit card balance. Have to check back tomorrow and pay the last bit; their monthly interest calculation and billing is on the 23rd.
To library at 4:30 to do Wi-Fi. Back home around 6:45.
Out with Dora at 7:30. Took books to bins, recharged her Lebara SIM, then a nice walk up and down F-i-P.
Out again at 8:15 and took a load of clothes to the orange donation bin in Placa Soler.
More loads of stuff to the bins in the afternoon. Water came back on at 1:30. To library by 4:30, stopping to put more clothes in orange donation bin. Online, found that Carnaval here in Barcelona is starting today, at 6 PM. Home by 7, tired. Back aching, took a Neobrufen. Dora's son has arrived from Jerez.
Out for a walk with Dora before 11. Back home, opened the master bed, and it's FULL of clothes. I expected half-full. Made a big pile on the floor, for Dora to work on.
Weather getting darker and greyer. Around 3:15, a big children's costume parade erupted from the nearby schools and headed up Piferrer toward F-i-P. I had to confiscate the TV remote-control to get Dora to work at throwing out clothes and books.
To library by 5. Back home by 7:15. Immediately out with Dora to the clothing donation box with a lot of stuff. Back home, and soon right back out with a smaller load. Then Dora declared enough for today. She's sad that we're throwing away all of her stuff. But we're throwing away clothes and books that she hasn't touched in 5 years or more.
Out with Dora at 10 or so, to have a little walk and go to a cafe, and to vacate the apartment so her son and friend can get ready to go to a Carnaval party. We ended up in a firly expensive restaurant on F-i-P have coffees and quite nice big slices of cake. Back to apartment after 11, and friend still is there. We went to bed.
Wandered down La Rambla, sitting for a little while, looking around. Into a church that we've never been in before. Left onto Ferran. Street art: pics. Peeked into Placa Reial, into another church we've never visited before (pics), up to Placa Jaume. Into the cathedral cloisters, then around to the front door and into the cathedral for a while. Out, listened to a couple of guitar players for a moment, then up the side of the cathedral. To the Jaume I metro area, into a cafe, but no one came to serve us while we sat for 10 minutes and took turns using the bathrooms. So out, across Laetana, down Princessa. Into a cafe for coffees and a small sandwich.
To Born CC to look at the Roman ruins and the building. Over into Parc Ciutadella, to the fountain area (pics). Up to Arc de Triomf, and then to the metro station and home by 1:30 or so.
It turns out the "party" was her son's friends coming to grab any stuff they wanted that we're getting rid of. I didn't know this, Dora did. They took a few things I had been planning to take to Jerez, but nothing important. They took both TV sets and many dishes, which is fine, less for us to remove, but now no TV for the next 3 days.
To library by 3:30, forgetting that they don't open until 4 today. Waited outside. Did internet. Home by 5:45. Weather getting colder.
Out after 6 with Dora. Dumped some garbage, then looked for the Carnaval parade. It's looping around us. Over to F-i-P, and caught the head of it. A fast-moving parade in a narrow street, and my camera battery is dying, so I got only one semi-decent picture: pic.
To pharmacy, and I waited outside as Dora bought a huge batch of medicines, some for her son to take to school, the rest for us to take to Jerez. Dumped them at home, then off to Placa Soller to see the festivities at the end of the parade. Lots of cute kids in costumes. But it's dark and cold, no music playing yet from the bandstand. We wandered around for 15 minutes, then left. Tried to go to ATM, but it's out of service. To Dia for a couple of groceries.
No TV, so we watched some videos on my laptop. Now Dora wants to do that a lot in Jerez, since we don't have cable TV there. I think she already watches too much TV.
In midafternoon, pulled out a bunch of stuff for son's friends to come and get, then Dora and I went out at 4. To Heron City Center and found a nice cafe to watch the Copa del Rey final, Barca vs Atletico Madrid, on TV. I had a nice Boch Damm beer, and Barca won a good game 2-1. Headed home through chilly weather, stopping at farmacia to pick up a few more medicines. Son's friends didn't come, so we put the mattress and washing machine back in place.
In the evening, Dora commandeered my laptop to watch a video and then some TV news. Then I pushed her into throwing away books, and I took a load to the bins. Then another. Before midnight, two carts of clothing to the donation bin.
Dora off to put some cash into an account to pay credit cards.
Taped up two boxes and trundled them to Correos at Corte Ingles, in two trips. No lines, but on second trip I got stuck behind a lady who was sending 25 hand-addressed packages.
Waiting for courier to pick up boxes for Dora's son, but their system is down, pickup tomorrow from a different address, his friends will have to come pick up the boxes from here tonight.
Dora watching more telenovellas through the laptop. Have to keep tearng her away to do more work. I took a load of clothes to the donation box, garbage to the bins, went to have one last conversation with my friend in the ferreteria.
After 8, Dora's son's friends finally showed up and we got rid of his two boxes and some other stuff. A relief.
Looking at the legal papers to be signed tomorrow morning when we hand over the keys, and of course they've managed to get the apartment's address wrong, differently, on both of the documents.
Out with Dora to a locutorio and to Dia for a couple of items. Then more cleaning and throwing away, while Dora watches telenovellas.
We went out around 11 to dump garbage and then go for a walk. Lovely still night, just slightly cool. Back home, and more telenovellas.
Headache: took a sumatriptan.
Gestor for mortgage company shows up around 8:30, and talks on phone to someone about fixing the documents. It turns out we should have started cancelling the utilities days or a week ago, but no help for it now. We zip up our suitcases and move them out into the hall. Gestor starts inspecting everything, so we can leave.
A locksmith shows up just before 9, and suddenly we're handing over keys to the lawyer, and leaving. Down to street by 9:02. Great !
Debate how to go to airport, and settle on Metro to Placa Catalunya and then Aerobus. Walk to F-i-P Metro, trundling two heavy suitcases and one small one, and me carrying my heavy computer bag.
Then a panic: Dora can't find her DNI, her national ID card, which she'll need to get onto the plane. And she's blaming me: I got it from her to go mail the boxes yesterday, and gave it back to her, but just the act of taking it out of its normal place was enough to mean it's not there today, we can't find it.
Onto a totally-packed Metro train. Why is it jammed at this hour ? Dora searches her wallets and purse again, and I look in them too.
We get out at Placa Catalunya, and I want to search everything for the DNI, but Dora says go to the airport, there is a police station there where she can deal with it.
So, onto the Aerobus. A little more searching for the DNI as we ride, but then Dora is calling Endesa to cancel the electricity in the apartment.
To the airport by 10:15 or so, and of course the police station is all the way at the furthest back corner of it. We go in, fortunately no line, Dora starts talking to the officer at the counter. I start searching suitcases.
Fortunately, the second place I look, I find a bunch of papers, and buried in them is Dora's DNI !
To check-in line, which is huge but moving steadily. My residency card is expired, and the agent catches it. But I have the paper saying it's being renewed, and the paper is valid as legal ID. So we're in. (I have my passport, too, as a backup.)
To Security, also huge line but moving fast. Through, and our gate is at the farthest end of the terminal. Hit the bathrooms, eat a power-bar, sit, have a drink of water.
Onto the flight, which is completely full. And some guy is sitting in my seat, but the flight attendant straightens that out, the guy is supposed to be in 8F, not 8A.
Uneventful flight to Jerez. Some nice views, but a lot of cloud, and I miss seeing Gibraltar.
Wait a little for baggage, out to the curb area, and find there is a gap of an hour and 40 minutes to the next train or bus. So we get in line for taxi. At first, it looks futile, no taxis at all. But one comes, and soon 3 more in quick succession, and we're in. Ride home costs $20.
Home by 2:40. All okay in the apartment.
Out at 8 to try to buy groceries, but Mercadona is closed, as I thought it might be. Today is a holiday here, Andalucia Day.
To two banks and an ATM for Dora to do things. To Carrefour for a couple of groceries, then the Bazaar to buy a cheap landline phone. Home at 2.
Dinner. Later out to Mercadona for groceries. Did a load of laundry.
Barca game at 7:30. Wasn't sure if it would be on normal TV, and the Gol channel teased us with picture until the actual start of the game, then they switched to something else. So we headed for the door, but the downstairs buzzer sounded. Dora wanted to ignore it, but I had her answer, and it turned out to be Correos delivering our two boxes shipped from Barcelona ! Saved me having to buy a handcart and make two trips to the post office. And they came fast.
Out the door, over to the estaciones, and to the same cafe where we watched some Barca before. The place was empty, and we watched the last 30 minutes of the first half, drinking coffees and me eating a huge felafel (nice but a little bland). Barca up 3-1 at the half, and we went home. [Saw later, they won 6-1.]
Around 11:30, to BBVA bank, which is jammed, lines of people. I got cash out of the ATM, gave some to Dora, left her to pay a tax bill and something else, went back home. Stopped in Hiper Number One to buy a lightbulb, but they don't carry any.
Dora still out at bank, far longer than I expected. Apartment owners came at 12:45 to pick up mail and TV and stereo and pillows.
I went out before 1, to Mercadona for groceries. Dora home when I got back; she had to wait an eternity in the bank. Water still shut off. Spaghetti and salad for dinner.
Water didn't come on until around 6.
Out with Dora at 6:15, to bazaar to buy a lightbulb, and for a walk. Cool and breezy.
Online, did some work on my Spanish foreign assets declaration (form 720).
I want to go to Cadiz for Carnaval this evening, but the weather may prevent it. Sunnier by 3, but cool and windy. Before 4, decided not to go. Thunder at 4:40.
Out with Dora at 6:30, for a little walk and to the bazaar. Exchanged the telephone for another one; the first doesn't send tone if you press a key during a call. Also bought an HDMI cable so we can watch movies from laptop on TV.
Got the HDMI from Dora's laptop to TV working pretty easily, but my laptop fought me. I think the connector is a bit rusty; eventually got connectivity.
So we watched a video of the original Star Wars movie; Dora hasn't seen it. Then on TV we watched highlights of the Barca and Real Madrid football games.
Dragged Dora out for a long walk around 4, up north and over and then down into the center. Lovely sunny weather. Stands being put up for a parade. Sat in a cafe near some dodgy guys and had coffees, and watched people walking by. Some loud guy shouting across the plaza in another cafe, and street-cart vendors arguing about something. Some kind of first communion or something going on in the church at Plaza Esteve. Home after 5:30.
Headachey late at night; took acetaminophen.
Around 4:30, I went for a lovely long walk down to the SE of the train station, an area I've never seen before. Lovely weather, pleasant walk, found a nice park, got some good exercise.
Out with Dora before 8:45, to a bar near the train station to watch the Napoli - Real Madrid game on TV. Had coffees and watched the first half. Then to train station to check price of train to Sevilla; I want to do some touristing there.
I went out again after 11 for a walk into the center. Lovely still clear warmish evening.
Didn't sleep well.
Followed signs to Tourist Info at the waterfront Castillo. Got nice maps, paid €4 for admission to the Castillo, but all the exhibits and video are a bit lame. The subject is terrific: Columbus departed from here on at least one voyage to the New World, maybe all of them.
Out and found a cafe. Service and food were a bit slow. I look at the paper we got from Tourist Info, and Dora confirms that the guy said the same thing: the two churches I want to see both are closed for the afternoon now, no chance of getting into them.
Food was a bit disappointing: salad and a shrimp-tortilla and garlic-chicken and limp french fries. Pic.
Out, found the Parroqueria, which looks nice from the outside. Around to the waterfront again, past the castillo, down to the lighthouse. Dora is starting to wilt; it's hot and sunny and she doesn't like to get a lot of sun. We walk halfway down to the cathedral, but Dora has had enough, and we turn and head for the bus station, walking mostly in shade. Street art: pics.
Catch the 3:30 bus, get off in Sanlucar, walk to sister's house. Have a little drink and snack, Dora chats with her mom and sister, but we're tired and a patient is coming soon, so we're sort of stuck in the kitchen.
Into the car at 5:30, to the bus station, niece arrives on school bus, we say hi. Dora's father and her niece go home, Dora and I wait for 6:15 bus.
Hot bus ride home, feeling headachey. Stop at locutorio again to see why her phone charge doesn't seem to have worked. Home a bit after 7. Took acetaminophen.
We're too tired to go out to a bar and watch some of the Barca - PSG Champion's league game at 8:45. Too bad; it was a scorcher of a game, Barca needed to win by 5 to advance, since they previously lost to PSG 0-4, and they won 6-1. Watched the highlights on TV at 11. pic ?
Watched "Casablanca" on video; Dora's never seen it.
Took down the Christmas tree; sad.
Out for a nice walk with Dora in the early evening, to the center. To a used-book store and bought a book. To the bazaar and bought a caulk gun and some caulk. Saw this on the side of the Post Office building, at first didn't realize what it is: pic.
Got home, caulked the main shower glass where it's leaking.
Watched "The Wizard of Oz" on video; Dora's never seen it.
In late afternoon, out with Dora for a walk and stop at a cafe for coffees. Gorgeous sunny warm weather.
In the evening, filed my 720 tax form online. Dora watching a video I'm not interested in. I went out for a brief very late walk; lovely outside, warm, still, full moon.
I went for a walk along the beachfront. Street art: pic.
Back home, and joined Dora for an hour or so of helping the niece with her English homework. Out to the beach with Dora and niece for a quick walk, and by now it's very windy on the beach. Then home, into car, and to the bus station. Almost-full bus, and 10 minutes late. Home by 7:20 or so, a little tired. Weather starting to turn cooler again.
Watched "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on video; Dora's never seen it.
In the evening, watched Monty Python's "Life of Brian" on video, further bemusing Dora with my taste in movies.
Taxi to a medical office, where Dora got a certificate. Then a longish walk home. Lovely sunny day, just slightly cool and breezy.
Headache in the evening; took acetaminophen.
To Mercadona for groceries.
Dora gave me a muscle-relaxant, and maybe it helped. Slept well.
Ambulance service Dora interviewed wants to hire her, after some checking, and not starting until April. And of course this will put a kink in our planned trip to Barcelona in last week of April.
