Previous diary page is here.
Hustled to catch 1300 bus to Sanlucar. Driver drove fast, too. To Sanlucar, bought a couple of bunches of flowers, to sister's house. No sister or niece, just Dora's parents there. Had a nice lunch with them. Talked for a while, but the house is cold, Dora's cough is acting up. Went outside to go to the bus station, and it's warmer outside than in the house. Caught 1610 bus back to Jerez, home by 1715.
Out with Dora at 12:45. Caught 1 PM bus to Arcos de la Frontera. Arrived there around 1:45. Immediately hopped onto a local bus and over near the health center where Dora will be working a 17-hour shift, 3 PM to 8 AM. Into a cafe and had coffees and snacks. Lots of time to kill, loafed and talked.
Out before 3, and Dora headed for work while I headed out to be a tourist. Confusing town, with old town up on cliff-tops, and I'm down low in the unfashionable end of low town. Someone had pointed us to where I could take a bus to the top, so I walked up a bit and found a bus stop. But it's for the wrong line, the "bajo" line instead of the "centro" line. But a guy waiting there assures me the centro bus will come here.
By the time a bus appears, he's gone, and it's the "bajo" bus, and the driver tells me no "centro" bus here, it's a short walk up to the top. So I start walking.
Yes, it's a fairly short walk, but about 120 meters of vertical, and I'm hot and puffing by the time I get to the top. And I'm coming into it from the far end, with no map.
I wander along, finding various plazas I saw mentioned on the internet when I researched this place. I'm here during siesta time, so lots of stuff is closed. And the main basilica has a "closed for repairs" sign on it anyway. Tourist Info is not in the basilica plaza as I thought it was supposed to me.
I stumble across Tourist Info and get a map. Retrace my steps and down to find a scenic overlook on the back side of town, but it's disappointing. Back up and through old town, and eventually emerge out to the proper entrance. My legs are beat by now.
Hard to take pictures in the narrow crowded streets of this town, but long views from the cliff-tops (150 meters high): pics.
Wander down, finally getting to a plaza with a "centro" bus stop by 4:50. But I've missed a bus by 5 minutes. Could wait 25 minutes for next one, and if anything goes wrong I'll miss the Jerez bus at 5:30 (but there's another at 6).
There's a Tourist Info kiosk in the plaza, so I ask directions to the bus station, and get a "down, left, right, it's easy" response. I set off, and get most of the way there on my own, but it's not nearly as easy as said. Arrive at station a few minutes after 5, and sit and doze and listen to my MP3 player.
Bus arrives on time, to Jerez, home by 6:15 or so. Spaghetti for dinner.
The casserole was a success. Dora still feeling tired and sleepy. After a while, we napped. I went out to Mercadona at 4:30.
Then we went out before 5 and to the center; there's supposed to be a parade. No sign of it. We walked and went into a couple of stores, then into a cafe for coffee and churros. Still no sign of parade. Headed home, and near our apartment, at Plaza Las Angustias, police are clearing out parked cars. They say the parade will be here around 9. Home, and I see that the parade route does include this plaza. So I guess the parade started at the other end of town at 5.
I went out at 8:30, and should have gone earlier. Parade in full swing through Plaza Las Angustias, crowds of people, balloons of hippopotamus, gorilla and snake etc, lots of floats with people in costume throwing candy to the crowd. Hard to get any decent pictures: pics. Parade moving fairly slowly. I watched for about 40 minutes, then headed home.
Watched Barca play Atletico on TV. They struggled, as they have all season. Down 2-0 at the half, pulled back to 2-1, got a 2-man advantage with 10 minutes to go, and could manage only a couple of shots on goal even then. Lost 2-1.
I go home, and Dora says she's never cooked a ham, so I look on the internet. Microwave the ham a bit to thaw it. Mix up some oil-garlic-seasoning glop, put it on top. Get it into the oven around 12:40, the recipe says it will cook for 4 hours. Ten minutes later, Dora says her parents and sister and niece have arrived downstairs, go bring them up !
So I go fetch them, and they're hungry. What to do ? I get out the leftover chicken-mushroom casserole from yesterday, we make rice, I make a salad. We have just enough chicken-mushroom for the six of us. Eat around 1:45, and then we all sit around and relax. The pork is starting to look good, and around 2 Dora says she thinks it's at risk of burning, let's take it out. So I turn off the heat and leave it in the oven, I think it's fine.
Around 3, we have a second round of food. The pork is okay (it's really roast pork, not ham), but a little bland. We eat lots of cake, and everyone is satisfied.
They leave around 4:30. I'm glad they came over, we had a nice time. And they left us a lot of nice food-gifts: a bottle of cava, the remainder of the roscon, some roast chicken and fries, a box of pannatone bread.
Still headachey in midafternoon; took a paracetamol-plus. Out to locutorio to recharge Dora's 912 number, then to Mercadona for groceries.
Started doing my Spanish ETE tax form, due the 20th. I made a big omelet for dinner. Dora home at 8:15, had some leftover roast pork for dinner.
Dora messaged that clinic wants her to work into the evening. I'm glad that she's getting more and more hours, and in clinics here in town. But sometimes she isn't too happy about it when she has to get up before 7 to start going to work.
Out to Mercadona for groceries. Spaghetti for dinner. I went out for a long walk in the evening. Dora home before 8.
Out after noon. To Tourist Info office in Plaza Arenal. Work crew outside picking all the oranges off the trees: pic. In the office, asked where there are any movie theaters in this town, and they say there is one, in the big Luz shopping center at the west edge of town. Asked about discotecas, and they came up with only one, Kapote, that I'd already heard about. To Mercadona for groceries.
Home, started cooking chicken soup from scratch, and Dora home suddenly after 2. Had chicken soup over rice, with salad, for dinner. Dora didn't like the chicken soup too much: bland, not enough chicken. But we'll doctor up the leftovers and see if we can make it better.
Out with Dora around 7. Long, slow bus struggling through traffic to Carrefour Norte. In and to the computer section, found a model we wanted, as usual it turns out to be a display model only. And then they couldn't change the password on it, so we'll have to come back in a few days to pay for it and pick it up. HP something, 15-inch screen and full keyboard, 4 GB RAM, 500 GB disk, 1-year warranty, €239 but with 21% IVA will cost about €289.
Bought a printer ink cartridge. Bus back was much faster: much less traffic. Home after 8:30. Hot drinks and pie and ice cream.
Back to the bus stop. Street art: pics. Shortish wait for bus, winding trip back to near home. Into the Centro de Salud to see about Dora getting registered here. She has to go back next week with some photocopies. I need to find an INSS office and get a Social Security number, according to them. Home after 1.
Chicken-soup over rice for dinner. Later Dora not feeling well, crashed for a long nap.
To Sanlucar, windy here, cold walk to sister's house. Sister is working in a clinic in Jerez today, but Dora's parents and niece are here. House is cold, as usual. We have a nice chicken-rice dinner, talk a bit, the niece finally comes downstairs for a little while, then we leave to catch the 4:10 bus back to Jerez.
We get off at the hospital, and barely find the bus stop and start looking at the schedule before the 9 bus is there. Perfect !
To Carrefour Norte, and after they search the back room for a while, we buy our laptop (or at least a box that feels like it has something inside it) and head out. Miss the 9 bus by 3-5 minutes. While we're waiting in the bus shelter, I open the box and confirm that indeed there is a laptop and charger inside.
Home after 6:15, tired and cold. Beef, rice, salad for dinner.
Set up the new laptop. Took off the McAfee and Avast stubs, connected to W-Fi, installed AVG and Malwarebytes. Installed Chrome and Firefox browsers. No problems, everything as advertised.
Headachey; took a paracetamol-plus.
Still headachey in middle of the night; took a Neobrufen.
After noon, we're out. To the National Police office, where they say my residency renewal is still in process (coming up on 4 months in process!), and say the online status will change when a letter is sent. To INSS office, where there's a long line and we don't have a cita, so we don't wait. Backtrack to Centro Salud near National Police, and ask several questions about getting me onto the state healthcare. Get a couple of answers that match what I thought (I can't attach myself to Dora's healthcare), but a couple of key questions still are open: do I have to get a Social Security number (I think only workers can get them) and can I do Convenio Especial while my residency still is being renewed ? Looks like the only way to find out is to fill out the application forms, get citas, try to apply, and see if they reject the applications.
To Mercadona for groceries, then home. A chunk of delicious hot bread from the supermercado to tide us over. Meat-rice-salad for dinner.
Online, tried to get a cita to go to the INSS office, and instead was able to get a Spanish Social Security number assigned to me ! Done, no need to go to the office.
Put together papers to apply for Convenio Especial to get healthcare in the Spanish NHS.
Headache; took a paracetamol-plus. Headache got worse; napped for a couple of hours. Still have headache; took a sumatriptan.
To a nearby cafe for coffees, then home.
Online, downloaded a big TGSS form, but stuck on filling out parts of it. We'll have to go to the office and ask. Got a cita, but it's for 8 days from now. Probably will just walk in tomorrow, wait in line.
