Following my last post on culture shock my ideas have been seriously tested. I’ve been living in Spain for six months almost to the day and for most of that time I’ve not had a car. This has not been a serious problem here, living in town. That itself is cause for celebration and validation of our decision to move here. The impact on my wallet, environmental conscience and health/fitness (ok, so it’s mostly the first two!) have been significant, especially since we’ve also gone from two in England to one car here.
Or, more accurately until today, none, as I say. Because my wife is from Lleida, a relatively small provincial capital, and not Malaga/Mijas Costa, the infamous Spanish bureaucracy is even more difficult to navigate as a foreigner. God knows what it would have been like if my wife were not from here!
I’ll save the gory details for another time for those that are interested, but a small example in the process is the Head Engineer at the local ITV (the Spanish equivalent of the British MOT roadworthiness test) thought that the UK was not part of the European Union…..
As soon as we got one piece of official documentation we found we needed another, although some of this could have been avoided if our gestor (someone who deals with bureaucracy for you) had been better informed. And most of the time the first reaction was “oh no, that can’t be done”. Several times I was about to book a ferry ticket back to the UK to sell it, at a distress sale price.
Fortunately, the main sticking point, the fact that the car was foreign and had things in the wrong place (though we replaced the headlights and one of the wing mirrors to Spanish models) was not a problem for the ITV station in the next province so we had it done there. Quite quickly, in fact. Then acquisition of the rest of the paperwork, while being in parts ridiculous and involving an unnecessary and expensive trip to Barcelona, went quite smoothly.
The process has, as I say, challenged my thoughts on culture shock as the inability of some people to think beyond “the way things have always been done” is mind-boggling. But my theories did work – I did write the last post after suffering some of the worst problems. Getting angry doesn’t help anyone. You have to (try to!) understand and work the system, even if that means finding others that will understand better what you want to do.
I’m sure I will return to the subject of Spanish bureaucracy but that’s enough for now, I’m sure you’ll agree!