Shopping in Spain.
A couple of experiences today. And I stress at the outset they were both very pleasant. That said . . .
(1). I went to the offices of the insurance company which issues the policy which I and my (ex)partner took out two years ago on our house in the hills. They take the premium from my account but send their letters to her and, as she now lives in France, I wanted them sent to me. All went well until the chap asked me for my national identity number. I felt like asking why on earth this was necessary as they were already taking money from my account but I knew he’d just look at me with total incomprehension. And, as we’d already been through this with my two forenames and only one surname, I didn’t bother.
(2). I went to my local Carrefour to order a new washing machine for the house. I stressed the most important thing was that it arrived this week or next week ahead of people arriving 7th August and we agreed on delivery next Tuesday. Then came the following conversation, which may only be possible in Spain:-
Are you a permanent resident in Galicia?
Well, as of next Monday we have a New-for-Old scheme and you could save up to 50 euros.
That’d be good but the most important thing is delivery next week.
Hmm. There are conditions.
Well, the house it’s going to is in Cotobade [Less than 20km away]
Well, you live in Poio?
Well, are you registered at Cotobade town hall as a resident of Cotobade?
No, here in Poio, where I live. I can’t reside in two places. But I can have two houses.
Well, that could be a problem. We’d need a certificate of your registration and then there’d be a few additional procedures. Which might take longer than a couple of days and delay delivery.
Forget it. Just charge me extra and deliver it on Tuesday.
Try as I might, I can’t think of a reason for my location being relevant to a purchase. Perhaps if I lived in, say, France. Or even in another part of Spain. But 20km away?? Perhaps someone Spanish could explain it.
Back in the real world . . . At the macro level, the EU is pursuing – through the Bologna Process - the admirable aim of making one’s educational qualifications equally valid in each of the member states. Here in Galicia, the educational establishment – in the grip of myopic nationalists – is heading in the opposite direction. A letter-writer in one of the local papers advised recently that her son had had his qualifications rejected as being in Spanish. This was, of course, because he’d gained them at a university elsewhere in Spain which wasn’t in the habit of giving out qualifications in Gallego. To the Galician nationalists it’s all very simple in their Manichean world. Spain/Spanish bad. Galicia/Gallego good. Thank-God the vast majority of the population have enough sense not to subscribe to this short-sighted nonsense. Shame about the universities.
Talking of bilge . . . It was Galicia’s “National Day” on Sunday and there was a grand Mass at the cathedral in Santiago, attended by the great and the good from throughout Galicia. Looking at the fotos, I couldn’t help wondering just how many of the liars, crooks and fornicators among the politicians there really subscribed to the belief that the body of St James found its way to Galicia in an unmanned boat and that his body was lost and then serendipitously found on at least a couple of occasions. Very few, I imagine. But politics is politics and sincerity has to be faked.
Finally . . . You’ll all be thrilled to know I’m developing another list. This time of all the things that one can do here in anything-goes Spain without eliciting the sort of adverse reaction you’d get in other parts of the world. More anon, I’m afraid.