Out at 5 for a walk and groceries.
I went out at 11:30 or so. Slightly colder, and a stiff wind cutting right through you, feels very cold. To ATM, then to theater to pick up opera tickets.
At 12:15, walked Dora to her appointment at the employment office, but I didn't stay to wait with her because there was nowhere to sit.
Cold afternoon, even staying inside with heater running most of the time. It's very cold all over Spain today, electricity authority saying this is the highest demand day since 2012.
Online, I see that my residency renewal was marked "resuelto - favorable" yesterday ! Only took 4 months, and now I should get a letter and go for fingerprints and then wait for a new card.
I put together a sort of scalloped-potato-ham-cheese casserole, somewhat winging it. Had a lot of potatoes that need to be used up. Dora didn't like it too much; she doesn't like potatoes.
Watched Barca play Real Sociedad on TV, and they won 1-0. pics. Afterward, to a cafe for coffees.
Headache just before bed. Took a paracetamol-plus in the middle of the night, and a Neobrufen before dawn.
I went out in late afternoon for a walk to the center, then to Mercadona for groceries.
After midnight, again not sleeping well, sinus pain. Took a paracetamol-plus before 6 AM.
Out with Dora at 10:30. Up to INSS office for my appointment there. Figured out the cita system, waited 5 minutes, in to see a lady about Convenio Especial. She didn't know what it was, tried to put me on Dora's insurance, but I already knew that was impossible, we're not married or legal partners. She called over a man, he knew a little about Convenio Especial, said it was not for Americans, but we have to go to TGSS anyway, it's not an INSS thing.
So, off to TGSS on Calle Ancha. On the way, ducked into an open church for a minute, because I've never seen it open before.
No wait at TGSS, in to see a man. Who tried to say it wasn't for Americans, consulted with someone else, then I showed him the royal decree number (576/2013) listed on a Salud form. He printed out the decree, and highlighted a part which says we have to apply at Salud, not TGSS. We've been there already, a week ago, and Salud said I have to get "alta" with INSS or TGSS first, and anyway Convenio Especial is not for Americans. But they're all wrong about that; the decree he just printed shows it's for anyone who is resident, on padron, and not covered by another SS system. I satisfy all three requirements. And the decree says nothing about what country you're from. This man also says you can't apply while your residency card is being renewed, and your padron has to be dated within last 3 months.
To a cafe for coffees. Down to Plaza Angustias, and ducked into a church for a minute, because I've never seen it open before. Then down to Centro de Salud.
No wait, right in to see a lady. Who again tried to say it's not for me, but we showed her the royal decree. Then she said there's no way to pay for it here. I said fine, we'll pay at TGSS or something, once I get on it. Then she said I have to go apply at the central hospital, not here. So I gave up for today, we'll have to go to the central hospital. Went home.
Spaghetti for dinner. Later, found a document online which clarified a lot of the Convenio Especial questions.
Rainy and windy in early evening, then more windy in late evening. Thought of trying to find a bar to watch the Barca game on TV, but not worth going out in this weather, and we still haven't found a good game-watching bar here.
Dora called the hospital for me about Convenio Especial, and the lady who's supposed to be the one who knows about this is not too certain about it. Wants to send us back to INSS, but I think that's for an SS number, which I already have.
Out at 11:30 or so with Dora. Up to the banking area. She stopped at one ATM to update her bankbook. Into another bank to pay the tax man. To a third bank to do something.
Then we went to the National Police office to get my new residency card. Foolishly, I thought I'd just be exchanging old card for new. But no, I have to go pay €18.54 tasa at a bank, come back with 2 photos and a copy of my passport ID page. Picked a cita for 1000 on Monday.
To yet another bank to pay the tasa, and it was slow slow slow. Not a long line, but the first 2 or 3 customers were refinancing the nation debt or something. Finally got to the counter, paid my money, stamp stamp stamp, out of there. Home before 1:15, tired.
Leftover turkey and rice and salad for dinner. Waiting for the gas-refill guy. Out to a print shop to have photos printed for my residency card. Later out to Mercadona for groceries; cold out.
We're supposed to pick up the Sanlucar niece at the bus station at 8. SNAFU. I thought she would be spending the night here at our apartment. At 7:15 or so, we get a call, Dora's father is at the station now. I'm told he's taking the niece back to Sanlucar tonight, they're not staying at our apartment. We get together some stuff for him to take back to Sanlucar, and head to the station. I assumed he came in the car, but no, he came on the bus. And now we're told no one knows when the niece will arrive, she's at a movie with a bunch of other girls and out of contact. I look at the bus schedule, there's no 9 PM bus, father and niece will have to take the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar or spend the night at our apartment. We head to a cafe for chocolates and churros.
I hit an ATM. Back to the station by 8:30 or so. Still no definite word on the niece. We wait in the cold station. By 9:15, I decide there's no point in three of us being cold, and I go home.
Gas-refill guy never came.
Dora home at 9:50. Niece showed up, and father and niece will take the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar.
Out with Dora around 5:30 for a nice long walk down to the Alcazar and up through the center.
Out with Dora after 5:30. Walked about 6 blocks down to Teatro Villamarta for a performance of La Traviata at 6. We didn't realize it was going to take 3.5 hours, but we stuck through it, and it was quite nice. Theater a bit plain compared to the Palau Musica in Barcelona, but then most places are. We had nosebleed seats, top row all the way on one end, and the place was full. Lovely music (Orquesta Filarmonica de Malaga) and singing, great acoustics. Singing in Italian, but an electronic board showing the lyrics in Spanish. I was teary during the death scene at the end. Pics. Home before 9:45.
Back into Extranjeria. Handed everything over. Guy grumbled that I handed over copies of same photo I used 1.5 years ago, but accepted them. Lots of electronic fingerprinting of my index fingers, pressing them, then rolling them, several times. Finally done, but no new card yet. I couldn't quite understand what he was saying, but sounds like we'll get an automated phone call or SMS in a couple of weeks, come pick up the card somewhere. Out and home by 10:30.
Gas-refill man finally came in early afternoon. I went out for a walk with Dora later, then to Mercadona for groceries.
We went out at 8:45 to find a place to watch the Barca - Atletico game on TV. Tried on Porvenir, then over toward Estaciones. Found a decent place near the train station, and the game turned out to be on a channel we get at home ! Watched the first half, had fun cheering as Barca went up 2-0, had drinks and some food. Headed home at halftime. Watched the second half, pretty exciting, Barca won 2-1.
After dinner, out to Mercadona for groceries.
Dora is feeling down because she just can't find a job here. She had some work around the holidays filling in for people on vacation, but now there's nothing.
In the evening, thought of taking Dora out to a movie, but she didn't want to go, and then I got a headache anyway. Took a paracetamol-plus, and later a sumatriptan.
Then I went out at 4. Walked down to the south of town to a Jerez Industrial CF football game at Juventud stadium.
A little confusion at the stadium, since there are two fields next to each other, and two games at same time. Got directed around to the right stadium, but then very confused at the door, and I thought they were directing me all way the back to the first stadium to buy a ticket, and my lousy Spanish language knowledge deserted me entirely. Then I saw that they were directing me to a little hole in the wall, with a little sign above it, and that was the ticket booth. It probably had someone standing in front of it when I walked past. €5 to get in. pics.
In and climbed up to a seat, and the game started right away. A fun game, lots of good play, plenty of shots on goal. Probably 300 people attending, and I did my best to try to help make some noise. Nice stadium, some interesting views of part of the city. Juventud 3-2 at halftime.
Decided it was a degree or two too cold, and breezy, to wait out the halftime and watch the second half, so I left. Uphill walk home. Some nice street art: pics.
Watched Barca play Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey final. A tense game, 1-1 in the final minutes, and Dora kept switching back to watch some of her telenovella. Game ended 1-1, and then she informed me it was the semi-final, not the final, and Barca advances because of the tie.
At 8:45, suddenly power went out, just in our apartment. A couple of breakers flipped, not sure why. Only one heater and TV and laptop and a couple of lights and maybe the fridge were running; not running the washer or microwave or stove or oven or second heater or lots of other lights. Flipped the breakers back on, and all is okay. Replaced batteries in the LED flashlight.
I started putting together a lasagna, but Dora's mother invited us to Sanlucar, so we'll go there instead. So I turned off the burner and put the stuff away.
Out at 12:45, rolling a big suitcase full of stuff. To bus station and caught 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's place, and had dinner (tuna-spaghetti, which I didn't like) with Dora's parents and sister. Waited while Dora talked to them for a while. House is too cold, as usual. Then caught 4:10 bus back to Jerez. Home at 5:15.
Had an interesting internet experience: While editing one of my web pages, I found a spot where I'd accidentally erased some text some unknown time in the past. Fired up my free IDrive backup utility, and found that restores actually do work, but all ten versions of the file going back two months had the problem. I guess free version of IDrive only keeps 10 latest versions of each file ? So I went to the Internet Archive, and found it had taken snapshots of my site about 20 times over the last 4 or 5 years. Went back about 8 months and found a good copy of that missing text, pasted it into lastest version of the page source, problem fixed.
