Vida en España

For those that know me, or regularly follow this blog site – you know, I love life in Spain, or Vida en España.

In a few days, it will be seven years since we boarded a cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale and set sail across the Atlantic. Crazy, right? Wouldn’t do that today!

So here I am – seven years later. In love with my current adopted country. But like most great love affairs – there is often a hitch. With Spain, that hitch is paperwork and an insane amount of red tape.  The Spanish are infamous for their love of forms and photocopies. Most things must be submitted in double, or triplicate, and stapled together.  This hilarious YouTube video depicts the Spanish red tape perfectly.

Today I registered the boys at the Centro de Salud so they can be called upon for a vaccine. As an ex-pat, I use health insurance and have thus avoided this particular registration. But, the vaccines are only distributed through public health, so the dreaded trip had to be done.

For these not-so-fun, red tape-laden excursions, I bring my incredibly patient and dynamic Spanish friend with me.  If not for her, I think I might’ve been kicked out of the country by now. Te quiero mucho amiga!

It’s not even that my Spanish is that bad. It’s kind’ve mediocre and could definitely be better after seven years.  But the local accent is tricky where we live.  It’s also, the process – and man, the struggle is real. However, my amazing friend smiles and cuts her way through the colloquial Spanish sass like the pro she is.

We started at the Empadronamiento (say that 5 times fast). This is a census office. This form is needed to prove you are registered with the municipality. Taped to the reception, we found this sign:

Office Space in Spain
Another day at the Office

Having breakfast, sorry for the inconvenience.

We could hear the woman who was tucked behind a door frame having a chat with her Mom. So we waited for her to finish. As you do.

She finally came out and was a bit short with us. But my friend was able to charm her after a few calls on her end because the internet was down (of course).  She assured me –  my “padron” form would be sent by email. It actually arrived before we reached the car. Totally shocking! We were on a roll.

Knowing what lay ahead. We stopped at a business centre to get a few copies of that golden email.

Then onto the public health center. Which is exactly as you might picture it. Crowded, chaotic, and hot.

We arrived to find a disoriented elderly man being told off for not wearing a mask. Finally, a clever nurse produced one for him and everyone seemed to relax for a few minutes. We tried to ascertain if we were in the right place to register. But were given abrupt and incomplete answers in rapid and heavily accented Andalusian Spanish. So we waited.

There was a bit of jockeying in the queue. Some people tried to edge us out, but my amiga firmly held our ground.

A little shouting occurred here and there,  but it wasn’t ever directed at us. So far, so good.

Finally, it was our turn. For the three boys –  12 pages were submitted. We were getting off light. We held our breaths as the registrar poured over each page. It was like living in the video above.  After each child was completed, he put a tick on his checklist, and we could start to breathe again.  Mission complete. Phew.

In about a week – they will be officially registered. We won the Spanish red tape war. Or so it seems. Next week will tell the tale. And so goes vida en España. Day by day – poco a poco.

Seriously – annoying bureaucracy aside – I’m so grateful for my experiences in this vibrant and colourful country.  But I’m especially grateful to the friends who helped to keep me here.

Love, Kate. x


Vida en España will become a regular series on Stick around.

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