Right Up My Alley

Neither here, nor there. That is how it feels lately. We have opened, but yet, we are not. And we have no idea when, exactly, that will change. What to do? So I am writing. Starting a new story. It’s what I do when I have gaps in things to do. In this case, it’s gaps in my weeks. Ugh.

But this lull has allowed us to focus on some other things, too. Housekeeping. We have to renew our visas in mid-Sept. Our final time as we are about to become permanent residents. Hard to believe we have been here that long. But our passports expire next March. This is not good timing. Once our visa renewal is filed, which takes 10-14 weeks, best case, from start to getting our new NIE cards, we can not leave the country. This means that Jeff wouldn’t be able to visit his Mom for the rest of the year. Or fly to the US for work. You can’t travel on a passport that has less than 6 months left before it expires. They won’t let you on the plane. So we gathered all the documents, paid the fees online, took new photos, and headed to the Correos office to send them to Madrid. Hopefully, getting the new passports back by end of August. You would think this would be easy. Mailing something to the US Embassy in Madrid. But you would be incorrect.

I swear, every time I mail anything at Correos in Melide they act like they’ve never seen mail before. ‘You want to mail what? Where?’ Jeff went with me. It was a total cluster. It took 45 minutes, after I reached the window as the line snaked out the door, to get two pre-paid envelopes, to write the address on an official Correos envelope, and send it signature required (certified mail). At one point, the Correos woman, who is a nice enough person, licked so many €1 Euro stamps to affix to the outside, you could barely read the address where it is going. And I was a little concerned she might pass out. So who knows if we will be getting our new passports before we have to file for our visa renewal. Or even get our old passports back. I try not to get impatient, but mailing anything here requires a stone tablet and a chisel. Then, a flying dinosaur to send it on it’s way.

On the flip side, our mail lady at our house is the best letter carrier I have ever had in my life. She will do anything for us. If you remember, I watched her hold the ladder for Marie Carmen, who was trimming her fruit trees, while on her delivery rounds. So, perhaps it’s just this particular 900 year old lady, in this particular Correos office, that is a bit off. But I can hardly call her out for being old.

Since we have no water, we have no water. That sounds strange but it helps me remember that whatever I usually use water for will require more effort. And, well, water. Flushing a toilet? Take a bottle of water in with you. Washing fruit? Grab a bottle of water. Our plants are now getting watered with 5L jugs from the grocery story. Luckily, for me, I was invited to use the shower of friends in Santiago, who took pity on a sweaty American, and they invited me to enjoy unlimited warm water in a real bathroom. Not just the joy of Jeff standing over me with a room temperature water jug in the shower. So I made the trek into Santiago to enjoy this glorious occasion, that I have, heretofore, taken for granted my entire life. Never again. I hope they didn’t hear me moaning in the shower as the water hit my hair. Likely, not good guest-showering form. But it felt so good.

On the way into Santiago, I learned my car was nearly out of gas. This caused me to have to detour to find a gas station, which made me a bit late – which I do not like to be. I can only blame Jeff for leaving the car on empty. At the gas station, I was standing in a very long line to pay when I saw the display for cat food. It was then I remembered I needed to get some cat litter for our kitten. So I grabbed a bag on my way to the register. Cat litter here comes in a variety of types of bags. So I wasn’t concerned that it was in plastic. Sadly, I was not wearing my glasses.

After my shower in Santiago, and an amazing lunch in their secret walked oasis of a garden, I made my way back home with my cat litter. It was when I went to change it out that I learned I had not purchased cat litter, but a very large bag of rice. Jeff just laughed. ‘That might work. I mean, we know it’s absorbent. And organic. Or, we could make a bunch of paella. If only we had water.’

So, on top of my next birthday looming large on the horizon at the end of this month, it seems my mental faculties are starting to go, as well. Certainly, my eyesight. If they never get this water running again I know where I am going to apply for my next job. The Correos office in Melide. I’m approaching the right age – only 850. And, even with my terrible español I feel sure I could do the job. Screwing things up, and licking stamp until I’m dizzy? My speciality. These days, that’s right up my alley.

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