Made a nice chicken-veg-sweetpotato dinner. Out for a walk in late afternoon.
I offered to take Dora out to a restaurant for Valentine's Day, but she's cold and doesn't want to go. So I went out to Mercadona and bought a cheesecake, plus groceries.
Watched some of the Barca - PSG footbal game on TV, while drinking some cream sherry and eating some cheesecake. But Dora kept changing channels to her telenovella. And Barca got clobbered, 4-0.
We caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. The driver backed straight out of the slot, instead of turning, and hit the wall. Otherwise uneventful trip. Walked to sister's house, buying some flowers on the way, and they were a big hit with Dora's mother. Loafed, talked, had some dinner, went for a walk along the beachfront. More loafing, niece came home from school and we had lit candles on birthday cake for Dora's mom. Then off with Dora and her son to the 6:15 bus back to Jerez.
Online, I bought plane and bus tickets for Dora's son to go back to medical school in Slovakia.
Took a sumatriptan after noon. Went for a walk. Cooked spaghetti and salad for dinner. Bought plane tickets to go to Barcelona in April for a football game. Went for a long walk with Dora.
Out to Mercadona for groceries in the evening.
Out with Dora for a walk at 5, but it's cold and very grey and threatening rain.
Watched football on TV, but during one of the times Dora flipped to her telenovella, one of the teams scored 3 goals.
Headache in late evening; took a sumatriptan.
Out at an intermediate stop, called for a taxi, and went to La Abuela restaurant east out of town. Met Dora's parents and sister and niece and son there, for a small birthday celebration for Dora's mother. Nice place, but a bit noisy, and the menu is nothing but meat (well, some potatoes too). Had a nice time, then to sister's house in two shifts of the car.
We thought of taking an early bus back to Jerez, but then they all settled down to watch a Cantinflas video. I watched 15 minutes of it, then went out for a walk. Over to the riverfront, and did a long walk up the beach to the small town of Bonanza. This is where the fishing fleet docks, there's a huge haul-out facility that looks mostly rusted, lots of small fishing skiffs moored or pulled out onto the beach. Walked back along road and then beach, and home by 5:30, feeling tired and having a bit too much sun.
Drove to the station for the 6:15 bus, and it was 15 minutes late. Off at Jerez, stopped at locutorio to recharge Dora's Lebara SIM, home by 7:30 or so. I'm tired.
Wanted to watch Barca game on TV, but too cold for Dora to go out to a bar that would have it live. Game was supposed to be repeated on our TV at 10:00, but they changed that to 10:45, and then only showed highlights. Since they repeated every play 8 times, that took 25 minutes.
Slow-motion train wreck: finding that Dora has been carrying fairly large balances on 3 credit cards (probably mostly from her Las Vegas - California trip last year), and not paying a fine from the Barcelona Metro last year. So about €2000 to pay to zero out the credit cards. Or less to pay, just to stop the huge bleeding from the interest payments and penalties for not paying anything at all each month.
On closer inspection, one of the credit cards has a zero balance, not €300 as we thought.
So, out with Dora. To my ATM to get a chunk of cash. Across the street into Caixa to pay the Barcelona Metro fine, and also a Barcelona apartment water bill. Also paid off half (€200) of a 4th credit card that I didn't know about. Also found out she has a couple of loans at other banks with balances totalling around €8000. I sort of knew about those, tried to get details out of her long ago, never got a straight story, she was afraid to tell me.
Long walk through center of town to another bank, and canceled €200/month life-insurance that Dora signed up for just a couple of months ago (I didn't know about that).
Back home, and made a chart for Dora to fill out, showing all the cards and loans and their balances and interest rates etc. She started calling banks.
So, we figured out where to start. Pay off one card that has a €1000 balance and a 53% (!) annual interest rate. Put enough money in her accounts so the monthly payments of the other cards and loans don't bounce, incurring penalties. Fortunately her biggest loan has an interest rate of only 8.3%, so we can let that one go for a while. And we're about to get rid of the Barcelona apartment, so that will kill another set of payments.
Wondered if she should file for bankruptcy, but doing that probably would take a year or more and cost as much as just paying off her debts. If the bank wasn't completely wiping out the mortgage on the Barcelona apartment, bankruptcy would have been a better avenue.
She still has a lot of medical professional fees and insurance she has to pay each month, even though she has no job. Some of those fees are in arrears.
In early evening, Dora feeling lousy, she took a pill and we crashed for a couple of hours.
Dora's son arrived at 7. Around 8, I went out to train station, and then to Mercadona for groceries.
Trip to Barcelona:
Out at 12:40, to train station, bought tickets to go to airport. A little confusion figuring out which platform, but we have extra time. Onto train, off at airport, no line at check-in. No line at Security either, but they have a stupid setup where you have to carry multiple trays of your stuff across a room, hard to do when you have 3 or more trays.
To gate area, and wait. Find that my phone battery is nearly dead; apparently the charger has died.
Onto the plane, I'm in a middle seat, and my knees are jammed against the seat back in front. But after the door closes, the lady next to me moves back one row, the guy in front of me moves sideways, and we get him to put the seat back up to normal. Now I have a little room.
Uneventful flight, but all clouds and haze, so can't see anything of Spain out the window. Dora is a bit sad, since we're going to clear out and vacate an apartment she owned and lived in for 10 years, and she likes Barcelona. But it has to be done, and we're committed now anyway.
Land and off the plane by 4. Bathrooms, get bags, shuttle bus to other terminal, and I can see the train is already in the terminal, which means we're going to miss it. We waste no time, get over to the train area, and they've changed the ticket machines, can't figure out how to buy T-10 cards. Lose a minute floundering around and buying the cards at the window, and miss the train by 1 minute.
Half-hour wait. Onto train, comfortable but longish ride to Sant Andreu Comtal, Metro to F-i-P, walk to apartment. In by 6:10 or so, tired.
As usual, Dora's son left the place with the security persianas open, and the stove a mess, but the rest looks okay. Food in the refrigerator and kitchen looks edible, so we don't need to buy much. Lots of cookies and candies lying around, so her son has been bad.
My phone charger is working again. Maybe something just wasn't plugged in firmly enough.
Started cleaning the kitchen and getting set. Dora started a load of laundry. Started making some tea. Then Dora said tonight is the night a truck comes around to pick up large garbage/used items, so I start hauling stuff down through the elevator and out to the curb. Hauled down two small bedstannd cabinets, one large cabinet (a bit of a pain), a heavy bookshelf-thing, a bigger but lighter set of shelves, two chairs, and an exercise machine (useless as designed, missing a part or two, and Dora paid a fortune for it).
For dinner, we ate some of the "lasagna" her son left (it's really more of a ham-chicken casserole with a lot of flour or something in it). It didn't kill us. Later had some cheescake that was very heavy but nice. Opened an ancient bottle of wine that turned out to be fairly dead; dumped it down the drain.
Around 11, heard the municipal truck pick up the stuff I hauled down to the street, minus several items that other people grabbed earlier.
Slept well; the bed here is bigger than the one in Jerez, and I think the mattress is better.
Out with Dora around 1. Dropped more stuff next to the bins, then across the street to one of her banks and paid off almost all of her 53% credit card balance. Have to check back tomorrow and pay the last bit; their monthly interest calculation and billing is on the 23rd.
To library at 4:30 to do Wi-Fi. Back home around 6:45.
Out with Dora at 7:30. Took books to bins, recharged her Lebara SIM, then a nice walk up and down F-i-P.
Out again at 8:15 and took a load of clothes to the orange donation bin in Placa Soler.
More loads of stuff to the bins in the afternoon. Water came back on at 1:30. To library by 4:30, stopping to put more clothes in orange donation bin. Online, found that Carnaval here in Barcelona is starting today, at 6 PM. Home by 7, tired. Back aching, took a Neobrufen. Dora's son has arrived from Jerez.
Out for a walk with Dora before 11. Back home, opened the master bed, and it's FULL of clothes. I expected half-full. Made a big pile on the floor, for Dora to work on.
Weather getting darker and greyer. Around 3:15, a big children's costume parade erupted from the nearby schools and headed up Piferrer toward F-i-P. I had to confiscate the TV remote-control to get Dora to work at throwing out clothes and books.
To library by 5. Back home by 7:15. Immediately out with Dora to the clothing donation box with a lot of stuff. Back home, and soon right back out with a smaller load. Then Dora declared enough for today. She's sad that we're throwing away all of her stuff. But we're throwing away clothes and books that she hasn't touched in 5 years or more.
Out with Dora at 10 or so, to have a little walk and go to a cafe, and to vacate the apartment so her son and friend can get ready to go to a Carnaval party. We ended up in a firly expensive restaurant on F-i-P have coffees and quite nice big slices of cake. Back to apartment after 11, and friend still is there. We went to bed.