In the grey evening, out for a walk with Dora. Bought a cake-pan.
Started working on baking a cake, found we have no measuring cups or spoons. And found we have only no real mixing bowls, and each of the first three steps of the recipe start with "in another mixing bowl, ...". And what I thought was baking soda is something like another version of baking powder. Worked past all of that, kicked Dora out of the kitchen each time she came in and started telling me all the things I was doing wrong. It's a layer cake with cream filling, and we bought only one cake pan, so had to improvise past that too. Two pans into the oven. Made filling and frosting while they baked. Ran a little short of butter. Pans came out of oven looking okay. Don't have any wire racks for cooling them; tough.
Now Dora says let's wait and serve the cake to her parents and niece if/when they come here on Saturday. But later, she said she meant save SOME of it for them.
After a while, I lathered the cream filling over top of the bottom (square) layer, put the top (round) layer on top, and poured frosting on top. A very odd-looking cake, but there it is: pic.
Switched to new gas bottle.
Still struggling to get a handle on Dora's financial situation. Her professional medical insurance makes no sense to me, she has to make some calls and figure it out. And in early evening, she found she has another debt we didn't know about at one of her banks.
Around 5:30, Dora went out, to go to a gestor's office we saw, in hope of getting financial and insurance advice. But soon she called and said they don't do that, they said she should go to an asesoria. So I went down and met her on the street, and we went walking into the center, looking for asesorias. We stopped and talked about insurance for a while, then she called someone in Barcelona, and they said she should go to the govt TGSS office, so we'll do that on Monday. More walking and looking at offices, then eventually home.
Dora's parents, niece and sister arrived around 2. Her mother brought a big pot of rice with meat, and Dora cooked some pork, and I made a salad. We ate, then spent some time doing an English lesson with the niece. Then I served the cake I baked, which was a bit heavy but tasted good. Then I showed them a lot of their family photos that I'd digitized, which they enjoyed very much. They left around 6:30.
I went walking into the center, and saw something fascinating in Plaza Arenal: practicing for the "carrying the virgin" parade. A bunch of beefy guys very slowly carrying a big rectangular frame. In the parade, there will be a statue on top and various curtains down the sides, but today they have the framework open and some cement blocks on top. It looked like hard work. They're packed in down there, walking very carefully, toes just about touching heel of guy ahead on each small stride, everything coordinated. And it's a long parade, at that speed. A couple of the guys were sweating and grimacing from the effort.
Out for a late-evening walk with Dora. We're talking about her pension/insurance situation, it makes no sense to me, she may have wasted many thousands of euros, she has a past-due bill of another 1500, it's making me upset. She has to get professional advice.
Home, and we watched "Cars" on video; got about halfway through before we ran out of energy and interest.
Didn't sleep so well.
To bus station and caught 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Still have headache; took a sumatriptan. To sister's house, buying flowers along the way. Sister not here, and I brought my laptop so I could scan some photographs for her, but they're in cabinets buried under stuff, so I guess hauling the laptop here was a waste.
Had a nice dinner, with a little toast of cava in honor of Father's Day. Then sat the niece down to go over her English lessons, and found that the sister had accidentally taken most of the school materials to work with her. Connected to the ebook site through Dora's phone and started going through the same book we did yesterday. When we finished that and they started in on math, I went for a short walk on the beach. Back to apartment, did some watercoloring with the niece, then it was time to leave. Car to the 6:15 bus, which was 5 or 10 minutes late, home by 7:20. Tired.
Before bed, took a melatonin-zinc pill. Slept well.
Home to pick up papers, then out again. I went to the ATM and got cash, handed most of it to Dora, and she paid the insurance (with the cash and what was in her account). Home again, tired but a bit relieved about the situation.
Out for a walk in early evening; weather turning cooler.
Online, started working on my US income tax return.
Before bed, took a melatonin pill. Slept pretty well.
Gave myself a haircut, and had a disaster. Was distracted, forgot to put the spacer-thing onto the clipper, and the first stroke shaved a nice bald streak on the right side of my head, behind and above the ear. Put the spacer on and tried to hide the damage by cutting the rest of my hair very short, but it's a pretty glaring error. Dora will scream when she sees it. Pic.
Spaghetti for dinner. Out for an early-evening walk; a baseball cap hides my haircut. Weather a bit grey and cold.
Soon we crashed to sleep, Dora because she was up all night, me because of my headache. I got up, took a sumatriptan, back to bed.
In late afternoon, Dora got a message from work that she's on contract now (don't have to wait until April, she's getting paid, etc). Terrific ! But she's not thrilled at the prospect of eight 24-hour shifts per month. The work was pretty constant in this last shift, and apparently they didn't even give her solid breaks for sleep or eating, which doesn't sound legal to me. And we'll have to see if she can schedule her shifts to let her travel to Barcelona in last week of April as planned (and ticketed).
Out in late afternoon to walk around the center and get groceries in Carrefour. Out again at 11:30 for a brief late-night walk.
To the bus station and caught the 11:45 bus to Algeciras. €10.76 one-way for each of us, a lot more expensive than I expected. But it's a long ride. Dora nodding off, I watched the slightly interesting countryside. Dark grey clouds, fair amount of rain as we neared Algeciras, and I forgot to bring an umbrella.
To the ferry port by 1, and to the final terminal by 1:15 or so. Cold and wet but no rain. Dora shivering; she's wearing a lab coat, and it's not thick enough. A few glimpses of Gibraltar, across the bay. Went a couple of blocks to Tourist Info, only to find it closed for renovations. Back past the bus terminal and up into the center, looking for the medical clinic Dora is going to, and looking for a restaurant. All the interesting Middle Eastern places were back by Tourist Info, and all the places up here are either closed now or closed permanently. Place looks half-empty.
But up past the clinic, there's more life, and we go into a cafe. Coffees warm us up, then plenty of hot food. Coffee, two courses, and dessert for €5 each, and we sit and relax.
Out before 3, head toward the clinic for our 3 PM meeting, then Dora's sister calls and says it's pushed back until 4. So we find a mall, but it turns out to be an outdoor mall. Into a cafe, sit and have coffees, not a bad place. Sister calls at 3:30, says she's here at the clinic, where are we ? So we go there, I settle down in the waiting room, Dora joins her sister in the examining room.
I sit and listen to MP3's and do driver's-license practice tests on my phone.
By 6:15 or so, they're done, and we trundle a machine and various other stuff to a side door, wait for the truck and driver. Only 3 seats for the 4 of us, so Dora's sister lies down in the back. Everything loaded and we head out after 6:30. Cold and raining now.
Onto the highway, but soon we're pulling off at a rest stop because Dora's sister is starving. Into the cafeteria, and we have coffees while she has Coke and a big sandwich.
Back into the truck, getting dark now, up to Jerez. Dropped off near our apartment. Home at 8:35, tired but hyped by 3 coffees I had from 3 to 8 today.
Caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Rained hard halfway there, but not raining when we arrived. To sister's house, and had dinner with Dora's parents and niece. Then spent a couple of hours teaching the niece lessons in English. Weather still cool and grey, and it's cool inside the house.
At 6, Dora and her father and the niece and I walked to the bus station (car is in the shop). Caught the 6:15 bus to Jerez. A little rain as we neared Jerez, but we didn't get rained on as we walked to our apartment. Home by 7:15.
Turned the heater on, put out drink and fruit, and connected up my computer to the TV so I could play videos. Played two whole movies on video, and the niece wanted more, but I wanted my computer back, it's getting late, and Dora wants to go over lessons with the niece.
Dinner, loafing, eventually a nap, then I went out for a walk at 6:30. Cool but not cold, grey, but a strong wind whipping around at times. Went into a couple of small shops looking to buy a bottle of alcohol, but mostly they have just big-name whisky and rum, and anything at all Spanish that I might have been interested in was double the price I can find it in the supermarkets (which aren't open today).
Windy and rainy evening. Watched "Chicken Run" on video. Most of the WWII POW-camp references were lost on Dora; she hasn't seen "The Great Escape".
Last night, I ordered something from UK, hoping it might arrive in time for niece's birthday on April 12. Happy to see an email this morning that says it's shipped already, DHL Global Mail. Then saw estimated delivery date of April 25th !
Online, finished my US income tax returns. Cost $60 using TaxAct. Ended up paying about $1600 of income tax this year, because of money from my mother's estate. Usually my income tax is near zero.
Out in early evening, for a walk and to Carrefour for groceries. Cool, but not as cold as I thought, and no wind.
Out in the evening for a walk with Dora. To photo shop and had some photos printed. To ATM for cash. Roundabout walk ending up in Plaza Arenal, and had coffees and an ice cream; very nice. Into shops looking to buy a comforter, but bought a couple other items. Lovely warm weather.
After 8, we went out again, Dora to bank and store, me to Mercadona for groceries.
Out for a walk at 11:30; gorgeous, still, slightly cool evening.
Out at Sevilla's San Bernardo station, and a longish walk to the Peruvian consulate. Someone tried to give us wrong directions near the end, but I stuck to my map and it was right. In at 10:45 and relieved to find no line, Dora goes right to the counter and gets going.
I wait, and eventually she's out, and saying the photos I did for her are the wrong size, we have to go to a copy shop, and also to a bank to pay another fee. Moderately long walk up past the university to an area with shops. Takes a while to get the photos done, then another longish walk to her bank, a very long wait there. Back down and around and down to the consulate by 12:15 or so. Relieved to find no line again, she's right in. A long wait. The photos still are wrong, the background is not white. She comes out, we hit the bathrooms, I think we're off to the copy shop again, but then she's back in. More waiting, eventually she's out, and they decided she didn't need photos after all, they took her fingerprints, etc. She's renewed her passport and DNI and ordered a criminal record check, but we'll have to come back in 3 or 4 weeks to pick everything up. And later she tells me that her parents and son all have expired Peruvian passports etc, so they'll all have to do this at some point too !
Back up the shop area, and we're dragging from heat and sun and lack of water and food. To a nice outdoor cafe, good to get sodas and bread and order food. First course comes out, paella and salmejor, and we start eating. Then two large groups of people plop down right next to us, grab our extra chairs, start talking loudly, and half of them are smoking. Throws a pall over the rest of the meal. But there's lots of fun people-watching: we're on a main street in front of the university, tons of people walking or biking by, trams going by.
Up at 3 or so, and wander back a couple of blocks to go to the Alcazar. We're tired and the sun is fierce, and we didn't bring hats or sunblock. Get to the Alcazar and there's a long line, so we give up. A few random pictures: pics.
Walk to bus station, but we've missed a bus by 10 minutes or less, and there's a 90-minute gap to next one. Use the bathrooms, walk to train station, navigating some odd intersections. Buy a large bottle of cold water for €0.70 and start drinking it; lovely. Into train station, huge bank of 6 ticket machines, but they don't sell the tickets we need, we have to buy those at the counter. Buy tickets, soon downstairs, short wait for train, on.
Not a cheap day: €44 for train tickets, €20 for lunch, probably about €100 for fees etc for the Peruvian paperwork.
I'm headachey; take a Dolocatil. We doze and drink water all the way to Jerez. Off train, walk. Home at 5, tired and footsore.
I crash for a nap for an hour or so. Loaf in the evening, feeling tired. Acetaminophen and then to bed by 10:30.
Turns out Dora's sister is in Barcelona taking a class, and would like us to spend all weekend teaching her daughter her English and science etc lessons.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out with Dora around 6. To a couple of shops, bought a big comforter for one of the spare beds, home. Found out her father and niece are coming on the bus. Out again, to mobile shop to recharge Dora's Lobara SIM, then walked toward the center. Unplanned stop in a shop, bought a big pillow for our bed, home again. Headed for the bus station, and met Dora's father and niece coming toward us. Home with them.
Headachey; took a Dolocatil.
Dora taught the niece some English, then I took a turn, then we took a break to watch TV and video. I dashed out to Mercadona to buy a few things before they closed.
Out at 10:15 or so for a long walk with Dora's father. Found a couple of churches open, and we went in them for a while. Through the central market, Plaza Arenal, then around the Alcazar and eventually home by 11:30. Nice.
Dora and then me teaching the niece until dinner time. After that, she rebelled and refused to do any more schoolwork.
Walked them to the bus station and they caught the 5 PM bus back to Sanlucar. Dora and I stopped home for a while, then out for a walk to the center and hit a couple of ATMs, shopped for eyeglasses for Dora.
I caught the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar, which was almost full. Walked to sister's house, buying flowers on the way, got there at 11:45. Everyone's up but slow-moving.
Started teaching the niece some English around noon. But she'll only stand for 5 or 10 minutes of schoolwork, then she runs away or wants to play in the front patio. Did that cycle a couple of times, then dinner, then she wanted to do some bead-and-weaving jewelry. Taught her a few more times, more playing, finally she rebelled after 4 and disappeared upstairs to watch a video. Message and phone call from Dora, saying she just found out there's an ebook on the internet the niece needs to read and learn for tomorrow's school. But I have no Wi-Fi here. Dora wants me to take sister's laptop to a hotel bar and do a drink and Wi-Fi there, but I'm not up for it, and my bus leaves in 90 minutes anyway.
I leave the house after 5; no point in staying longer. I walk on the malecon, the beachfront promenade, which is fun. But it's very sunny and pretty windy, and I'm tired. To the bus station by 6, wait for my 6:15 bus, but it doesn't come until 6:30. Home by 7:15, tired.
Later, headachey; took a Dolacatil, to bed a little early.
Still headache after 2 AM; took a sumatriptan.
Out around noon with Dora. Down to the taxi rank and took a cab to the padron office. In and waited only a minute before we were served. Then updated my padron with new reseidency card, and got a new 3-month-valid paper for me. Also got Dora back onto the padron here, from Barcelona. Took quite a while, but no cost.
Over to the hospital, but no taxis there. Called one and it came and took us to Deutschebank. I waited while Dora paid rents, then she went to Caixa ATM, then BBVA ATM, then counter inside Popular. Stopped in a couple of eyeglass places, then post office, then home after 2:15.
