Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Spain  , Valencian Country,
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We've now been in our new country for 2 weeks, and have acheived everything we'd hoped to, in these early, early days.  

By the morning of day 3 we had our phone and internet on and working well.  Now, this may not be such a feat, but believe me, in Spain, this was a miracle!  We'd heard of people waiting weeks (literally), to get their phone connected, and of course everything you do in this country, you are required to have a bank account  (all accounts are direct debit), so we were blessed that our rental company allowed us to use theirs.  If I have to be honest, we had expected to phone Telefonica in a weeks time, and chase up, (and for them to reply they didn't have our order), so we were pleasantly surprised.   Guess it's like anything - it all depends on your expectations, and, as we didn't have any, ours were most exceeded.

Next day we took the children into Altea, an old (picture biblical) town, with stone steps, and small concrete homes.  This coast side town is one of my favourite, and the veiw from the church centre is something else.  We stopped up there at a traditional Tapas Bar, and soaked in the atmosphere.

By Sunday, we'd found ourselves in a lovely church in Calpe (5 mins down the road)  and met a neat, young dutch family, and were invited back to their home for coffee and wine (standard drink here), and the kids had a ball playing with their dog and all the toys - months without even basic toys, means they really appreciate even building blocks!  Tara and Greta were happy as their new girl friends took them up to their room to make jewellery.... all while we adults were enjoying the awesome company, sunny day, and trying to find out as much about our new town as possible - outcome: perfecto! 

The next couple of days we spent 'investigating' some of the surrounding towns: Moraira (stunning town with quality shops, gorgeous restaurants, and void of sky-rises), Jaeva (or Xavia, pronounced Harvear), and visited another favourite Denia.   We'd had a lovely meal here at one of the resturants, on our last visit 18 months ago, so we paid another visit, and we weren't disappointed.  Excellent service, good (if not simple) food, all with that European flair.

So far so good .... BUT it's not all roses.   After a week, we lost our central heating.   Yep - we'd run out of oil.   Now, I know we're in Spain, but we're in a house that is built for the warm weather, with marble floors, and covered balconies ie: that equates to, not much sun inside, and very cool .... not what one wants in winter, without any heating!!     Of course, we weren't about to get a delivery same day, so we rugged up in thermals and went to bed.   Next day, got our delivery, but even after us turning it on and waiting some hours there was still no heat. .... this means - 'problemo'.   Called the office next day, and the 'maintenance man' came, and the plumber came, cleaned it all out, spent hours on it, but still no luck.   To cut a long story short, they need to order a part and now we're in thermals, sleeping bags AND a fire (not a very effecient one at that).   OK, so for all of you who know me very well, and know how much I love the cold ... NOT!, you can imagine what I am feeling at this point.    Next day, we borrowed some heaters from the rental office (about 5 or 6 of them), which was great, and got through the weeked .. 'no problemo'.     All fixed by Monday.

The other thing we've managed to sort out last week was getting our 'Padron' from the Auytimento (the local town hall).   This was definitely the priority, because without being on the padron (equivalent to the electoral roll), we couldn't get the children enrolled in school.   Being on the padron, means the school will get funding (same worldwide isn't it??), but bottom line for us it means, free eductation and a free school bus.   I won't bore you with the details, but we did have to back to the town hall a total of 4 times, until we got the paper work perfect, and they don't speak a word of english, so it was all fun, but they were very nice, and we got their in the end - in time to enrol the children in their respective schools  ie: Tara in the secondary school in Benissa, and the other 4 in the Primary school across the road. I might have made that whole enrollment thing sound easy, but that was a story in itself, but all I can say, is we are feeling really comfortable about our choice of schools; the tutors are absolutely lovely, and really do have a genuine love of children.   So that done, we all look forward to the 7 January, when the schools recommence for the term. 

The last 'official' thing on our list (after residence, phone, internet, padron, school enrollement), was applying for our NIE number (which is kind of like a IRD number), but in Spain, you cannot do ANTHING without it - even buying a mobile phone!   Again, we had heard all sorts of stories about the queues, the beauracy etc, and how most people pay a Gestor (a legal rep), to do all the paperwork for you, for a charge of between $150-$250nzd.  We decided that we'd like to try and do it ourselves, so we got the piece of paper, (from a local real estate agent)  filled in it (using google to translate), found the police station, and after paying our fee at the local bank (about $30nzd), got it all stamped and approved, and we're back to pick it up the official NIE number in 2 weeks - that easy!   Of course, we realize that there are very little queues at this time of year, compared to normal, as many foreigners are leaving the country to go back 'home' for Christmas, and there's certainly nobody immigrating in winter, at Christmas - so we're taking advantage of that, and doing everything we can, on the legal and paperwork front now.   Again, pleasantly surprised. 

I forgot to tell you, that last week, we went out to a Christmas Lunch at a local restaurant, put on by the church.  It was wonderful.   I'm talking Prawn & Avocados, Turkey with the trimmings, Christmas Pudding of Apple Pie, and of course lots of wine, and the obligatory Christmas Crackers!   They were very good and had a special menu of Chicken Nuggets and Ice-cream Sundae for the kids.   We had a great time, and it was very nice, just to meet and talk with other people that had moved from their own countries to Spain - albeit most of them 10-20 years ago (and more!) - but hey, with age comes wisdom, and I'm milking it.

Along with all of these things, we have of course, been doing exactly what you're doing - CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.   For us, of course, it means starting from scratch, ie: buying a tree, lights, Christmas decorations etc.   But we've now got some presents under it, and it's looking more than accpetable.   The children got given 20euro each to spend on presents for each other, ie: 5euro for each child, and they've enjoyed the independence of shopping for them and wrapping them etc.  After all, the gift of giving is often more enjoyable than receiving.    

Summary - 12 days on:   despite some difficulties, and our frustration of not knowing the language yet, we accept that this is our 'honeymoon period'.... however, I also accept, that we are allowed to enjoy it, and so this is exactly what we're doing.


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