Wandered down La Rambla, sitting for a little while, looking around. Into a church that we've never been in before. Left onto Ferran. Street art: pics. Peeked into Placa Reial, into another church we've never visited before (pics), up to Placa Jaume. Into the cathedral cloisters, then around to the front door and into the cathedral for a while. Out, listened to a couple of guitar players for a moment, then up the side of the cathedral. To the Jaume I metro area, into a cafe, but no one came to serve us while we sat for 10 minutes and took turns using the bathrooms. So out, across Laetana, down Princessa. Into a cafe for coffees and a small sandwich.
To Born CC to look at the Roman ruins and the building. Over into Parc Ciutadella, to the fountain area (pics). Up to Arc de Triomf, and then to the metro station and home by 1:30 or so.
It turns out the "party" was her son's friends coming to grab any stuff they wanted that we're getting rid of. I didn't know this, Dora did. They took a few things I had been planning to take to Jerez, but nothing important. They took both TV sets and many dishes, which is fine, less for us to remove, but now no TV for the next 3 days.
To library by 3:30, forgetting that they don't open until 4 today. Waited outside. Did internet. Home by 5:45. Weather getting colder.
Out after 6 with Dora. Dumped some garbage, then looked for the Carnaval parade. It's looping around us. Over to F-i-P, and caught the head of it. A fast-moving parade in a narrow street, and my camera battery is dying, so I got only one semi-decent picture: pic.
To pharmacy, and I waited outside as Dora bought a huge batch of medicines, some for her son to take to school, the rest for us to take to Jerez. Dumped them at home, then off to Placa Soller to see the festivities at the end of the parade. Lots of cute kids in costumes. But it's dark and cold, no music playing yet from the bandstand. We wandered around for 15 minutes, then left. Tried to go to ATM, but it's out of service. To Dia for a couple of groceries.
No TV, so we watched some videos on my laptop. Now Dora wants to do that a lot in Jerez, since we don't have cable TV there. I think she already watches too much TV.
In midafternoon, pulled out a bunch of stuff for son's friends to come and get, then Dora and I went out at 4. To Heron City Center and found a nice cafe to watch the Copa del Rey final, Barca vs Atletico Madrid, on TV. I had a nice Boch Damm beer, and Barca won a good game 2-1. Headed home through chilly weather, stopping at farmacia to pick up a few more medicines. Son's friends didn't come, so we put the mattress and washing machine back in place.
In the evening, Dora commandeered my laptop to watch a video and then some TV news. Then I pushed her into throwing away books, and I took a load to the bins. Then another. Before midnight, two carts of clothing to the donation bin.
Dora off to put some cash into an account to pay credit cards.
Taped up two boxes and trundled them to Correos at Corte Ingles, in two trips. No lines, but on second trip I got stuck behind a lady who was sending 25 hand-addressed packages.
Waiting for courier to pick up boxes for Dora's son, but their system is down, pickup tomorrow from a different address, his friends will have to come pick up the boxes from here tonight.
Dora watching more telenovellas through the laptop. Have to keep tearng her away to do more work. I took a load of clothes to the donation box, garbage to the bins, went to have one last conversation with my friend in the ferreteria.
After 8, Dora's son's friends finally showed up and we got rid of his two boxes and some other stuff. A relief.
Looking at the legal papers to be signed tomorrow morning when we hand over the keys, and of course they've managed to get the apartment's address wrong, differently, on both of the documents.
Out with Dora to a locutorio and to Dia for a couple of items. Then more cleaning and throwing away, while Dora watches telenovellas.
We went out around 11 to dump garbage and then go for a walk. Lovely still night, just slightly cool. Back home, and more telenovellas.
Headache: took a sumatriptan.
Gestor for mortgage company shows up around 8:30, and talks on phone to someone about fixing the documents. It turns out we should have started cancelling the utilities days or a week ago, but no help for it now. We zip up our suitcases and move them out into the hall. Gestor starts inspecting everything, so we can leave.
A locksmith shows up just before 9, and suddenly we're handing over keys to the lawyer, and leaving. Down to street by 9:02. Great !
Debate how to go to airport, and settle on Metro to Placa Catalunya and then Aerobus. Walk to F-i-P Metro, trundling two heavy suitcases and one small one, and me carrying my heavy computer bag.
Then a panic: Dora can't find her DNI, her national ID card, which she'll need to get onto the plane. And she's blaming me: I got it from her to go mail the boxes yesterday, and gave it back to her, but just the act of taking it out of its normal place was enough to mean it's not there today, we can't find it.
Onto a totally-packed Metro train. Why is it jammed at this hour ? Dora searches her wallets and purse again, and I look in them too.
We get out at Placa Catalunya, and I want to search everything for the DNI, but Dora says go to the airport, there is a police station there where she can deal with it.
So, onto the Aerobus. A little more searching for the DNI as we ride, but then Dora is calling Endesa to cancel the electricity in the apartment.
To the airport by 10:15 or so, and of course the police station is all the way at the furthest back corner of it. We go in, fortunately no line, Dora starts talking to the officer at the counter. I start searching suitcases.
Fortunately, the second place I look, I find a bunch of papers, and buried in them is Dora's DNI !
To check-in line, which is huge but moving steadily. My residency card is expired, and the agent catches it. But I have the paper saying it's being renewed, and the paper is valid as legal ID. So we're in. (I have my passport, too, as a backup.)
To Security, also huge line but moving fast. Through, and our gate is at the farthest end of the terminal. Hit the bathrooms, eat a power-bar, sit, have a drink of water.
Onto the flight, which is completely full. And some guy is sitting in my seat, but the flight attendant straightens that out, the guy is supposed to be in 8F, not 8A.
Uneventful flight to Jerez. Some nice views, but a lot of cloud, and I miss seeing Gibraltar.
Wait a little for baggage, out to the curb area, and find there is a gap of an hour and 40 minutes to the next train or bus. So we get in line for taxi. At first, it looks futile, no taxis at all. But one comes, and soon 3 more in quick succession, and we're in. Ride home costs $20.
Home by 2:40. All okay in the apartment.
Out at 8 to try to buy groceries, but Mercadona is closed, as I thought it might be. Today is a holiday here, Andalucia Day.
To two banks and an ATM for Dora to do things. To Carrefour for a couple of groceries, then the Bazaar to buy a cheap landline phone. Home at 2.
Dinner. Later out to Mercadona for groceries. Did a load of laundry.
Barca game at 7:30. Wasn't sure if it would be on normal TV, and the Gol channel teased us with picture until the actual start of the game, then they switched to something else. So we headed for the door, but the downstairs buzzer sounded. Dora wanted to ignore it, but I had her answer, and it turned out to be Correos delivering our two boxes shipped from Barcelona ! Saved me having to buy a handcart and make two trips to the post office. And they came fast.
Out the door, over to the estaciones, and to the same cafe where we watched some Barca before. The place was empty, and we watched the last 30 minutes of the first half, drinking coffees and me eating a huge felafel (nice but a little bland). Barca up 3-1 at the half, and we went home. [Saw later, they won 6-1.]
Around 11:30, to BBVA bank, which is jammed, lines of people. I got cash out of the ATM, gave some to Dora, left her to pay a tax bill and something else, went back home. Stopped in Hiper Number One to buy a lightbulb, but they don't carry any.
Dora still out at bank, far longer than I expected. Apartment owners came at 12:45 to pick up mail and TV and stereo and pillows.
I went out before 1, to Mercadona for groceries. Dora home when I got back; she had to wait an eternity in the bank. Water still shut off. Spaghetti and salad for dinner.
Water didn't come on until around 6.
Out with Dora at 6:15, to bazaar to buy a lightbulb, and for a walk. Cool and breezy.
Online, did some work on my Spanish foreign assets declaration (form 720).
I want to go to Cadiz for Carnaval this evening, but the weather may prevent it. Sunnier by 3, but cool and windy. Before 4, decided not to go. Thunder at 4:40.
Out with Dora at 6:30, for a little walk and to the bazaar. Exchanged the telephone for another one; the first doesn't send tone if you press a key during a call. Also bought an HDMI cable so we can watch movies from laptop on TV.
Got the HDMI from Dora's laptop to TV working pretty easily, but my laptop fought me. I think the connector is a bit rusty; eventually got connectivity.
So we watched a video of the original Star Wars movie; Dora hasn't seen it. Then on TV we watched highlights of the Barca and Real Madrid football games.
Dragged Dora out for a long walk around 4, up north and over and then down into the center. Lovely sunny weather. Stands being put up for a parade. Sat in a cafe near some dodgy guys and had coffees, and watched people walking by. Some loud guy shouting across the plaza in another cafe, and street-cart vendors arguing about something. Some kind of first communion or something going on in the church at Plaza Esteve. Home after 5:30.
Headachey late at night; took acetaminophen.
Around 4:30, I went for a lovely long walk down to the SE of the train station, an area I've never seen before. Lovely weather, pleasant walk, found a nice park, got some good exercise.