Out at 7 or so, for a walk. To bazaar and bought envelopes. Through Plaza Arenal, and there was some anti-corporate demonstration going on. To Mercadona for groceries. Lovely warm evening.
Out at 10:15 or so. A little trouble finding the bus stop I wanted, but then onto the 10 bus before 10:30. To the general hospital. Out and found the registry reception desk with no problem. Waited a couple of minutes, handed Convenio Especial application form to the receptionist guy, he showed it to one lady, then gave it to another lady and waved me to her desk.
I speak little Spanish, she apparently spoke no English. But my documents spoke for themselves, at least at first. A few difficulties with the Social Security number; she says I'm not in their system, but my document proves I'm in the master INSS system. More difficulties with documenting that I've been resident for more than a year, since no govt document really certifies that, and my time has been split between Barcelona and here. But I pulled up a Barcelona padron-application document that was stamped and seemed to satisfy her. She went into the back room a couple of times to consult with someone, made copies, was working from a handwritten set of instructions. But eventually she said something like "the application will be sent to Sevilla, you'll hear from them, if approved you'll pay €60 per month". She stamped a document showing that I'd applied, and gave it to me. I thanked her very much and was out after 11:30.
No problem finding the right bus stop, waited 5+ minutes, onto the 10 bus. Into the center, where it parked for a while before looping back out. So I jumped off when it parked, and started walking. Hit an ATM. To Plaza Arenal. Headed home. Stopped at the bus system office to recharge my card, but there's a long line. Home by 12:30.
Cooked spaghetti for dinner, then found a puddle of water in the middle of the kitchen floor. Something under the kitchen sink is leaking. Mopped it up several times, fiddled with the pipes under there, may have slowed it down. Finally got smart and put a pot under it to catch the water. Don't want to ring the alarms with Dora and the owner and a plumber until I see if it's been reduced to a drip. After another 20 minutes or so, I think it's minimal.
Online, did my US FBAR tax filing.
But then she was back at 10:35 ! She got to work and the job had been given to another group, so she's back home and back on-call.
After noon, I went to Mercadona for groceries.
Call from the health administration, they want more documents. I found a way to order one online, but the Barcelona govt site wants a specific version of Java, and refuses to agree that I have that version installed, no matter how many times I install the update. And it only works in IE browser. Eventually I give up on the computer and do a postal-mail form.
And it turns out that, despite me telling her N times to ship the filing system box of documents and bills from Barcelona to Jerez, instead Dora threw them away. Including some of her old govt documents which might solve my problem today.
Tried to fix the leak under the kitchen sink, but when I took off the hose, I couldn't find any problem with it. Maybe the leak is in the joint. Put the hose back on, and the leak is worse. Time to call the owner and let him send someone to deal with it.
Out at 8 or so to walk and go to a couple of shops, buying some envelopes.
Out with Dora after 9 for a nice walk. Lovely warm weather.
Post-woman delivered a package I ordered from Amazon UK; didn't expect it so early. She dropped it on the stone floor before handing it to me. It's prepared glass microscope slides, not well packed, and when I opened it I found half of them broken. Will deal with that later.
Out before 11. To Correos, and mailed a request to Barcelona for a document. Around the corner and recharged my bus card at a newsstand. To Plaza Esteve and had to wait 15 minutes for the 10 bus.
To hospital, short wait at reception, sat down in front of the same lady I had two days ago. Tried to give her a copy of our Jerez rental agreement; she wouldn't take it (I told Dora it proves nothing). Tried to give her a copy of a document showing I opened a bank account in Barcelona 6/2016; she didn't want it. Gave her a copy of my old/first residency card; she did take that. Told her I had ordered the historic padron from Barcelona, and got a lot of Spanish I didn't understand. She had me call Dora on the phone, and she talked to Dora for a while, and Dora says we have to wait for the document from Barcelona. No problem. Oh, and Dora says a lot of water came out from under the kitchen sink when she used it; I hope I'm not coming home to a flood.
Out and caught the 10 bus with 2 minutes to spare. Back into the center, got out, walked home, in by 12:45. Dora is out at an eyeglass appointment. Kitchen looks okay.
Dora home later, we had dinner, then I investigated the microscope slides. 16 broken, 34 okay: pics. 2 or 3 of the broken ones can be taped and used, I think. But after I taped 6 of them, Dora and I decided they were too dangerous, and I threw them away. I'm not sure glass slides for her niece are a good idea in the first place, but online people were saying the plastic slides are horrible.
Owners showed up at 5 or so, and the guy had tools and joint-tape, but couldn't fix the problem under the kitchen sink. I went to Mercadona for groceries. Plumber or someone will come on Monday, maybe just to look, maybe plumber will come later.
Out after 7 with Dora. Walk to center, around Alcazar, had coffees at Plaza Esteve, Dora bought a couple of cheap spring dresses at a shop, home before 8:30.
Plumber arrived at 9:35, sink fixed by 9:55.
Around noon, out to ATM, bus station, and Mercadona.
Thought of taking the bus to Chipiona today to see the cathedral there, but the schedules just don't work. Cathedral opens at 5, last bus back to Jerez is at 6.
Out for a couple of walks in the afternoon. Sunny but very windy. Ceremonies in some of the churches for the start of Easter week.
To Sanlucar, and to sister's place, buying some flowers along the way. Dinner with them, then Dora and sister started talking business, niece was upstairs watching videos. I went for a walk to and on the beach. Back home, then out to a couple of stores looking for a TV cable part; no luck. Home again, various playing and talking, then Dora and I off to catch the 6:15 bus, carrying some heavy bundles of pamphlets, and some clothes etc. Home after 7, tired.
To the church near the govt building, and they were in the middle of mass, but all seats and standing room were taken. We watched for 5 minutes, then left.
To Plaza Arenal and had coffees and ice cream and people-watched. Walked a little, then home, and cooked a big dinner.
I went out at 7:30 or so, into the center. A zillion people, and the Easter parading is on. Very slow parade of people in hoods ("capirotes"), Virgin being carried on a platform ("Paso") at snail's pace, and a band. Then repeat with a different color of hoods, different platform, etc. Hard to see anything, between the high seating platforms and the multitude of people. Pics.
I went out again to the parade at 9 or so, but too dark to take pictures, not much different than before, still crowded.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Made a zucchini-lasagna for dinner.
SD card I bought this morning only shows up as read-only on my laptop; works fine on Dora's laptop.
Walked Dora to the train station to catch train to Puerto, then I went for a walk to the center.
Dora home at 6:30. I put together the flashlight I bought this morning, and there's a piece missing. I'm struggling today.
Out to the store and exchange the flashlight for one that works. Into the center, and everyone's assembling for more parades.
Headachey; took an acetaminophen.
Out again around 8, and the parade is in full swing. Still hard to see, and the parade moves very slowly. When the big platforms make a turn successfully, the drums beat and the platform advances and the crowd cheers and applauds. Some nice bands with some of the platforms. Pics.
Late night, took a sumatriptan.
When I flushed the toilet, the loose little plastic button on top stuck to my finger just enough to hop off (it's done that before) and fall right into the toilet and disappear. I'll have to buy a new one.
I caught the 9 AM bus through Sanlucar to Chipiona. Walked to the big cathedral, which turned out to be nice but not great. Long walk on the malecon to the lighthouse and then past the castillo, looped around, and to the Parroquia church. Also nice, but also it had a couple of parade-floats ("Pasos") inside it. And across the street, a room displaying three more parade-floats. So that was interesting. Pics.
To bus station, and caught noon bus to Sanlucar. Arrived at Dora's sister's place around 12:30. Dora's parents are up, but her niece didn't get downstairs until after 1:15. We had lunch, then I played with the niece and tried to get her to speak as much English as possible. I brought an SD card loaded with music to put in her boom-box, and after a little trouble inserting the card, it worked perfectly.
But by the time to leave, I was tired and headachey. Took a Neobrufen. To bus station, caught 4:10 bus back to Jerez, getting home at 5:15. Started laundry and laid down in bed.
When the laundry finished, put it out, took a Dolocatil, ate a little, back to bed. Up again, had some soup, watched Barca get clobbered by Juventus. Took a sumatripan.
Out with the niece to buy roast chicken etc. Dora's sister home after 3. Dinner. Playing with the niece, trying to speak as much English as possible with her. They say let's go to a procession at 6 and then a cafe afterward, which will be a long day for me, but I agree. I go for a walk to the beachfront malecon. Lie back on the sofa for a while to close my eyes and rest, but soon I'm rousted out when a patient arrives.
Out after 6, walk to chapel, and the procession soon starts emerging. A slow business, and very crowded, not much of a view. Pics. I get out pen and paper and give them to the niece so she can occupy herself drawing pictures. Nice band behind the float in the procession. Eventually they're out and off to the suburbs, and we head for the center.
We find a table outside a cafe, then move to another, then order food. We've picked up a friend of the sister, so we're five at the table, a little awkward. Food comes (coffee and a very nice tarta for me), the crush of people eases, and I enjoy the people-watching and fairly warm weather. But eventually I'm counting down to the time for my bus. I chat a little with Dora's niece and mother and sister, getting my Spanish to work a bit.
The sister suggests I stay for another couple of hours, as the procession will be coming up this main street past us. Then I'd sleep at her house tonight. But no thanks, these processions are way too slow and crowded for me, and not very interesting. And I want to sleep in my own bed.
So I'm off to the bus station. I cut it a little close: got there, quickly used the bathroom, came out, there's the bus, waited in line for a minute, then the bus is off. Home by 10:10. Feeling good tonight; no headache, not too tired.
At 1 AM, I'm wakened by drumming. There's a huge Easter parade going right under our window, in fact turning and making a big U around the block of our apartment complex. I take a bunch of pictures out of our window. The current band is big and sounds great, too. And I can smell the incense, 6 floors up. But I'm not tempted to get dressed and go down there. And they're going at a snail's pace, as usual. Pics.
Next group coming past at 1:30. Another great-sounding marching band. Awesome sound, in fact, hearing an 80-piece marching band from 6 floors up in a concrete canyon.
By 2 AM, end of parade is past the balcony side of our building, but I can hear it from the other two sides.
Five minutes later, no more music. Maybe they have a time-limit on the noise from the parade. Back in bed, I laid there unable to sleep for another hour or more.
I went back to bed; feeling tired. Out walking in late afternoon, but it's a holiday and most things are closed. Very little car-traffic, too.
Out again at 5:30 or so, mostly cafes and a few small Chinese shops open. Looks like there will be more parades tonight: people in robes etc heading for the center.
Dora home at 8:50. To my surprise, she wants to go out to see some Easter parades. So, soon we're walking down to the center. We watch two groups go by, not being able to see very well. Then we circle around to the middle, and get a great view as another group passes, with a nice band. Light terrible for photography.
Head for home, divert into a bar right across from our building. Watch football and have drinks and food. Home before 10:40, and into bed.
Loafed all day, out in early evening. Everyone heading to the center for more parades. All of the shops (except for cafes) STILL closed; I wanted to get groceries, the toilet part, etc.
Went out at 9:30 or so, to the center. Parade crowded and slow, not many bands. Waited long enough to hear one nice piece by one band, then went home.
Dora thought of catching the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar, but we ran out of time, went to bed instead, and caught the 1 PM bus. Which was 23 minutes late. We're going to meet the others at a restaurant outside of town at 2:30, and we didn't reach the edge of town until after 2. So instead of walking to sister's house, we got out early, and called a taxi. Got to the restaurant at 2:20.
And waited. Called the others, and found the reservation was for 2:30 to 3, and they showed up after 3. While we waited, we ordered some salad and a mixed plate (egg, potato, ham). I tried to get them to pick a different restaurant, because this one serves almost nothing but meat, and we've been here two or three times before. But most of the group likes meat, so I got outvoted. I tried to explain the Monty Python "spam" skit to Dora while we waited, but it didn't translate well. Salad and some potatoes and egg and olives and drinks and desserts are the only non-meat things on the menu here.
Finally they arrived: Dora's parents, her sister and niece, her other sister and husband and twin 2-year-olds from the north, and a local guy who is a friend and handyman. So 11 of us at a long table. I sat at one end and mostly understood nothing that was said, but that's fine. We stuffed ourselves, and had a good time.
Into cars and to sister's house. Some milling about, should we have the big birthday party now, but then one kid crashed for a nap, Dora's father went for a nap, and Dora needed sleep. So we took a siesta for an hour or two.
Up, and birthday party for niece and Dora's father and one sister's husband. Sang a little and blew out candles, then the niece got shy and refused to come out to cut the cake. The two little kids entertained us for a while, then I went out in the front yard with them and played. After a while, cake was served, the niece appeared and played in the front yard, etc. Various little troubles with the little kids as they lost toys or shoes or tried to take toys from each other or the little girl lost a lens out of her eyeglasses. The niece trying to do gymnastics in the middle of the little kids, not a good idea.
Finally time to go. The visiting friends left, and then Dora and I were driven to the bus station by her father. No need; we had time to walk. But then the bus arrived 15 minutes early, and left exactly on time. The driver was in a hurry.
Slightly long, sleepy ride to Jerez, stopping at the hospital, but traffic was light and the driver drove fast. Home at 10. Soon to bed.
Dora back at 1:15, big dinner, crashed for a nap for a while.
Out with Dora in the evening for a nice walk and then Cokes at a cafe in Plaza Arenal. Lots of people, but many places still closed, town quiet now that the holy week has ended.
Out with Dora at 11 or so, to the center. She picked up her new eyeglasses, and is nervous that they look terrible, but they look fine. To ATM for cash. Stopped in a couple of stores to look for toilet button, but no luck. Home.
To Mercadona for groceries. Online, ordered the toilet buttons from Amazon.es.
Dora out at 1:30, going to a sort of job interview at a medical clinic. I started creating a Facebook Page for her. Loafed for a while. Dora back at 4:30.
Out with Dora at 7:15 in search of printer ink cartridges, and found a great shop two blocks from here, near the bus station. Very warm weather tonight.
I went out for a walk later.
