Monthly Archives: March 2015
It was with huge excitement last Saturday evening that I walked to the Teatro de San Fransisco in Vejer with some of my news friends to enjoy the concert by an Abba tribute band. My children might be surprised, and a little perturbed, at my use of the words ‘huge’ and ‘excitement’ in the same sentence as ‘Abba tribute band’ but let me explain.
The excitement was less about the band and more about the event. Having visited Vejer for over 10 years we watched the Teatro undergoing a transformation but – incredibly – have never actually been inside. So finally going to an event there was a little bit exciting.
Add to this my overwhelming need for friends: people I like, respect, enjoy being with, learn from and laugh with and you can see how the excitement level went up several notches. I have friends! People who went out of their way to include me in an event, happening in my new home town. And not only friends but a group of women. Gaining admission into the elite world that is a group of female friends is not to be taken lightly.
And finally, Abba are pretty good too eh, had the odd hit record and all!
I’m kicking myself that my phone battery died so no photos of the social event of the year so far but, it was fabulous and slightly surreal at the same time. Watching two high energy, raunchy young Spanish ladies cavorting around the stage and belting out hit after hit, predominantly in Spanish, accompanied by some backing dancers who confidently mixed dancing in sync with ‘do your own thing’ (Okay, okay, they weren’t the best – but they were very enthusiastic) and you have yourself the makings of a great evening. Combined with the singing-along, dancing and ear-splitting applause from the audience and you’ve got yourselves a hit.
And all for 5 euros a ticket. No wonder it was a sell-out.
One reason for living abroad, or indeed just travelling, is to experience first-hand the differences in life, even in seemingly shared experiences.
Having lived in Vejer de la Frontera for just 4 weeks we were a little perturbed to discover two speeding tickets in our postbox one morning. Dating from our first week in Spain our concern was with how many more might arrive over the coming days!
Anyway, the 200 euro fine would be halved if paid within 20 consecutive days. No one seemed sure when those days started but everyone agreed that one would be quashed as, at 109 kms in a 100 zone we were within the 10% margin of error. Wrong – that has been stopped, at least in the Jerez area, as vehicle equipment is apparently now so sophisticated that there is no error – and therefore no margin. Nothing, nada, zip. 100 kms means 100 kms!
Having tried to pay online and almost lost the will to live we decided to head to our local Santander bank, with the promise of desayuno (breakfast) in our favourite bar on the way back. As an incredibly rusty lower intermediate Spanish speaker my automatic assumption when confronted with speech I don’t understand is just that – that I don’t understand it. Sometimes though reality is a little more complex and, in fact, my understanding has been spot on linguistically, it’s the concept I don’t understand.
The very friendly lady in Banco Santander explained that we could only pay there for free on a Tuesday or a Thursday; between 8.30 and 10.30 and between the 10th and 20th of each month. All other times, there is a 3 euro fee per ticket.
As I said, actually I understood her words but still didn’t appreciate the concept, until she showed me the sign pinned up on the wall where, sure enough it confirmed the 3 requirements for fee-free fine payment. She advised us to come back the follow week when we could ‘save’ ourselves 6 euros. All well and good until I asked her when the 20 days started from and she confirmed that it would take us to either the 9th or 10th March, she wasn’t sure.
By now exhausted and in need of my cafe manchado with tostados con tomato y aceite (milky coffee with toast, tomatoes and olive oil) we decided not to take the risk, paid 106 euros for the two fines and left the bank heads spinning.
On one hand this seeming bureaucracy could drive you crazy, but on the other hand – it’s why we aren’t living back home. Viva las diferencias!