Out with Dora before 8:45, to a bar near the train station to watch the Napoli - Real Madrid game on TV. Had coffees and watched the first half. Then to train station to check price of train to Sevilla; I want to do some touristing there.
I went out again after 11 for a walk into the center. Lovely still clear warmish evening.
Didn't sleep well.
Followed signs to Tourist Info at the waterfront Castillo. Got nice maps, paid €4 for admission to the Castillo, but all the exhibits and video are a bit lame. The subject is terrific: Columbus departed from here on at least one voyage to the New World, maybe all of them.
Out and found a cafe. Service and food were a bit slow. I look at the paper we got from Tourist Info, and Dora confirms that the guy said the same thing: the two churches I want to see both are closed for the afternoon now, no chance of getting into them.
Food was a bit disappointing: salad and a shrimp-tortilla and garlic-chicken and limp french fries. Pic.
Out, found the Parroqueria, which looks nice from the outside. Around to the waterfront again, past the castillo, down to the lighthouse. Dora is starting to wilt; it's hot and sunny and she doesn't like to get a lot of sun. We walk halfway down to the cathedral, but Dora has had enough, and we turn and head for the bus station, walking mostly in shade. Street art: pics.
Catch the 3:30 bus, get off in Sanlucar, walk to sister's house. Have a little drink and snack, Dora chats with her mom and sister, but we're tired and a patient is coming soon, so we're sort of stuck in the kitchen.
Into the car at 5:30, to the bus station, niece arrives on school bus, we say hi. Dora's father and her niece go home, Dora and I wait for 6:15 bus.
Hot bus ride home, feeling headachey. Stop at locutorio again to see why her phone charge doesn't seem to have worked. Home a bit after 7. Took acetaminophen.
We're too tired to go out to a bar and watch some of the Barca - PSG Champion's league game at 8:45. Too bad; it was a scorcher of a game, Barca needed to win by 5 to advance, since they previously lost to PSG 0-4, and they won 6-1. Watched the highlights on TV at 11. pic ?
Watched "Casablanca" on video; Dora's never seen it.
Took down the Christmas tree; sad.
Out for a nice walk with Dora in the early evening, to the center. To a used-book store and bought a book. To the bazaar and bought a caulk gun and some caulk. Saw this on the side of the Post Office building, at first didn't realize what it is: pic.
Got home, caulked the main shower glass where it's leaking.
Watched "The Wizard of Oz" on video; Dora's never seen it.
In late afternoon, out with Dora for a walk and stop at a cafe for coffees. Gorgeous sunny warm weather.
In the evening, filed my 720 tax form online. Dora watching a video I'm not interested in. I went out for a brief very late walk; lovely outside, warm, still, full moon.
I went for a walk along the beachfront. Street art: pic.
Back home, and joined Dora for an hour or so of helping the niece with her English homework. Out to the beach with Dora and niece for a quick walk, and by now it's very windy on the beach. Then home, into car, and to the bus station. Almost-full bus, and 10 minutes late. Home by 7:20 or so, a little tired. Weather starting to turn cooler again.
Watched "Raiders of the Lost Ark" on video; Dora's never seen it.
In the evening, watched Monty Python's "Life of Brian" on video, further bemusing Dora with my taste in movies.
Taxi to a medical office, where Dora got a certificate. Then a longish walk home. Lovely sunny day, just slightly cool and breezy.
Headache in the evening; took acetaminophen.
To Mercadona for groceries.
Dora gave me a muscle-relaxant, and maybe it helped. Slept well.
Ambulance service Dora interviewed wants to hire her, after some checking, and not starting until April. And of course this will put a kink in our planned trip to Barcelona in last week of April.
In the grey evening, out for a walk with Dora. Bought a cake-pan.
Started working on baking a cake, found we have no measuring cups or spoons. And found we have only no real mixing bowls, and each of the first three steps of the recipe start with "in another mixing bowl, ...". And what I thought was baking soda is something like another version of baking powder. Worked past all of that, kicked Dora out of the kitchen each time she came in and started telling me all the things I was doing wrong. It's a layer cake with cream filling, and we bought only one cake pan, so had to improvise past that too. Two pans into the oven. Made filling and frosting while they baked. Ran a little short of butter. Pans came out of oven looking okay. Don't have any wire racks for cooling them; tough.
Now Dora says let's wait and serve the cake to her parents and niece if/when they come here on Saturday. But later, she said she meant save SOME of it for them.
After a while, I lathered the cream filling over top of the bottom (square) layer, put the top (round) layer on top, and poured frosting on top. A very odd-looking cake, but there it is: pic.
Switched to new gas bottle.
Still struggling to get a handle on Dora's financial situation. Her professional medical insurance makes no sense to me, she has to make some calls and figure it out. And in early evening, she found she has another debt we didn't know about at one of her banks.
Around 5:30, Dora went out, to go to a gestor's office we saw, in hope of getting financial and insurance advice. But soon she called and said they don't do that, they said she should go to an asesoria. So I went down and met her on the street, and we went walking into the center, looking for asesorias. We stopped and talked about insurance for a while, then she called someone in Barcelona, and they said she should go to the govt TGSS office, so we'll do that on Monday. More walking and looking at offices, then eventually home.
Dora's parents, niece and sister arrived around 2. Her mother brought a big pot of rice with meat, and Dora cooked some pork, and I made a salad. We ate, then spent some time doing an English lesson with the niece. Then I served the cake I baked, which was a bit heavy but tasted good. Then I showed them a lot of their family photos that I'd digitized, which they enjoyed very much. They left around 6:30.
I went walking into the center, and saw something fascinating in Plaza Arenal: practicing for the "carrying the virgin" parade. A bunch of beefy guys very slowly carrying a big rectangular frame. In the parade, there will be a statue on top and various curtains down the sides, but today they have the framework open and some cement blocks on top. It looked like hard work. They're packed in down there, walking very carefully, toes just about touching heel of guy ahead on each small stride, everything coordinated. And it's a long parade, at that speed. A couple of the guys were sweating and grimacing from the effort.
Out for a late-evening walk with Dora. We're talking about her pension/insurance situation, it makes no sense to me, she may have wasted many thousands of euros, she has a past-due bill of another 1500, it's making me upset. She has to get professional advice.
Home, and we watched "Cars" on video; got about halfway through before we ran out of energy and interest.
Didn't sleep so well.
To bus station and caught 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Still have headache; took a sumatriptan. To sister's house, buying flowers along the way. Sister not here, and I brought my laptop so I could scan some photographs for her, but they're in cabinets buried under stuff, so I guess hauling the laptop here was a waste.
Had a nice dinner, with a little toast of cava in honor of Father's Day. Then sat the niece down to go over her English lessons, and found that the sister had accidentally taken most of the school materials to work with her. Connected to the ebook site through Dora's phone and started going through the same book we did yesterday. When we finished that and they started in on math, I went for a short walk on the beach. Back to apartment, did some watercoloring with the niece, then it was time to leave. Car to the 6:15 bus, which was 5 or 10 minutes late, home by 7:20. Tired.
Before bed, took a melatonin-zinc pill. Slept well.
Home to pick up papers, then out again. I went to the ATM and got cash, handed most of it to Dora, and she paid the insurance (with the cash and what was in her account). Home again, tired but a bit relieved about the situation.
Out for a walk in early evening; weather turning cooler.
Online, started working on my US income tax return.
Before bed, took a melatonin pill. Slept pretty well.
Gave myself a haircut, and had a disaster. Was distracted, forgot to put the spacer-thing onto the clipper, and the first stroke shaved a nice bald streak on the right side of my head, behind and above the ear. Put the spacer on and tried to hide the damage by cutting the rest of my hair very short, but it's a pretty glaring error. Dora will scream when she sees it. Pic.
Spaghetti for dinner. Out for an early-evening walk; a baseball cap hides my haircut. Weather a bit grey and cold.
Soon we crashed to sleep, Dora because she was up all night, me because of my headache. I got up, took a sumatriptan, back to bed.
In late afternoon, Dora got a message from work that she's on contract now (don't have to wait until April, she's getting paid, etc). Terrific ! But she's not thrilled at the prospect of eight 24-hour shifts per month. The work was pretty constant in this last shift, and apparently they didn't even give her solid breaks for sleep or eating, which doesn't sound legal to me. And we'll have to see if she can schedule her shifts to let her travel to Barcelona in last week of April as planned (and ticketed).
Out in late afternoon to walk around the center and get groceries in Carrefour. Out again at 11:30 for a brief late-night walk.
To the bus station and caught the 11:45 bus to Algeciras. €10.76 one-way for each of us, a lot more expensive than I expected. But it's a long ride. Dora nodding off, I watched the slightly interesting countryside. Dark grey clouds, fair amount of rain as we neared Algeciras, and I forgot to bring an umbrella.