Work called Dora at 5:45 to come in, for a shift that would end at 8 tonight. Strange. I walked her to the train station to catch the 6:25 train, then went to sit in Plaza las Angustias. Too hot to walk to the center. Dora back from work after 9.
I went out for a walk after 11. Slightly cool out for a T-shirt, but a lovely evening.
Dora was going to go to a clinic today, we ran late, and it would have been nice to go to Sanlucar. But then the clinic cancelled, and so everything straightened out.
Windy. We caught the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar, got to sister's house around 5:45. Took a while to get any life out of the niece, and then she refused to study English. Watched TV with her, and Dora and sister and mother and I talked about hearing-aids for Dora's father. Played with the niece, then the twin almost-3-year-olds were up. Dora's father came home, sister made a brief appearance between work stints. Then it was time to go. Dora and I walked to the bus station and caught the 9:10 bus. Very windy, some tree-branches down. Home by 10:05.
Saw in a bar that Barca is playing, but it's 0-0 well after halftime, and Dora says they need to win by more than 3 to continue in the tournament. [Final score was 0-0.]
Packing to get ready for trip.
Trip to Barcelona:
Out the door a little after 3, hustled to the train station, made the 3:15 train with about 1 minute to spare. To airport, and now we have plenty of extra time, so of course there are no lines or anything.
Big line formed for boarding, but then didn't move at all. We sat in the cafe and Dora had a coffee.
Onto the plane, and our seats (row 2) turn out to the first row on that side, which means more legroom and no one in front of us, but we're staring at a blank bulkhead and our hand-luggage has to go in the overhead bin, which is not pleasing (wallet, passport, food, audio players, tablet, phones, etc).
Uneventful flight, not much to see outside most of the time. But wind from the south means we go N-to-S along the Barcelona waterfront, which is pretty cool, we have a great view from our side.
Long walk through airport, wait for luggage, and we're in a bit of a hurry. Landed at 6:40, need to get to rental apartment before 8 to avoid a €20 late fee. We hustle to the train station, use our T-10 cards to get through the turnstiles, and the train closes its doors literally in our faces, and leaves.
We could wait 35 minutes for the next train, but I elect to take the new Metro instead. It will cost us €9, but there should be little wait, and we might avoid paying €20.
So to the Metro (right next to the train station), buy tickets, wait 3-4 minutes, on. Nice ride, interesting to us since it's new. To Collblanc station, and up up up about 6 escalators to the L5 line. Wait a couple of minutes there, onto a train, ride one stop to Publia Casilla station. Out, get oriented, find the apartment building, get buzzed in.
A bit of a surprise: I knew it was on floor 3 with no elevator, but I didn't know the street door was on floor -1. So, up 4 floors (later I counted 65 steps), hauling the suitcase. Guy is waiting for us, in before 8:10.
He shows everything to Dora, takes a long time, goes and gets some towels from the line, then charges us €10 late fee. They said they wouldn't charge if we were a few minutes late.
Soon we go out to Dia for groceries, getting in and out just as they're closing. Dora is muttering about this being a bad neighborhood, but it looks fine to me. More cafes and such than I expected from the Google Map.
Try to watch Dora's telenovella on the TV, and several of the high channels (including the one she wants) are getting digital snow or skipping, it doesn't really work. Several lower channels are fine.
So I brought out my laptop and started streaming one of her telenovellas on it. But that was pausing a lot; the internet here is not fast enough. Then the TV started working better, so we paused the laptop and she watched the TV.
Went to go to bed, and found neither of the beds has a top sheet on it. And the main bed's pillowcases have not been washed. Contacted the host, no help tonight, we slept on the second bed and it was okay.
Showered, hustled to Metro station, train came 1 minute later. Four stops to Sants Estacio, got to platform, train came 4 minutes later. To airport, onto free shuttle bus to other terminal, got to arrivals area at 9:50. No sign of my brother.
Should have taken him at least 30 minutes to get off plane, long walk to Passport Control, through there, get luggage. Status board says his pllane has landed, no addition info. I send email to him, wait for 15 minutes, no sign of him, go downstairs and back up. Send email to Dora asking if he's contacted her, then 2 minutes later he appears from Baggage Claim, around 10:20. His plane took off an hour late, landed 30 minutes late. So all is well.
I'm headachey; took a Dolacatil. To shuttle bus, other terminal, to train station, wait 10 minutes, onto train, wait 10 more minutes while it sits there, off at 11:08. To Sants Estacio, onto L5 Metro, off at Publia Cases, to apartment by noon.
My brother lies down to sleep, and soon Dora and I go out. Down toward the big market, Mercado del Torrent Gornal. Stop at an eyeglass store, Dora's new eyeglasses are hurting her, but they're busy, we don't wait. To the mercado, which is a bit disappointing. Dora hits an ATM for a while. Across the street, and a big lunch at a Chinese place, I'm starving.
Back to the optical place, the guys bends her ear-pieces in 2 seconds, no charge. To fruit and veg shop and buy a ton of fruit. Drop Dora off at apartment building, I go to Mercadona. Which turns out to be huge. I buy groceries, back to apartment, find Dora waiting on the stairs, her key doesn't work and she didn't want to wake my brother. In by 2:20, and I'm ready to lie down for a while. Host has dropped off new top sheets for us to use.
We crashed for a nap for a couple of hours.
Out with Dora and my brother after 6. Wandered, doing a big loop around the neighborhood, soon looking for a cafe. Street art: pics. Eventually looped back to near the apartment and settled on a place. Dora had a Coke, my brother had a cerveza then a tinto verano, I had two tinto veranos. Four plates of tapas: chicken, pork, calamari, more calamari by mistake. Quite nice.
Pics. To Mercadona for groceries, then home before 8:35.
Out before 11. To Metro, connect through Placa Sants, out at Arc de Triomf. Walked down the promenade to Cuitadella Park, full of people, lots of people selling roses for Dia Sant Jordi, but missing the usual break-dancers and skaters. Into the park, and over to the fountain area, and sat for a while. Beautiful weather, lots of people on this holiday Sunday.
Checked out the mammoth statue and the rowing lagoon, then across the park and out and into Old Town. To Born CC, and sat for a little while. To Esglesia Santa Maria del Mar church, and sat in on a mass for 5 minutes. Up across Via Laetana and to Placa Jaume, which is thronging with people and has a traditional band playing in one corner.
Wanted to take the free tour of the City Hall, open just this one day each year, but what appeared to be a short line turned out to go far down a side-street, so we passed on that. Around to Placa St Miguel and into the first restaurant we saw, El Beso y La Lluna. A little pricey, but nice. I had a nice moussaka carne, Dora had a disappointingly plain chicken and rice, my brother had a very nice meat-and-pureed-carrots thing that came in a too-small nouveau-cuisine portion size. Pic1 and pic2 and pic3.
Street art: pic. Down to the waterfront, across to the harbor, and bought tickets on a 3:30 boat-tour out of the harbor on power-catamaran "Golondria". Had 45 minutes to kill, and my brother needed a coffee to neutralize the potent sangria he had with the meal. So up La Rambla, which was crowded. Found a place and had coffees. Back down to the harbor, sat for 10 minutes, then onto the boat and sat for another 10 minutes or so.
A sailboat tour-boat docked next to us just before we left, and made a hash of it, ending up slewed in their berth with their bowsprit resting over top of the catamaran on the other side, but I think there was no damage.
We undocked, and out through the harbor, seeing cruise-ship row from the outside. Out into open water, and it's very calm with little wind. Lots of boats out, mostly sailboat getting not enough wind. Up along the city waterfront, looking at all the buildings and monuments we know, very nice.
Up to Parc Forum and turned around. Back down and into harbor, and this time we went under a bridge and right down cruise-ship row, with container-ship docks on the other side. Very interesting. 4 or 5 cruise-ships, one of them fairly huge, but none of them had many people on them. Back into the inner harbor, and done by 5. Quite nice. Pics.
Up La Rambla to Drassanes Metro, through the turnstiles, and then a disaster. My brother was behind us, and apparently he held his tablet in one hand and put his normal glasses on and put his sunglasses in his pocket, and immediately someone pickpocketed his sunglasses out of his pocket. He didn't notice for about 10 seconds, and by then it was too late. Dora and I had gone all the way to the platform before we realized he was missing, we went back and found him, and we searched, but the prescription sunglasses are gone. Bummer.
Onto Metro, connect at Sants Estacio, to Pubilla Cases, out and home around 5:40.
Confirmed that we do have a washing machine in the apartment; you have to roll out the refrigerator and open a door behind that to get to it !
Napped for an hour or so.
Out at 8:15, looking for a bar to watch the big El Clasico football game, Barca - Real Madrid. First bar had all the inside tables reserved. To the Chinese cafe where we ate dinner last night. Took a table outside, but already it's cool out. Asked, and found one free table inside, pushed right up under the big TV in there, a little too close for comfort. But we took it, and started ordering food and drink.
Game started at 8:45, and it was a doozy. Very excited crowd in the bar, and we shouted ourselves hoarse at the Barca goals. Neymar didn't play because he's on suspension. Bale went out with a hurt leg. Messi took an elbow in the mouth and got very bloody [found out the next day: he had two teeth knocked out]. Later a red card for a Real Madrid player. Seesaw game, 1-0 Barca, then 1-1, then 2-1 Barca, then at about minute 85 Real Madrid scored to make it 2-2, then with maybe 30 seconds to go, Barca scored to win 3-2. Perfect ! I'm happy for their manager, Luis Enrique, who is leaving at the end of the season, under some criticism.
Home by 10:45, a little hoarse and tired and feeling sunburnt from getting too much sun today.
Out with Dora and my brother at 12:15 or so. Long Metro ride to Virrei Amat, where Dora and I used to live. Up to the government office before 1, for my 1 PM appointment. I was done in 5 minutes, as I expected. They did receive my application and the resulting document probably arrived in Jerez a day after we left. Then Dora proceeded to talk to them for 20 minutes and do three things she didn't really need.
Out, and down to the street, and to a jewelry shop where Dora needed to pick up something she'd left there a long time ago. Tried to find a kebab shop, but had to settle for a quite nice cafe where I had a great hamburger, and we ate well.
Down to Dora's old apartment building, and she collected mail from a lady and chatted with her. To bank so Dora could do something in the ATM. Back to Virrei Amat Metro, and ride to Diagonal.
Strolled down Passeig de Gracia, window-shopping and people-watching and resting on benches a few times. Pic. Into one mall and used the bathrooms. My brother said my baseball cap was ratty and disgusting (it's really not so horrible), and bought me a nice new Barcelona cap at a sidewalk stand: pic.
Into El National cafe/restaurant, and into a fancy coffee bar. Decent coffee and surprisingly mediocre cakes, for a moderately high price, but the decor was amazing. Pics.
Out, and strolled down to Placa Catalunya. Sat for a while, watching the thousands of pigeons. Down Placa Angel a little, into a shop for a bit, then up to Metro. We've timed our rides to avoid the strike periods today, 7-9 and 4-8 and 8-10. But the trains still are full and hot. Rode to Placa de Sants, connect, to Pubilla Cases, out, home by 7:30, tired.
The three of us out around 12:45. To Metro, longish ride to Sagrada Familia. Across and up a block to get away from it, and found a sidewalk cafe for lunch. Pic. Decent food, nice people-watching. As we left, some acrid smoke was drifting up from the intersection below us. We walked down and couldn't see anything wrong, kept going into the park next to Sagrada Familia. Soon firetrucks and ambulances and police vehicles were screaming past. I walked up and they were parked halfway down a side-street, but I couldn't see any smoke or fire.
We sat in the park for a while (pic), then over to Sagrada Familia. Entrance on other side, so we walked around and through a short line and bag-check, and then in.
We three have all been here before, but still it was nice, and they've been adding various decorations and stuff. We wandered and sat and watched a video and wandered. I joked that the Wi-Fi should be better (of course they have no Wi-Fi, it's a basilica). Pics. Eventually out, hit the bathrooms and a quick look into the museum underneath, then out.
Into Metro, longish ride back, home before 4:40, tired.
The three of us out after 8, to Metro, to Placa de Sants. Up and to a row of restaurants, and Dora and I have been to one of them, a Syrian place, before. Tonight we chose Fenicia, a Lebanese place. Big platters of good food, and some beers. Quite nice. Cool and raining lightly when we came out, and we just went right back home.
Out after 11:30, I think. Through light rain to local Chinese store and bought a couple of cheap umbrellas. Through heavy rain to the Metro. Connect through Placa de Sants to Placa Espanya. Walked up to CaixaForum museum and saw a couple of art exhibits, one from the British Museum, that were pleasant but not impressive. But we got in for free because Dora has an account at Caixa bank.
Down to the Arenas shopping center, and wandered around a couple of floors of that. Back out, into Metro, rode home on crowded trains. Down to a kebab shop and had a very nice lunch, with some football highlights on the TV. Funny sign over the door to the bathrooms: pic. Home by 3:20.
Napped, then out at 6:20. To Metro, one stop to Collblanc, and joined a stream of people heading to Camp Nou for the football game, Barca - Osasuna. Into the stadium area, and took some pictures. Bought a couple of souvenirs. Into the portal for our section, and up up up about 6 stories, then up some more. We're in the third row from the top.
Sat down and watched the players warm up, and tried to figure out what direction we're facing. After a while, clouds lifted off the nearby hilltops and I got oriented, but we're facing away from the sea and downtown and Montjuic.
They rolled out an enormous banner in honor of Messi's recent 500th career goal. Then the game started, and soon the light rain started. We kept putting umbrella up, trying to keep it low so it didn't block the view of the people behind us. A little cool tonight, too. But really not too bad. Only about 2/3 of the seats are occupied.
The game went exactly as we expected. Osasuna is last in the league and needs to win tonight to avoid relegation, but Barca had them outclassed even without playing Iniesta and Suarez and Neymar. Barca soon up 2-0, then a scare as it went 2-1, then by half I think it was 4-1. At the 3/4 mark, it was 7-1 and both teams slowed down. But it never rained hard, and we stayed until the end. Pics.
