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.