To the ferry port by 1, and to the final terminal by 1:15 or so. Cold and wet but no rain. Dora shivering; she's wearing a lab coat, and it's not thick enough. A few glimpses of Gibraltar, across the bay. Went a couple of blocks to Tourist Info, only to find it closed for renovations. Back past the bus terminal and up into the center, looking for the medical clinic Dora is going to, and looking for a restaurant. All the interesting Middle Eastern places were back by Tourist Info, and all the places up here are either closed now or closed permanently. Place looks half-empty.
But up past the clinic, there's more life, and we go into a cafe. Coffees warm us up, then plenty of hot food. Coffee, two courses, and dessert for €5 each, and we sit and relax.
Out before 3, head toward the clinic for our 3 PM meeting, then Dora's sister calls and says it's pushed back until 4. So we find a mall, but it turns out to be an outdoor mall. Into a cafe, sit and have coffees, not a bad place. Sister calls at 3:30, says she's here at the clinic, where are we ? So we go there, I settle down in the waiting room, Dora joins her sister in the examining room.
I sit and listen to MP3's and do driver's-license practice tests on my phone.
By 6:15 or so, they're done, and we trundle a machine and various other stuff to a side door, wait for the truck and driver. Only 3 seats for the 4 of us, so Dora's sister lies down in the back. Everything loaded and we head out after 6:30. Cold and raining now.
Onto the highway, but soon we're pulling off at a rest stop because Dora's sister is starving. Into the cafeteria, and we have coffees while she has Coke and a big sandwich.
Back into the truck, getting dark now, up to Jerez. Dropped off near our apartment. Home at 8:35, tired but hyped by 3 coffees I had from 3 to 8 today.
Caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Rained hard halfway there, but not raining when we arrived. To sister's house, and had dinner with Dora's parents and niece. Then spent a couple of hours teaching the niece lessons in English. Weather still cool and grey, and it's cool inside the house.
At 6, Dora and her father and the niece and I walked to the bus station (car is in the shop). Caught the 6:15 bus to Jerez. A little rain as we neared Jerez, but we didn't get rained on as we walked to our apartment. Home by 7:15.
Turned the heater on, put out drink and fruit, and connected up my computer to the TV so I could play videos. Played two whole movies on video, and the niece wanted more, but I wanted my computer back, it's getting late, and Dora wants to go over lessons with the niece.
Dinner, loafing, eventually a nap, then I went out for a walk at 6:30. Cool but not cold, grey, but a strong wind whipping around at times. Went into a couple of small shops looking to buy a bottle of alcohol, but mostly they have just big-name whisky and rum, and anything at all Spanish that I might have been interested in was double the price I can find it in the supermarkets (which aren't open today).
Windy and rainy evening. Watched "Chicken Run" on video. Most of the WWII POW-camp references were lost on Dora; she hasn't seen "The Great Escape".
Last night, I ordered something from UK, hoping it might arrive in time for niece's birthday on April 12. Happy to see an email this morning that says it's shipped already, DHL Global Mail. Then saw estimated delivery date of April 25th !
Online, finished my US income tax returns. Cost $60 using TaxAct. Ended up paying about $1600 of income tax this year, because of money from my mother's estate. Usually my income tax is near zero.
Out in early evening, for a walk and to Carrefour for groceries. Cool, but not as cold as I thought, and no wind.
Out in the evening for a walk with Dora. To photo shop and had some photos printed. To ATM for cash. Roundabout walk ending up in Plaza Arenal, and had coffees and an ice cream; very nice. Into shops looking to buy a comforter, but bought a couple other items. Lovely warm weather.
After 8, we went out again, Dora to bank and store, me to Mercadona for groceries.
Out for a walk at 11:30; gorgeous, still, slightly cool evening.
Out at Sevilla's San Bernardo station, and a longish walk to the Peruvian consulate. Someone tried to give us wrong directions near the end, but I stuck to my map and it was right. In at 10:45 and relieved to find no line, Dora goes right to the counter and gets going.
I wait, and eventually she's out, and saying the photos I did for her are the wrong size, we have to go to a copy shop, and also to a bank to pay another fee. Moderately long walk up past the university to an area with shops. Takes a while to get the photos done, then another longish walk to her bank, a very long wait there. Back down and around and down to the consulate by 12:15 or so. Relieved to find no line again, she's right in. A long wait. The photos still are wrong, the background is not white. She comes out, we hit the bathrooms, I think we're off to the copy shop again, but then she's back in. More waiting, eventually she's out, and they decided she didn't need photos after all, they took her fingerprints, etc. She's renewed her passport and DNI and ordered a criminal record check, but we'll have to come back in 3 or 4 weeks to pick everything up. And later she tells me that her parents and son all have expired Peruvian passports etc, so they'll all have to do this at some point too !
Back up the shop area, and we're dragging from heat and sun and lack of water and food. To a nice outdoor cafe, good to get sodas and bread and order food. First course comes out, paella and salmejor, and we start eating. Then two large groups of people plop down right next to us, grab our extra chairs, start talking loudly, and half of them are smoking. Throws a pall over the rest of the meal. But there's lots of fun people-watching: we're on a main street in front of the university, tons of people walking or biking by, trams going by.
Up at 3 or so, and wander back a couple of blocks to go to the Alcazar. We're tired and the sun is fierce, and we didn't bring hats or sunblock. Get to the Alcazar and there's a long line, so we give up. A few random pictures: pics.
Walk to bus station, but we've missed a bus by 10 minutes or less, and there's a 90-minute gap to next one. Use the bathrooms, walk to train station, navigating some odd intersections. Buy a large bottle of cold water for €0.70 and start drinking it; lovely. Into train station, huge bank of 6 ticket machines, but they don't sell the tickets we need, we have to buy those at the counter. Buy tickets, soon downstairs, short wait for train, on.
Not a cheap day: €44 for train tickets, €20 for lunch, probably about €100 for fees etc for the Peruvian paperwork.
I'm headachey; take a Dolocatil. We doze and drink water all the way to Jerez. Off train, walk. Home at 5, tired and footsore.
I crash for a nap for an hour or so. Loaf in the evening, feeling tired. Acetaminophen and then to bed by 10:30.
Turns out Dora's sister is in Barcelona taking a class, and would like us to spend all weekend teaching her daughter her English and science etc lessons.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out with Dora around 6. To a couple of shops, bought a big comforter for one of the spare beds, home. Found out her father and niece are coming on the bus. Out again, to mobile shop to recharge Dora's Lobara SIM, then walked toward the center. Unplanned stop in a shop, bought a big pillow for our bed, home again. Headed for the bus station, and met Dora's father and niece coming toward us. Home with them.
Headachey; took a Dolocatil.
Dora taught the niece some English, then I took a turn, then we took a break to watch TV and video. I dashed out to Mercadona to buy a few things before they closed.
Out at 10:15 or so for a long walk with Dora's father. Found a couple of churches open, and we went in them for a while. Through the central market, Plaza Arenal, then around the Alcazar and eventually home by 11:30. Nice.
Dora and then me teaching the niece until dinner time. After that, she rebelled and refused to do any more schoolwork.
Walked them to the bus station and they caught the 5 PM bus back to Sanlucar. Dora and I stopped home for a while, then out for a walk to the center and hit a couple of ATMs, shopped for eyeglasses for Dora.
I caught the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar, which was almost full. Walked to sister's house, buying flowers on the way, got there at 11:45. Everyone's up but slow-moving.
Started teaching the niece some English around noon. But she'll only stand for 5 or 10 minutes of schoolwork, then she runs away or wants to play in the front patio. Did that cycle a couple of times, then dinner, then she wanted to do some bead-and-weaving jewelry. Taught her a few more times, more playing, finally she rebelled after 4 and disappeared upstairs to watch a video. Message and phone call from Dora, saying she just found out there's an ebook on the internet the niece needs to read and learn for tomorrow's school. But I have no Wi-Fi here. Dora wants me to take sister's laptop to a hotel bar and do a drink and Wi-Fi there, but I'm not up for it, and my bus leaves in 90 minutes anyway.
I leave the house after 5; no point in staying longer. I walk on the malecon, the beachfront promenade, which is fun. But it's very sunny and pretty windy, and I'm tired. To the bus station by 6, wait for my 6:15 bus, but it doesn't come until 6:30. Home by 7:15, tired.
Later, headachey; took a Dolacatil, to bed a little early.
Still headache after 2 AM; took a sumatriptan.
Out around noon with Dora. Down to the taxi rank and took a cab to the padron office. In and waited only a minute before we were served. Then updated my padron with new reseidency card, and got a new 3-month-valid paper for me. Also got Dora back onto the padron here, from Barcelona. Took quite a while, but no cost.
Over to the hospital, but no taxis there. Called one and it came and took us to Deutschebank. I waited while Dora paid rents, then she went to Caixa ATM, then BBVA ATM, then counter inside Popular. Stopped in a couple of eyeglass places, then post office, then home after 2:15.
Out at 7 or so, for a walk. To bazaar and bought envelopes. Through Plaza Arenal, and there was some anti-corporate demonstration going on. To Mercadona for groceries. Lovely warm evening.