Out and walked along with throngs of people, and started walking toward home. But it turned out to be a lot longer than it looked on the map; the scale is deceptive. Fortunately, we got to Collblanc Metro and found it was no problem to get in. One stop to Pubilla Cases, and found a bar to have coffees and watch 15 minutes of the Real Madrid - Deportivo game on TV. Home by 10:20.
Out at 11:30. To Metro, connect at Placa de Sants, to Placa Catalunya. Hustled down to the cathedral and had 20 minutes or so inside before they started closing the place (changing from free to pay-€7). Wandered through a few small courtyards, sitting for a while, then down to a coffee-shop. But service was terrible, and we left after 15 minutes without ordering. We've had that problem here before.
Up through Placa Jaume, looking for a place, and eventually found a wonderful hotel lobby, in Hotel Avinyo. Pics. Had sandwiches and nibble and coffee.
Out and did a little shopping, then to Jaume I Metro, and a long crowded ride home. Into apartment by 3.
Online, bought tickets for my USA-to-Spain flight in August. $538 one-way, Newark to Sevilla.
Out after 7. Metro to Placa de Sants, and went to a Palestinian restaurant. Food mostly similar to that in the Lebanese place two night ago, and very good also. We shared a pitcher of sangria and had a good time. Afterward, around the block a little bit, but too cool to do much wandering. Home by 9:10.
Out before 11. To Metro, 4 stops to Sants Estacio, to platform with 3 minutes to spare, onto train. I had to stand. To airport, to Ryanair, and we were so early that the agent had to check that they were accepting bags for our flight. They let us get away with 16 kilos when our limit was 15.
Took our time, through Security, sat for a while. Had some lunch. To the gate, and sat for a while in the middle of a big group of girls from Poland. Plane loaded slowly; many of the last 15 passengers on tried to bring suitcases on, and they all had to be put down in the hold at the last minute.
Uneventful flight. Even though I had a window seat, we flew over sea and then over clouds, so I saw little.
High crosswinds in Jerez; the landing was a little wrenching, but probably technically a very good landing. Anyway, any landing you can walk away from ...
Our bag was just about first off, and we hustled to the train station, only to find a 45-minute wait for the next train. Back to terminal, had coffee and snacks. Back to train, confusion about buying the right tickets, ended up with the wrong ones. Onto the train, and no problem.
Home at 6:05; all is well. My "padron historico" from Barcelona has arrived. Also a notice that I should go to Correos to pick up the package with the toilet part. It would have fit in the mailbox; why do I have to walk a mile to go get it ?
Dora soon out to Correos and banks to try to pay a couple of bills. I went out to Mercadona at 8:30 or so, and managed to time it to hit the rain and wind as I came out.
I was planning to go to Sanlucar to teach English to the niece, but then she wasn't going to be then, then she was, finally she wasn't again. So I went for a walk and then to Mercadona for groceries.
Headachey in late afternoon. Printed a science lesson the niece has to learn. Out to recharge Lebara SIM for Dora, go for a walk, and Mercadona again; I'm restocking after our week-long absence, and everyone's stocking up because Monday is a holiday and the stores will be closed. Took a sumatriptan.
Dora home at 11:20; the sick doctor came in to work anyway. Soon to bed.
Dora dragged herself out of bed and we caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's house, nice dinner with her parents and niece, but the afternoon was mostly a waste. We chased the niece around trying to teach her English, and she didn't want to. Watched some TV, chatted, caught the 6:15 bus (20 minutes late) back to Jerez. Home at 7:20, tired and headachey. Took a Dolocatil.
Later, still have headache. Took more acetaminophen. Napped. Watched most of Real Madrid - Atletico Madrid game (UEFA Championship semi-final). Real Madrid dominated and won 3-0.
Took a sumatriptan and some melatonin, and to bed. Slept well.
Out, and hit an ATM. Did the long walk to the Correos where our packages are delivered, and picked up the new toilet parts. Got home, opened them up, and they're the wrong size.
Dora out to banks to pay rent and such.
I got a little headachey in the midafternoon. Took a Neobrufen. Dora called by work at 5:10, has to go in. I walked her to the 5:50 train, then went to Correos to mail the package back to Amazon. Correos not crowded, but extremely slow, and it took almost 25 minutes to get through there.
To Plaza Arenal to check out the high school scienc fair there, and it's jammed full of people. Saw the place and headed out, and got a call from Dora, she got to work and they didn't need her, so she's on her way back. Walked to the train station, and met her coming out. We stopped at a cafe for drinks, then home by 7:45.
At 8:45, out to Mercadona for groceries.
Couldn't sleep at all until after 3 AM.
Out at 4:15 or so, and long walk up to Plaza Mamelon. Warm day. Hoped to see some Moto Gran Prix motorcycles; they're having some kind of opening fete here at 5 for the races that will take place this weekend outside town. But got to the plaza, and no motorcycles, just setting up a bandstand for a small concert. Looked in a Chinese store for a few items. Walked down to Plaza Arenal, too early for the science fair to resume. Sat near the mercado and listened to my MP3 player for a while.
Back up near Mamelon around 5:15, still not much happening. Down to Plaza Arenal, and the science fair is hopping. Wandered around that, then started heading home. Into the bazaar to look for a few items, but no luck. Home by 5:45, hot and a little tired.
I've been hearing military planes fly over several times today, don't know if they're for the science fair or the MotoGP or something else. Around 6:30, got a good look as seven flew over in formation pretty low, trailing colored smoke. I think it's for the MotoGP.
Out again, and Hiper Number One had a couple of the things I wanted to buy.
Headache in late evening; took Neobrufen and melatonin.
Gave flowers and a music-player to Dora for her birthday. I'd like to buy jewelry for her, but she never finds anything she likes when we're looking.
Headache; took a Nolotil. Didn't work. Took a diazepam. That didn't work. Took a Neobrufen.
Took a melato-zinc and went to bed. After midnight, took a sumatriptan, and that knocked out my headache.
Trying to upgrade my smartphone from Android 5 to 7, and it's fiendishly complicated. Consulting with an expert online.
Went for a walk in the center. Tons of people, nice sunny day, but lots of motorcycle idiots revving engines everywhere. They've all come to town because of the MotoGP races taking place at the circuit outside town.
Cooked a big omelet for dinner.
Finally succeeded in upgrading my smartphone; now running (LineageOS) Android 7.1 !
Caught the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's place, tried to teach some English to the niece, but she's a little sick, and balky as usual. She wants to play or watch videos, not study. Had a big dinner, tried some more studying, finally caught the 4:10 bus (late, as usual). Home by 5:15, tired.
Out with Dora at 10:30 or so. Lovely slightly-cool night. Took a long walk through the center; lots of people out, jamming the cafes and bars. We sat at a cafe in Plaza Arenal and had coffee and cake and talked. Home by 12:10.
Out at 11:45 to catch the noon bus to Rota, despite many last-minute msgs from Dora saying she might be home soon, we might go to Sanlucar, etc. Onto the bus, and had a nice chat with a couple from Oregon. They've been wandering around Europe for a couple of months, now are going to Rota to hang around until they can catch a military flight to USA (he's ex-Coast-Guard). They happened to be in Malaga a few ago when they took pictures of a ferry coming in, and then watched it crash into the dock (it was on the TV news, believed to be steering failure).
To Rota by 12:35, and the route in town was different than I expected, so no choice but to get out at the station, which is fairly far from the old town. Long, hot walk, hustling to see if I can get to the Castillo to catch the 1 PM tour. Got there with 4 minutes to spare, but the lady in Tourist Info said "no tour today". [Later I realized I was mistaken, the tours are only on weekends.] So all I could see was the ground-floor inner courtyard of the castillo, which was disappointing. Pics.
Out, around the corner, and of course the nearby parish church closed at 1. The bus schedule and attraction opening times here are not synchronized: I had a choice of an 8 AM bus or a noon bus, everything closes at 1 or 2, and the last bus out is at 5.
Wandered a bit, had soda and ice-cream at a place, wandered more, lovely Jesus Nazareno plaza, went on the beach and dipped my feet in the ocean. Pics. More wandering, bought pastries at a shop, sat in a plaza and got free Wi-Fi while I ate them.
More wandering, found another nice plaza (Plaza Pio XII) to sit for a while. Pics. Eventually to the bus station by 4:15. Waited, onto bus, back to Jerez, home by 5:45. Expected to find Dora home, but she's not here. Turns out she had to work all day, so I'm glad I went to Rota.
Dora home at 6:35.
Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Correos delivered from Amazon: another birthday present from me to Dora, an ionizing hair-straightening hairbrush.
Dora and I out after noon. To the center, and to a tourist-attraction I've been meaing to go to for a while: the Palacio del Virrey Laserna. Which turned out to be better than I expected, quite nice. But no photography allowed, bummer. It's a historic house/palace, still lived in by the current Count, and he gives the tours. So it's full of "here is a picture of my father with the old king, and a picture of me with the current king" and various other family history. As well as paintings, at least one by Rubens, some from the school of Goya, lots of others whose names I don't know. Lovely furniture, building, nice gardens, and a very personal experience. Fabulous !
Then we went around to the plaza in front of the government building and had a nice lunch in an outdoor cafe. Iberic ham, a Stilton-cheese-nut-honey dish that was nice, and roast beef cheeks (from the front end of the cow, not the back end). The only downside was getting solicited by a couple of beggars who came by several times. Stopped at Carrefour for groceries, then home by 3:30.
And then suddenly at 4:30, the plan is that we're going to Sanlucar again, to try to teach English to the niece. Sigh. I feel the tiniest bit of headache, so took a Neobrufen.
Onto the 5 PM bus, and to Sanlucar, and walked to sister's house. The niece still has a moderately bad cold, and hasn't been going to school this week. We sat her down at the kitchen table and started going through her lesson, a combination of science and English. At times it went well, other times she rebelled and we had to cajol and nag her to get her back to the studying. Later, some playing, and a tiny bit more of studying.
Dora wants to stay here overnight, but I don't want to stay. And the niece has tired me out with demands for piggyback rides and such, and managed to knock off my glasses and almost rip my shirt while doing it. So eventually we're onto the 9:10 bus, and home in our apartment in Jerez by 10:05. I think I'm catching the niece's cold, and I take a Dolocatil.
Out in early evening, under very grey skies. To banks, then headed for Correos, but had to turn back halfway because Dora forgot something. Back out, to Correos, to center, sat for a while. Still feeling a little sore throat and headache, and a little weak. Home, and took a Dolocatil.
Out at 8:30, and down to the estaciones to watch the semi-finals of Champions League, Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid. A little trouble finding a spot, but got a table at the edge of one bar. Fine, until it started pouring rain. And it turned out they didn't have coffee. But we drank Pepsi and ate roast chicken and watched the first half, and it was a good game. But then I'd had enough, and we went home through the rain. I'd foolishly brought only one umbrella, so we got a little wet at the edges. [Turns out there was no scoring in the second half; Atletico won the game 2-1 but lost the series 2-4 and Real goes on to the final.]
Went for a walk in early evening. Home, and looks like football game coming on TV. But the channel did that thing where they show you every detail up through the coin toss, then surprise! we're not showing the actual game.
We're out at 10:15. Down to the taxi rank, and take a taxi to the Tributaria (tax) office. In for Dora's 10:30 appointment, and I wait as she takes about 45 minutes in there. She's out, but has form to fill out, then she's back in for 5 minutes. Out by 11:30 or so, and to a nearby bank, but she's forgotten to bring her bankbook. Back to the bus stop, and it appears we've missed a bus by 1 minute, but then it comes 10 minutes later.
A long, looping bus ride on the 9 bus. We should have taken a taxi instead. And just as it starts making progress toward home, it's hit on the side (scraped) by a car that failed to yield out of a side street. As we all pile out, an old lady feels faint, thinking someone had been killed. Dora and I start walking, then call a taxi, then see that another bus has picked up the people from our bus; we should have stayed there. Home before 1.
Out in the evening. To center, Dora tried to pay tax bill at ATM with no success, we wandered, into a pastry shop for coffees and pastry.
Heavy rain at 9:45, slanting into the balcony and getting the laundry wet again. Oh, well.
Out for a walk in early afternoon. Lovely partly cloudy weather, lots of people out. Lovely purple flowers on trees next to the Alcazar: pics.
In late afternoon, two trips to Mercadona for groceries. Monday is a holiday.
Just before 10, some reasonably-nice fireworks from the horse-fair starting today and running for a week.
Out for a walk at 10:45 or so. Lovely slightly-cool night.
Slight headache/sorethroat/cough; took a Dolocatil.
At 1 or so, met Dora's father and her niece at the Jerez bus station and brought them home. Dora and I cooked dinner. Napped.
In the evening, got ready to go to the Jerez Feria Del Caballo, and suddenly found out Dora's father has to go back to Sanlucar tonight, he has to pick up her sister in the car early tomorrow morning. We thought they were staying here overnight, so no hurry in getting to the feria. Suddenly we're in a rush.
So, out by 6:45 or so, down to bus stop on one side of our building, and wait for a feria-special bus. Dora wants to take a taxi, but we wait 5-10 minutes and a bus comes. On, get seats, into center and then up. Soon we're seeing horses on the streets. Feria is not where I expected it to be: it's in Jardines da la Rosaleda / Jardines del Bosque, near Plaza de Caballos [later figured out, it's so huge that the other end of it IS where I expected the whole feria to be].
Off the bus, into the park, and it's enormous. Huge avenues with restaurants down the sides, noisy and full of people and all blaring music trying to drown out the music from their neighbors. Very crowded. Pics.
We start walking down the main avenue, and it's slow going. Lots of women and girls in traditional Flamenco dresses, quite nice.
Niece is starting to get a bit anxious; she thought there would be amusement-park rides, and so far it's all restaurants. But then we see a ferris wheel in the distance, and head for it, and there turns out to be a huge amusement-park section, on the other side of the train tracks.
It's even more jammed over there, and noisier too. Rides about €4 per person, and lines. Dora, niece and I do the "Super Raton" roller-coaster first. A deceptively small roller-coaster that turns out to be a rough ride, especially when the cars start spinning sideways. Hard on the stomach, especially when the spin is added to the motion around a curve in the track. I do as much fake screaming as I can. Pics.
