We are getting excited. The entire Valencian Community will be moving to deescalation Phase 3 on Monday. Phase 3 is as close to the New Normality as we can get, without actually crossing over and permanently residing there. We will be able to do almost everything we could do before lock down – with masks and a 1.5 meter social distance.
In Phase 3, we will be allowed to travel to other regions that are also in Phase 3. But because we want to go to Galica – and, since Madrid is between us and Galicia and they remain in Phase 2 – we will not be able to travel until July when all Spanish borders finally open. In the meantime, I am lining up viewing appointments to look at places when the time comes. Real estate companies are equally as excited to hear from us, it seems. Those who might otherwise take a week to get back to me are responding to my inquiries in <30 minutes. So my schedule is filling up for the week of the 13th.
We will begin our road trip the Saturday before, at the crack of dawn. All road trips should start early morning with a car full of snacks, pillows, and a thermos full of coffee. It’s kind of a law in America. And in the US, we love a good road trip!
Home prices here are slashed for a host of reasons. Covid, a No-Deal Brexit. I think Brits are getting nervous and starting to sell up. Nearly all our appointments seem to be for houses owned by Brits. Only one so far is with a Spanish woman in Lugo province.
The houses vary in size and habitability. Some are fully remodeled and up-to-date. Others are ruins and will need a lot of TLC and patience. And today, in El Compartimento, we’re getting a taste of what it will be like to live under the yoke of a construction crew.
For the past week, our neighbors have been doing some heavy remodeling of their bathroom upstairs. This sits above the office and we’ve listened to what sounds like the roof caving in on us, repeatedly.
‘That doesn’t sound good.’ Jeff has observed on more than one occasion.
Trying to concentrate on anything has been virtually impossible. We have to shout at each other sitting side by side on the sofa. I’d taken to writing things in black marker and holding up a piece of paper so Jeff can read it.
Suddenly my phone buzzed.
Jeff: We can just use WhatsApp. Use the tools you have.
So we no longer speak to each other inside the apartment for much of the day. We just message. How it’s possible that there are still walls, or even a floor left up there, we can’t begin to imagine. When their lunch break arrives it’s like being released from a prison quarry gang.
Yesterday there was a knock at the door. A nice man with his electric scooter was there with his crew – masked up. He gestured a lot, pointed up stairs and said he needed to check something in our house. Earlier, we’d heard a loud crashing boom, and since the guys at my front door were all covered in a thick layer of dust, I figured they had something significant to do with it.
‘What was the electric scooter for?‘ You might ask. I have no clue. But he brought it into our apartment and left it in the entry way as he wandered room to room with a laser meter, measuring from the windows to the interior. The whole crew came with him on this journey – like they were sightseeing in a prehistoric cave. I’ve spoken about the size of El Compartimento before. It’s not vast. Five full sized men squeezing through rooms as a hoard, to watch their leader shine a laser, and then crowd around the 1 inch screen for the reading, isn’t really conducive to the space. But I was thrilled they were all in our apartment because the noise upstairs had temporarily stopped.
After much more wandering, measuring, rapid fire discussion/disagreement and hand waving, their leader came into the living room with the verdict.
‘We need to make a small hole in the wall in this room.’ pointing to the office. ‘We will repair it afterwards.’
I let our landlord know and he said OK. Now the pounding noises had moved from upstairs to the next room. Yay! How 5 guys were able to operate in there, crowded behind the door – I haven’t a clue. Jeff and I just stood back. After an hour of punching the hole in the wall. They patched it and Scooter-guy came to tell me they would return tomorrow (today) and paint it ‘Good as new.’ I didn’t care. I was just happy he was taking his scooter with him out of my entry way.
And now, here we are. And they have returned. We knew they’d been upstairs all morning since we’d heard the building fall down around us earlier. There was a knock on the door. Scooter-guy was not with them. It only made sense. Four large men will fit easier into the space, where just one of them will be holding the single paint roller. But that didn’t happen.
They started rolling up all the carpets and clearing out the space around the hole they were ‘just going to paint.’ This seemed like overkill to me, but when they started putting cardboard down over the hardwood floors I was suspicious.
‘Pintura solo?’ I said – in my sad Spanish.
The four of them looked like deer caught in the headlights. Then I realized they had donned protective goggles and heavy gloves. And one of them was holding a small sledgehammer and a chisel. Paint supplies were no where to be seen.
‘A small hole.’ Said the one person who spoke Ingles.
We’d done ‘Small hole’ yesterday. ‘Pintura.’ I said. But didn’t get a response. Oh well. In for a penny, in for a pound. I went back into the living room where Jeff started to speak – I’m assuming to ask me what was going on – when we heard the wall in the office come down. Dust billowed out of the room and the four guys spilled forth.
‘That sounded bigger than painting.’ Jeff calmly observed.
So now, the four have split into two groups. Two of them – including the one who knows the most little bit of English – are here in our apartment on the phone to, I’m going to assume, the Scooter-guy. The other two are up stairs talking to the ones in our apartment through a large hole. Then we heard some repetitive chanting – I’m not kidding.
‘Is that praying?’ Jeff asked me.
Huh? But he was right. It sounded like praying. And it made me realize what we need to do before we tackle a remodel – if that’s the direction we go. We’ll need to get right with God. Because if your contractor is praying while they’re doing the work on your remodel, you’re already in serious trouble.
They left and returned. Jeff opened the front door to let them in. He came back to where I’ve planted myself – waiting for this to be over.
‘Well. They brought a 6 inch pipe back with them on their last adventure outside. It’s a pipe that connects to the toilet upstairs. So this is officially a Shit Show.’
Sadly, I couldn’t agree more.