Out at 10:15 or so. A little trouble finding the bus stop I wanted, but then onto the 10 bus before 10:30. To the general hospital. Out and found the registry reception desk with no problem. Waited a couple of minutes, handed Convenio Especial application form to the receptionist guy, he showed it to one lady, then gave it to another lady and waved me to her desk.
I speak little Spanish, she apparently spoke no English. But my documents spoke for themselves, at least at first. A few difficulties with the Social Security number; she says I'm not in their system, but my document proves I'm in the master INSS system. More difficulties with documenting that I've been resident for more than a year, since no govt document really certifies that, and my time has been split between Barcelona and here. But I pulled up a Barcelona padron-application document that was stamped and seemed to satisfy her. She went into the back room a couple of times to consult with someone, made copies, was working from a handwritten set of instructions. But eventually she said something like "the application will be sent to Sevilla, you'll hear from them, if approved you'll pay €60 per month". She stamped a document showing that I'd applied, and gave it to me. I thanked her very much and was out after 11:30.
No problem finding the right bus stop, waited 5+ minutes, onto the 10 bus. Into the center, where it parked for a while before looping back out. So I jumped off when it parked, and started walking. Hit an ATM. To Plaza Arenal. Headed home. Stopped at the bus system office to recharge my card, but there's a long line. Home by 12:30.
Cooked spaghetti for dinner, then found a puddle of water in the middle of the kitchen floor. Something under the kitchen sink is leaking. Mopped it up several times, fiddled with the pipes under there, may have slowed it down. Finally got smart and put a pot under it to catch the water. Don't want to ring the alarms with Dora and the owner and a plumber until I see if it's been reduced to a drip. After another 20 minutes or so, I think it's minimal.
Online, did my US FBAR tax filing.
But then she was back at 10:35 ! She got to work and the job had been given to another group, so she's back home and back on-call.
After noon, I went to Mercadona for groceries.
Call from the health administration, they want more documents. I found a way to order one online, but the Barcelona govt site wants a specific version of Java, and refuses to agree that I have that version installed, no matter how many times I install the update. And it only works in IE browser. Eventually I give up on the computer and do a postal-mail form.
And it turns out that, despite me telling her N times to ship the filing system box of documents and bills from Barcelona to Jerez, instead Dora threw them away. Including some of her old govt documents which might solve my problem today.
Tried to fix the leak under the kitchen sink, but when I took off the hose, I couldn't find any problem with it. Maybe the leak is in the joint. Put the hose back on, and the leak is worse. Time to call the owner and let him send someone to deal with it.
Out at 8 or so to walk and go to a couple of shops, buying some envelopes.
Out with Dora after 9 for a nice walk. Lovely warm weather.
Post-woman delivered a package I ordered from Amazon UK; didn't expect it so early. She dropped it on the stone floor before handing it to me. It's prepared glass microscope slides, not well packed, and when I opened it I found half of them broken. Will deal with that later.
Out before 11. To Correos, and mailed a request to Barcelona for a document. Around the corner and recharged my bus card at a newsstand. To Plaza Esteve and had to wait 15 minutes for the 10 bus.
To hospital, short wait at reception, sat down in front of the same lady I had two days ago. Tried to give her a copy of our Jerez rental agreement; she wouldn't take it (I told Dora it proves nothing). Tried to give her a copy of a document showing I opened a bank account in Barcelona 6/2016; she didn't want it. Gave her a copy of my old/first residency card; she did take that. Told her I had ordered the historic padron from Barcelona, and got a lot of Spanish I didn't understand. She had me call Dora on the phone, and she talked to Dora for a while, and Dora says we have to wait for the document from Barcelona. No problem. Oh, and Dora says a lot of water came out from under the kitchen sink when she used it; I hope I'm not coming home to a flood.
Out and caught the 10 bus with 2 minutes to spare. Back into the center, got out, walked home, in by 12:45. Dora is out at an eyeglass appointment. Kitchen looks okay.
Dora home later, we had dinner, then I investigated the microscope slides. 16 broken, 34 okay: pics. 2 or 3 of the broken ones can be taped and used, I think. But after I taped 6 of them, Dora and I decided they were too dangerous, and I threw them away. I'm not sure glass slides for her niece are a good idea in the first place, but online people were saying the plastic slides are horrible.
Owners showed up at 5 or so, and the guy had tools and joint-tape, but couldn't fix the problem under the kitchen sink. I went to Mercadona for groceries. Plumber or someone will come on Monday, maybe just to look, maybe plumber will come later.
Out after 7 with Dora. Walk to center, around Alcazar, had coffees at Plaza Esteve, Dora bought a couple of cheap spring dresses at a shop, home before 8:30.
Plumber arrived at 9:35, sink fixed by 9:55.
Around noon, out to ATM, bus station, and Mercadona.
Thought of taking the bus to Chipiona today to see the cathedral there, but the schedules just don't work. Cathedral opens at 5, last bus back to Jerez is at 6.
Out for a couple of walks in the afternoon. Sunny but very windy. Ceremonies in some of the churches for the start of Easter week.
To Sanlucar, and to sister's place, buying some flowers along the way. Dinner with them, then Dora and sister started talking business, niece was upstairs watching videos. I went for a walk to and on the beach. Back home, then out to a couple of stores looking for a TV cable part; no luck. Home again, various playing and talking, then Dora and I off to catch the 6:15 bus, carrying some heavy bundles of pamphlets, and some clothes etc. Home after 7, tired.
To the church near the govt building, and they were in the middle of mass, but all seats and standing room were taken. We watched for 5 minutes, then left.
To Plaza Arenal and had coffees and ice cream and people-watched. Walked a little, then home, and cooked a big dinner.
I went out at 7:30 or so, into the center. A zillion people, and the Easter parading is on. Very slow parade of people in hoods ("capirotes"), Virgin being carried on a platform ("Paso") at snail's pace, and a band. Then repeat with a different color of hoods, different platform, etc. Hard to see anything, between the high seating platforms and the multitude of people. Pics.
I went out again to the parade at 9 or so, but too dark to take pictures, not much different than before, still crowded.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Made a zucchini-lasagna for dinner.
SD card I bought this morning only shows up as read-only on my laptop; works fine on Dora's laptop.
Walked Dora to the train station to catch train to Puerto, then I went for a walk to the center.
Dora home at 6:30. I put together the flashlight I bought this morning, and there's a piece missing. I'm struggling today.
Out to the store and exchange the flashlight for one that works. Into the center, and everyone's assembling for more parades.
Headachey; took an acetaminophen.
Out again around 8, and the parade is in full swing. Still hard to see, and the parade moves very slowly. When the big platforms make a turn successfully, the drums beat and the platform advances and the crowd cheers and applauds. Some nice bands with some of the platforms. Pics.
Late night, took a sumatriptan.
When I flushed the toilet, the loose little plastic button on top stuck to my finger just enough to hop off (it's done that before) and fall right into the toilet and disappear. I'll have to buy a new one.
I caught the 9 AM bus through Sanlucar to Chipiona. Walked to the big cathedral, which turned out to be nice but not great. Long walk on the malecon to the lighthouse and then past the castillo, looped around, and to the Parroquia church. Also nice, but also it had a couple of parade-floats ("Pasos") inside it. And across the street, a room displaying three more parade-floats. So that was interesting. Pics.
To bus station, and caught noon bus to Sanlucar. Arrived at Dora's sister's place around 12:30. Dora's parents are up, but her niece didn't get downstairs until after 1:15. We had lunch, then I played with the niece and tried to get her to speak as much English as possible. I brought an SD card loaded with music to put in her boom-box, and after a little trouble inserting the card, it worked perfectly.
But by the time to leave, I was tired and headachey. Took a Neobrufen. To bus station, caught 4:10 bus back to Jerez, getting home at 5:15. Started laundry and laid down in bed.
When the laundry finished, put it out, took a Dolocatil, ate a little, back to bed. Up again, had some soup, watched Barca get clobbered by Juventus. Took a sumatripan.
Out with the niece to buy roast chicken etc. Dora's sister home after 3. Dinner. Playing with the niece, trying to speak as much English as possible with her. They say let's go to a procession at 6 and then a cafe afterward, which will be a long day for me, but I agree. I go for a walk to the beachfront malecon. Lie back on the sofa for a while to close my eyes and rest, but soon I'm rousted out when a patient arrives.
Out after 6, walk to chapel, and the procession soon starts emerging. A slow business, and very crowded, not much of a view. Pics. I get out pen and paper and give them to the niece so she can occupy herself drawing pictures. Nice band behind the float in the procession. Eventually they're out and off to the suburbs, and we head for the center.
We find a table outside a cafe, then move to another, then order food. We've picked up a friend of the sister, so we're five at the table, a little awkward. Food comes (coffee and a very nice tarta for me), the crush of people eases, and I enjoy the people-watching and fairly warm weather. But eventually I'm counting down to the time for my bus. I chat a little with Dora's niece and mother and sister, getting my Spanish to work a bit.