Stagger off that, and across to a haunted-house ride ("Casa del Miedo"). Dora's father goes with us for that one, and he and I get wedged into the back seat of the car, where there is legroom only for small Spanish people, and I have to twist sideways and put my knees almost on top of his. The ride is fairly gentle, with various monsters lighting up or popping out at us, and I fake-scream a lot and make my fingers act like spiders on the shoulders of Dora and her niece ahead of us.
Out, and soon onto a multi-armed rotating thing ("Maxi Kanguro") that yanks us up and down wildly while spinning around. I'm doing okay until it stops and then does all the same stuff backwards, and my stomach starts getting queasy. I make it through that one, and declare I've reached my limit.
We work our way down the main avenue of the amusement-ride area, stopping to watch people ride some of the wilder rides. Some of the music blaring is painful to my ears. Get to the end, a bathroom break for the niece, and it's 8:45 and time to start heading out if they want to catch the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar. It's still unclear whether 0, 1 or both of them will be taking that bus.
We work our way down a quieter shopping-type avenue of the fair, crowded but making decent progress. Out to the bus stop area, some confusion, find the right place to wait, and before long a usable bus comes. Onto it, wait another 5 minutes, then off. To the stop between our apartment and the bus station by 9:40.
It appears at least Dora's father will be taking the 10 PM bus, so we walk towards the station. Into a cafe for sodas, and then the niece is ordering food ! We don't have time for this. After much talking on the phone with the sister, it's decided both niece and father will return to Sanlucar tonight. By 9:55 the food has not come. Dora waits for it while niece, father and I go to the bus station. The bus is there already, I put them on it, and at 9:59 it closes doors and starts backing out. Niece is sad that she doesn't have her food.
I walk out to front door of station, and meet Dora coming in with the food. I say "too late", but she runs around to the road-exit, intercepts the bus as it's coming out, gets the driver to open the door, and gives the food to her father ! Amazing.
Home by 10:10, tired.
I go out before 11:30, to pay Dora's tax bill at the bank, while she goes to the health center to register. I go to the bank, get the wrong kind of ticket, wait, they redirect me to the cashier, wait. Sign says you can pay these bills only from 0830 to 0930, but then I'm in front of the cashier with the form and cash, easier just to do it for me. Done.
Out, to health center, no Dora there. Come out, she calls me, turns out work called her right after I left the apartment, she has to go in. I go to the train station and meet her there, we sit for 10 minutes while she has an orange juice, then she's onto the 11:51 train.
I go to Mercadona for groceries, then home. Two minutes later, Correos is buzzing to deliver a certified letter to me from the central health administration. Perfect !
And I'm approved for the "Convenio Especial" way of getting onto the Spanish NHS. I'll pay €60 per month for it.
Out in midafternoon to try to break a €50 bill, and maybe recharge my bus card. But the Tabaco shops are closed, and the BBVA ATM will only give me more 50's. To Mercadona for groceries and to break the bill.
Out at 4:45, to pick up the niece from school. Down to the taxi rank at Hiper Number One, no taxis, waited 10 minutes. Gave up and went to the train station. Got into first taxi, guy wasn't too happy, probably had been hoping for 3 people plus luggage. But to the school by 5:10 or so, and he waited several minutes as I was guided to the niece and came out with her. Back into the taxi, home by 5:25.
Niece made a beeline for my stash of chocolate in the refrigerator, then for Dora's computer to watch videos. I made a sandwich for her, cooked a little ham-and-eggs, as usual she ate about 10% of everything given to her.
Dora's father and sister arrived at 8:45. Dora home at 9:05.
Some confusion: the whole point of them coming here was to go to the Jerez Feria Del Caballo, and now the niece doesn't want to go, doesn't want to wear her Flamenco dress, etc. That gets sorted out, then it's unclear if I'll be going with the sister and the niece. I'm willing, but then Dora says she'll go too. She has to work a 24-hour shift starting tomorrow at 8 AM ! I take a Neobrufen.
More confusion, more delay, eventually we're out the door at 10. Down to the taxi rank (pausing a couple of times), into a taxi, to the feria.
And it looks very beautiful, lit up at night. And the crowds are much more manageable than when Dora and I and the niece and father came here on Sunday evening. Pics. I have to pull Dora out of the clutches of a gypsy lady at the entrance trying to sell her a rose and a fortune-telling.
Down the main avenue, and into a place to have some drinks and food and dance. It's mostly Flamenco-type music, but I do my best to dance while Dora (who knows all the proper moves) does her thing.
Eventually out of there, and the niece wants to go on the rides. So down to the amusement-park area, and it turns out the niece wants to go on exactly the same rides we went on on Sunday ! Back onto the Super Raton, which I do, then she wants to do it again, and I skip that one. Over to the Kanguro, and I refuse to do that one, it's evil. They have to wait a long time for it to start, there are only about 8 people on it, and the operators try to wait for more, but eventually give up and run it. Then BACK to the Super Raton, and I get pulled onto it again.
Enough rides. Off to a stand for mini-donuts hot out of the deep-fat and slathered with toppings; I could eat nothing but these for a month and die happy.
Back out to the main avenue and looking for another place to dance. I want to go home. We find a place, do some dancing, enough. We buy drinks. Dora wants to dance more, I've had enough, so has the niece. Dora and sister do a little more dancing, eventually we're out. Walk out to the taxi area, no problem getting a taxi, home. Into bed by 1:30. Hard time getting to sleep. And I think my ears are ringing slightly from the loud music.
Dora out at 7:20, to work a 24-hour shift, 8-8. I feel tired just thinking about it, in addition to already feeling tired. I take a Dolocatil.
Laundry, breakfast, internet, then back to bed for about 3 hours. Still feeling lousy.
In early evening, took a Neobrufen and went for a walk.
Met Dora at 9 at the train station. Her shift got cut short, they'll call her and pick her up at home if there's a need during the night.
Online, I see that the dollar has been weakening against the Euro. Euro was about $1.06 a couple of months ago, now it's almost $1.12. Thank you, Donald Trump :-(
I took a melatonin before bed.
Dora doesn't get to bed until 11:45; I thought she would head right for bed when she got home. But she did get a shower and food and then some sleep, before they called her at 2:45. She's out at 3:20 AM.
Home after noon, and Dora is home ! I thought she said she had to work today, but it turns out she just worked the remainder of last night's shift, until 8 AM. Then she went to a hospital to drop off her CV and ask about work. And she learned some useful info about getting onto the government hospital list.
Headache in midafternoon; took a sumatriptan and napped.
Out with Dora before 5. To Correos, and sent healthcare paperwork to Sevilla. To govt building, but they're closed early for the feria, as I suspected. Walked around, looking in some shops, but I'm not feeling well. Home.
In midafternoon, I was out for a walk and groceries.
Dora home at 4:35, but they called her right back in to work just before she got home. So I walked her to the 5:25 train.
Message from Dora: work sending her home again, waste of a trip. So I met her at the train station, we're home by 7:05.
Dora made noises about going to the feria yet again, but I'm not up for it. In fact, I had a bit of a headache, took a Neobrufen.
After midnight, strong and gusty wind most of the night.
Out at 12:45, caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Major feria being set up in many of the streets there. To sister's house. Put in a good 20+ minutes teaching the niece a story in English from her school, and she learned well. Then dinner, then the niece didn't want to study any more. She started watching a film on TV, I went for a walk on the malecon, then I went back and watched the film too. Got a tiny bit of studying in during one set of commercials. Caught the 6:15 bus (20 minutes late) back to Jerez, home by 7:20.
I loafed all day, did internet, went for a couple of walks.
I had neck pain during the night; took a Neobrufen.
Out with Dora at 10:15, to gestor in the center to start her income tax return. She was in there for an hour, and came out a bit depressed. So on the way home, she had some retail therapy (two blouses, I believe) and then we went to a cafe for coffees. Home before 1.
Out again with Dora at 1:45. Back to the gestor to drop off more papers. To local centro de salud so Dora could register there, cutting one of her last ties with Barcelona. To fruit stand to buy fruit. Hot. Home by 2:30.
Out again at 4:45. Down to the central local govt building, where we've never gone before. In and waited a few minutes for our appointment to ask some questions about applying for pareja de hecho (civil union). Got useful answers, and learned several other useful things about operations we can do at this office. Out, asked a question and got some info at Tourist Info. To a bank to use the ATM, then home by 5:45. Hot.
After 8, out to ATM (broken) and then to Mercadona for groceries.
Didn't sleep well.
Then soon we're all piling into the car and off to the mercadillo, a big flea-market. Dora and her sister go wild buying clothes and shoes and such, while her mother and I trail then and wait and I carry stuff. Fun to people-watch, but it's crowded and hot.
We shop until we're dropping, then across the street and have food and drinks in a cafe. Then back to the car, where Dora's father has been waiting this whole time. I think he spent a lot of the time in the nearby Burger King.
Into the center of town, Dora and sister and I get out, and we go to a notario. I wait 30-40 minutes in a reasonable air-conditioned lobby while they do stuff. Out, call a taxi, home after 2.
Some waiting, then we're having a simple dinner. Plans have changed three times; are we catching an early bus back to Jerez, staying for the feria tonight and catching 9 PM bus, or doing feria and staying here overnight ? Eventually Dora decides on early bus, and we hustle to the bus stop area through the afternoon heat, getting there with 3 or 4 minutes to spare for the 3:10 bus. Bus passes us and goes around a circle and stops on other side of street from where we're waiting, but we anticipated that might happen, and hustle across in time to catch it.
Driver has pedal to the metal, and despite stopping at hospital, we arrive well before 4, and home after 4. Hot and tired and achey. I take a Neobrufen.
Later, headache, took a sumatriptan. Glad we didn't stay in Sanlucar for the feria.
Still feeling pretty bad. Took melatonin and went to bed early. Slept well.
Out with Dora at 12:20 or so. Hot day. Down to the center, to the Alcazar (Moorish fortress) and in. Major tourist attraction, and we've never been in it. Interesing place, fortress with mosque inside, olive oil mill inside, then later someone built a Spanish palacio inside. Full of cisterns and aqueducts and water-handling stuff. Towers, parapets, nice views, some nice flower gardens. Pics. But very little art or decoration. Enjoyed it, but hot. The "camera oscura" seems to be closed; didn't get to see that. Web site with great pictures and a great narrative: Fun with Dick and Jane's "The Alcazar". Home by 2:15, hot.
Gas refill will cost €16.78, up almost a euro in 2 months.
At 3, we're sitting down to dinner, and the phone rings. Dora's sister is having a travel emergency, her bus tickets for tonight got charged but not confirmed, her father is on the local bus to come here to Jerez to see if he can pay at the bus office.
So at 3:35, I'm out. Hit the ATM, then to the bus station. Find that the relevant bus office closed half an hour ago and will be closed until 6:30. A few minutes later, Dora's father arrives. We look at the signs, call Dora, head to apartment. There, I try to buy the tickets online. Doesn't work on Dora's laptop, switch to mine. My browser is fighting me, finally get things right, have to pay with sister's credit card, no problem, I have all the info. Except the site insists on sending a code in SMS to her phone, and I will have to type it in to the web page, and now she's not answering either of her phones, and neither is Dora's mother. Finally get through to the mother, and the sister is with a patient. So can't buy the tickets.
Out at 6:15 with Dora and her father. To the bus station. Office isn't open quite yet, but Dora is first in line when it does open, and spends a good 15 minutes trying to straighten out the situation, with people fuming in line behind her. She comes out saying there are no tickets, the other people get served, then she's back at the window. I put her father on the bus to Sanlucar, come back, and suddenly Dora is calling my name and handing me tickets and receipts to take to her father. I hustle out and hand them to him on the bus, and a minute later it's going.
But we're going to be back here at 10 tonight to help her sister get on the bus to Madrid, so we could have held the tickets anyway. We head toward home, and sit in a cafe for 45 minutes sipping sodas and relaxing. Home at 8.
I'm out again at 9:30, to bus station to wait for sister and niece and help them. They arrived, I hauled heavy bundle and rolled a suitcase, then waited with them for 20 minutes or so until the bus came. Niece full of energy as usual. They were onto the bus and off to Madrid by 10:10, I went home.
Waiting all morning for the gas refill man. No show, although someone buzzed after 9 but then didn't come up. But Correos did come after 11 with two certified letters. One is my NHS certification, which I can take to the local health center. Gas man came just after noon.
Went to local health center to try to register there and get my health card, but the not-very-friendly guy said I have to go to the central hospital. Maybe that's the only place they do new cards ?
Out at 7. To train station, and onto train to El Puerto de Santa Maria. Not sure where the feria is, but walked into the center. Fortunately got into Tourist Info a minute before they closed, and they set me straight: feria is at the edge of town. So up to Plaza Espana and onto a crowded feria-special bus. Got to the feria around 8:15.
And found that there's a special direct bus to/from Jerez ! So noted the times of that bus. Walked through the feria, which is smaller and not as nice as the Jerez feria, which is to be expected, this is a smaller city. Still plenty of pretty women, and some of the same rides from the Jerez feria. I think some of the rides they have here would not be legal in USA, rides where a bunch of kids get thrown around together in a moving platform, trying to keep their balance, falling all over each other.
Had some of the mini-donuts out of hot oil that I love; they're called "buñuelos". Not much to take pictures of, except the bull at the entrance, and even for that there's no good place to snap it from. Pic.
Saw everything, decided to catch the early bus. Found the 9:15 bus not exactly where I expected it, soon the driver opened up, and it turned out I was the only passenger.
To Jerez station by 9:45, home 10 minutes later.
Loafed all day, then out at 4:45 and caught 5 PM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's house, where Dora's parents are.
Out with Dora at 7 or so. Checked out some of the feria, then to Aldi's for groceries, and home.
Out at 8:45 with Dora and her parents. Several blocks down to a restaurant, where we ate and drank and watched the first half of the Copa del Rey football final, Barca versus Alave. Not the best game, but it was close for most of the half, until suddenly Barca went up 3-1. [And that ended up being the final score.]
We left at halftime, and wandered through the feria. First looking at clothing shops, then into the crowded main drag, then over to the amusement-park rides. Pics. I enjoyed it. Eventually we all were tired, especially Dora's parents, and we headed home. I was surprised to see it was 11:45 when we got there.
Rested for a while, then Dora and I went out again at 12:30 or so. To the feria, looking for places to dance. Tried a couple, but they were crowded and high-volume. Very crowded in the avenue near the bus station. Better out in the main drag. Dora watched some Flamenco singing that I didn't care about. I bought some buñuelos; yum. Down the main drag, stopping several times to dance outside of places, the best strategy in my opinion. Dora can dance ! I just do my best. We had fun.
Down to the malecon, strolled along it, nice and quiet and cool after the feria. Toward home, stopped in the clothes-shopping area of the feria for a little while, but I pulled Dora away from buying a dress, and we got home by 2. Into bed.
I loafed all day. Then out in evening for a walk to the center, to a couple of shops, then Mercadona for groceries. My NHS card came in the mail !
Out with Dora at noon. To center, and she's into her gestor's office by 12:15 to do tax stuff. I went to an ATM, then loafed and waited for Dora. Hot, and few places to sit in the shade. She came out around 1:15. Over to the centro salud to hit the bathroom and ask some questions about my healthcare registration. Hot walk, and home by 1:50.
Dora's sister and niece are back from their trip to see their apartment in Benicassim, and it's the usual emergencies. The renter destroyed the apartment. And the niece has a school assignment due now that I have to help her do. Dora's father is coming here by bus to give me a thumb drive, I have to do a Powerpoint presentation, put it on there, and he'll take it back. We don't even have Powerpoint, we have a free supposedly-compatible application.
In late afternoon, headache, took a Dolocatil.
The school-assignment crisis went away; it's being handled in Sanlucar.
Went out at 8:30, to hit a shop and then Mercadona for groceries. Got home, only to have Dora announce she'd just eaten the last two oranges, and she wanted two more to take to work tomorrow. Out again, but the fruit stand was closed, instead bought a fan at another shop. Dora will have to survive on apples, peaches, bananas and grapes tomorrow.
At 9:30, message that the niece in Sanlucar needs some English translated and then taught to her. Sent the translation via email, then realized they don't have email only Whatsapp, struggled to copy it across, finally had to take a picture of it on the computer screen. Then on a phone call for 30 minutes or so with them, teaching the English sentences to the niece. And apparently she has some test on Friday, so probably we'll go there tomorrow to teach her more.
Dora called by work at 11:11, she has to go in.
I went out before 1, to some shops and then groceries at Carrefour.
Dora home unexpectedly at 2:30; I missed a message from her saying she was coming home. Her trip to work was a waste of time.
We napped for a while. Then I was out at 4:45 and onto 5 PM bus to Sanlucar. Arrived about 5:35, waited with Dora's father until the niece's schoolbus arrived 5 minutes later, into car and went to sister's house.
Where the niece resisted being taught, as usual. She was getting home from a long day at school, so last thing she wanted to do was study more. Eventually got her to look at the Powerpoint presentation she has to do tomorrow. I fixed the English, we ran through it a couple of times, and then she'd had enough. So I loafed around, tried to get her to speak some English, had osme food, etc.
Onto the 9:10 bus back to Jerez. Arrived around 9:45, and Dora was waiting for me at the station. In honor of my birthday tomorrow, we went to a cafe and had coffees and some chocolate cake. Dora floated the idea of going to a disco, but it's well after 10 and she has to be up at 6:40 tomorrow morning to work a 24-hour shift. She could do it, but I'd rather she didn't. Home by 10:30.
Loafed, did a little yoga, etc. Gave myself a haircut. Was standing in the bathroom with hair all over me when the downstairs buzzer sounded. I assumed it was Correos and ignored it, shaved, showered. Came out and found my phone exploding with Whatsapp messages, Dora's parents have arrived on a surprise visit for my birthday, and can't get in.
I went down and found her mother, then it took 5 minutes to round up her father. Brought them upstairs and turned on the air-conditioning and gave them sodas and fruit; it's hot today. We watched TV and I exercised my primitive Spanish-language skills to the max; they speak no English. 45 minutes later, walked them to the bus station and put them on a bus back to Sanlucar. I went to Mercadona for groceries. Home and started cooking dinner.
Realized later I should have offered them some of the birthday cake. But they had been saying they didn't want anything, the whole visit was rushed, I was off-balance.
The cake is delicious.
Suddenly before 1:30, Dora decides we're going to dash out to pick up her new eyeglass frames. So without showers we're dressed and out and to the center. Get the frames, stop at a dentist office, hit an ATM unsuccessfully, out and past out apartment and to another ATM, I buy envelopes in a shop, home. Hot.
At 3, I'm cooking dinner, and Dora's sister calls and says they're coming in the car to pick us up and take us to a mall near Sanlucar for a birthday meal at a sandwich place. I put my foot down: no, we're staying here today, I'm cooking, Dora and I are going out tonight, we'll go to Sanlucar tomorrow. [Later, I find out that Dora is working tomorrow.]
So, at 8:30, we're out. Dora dressed to the nines, I'm dressed to about the threes. Slightly longish walk up to an area of Irish pubs, and we find the last decent table to watch the UEFA Champions League final, Real Madrid vs Juventus. I have a Guinness. Pics. The game is fun, the crowd in the bar goes wild at each goal. 1-1 at halftime, then 3-1 Madrid about 20 minutes into the second half.
We leave, and go around the corner to try to get into the Soho disco, to do some dancing. But it's closed, and maybe permanently closed. So we walk out to Avenida Domecq and up a couple of blocks, Dora twisting her ankle in a hole in the sidewalk, but she's okay.
Get to the other discos, Kapote and Tribecca, by about 10:30. Kapote has the game on, but we don't hear music anywhere. Into Tribecca to ask, and they say the music and dancing will start at 2 AM ! We call a taxi and we're home by 10:45.
As we walk to the discos and took the taxi home, several times we heard cheering, and we guessed Madrid had gone up 5-1. But the game actually ended 4-1.
Out for a walk in early evening. Then back home and online to start my Spanish income tax filing for 2016. Got through most of it, stuck at section where you compensate for international double-taxation.
At 10:35, a bunch of fairly serious rocket fireworks launched from roof of an apartment building a block away. Is that legal ?
I went out for a walk in late afternoon; hot but nice.
Out with Dora at 8:30, for a walk and to a cafe for coffees. Lovely cool weather with a nice breeze.
Couldn't sleep at all at night; maybe slept for 1 hour all night.
In late afternoon, out to ATM and Mercadona.
Did some work on Spanish income tax; I'm stuck on international double-taxation. Did a little caulking on the showers. Not feeling well; tired and headachey. Took a Neobrufen.
Out for a walk at 9. Lovely weather.
Took a melatonin. Slept well.
We're out at 10:10. To train station, train to Puerto Real, taxi to the huge hospital outside town. Dora goes upstairs to do paperwork; I wait.
I'm not surprised to wait for quite a while; someone is helping her put her certificates into the medical system so she can be considered for government jobs, something that's she been struggling with for a while. I have a newspaper to translate and learn some Spanish, and I listen to my audio player. But this hospital is so noisy everywhere, marble and people talking loudly. Even outside, sometimes people come out and talk or talk on their phone next to me. Nice birds-nest out there with several baby birds being fed by their parents.
She's done at 12:50 or so, and happy: everything went well, the guy was super-helpful, now she understands the job-roster situation better. And it turns out today was some kind of deadline she didn't even know about; tomorrow would have been too late somehow.
Into taxi and back to the train station by 1:10. Next train not until 1:40, so we go across the street to a cafe for sodas and tapas. Then onto train, and home by 2:10.
Dora out for a 4 PM dental appointment. She has to wait, it takes a while, then at 5:45 she's sending messages saying they say she needs €3000 of work, and there's a 10% discount if she signs up for it right now. I tell her not to make any decision, come home. Then I head out and go to the dental office. Wait 15+ minutes for her, she comes out, and it turns out the problem is real. Ten years she had two teeth extracted in Peru, and it was wrong, and now she needs a couple of implants. This dental place (a chain) is supposed to be okay and fairly cheap. But this "sign right now or lose 10% discount" sounds wrong to me.
I convince her to look for a second opinion, and we head out towards home. Past home, into another dental chain place, but their doctor is in only on Mondays. To a private dental office right across the street from our apartment, but the doctor is busy, we get an appointment for tomorrow at 12:30. Home by 8:15. Pics. Enjoyed it. Paid €10 for the two of us.
Out, and now we don't know how to catch a taxi; Dora forgot her phone, and I don't have the taxi number in mine. We head toward the center, but don't see a taxi stand anywhere. Come out near Deutschebank, and by then we're halfway home, so we keep walking. Hot, but we stick to the shady side of the street.
Home before 12:30, quick stop, then Dora's out to go to the dentist office across the street for a 12:30 appointment.
Dora home before 2, and this dentist agrees with the chain-store dentist. Dora is in for a lot of dental work (cleaning and implants).
I'm headachey; took a Neobrufen.
In early evening, trying to get Dora to go with me to chain-dentist to see if their discount offer still is available. She's tired and and hot and depressed and won't go. But I get her to call, and they say we can come in on Monday and still get it.
At 8:30, I'm out to Mercadona for groceries.
Puzzling through Spanish taxes some more, headache, take my blood pressure and find it's a bit high. Take a sumatriptan.
Got to bus station 5 minutes early for the 1 PM bus, so of course it was 45 minutes late. Found out why: some serious mechanical problem, bus doesn't accelerate well, doesn't go over about 40 MPH. Slow trip to Sanlucar. Hot walk to sister's house, stopping on the way to buy some desserts.
Had some dinner, loafed with the family, watched TV, etc. A pleasant time.
In the car to the bus station, arrived 5 minutes early, and almost immediately the bus arrives (not the same one as the earlier trip). To Jerez, hot walk to apartment, home after 7.
Online, filed my Spanish income tax return. I owe them €0.53 (!), which will be taken out of my account on June 30 or so.
At 1, I'm still headachey; took a sumatriptan. Dora coming back on bus, and she's accomplished about 5 errands.
Out with Dora at 4:45, into the hottest part of the day. Down to the taxi rank, and of course there's no taxi. We watch as several go by, then call and one comes promptly. To the niece's school in the NW end of town.
Get there, meet Dora's mother, find out the music recital doesn't start until 5:30. Eventually we all go into the library, which is nicer than I expect, not full. And the music program chugs right along, no wasted time, each student playing one piece, most on piano, a few on guitar. Dora's niece is about 8th in the first half of the program. She plays passably.
We're out and into Dora's sister's car. We're going to head to an ice-cream place, start a roundabout trip around the outside of town, I'm lost. Then the niece wants Burger King instead. Then it turns out the driver has to get back to Sanlucar soon. So they drop us off near our house and they're off back to Sanlucar. We hit a fruit shop and home before 7.
Quick stop, and then we're out again. Walk to the center for Dora's 7:15 appointment at dental center to sign papers. She's in there for an hour, so I figure they must be doing a treatment too. But she comes out and says the amount of the papers was off by €5 (on a total of about €2800), they insist on re-doing them, they want her to come back in a few days to sign. Crazy !
We check the "Ilusionismo" installation in Plaza Arenal, but it's broken today. To a nearby cafe for ice cream and coffee. Then the dentist office calls and says come back, Dora can sign the papers now. So we go back there, she's in for 15 minutes or so, then done.
We stroll and go into several clothing shops, to the locutorio to buy calling-cards for Peru, and then home after 9:30.
I catch the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar, going to help Dora's mother mail a bundle of legal documents to Peru ? Not clear on why I'm doing this. I arrive, find Dora's mother near the cafe where she said she'd be. Give her a couple of items from Dora, as we're walking to the Post Office.
In the Post Office, all is confusing. I get a number, we're trying to find out what kind of envelope to buy, a sign over the big envelopes say sending outside EU will cost €55;, and it turns out I have €60 and small change in my pocket. I can't get them to give me the form to fill in; they think I'm asking for a pen or something. We talk to Dora, first on her mother's phone, then on my phone, I can't hear half of what she's saying. I can't understand anything Dora's mother is saying.
Our turn gets close, and then suddenly Dora's mother is leaving ! I need her to handle the language. But she forgot her glasses. I start to follow her, and she tells me to stay here, I have to do this. She's gone.
A minute later, my number is called, I go up to the counter, get the form and envelope I need. Move aside for a while, write all the addresses and stuff, which are not simple. Back to counter, price turns out to be around €13, not the €55 on the sign. Certified, need a factura, ask if it will be there in 5 days or 8 days or what, we tried to ask that before. Can't understand, keep getting yes, yes, finally it's done, I'm out.
Try to call Dora, and I think my phone is saying the SIM is empty, add money. Give up, go to bus station. Eventually Dora calls, where am I, her mother is back at the Post Office. We agree that probably I sent the envelope normal-mail instead of air-mail or whatever. Which is bad, because this whole deal was somewhat urgent. I feel bad. [It took about 2.5 weeks to arrive in Peru, not too bad.]
Onto the bus at 1, home by 1:50.
Omelet for dinner. To Mercadona for groceries. Later to the locutorio to recharge a couple of phone SIMs. Online, finished and filed my Spanish wealth tax return. Out for a walk at 10:30 or so; nicely cool out tonight.
I went out after 8. To Plaza Arenal, and into "Ilusionismo", a free science-museum type thing they've installed there. Fairly nice, lots of optical illusions and science-stuff and some history of cinema. Crowded at this hour, lots of families.
To Mercadona for groceries, then home.
Dora called to say her niece was the only one in her class to earn a certificate in English this year. Still have to confirm that, but great !
Out in evening for a walk, and to "Ilusionismo" again.
Headachey. Took a Dolocatil.
Out with Dora before 11. To INEM, where they agreed with her and not me: her employment contract that doesn't specify pay rate is legal, and making her work 24-hour shifts is legal. To Centro Salud, where they say I have to wait 3 months since starting on the NHS, before I can change centers. But somehow they calculate the end of 3 months to be June 24, a week from now. That's 1 month since I got onto the NHS. Home.
Out after 8 with Dora. To the "Ilusionismo" in Plaza Arenal, then walked, bought a blouse in a clothing store, had drinks and a sandwich at a cafe. Warm, humid evening.
I'm out into the heat at 12:45. Caught the 1300 bus to Sanlucar, and it's the white one that was having major problems. They've fixed it a bit, but first gear still is bad. To Sanlucar, and hot walk to sister's house. Everyone is home, and staying in front of the air-conditioner and fan. I give plane boarding-passes to Dora's mother, my main reason for coming today.
Not much else for me to do here; the niece is flighty and her school-year is finished, the attempt to take the father to the hearing-aid place this morning failed because it was closed. We had lunch, watched some TV, chatted a little, then I walked to the station and caught the 1610 bus back to Jerez. To Mercadona for groceries and home by 5:20. Hot.
Headachey in late evening; took a Neobrufen.
Out for a walk around 8:30 in the evening. Lots of people out. Looks like there has been some parading in the center; they've put down some of those colored-stone pathways, and there are some religious platforms and displays sitting around, one with "second prize" tagged on it.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Dora in a cleaning-frenzy in later afternoon.
I went out to ATM (broken) and Mercadona after 8. Hot, and Dora says it's supposed to be hotter tomorrow.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan. Didn't sleep much at all, all night.
Where it's SNAFU. I've been telling them for months that her father needed hearing-aids, and they've left it until 2 days before her parents fly away to the north for the summer. I'm carrying cash to pay the first €500, but we have to sign up for an installment plan to pay the rest, even though I intend to pay it off in a lump-sum a few weeks from now.
But as I'm waiting in the lobby while Dora's mother and the office agent do the details, I hear a bad word, "hipoteca" (mortgage). And they're getting Dora's Barcelona info; why do they need that ? Turns out that when they say "pay in easy installments", really they mean "we'll call your bank and try to take out a loan in your name, so we get our money right away". And the numbers they told Dora that amount to a low interest rate are bogus; the bank will set the interest rate itself.
Dora's credit rating is in the pits, so neither of her banks that they call will do the loan. No hearing-aids today, and there's no way to get money over from USA by tomorrow. What do we do ? I'm calling Dora every 5 minutes, saying things to her, handing phone to her mother or the agent, getting it back, more talking with Dora. Finally they decide: pay the 500 today, pay remainder in a week or so, hearing-aids will be mailed to the north in 3 weeks or so, father will have to go to an office in Bilbao for a fitting. A hassle for them.
Out, and home after 12. Wait a while for lunch, watching TV and chatting with the niece. My phone SIM has run out; need to recharge it; glad it did't run out at the hearing-aid place. Finally eat, and soon I'm off to catch the 2:10 bus. Which is in a hurry for some reason; the driver blows through a red light early on, and drives pedal-to-the-metal all the way. But we hit some heavy traffic getting out of Sanlucar.
Home after 3, tired and hot. Shower. Go online, and start the transfer of hearing-aid money from my USA account to Dora's Spanish account.
Headache; took a sumatriptan. Napped.
Felt okay in the evening. Took melatonin before bed. Slept pretty well.
She doesn't want to go without me, and she's probably going to be late for the bus anyway. So she goes to the bank, and we'll take the 10 AM bus together.
She's back at 9:15, the money has not appeared in her account. We're out at 9:45, onto the 10 AM bus. Into center of Sanlucar, go to ATM, money still is not in her account. Have breakfast at a cafe. Back to ATM, money still not there. To hearing-aid place. To a shop to recharge the SIM in my phone. Then to sister's house.
We chat with the family, parents go out shopping for a while, they're back, we have lunch, watch TV. I find out that the hearing-aid place has agreed to provide the hearing-aids tonight, if they arrive from another place today, which they probably won't. So the money is not an obstacle any more, supposedly.
Parents take niece out to join her mother at the hospital, but bring her right back, the mother was busy. I thought we're staying through 8 tonight to see if the hearing-aids come through, but suddenly before 4 Dora says let's catch the 4:10 bus home. So we do that.
Walking home at 5, we stop at an ATM and find the money finally has arrived in Dora's account. Took almost exactly 24 hours from USA, not bad. Home by 5:10, hot.
Out after 7, to Hiper Number One for printer paper. Then out again to Mercadona for groceries.
Out in mid-evening for a walk with Dora. To the Ilusionismo for a little while, into several clothing-shops, home.
Defrosted the freezer, a big job involving lots of time and lots of mopping.
Out in early evening to bus station and then into center for a while. Later out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out in mid-evening for Dora. Walked into the center, sat, wandered around. Eventually to a bar we haven't tried before. Nice big Guinness sign etched into the woodwork, but they don't have Guinness. I had a Paulaner, Dora had a mojito. A rare time of Dora drinking alcohol, and it was fun. Home before 10:30.
Around 12:45, I went out to the local health center. Wanted to change my registration to here, but there was confusion about whether I have to wait another 2 months before I can do that. Finally the boss in the back room approved the change, and it's done.
Dora gave notice to her ambulance job in El Puerto, going to a new hospital job in Puerto Real. The boss of the old job is not happy. But new job is almost twice the pay, better conditions, no 48-hour shifts.
Dora out at 3:45 to a medical class, 4-9. I'm out to Mercadona for groceries.
I went out for a walk in the center around 7. Dora home at 8:30.
After 11, lots of fire-trucks and police going past. There's a building fire maybe 6 blocks down Calle Medina from us, maybe across from Correos. I saw orange glow on the top floor for a few seconds, then just lots of smoke.
Took a melatonin before bed.
Online, made appointments for Dora and I to see the NHS doctor next week. His time is assingned in 6-minute slots, as was Dora's time when she was doing this kind of job in Barcelona.
Out with Dora in early evening. To the center, strolled, clothing-shopped. Then into Carrefour for groceries. Home by 7.
Bummer: exchange rate has jumped to $1.14/€.
I went out to BBVA ATM for cash, then to Bankia to straighten out an internet-only account I'm trying to open. It's been stuck at the same error on a web page for 4 days now. Account-manager lady typed a lot, seemed to fix everything, I signed several times for contracts etc, gave ID, deposited €100. I left thinking everything was good, but at home I see that she created a new account number. Logged in online, no longer have the error, but it looks like I'm still in the old account. Signed contracts online, now it says "wait a while so we can verify your identity".
Went for a couple of walks in the center, in early evening and late evening. Lovely weather.
Out at 2 with Dora, into the center, and tried a cafe we haven't been to before. Nice lunch.
Out with Dora around 8. Half a block away, and a strap pulled out on her shoe. To a couple of Chinese shops for various things, then Mercadona for groceries. Back home, and glued the shoe.
Headachey; took a dolacatil.
Out with Dora in mid-evening, to stores and an ATM in center. Nice breezey weather, lots of people out.
Out before noon. To bank to try to straighten out creation of my account. Got a senior guy who seemed to know what he was doing, but even he sweated and puffed as he worked on it. Had me sign out a US tax form, which I figured had to be done at some point. At the end, he said "give me 2 days to get this all working", which is fine.
To bus station, and bought an overnight bus ticket to Madrid for my trip to USA. €27 for an 8-hour trip on what should be a nice bus and straight to the airport; not bad. The train schedule and train station location/connections are much less convenient, and more expensive, but the train would be faster.
Scanning lots of old pictures for Dora: Peru, Japan, Italy.
Out for a walk in mid-evening.
Out with Dora at 10:15. To center, and I waited while she met with her lawyer. Then back past the apartment and to a print shop to ask about ordering a signature-stamp. Then a block over to the medical center.
Met with our new family doctor. I handed him three pages of my medical history and requests, translated into Spanish. He and Dora exchanged rapid-fire Spanish, most off which I didn't understand. Eventually out, and downstairs to make appointments for blood tests. Home by 12:15.
Dinner, then Dora napped for several hours.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out with Dora after 10 for a late-evening walk in the center.
Out for a walk in early afternoon. Day turned sunny a little later. Dora home before 4.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Out with Dora at 5:30 to key shop and print shop. Then Dora out at 6:45 to go to Sanlucar to chat with her sister, and she wanted me to tag along but I said no.
Out at 9:30 to bus station, to meet Dora. Hauled a couple heavy bags of fruit home. Not surprised to hear that her sister was busy, Dora only had about 10 minutes to chat with her.
Out for a walk around 9; lots of people out, lovely weather.
Dora home after 11.
Out in mid-evening for a walk in the center, then Mercadona.
Out again at 10 or so, for a walk in the center. A concert going on in the Alcazar, and some kind of flea-market closing down outside it.
Out for a walk at 10:30.
Out with Dora at 9. To local Centro de Salud, to turn in urine samples and have blood taken for tests. I had no problem, but the nurses had to try three times before getting a suitable stick on Dora, she has small veins. Afterward, Dora realized I'd eaten breakfast this morning, which we weren't supposed to do. I'd read the instructions looking specifically for that, and they said nothing about fasting. I joked to Dora that they'll diagnose me as diabetic, and her as dead.
Across the street into the bank to try to get my new account going. Turned into 45 minutes of sitting and signing things, as the guy opened a third account number, but at the end he said everything is working now.
Out and to a cafe for coffees and a little breakfast for Dora. Then to print shop to see if the stamp is ready. Home by 11:15. Online, my bank account is working.
Nap, dinner. Online, trying to book tickets for Dora and I to go to Peru for the whole month of October.
Out with Dora to Mercadona for groceries.
Out with Dora at 11 for a walk in the center.
I got the Peru tickets paid for and confirmed, and somehow the total price went down €70 in the process. About €1650 (about $1890) roundtrip for the two of us Madrid-Lima in October.
Out for a walk in midafternoon; hot.
Dora home at 4:15. Dinner. Out with her before 7, to go to bank and several shops within 2 blocks of our building. Hot.
Online, ordered something from EBay.es, but accidentally chose wrong address. Cancel, have to wait for vendor to respond, argh !
Out with Dora at 7:30. Hot. To Correos to send a box, only to find they've changed to summer hours, now they close at 14:30. Into center, to a cafe, had sodas and a montadito. Heading home, into a shoe shop, bought a pair of shoes for Dora.
Didn't sleep well at all.
I went out at noon. Hot. To Correos and sent package. To center and sat for a little while. Hot. To Carrefour for some groceries.
Dora home around 4. Air-conditioning, and dinner.
Hot evening; stayed in. Melatonin before bed. But Dora tells me I've been taking it the wrong way: you're supposed to get into bed, into the dark and quiet, and then take the pill.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Loafed all day. Out for a late-night walk.
Out at 8:30, to train station to meet Dora in transit. Gave her some stuff, she gave me dirty clothes and the melon I cut up for her yesterday morning, now spoiled from sitting unrefrigerated for 24 hours. She didn't even have time to drink her coffee, just grabbed it and off to a taxi. Weather getting hot already; it's supposed to be very hot this weekend, I think.
Loafed all day, to Mercadona in midafternoon, late-night walk in center.
Finding out more about Dora's house in Lima Peru, and like the rest of her financial affairs, it's a disaster. Title unregistered and requires a $3000+ payment to settle. Three-way ownership with her two sisters, neither of which has the money to pay their share of anything. Top floor, owned by one sister, is virtually non-existent, just stubs of a few outside walls. And also Dora has a small personal loan outstanding with a cooperative in Peru that she forgot to tell me about. Dora hopes to rent or sell just her floor of the house, but is unwilling to consult with a real-estate agent until the title is settled. I want her to get estimates for fixup and rental or sale before paying the title registration, but she won't. SNAFU.
Out with Dora for a late-night walk in the center. Lots of people out. Warm but comfortable. Home at midnight.
Correos delivered pulse-oximeter I bought for Dora. I went out in midafternoon. To bank and my new ATM card works. To Mercadona for groceries. Home, and Dora's home, someone wanted to change shifts with her, so she did.
Out with Dora for a late-night walk; still and humid and warm out. Home a little after midnight.
Out with Dora for a late-night walk; breeze and humid and nice out. Home a little after midnight.
Dora out to bank before noon, and SNAFU. Lots of bogus charges on her credit card going back to late March, and she didn't know. Can't log in on the internet; I've been nagging her to get login info for a week now, and it would really come in handy right now. I'm out with her soon, and thought we were going to police station, but we go back to the bank to get a full list of charges. A couple of them may be legit charges from her son; we're not sure. Bank is a zoo, as usual. We get a list, go back home. Still don't have the internet login info.
Dora calls bank, gets internet access working. We look at charges, and more of them are coming back to her son. I get her onto text-chat with Skype support to figure out those charges. And finally we find out what's going on: somehow her son's debit card has been charging to her credit card, and he's been spending some money he shouldn't have (and some that was okay).
Out before 7, to center. Dora to dentist, and I wandered and sat for a while. We're both home around 8:30.
Figured out the last of the charges on the credit card; more stuff Dora's son bought. So all of the charges are legit; no one has stolen Dora's number.
Dora home at 4. Dinner.
Out with Dora at 6:15, to local health center, for appointments at 6:30. Short wait, in, and it's a substitute doctor. He evaluates the results of our blood and urine tests, and says my results are perfect, better than Dora's and his. (But he's being generous; my cholesterol values are just about at the limits of normal.)
Out, and we have coffee (Dora) and ice cream (me) in a cafe next to the health center. Then a walk into the center, sit for a while, a little shopping, home by 9.
I called Dora at 8:15, she answered right away, her shift got changed so she has to work until 10.
Went out for a late evening walk. Actually fairly cool tonight; nice.
Dora home at 11:15.
Dora home at 9. She had a bit of stomachache from a sandwich during her shift last night. Changed her shift today to be 3-N instead of 9-3. But then I find her shift today is going to go overnight: 3 until 9 tomorrow morning.
Sleep. Then up, and fed Dora, and she's out to work 2 today to 9 tomorrow.