The sister suggests I stay for another couple of hours, as the procession will be coming up this main street past us. Then I'd sleep at her house tonight. But no thanks, these processions are way too slow and crowded for me, and not very interesting. And I want to sleep in my own bed.
So I'm off to the bus station. I cut it a little close: got there, quickly used the bathroom, came out, there's the bus, waited in line for a minute, then the bus is off. Home by 10:10. Feeling good tonight; no headache, not too tired.
At 1 AM, I'm wakened by drumming. There's a huge Easter parade going right under our window, in fact turning and making a big U around the block of our apartment complex. I take a bunch of pictures out of our window. The current band is big and sounds great, too. And I can smell the incense, 6 floors up. But I'm not tempted to get dressed and go down there. And they're going at a snail's pace, as usual. Pics.
Next group coming past at 1:30. Another great-sounding marching band. Awesome sound, in fact, hearing an 80-piece marching band from 6 floors up in a concrete canyon.
By 2 AM, end of parade is past the balcony side of our building, but I can hear it from the other two sides.
Five minutes later, no more music. Maybe they have a time-limit on the noise from the parade. Back in bed, I laid there unable to sleep for another hour or more.
I went back to bed; feeling tired. Out walking in late afternoon, but it's a holiday and most things are closed. Very little car-traffic, too.
Out again at 5:30 or so, mostly cafes and a few small Chinese shops open. Looks like there will be more parades tonight: people in robes etc heading for the center.
Dora home at 8:50. To my surprise, she wants to go out to see some Easter parades. So, soon we're walking down to the center. We watch two groups go by, not being able to see very well. Then we circle around to the middle, and get a great view as another group passes, with a nice band. Light terrible for photography.
Head for home, divert into a bar right across from our building. Watch football and have drinks and food. Home before 10:40, and into bed.
Loafed all day, out in early evening. Everyone heading to the center for more parades. All of the shops (except for cafes) STILL closed; I wanted to get groceries, the toilet part, etc.
Went out at 9:30 or so, to the center. Parade crowded and slow, not many bands. Waited long enough to hear one nice piece by one band, then went home.
Dora thought of catching the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar, but we ran out of time, went to bed instead, and caught the 1 PM bus. Which was 23 minutes late. We're going to meet the others at a restaurant outside of town at 2:30, and we didn't reach the edge of town until after 2. So instead of walking to sister's house, we got out early, and called a taxi. Got to the restaurant at 2:20.
And waited. Called the others, and found the reservation was for 2:30 to 3, and they showed up after 3. While we waited, we ordered some salad and a mixed plate (egg, potato, ham). I tried to get them to pick a different restaurant, because this one serves almost nothing but meat, and we've been here two or three times before. But most of the group likes meat, so I got outvoted. I tried to explain the Monty Python "spam" skit to Dora while we waited, but it didn't translate well. Salad and some potatoes and egg and olives and drinks and desserts are the only non-meat things on the menu here.
Finally they arrived: Dora's parents, her sister and niece, her other sister and husband and twin 2-year-olds from the north, and a local guy who is a friend and handyman. So 11 of us at a long table. I sat at one end and mostly understood nothing that was said, but that's fine. We stuffed ourselves, and had a good time.
Into cars and to sister's house. Some milling about, should we have the big birthday party now, but then one kid crashed for a nap, Dora's father went for a nap, and Dora needed sleep. So we took a siesta for an hour or two.
Up, and birthday party for niece and Dora's father and one sister's husband. Sang a little and blew out candles, then the niece got shy and refused to come out to cut the cake. The two little kids entertained us for a while, then I went out in the front yard with them and played. After a while, cake was served, the niece appeared and played in the front yard, etc. Various little troubles with the little kids as they lost toys or shoes or tried to take toys from each other or the little girl lost a lens out of her eyeglasses. The niece trying to do gymnastics in the middle of the little kids, not a good idea.
Finally time to go. The visiting friends left, and then Dora and I were driven to the bus station by her father. No need; we had time to walk. But then the bus arrived 15 minutes early, and left exactly on time. The driver was in a hurry.
Slightly long, sleepy ride to Jerez, stopping at the hospital, but traffic was light and the driver drove fast. Home at 10. Soon to bed.
Dora back at 1:15, big dinner, crashed for a nap for a while.
Out with Dora in the evening for a nice walk and then Cokes at a cafe in Plaza Arenal. Lots of people, but many places still closed, town quiet now that the holy week has ended.
Out with Dora at 11 or so, to the center. She picked up her new eyeglasses, and is nervous that they look terrible, but they look fine. To ATM for cash. Stopped in a couple of stores to look for toilet button, but no luck. Home.
To Mercadona for groceries. Online, ordered the toilet buttons from Amazon.es.
Dora out at 1:30, going to a sort of job interview at a medical clinic. I started creating a Facebook Page for her. Loafed for a while. Dora back at 4:30.
Out with Dora at 7:15 in search of printer ink cartridges, and found a great shop two blocks from here, near the bus station. Very warm weather tonight.
I went out for a walk later.
Work called Dora at 5:45 to come in, for a shift that would end at 8 tonight. Strange. I walked her to the train station to catch the 6:25 train, then went to sit in Plaza las Angustias. Too hot to walk to the center. Dora back from work after 9.
I went out for a walk after 11. Slightly cool out for a T-shirt, but a lovely evening.
Dora was going to go to a clinic today, we ran late, and it would have been nice to go to Sanlucar. But then the clinic cancelled, and so everything straightened out.
Windy. We caught the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar, got to sister's house around 5:45. Took a while to get any life out of the niece, and then she refused to study English. Watched TV with her, and Dora and sister and mother and I talked about hearing-aids for Dora's father. Played with the niece, then the twin almost-3-year-olds were up. Dora's father came home, sister made a brief appearance between work stints. Then it was time to go. Dora and I walked to the bus station and caught the 9:10 bus. Very windy, some tree-branches down. Home by 10:05.
Saw in a bar that Barca is playing, but it's 0-0 well after halftime, and Dora says they need to win by more than 3 to continue in the tournament. [Final score was 0-0.]
Packing to get ready for trip.
Trip to Barcelona:
Out the door a little after 3, hustled to the train station, made the 3:15 train with about 1 minute to spare. To airport, and now we have plenty of extra time, so of course there are no lines or anything.
Big line formed for boarding, but then didn't move at all. We sat in the cafe and Dora had a coffee.
Onto the plane, and our seats (row 2) turn out to the first row on that side, which means more legroom and no one in front of us, but we're staring at a blank bulkhead and our hand-luggage has to go in the overhead bin, which is not pleasing (wallet, passport, food, audio players, tablet, phones, etc).
Uneventful flight, not much to see outside most of the time. But wind from the south means we go N-to-S along the Barcelona waterfront, which is pretty cool, we have a great view from our side.
Long walk through airport, wait for luggage, and we're in a bit of a hurry. Landed at 6:40, need to get to rental apartment before 8 to avoid a €20 late fee. We hustle to the train station, use our T-10 cards to get through the turnstiles, and the train closes its doors literally in our faces, and leaves.
We could wait 35 minutes for the next train, but I elect to take the new Metro instead. It will cost us €9, but there should be little wait, and we might avoid paying €20.
So to the Metro (right next to the train station), buy tickets, wait 3-4 minutes, on. Nice ride, interesting to us since it's new. To Collblanc station, and up up up about 6 escalators to the L5 line. Wait a couple of minutes there, onto a train, ride one stop to Publia Casilla station. Out, get oriented, find the apartment building, get buzzed in.
A bit of a surprise: I knew it was on floor 3 with no elevator, but I didn't know the street door was on floor -1. So, up 4 floors (later I counted 65 steps), hauling the suitcase. Guy is waiting for us, in before 8:10.
He shows everything to Dora, takes a long time, goes and gets some towels from the line, then charges us €10 late fee. They said they wouldn't charge if we were a few minutes late.
Soon we go out to Dia for groceries, getting in and out just as they're closing. Dora is muttering about this being a bad neighborhood, but it looks fine to me. More cafes and such than I expected from the Google Map.
Try to watch Dora's telenovella on the TV, and several of the high channels (including the one she wants) are getting digital snow or skipping, it doesn't really work. Several lower channels are fine.
So I brought out my laptop and started streaming one of her telenovellas on it. But that was pausing a lot; the internet here is not fast enough. Then the TV started working better, so we paused the laptop and she watched the TV.
Went to go to bed, and found neither of the beds has a top sheet on it. And the main bed's pillowcases have not been washed. Contacted the host, no help tonight, we slept on the second bed and it was okay.
Showered, hustled to Metro station, train came 1 minute later. Four stops to Sants Estacio, got to platform, train came 4 minutes later. To airport, onto free shuttle bus to other terminal, got to arrivals area at 9:50. No sign of my brother.
Should have taken him at least 30 minutes to get off plane, long walk to Passport Control, through there, get luggage. Status board says his pllane has landed, no addition info. I send email to him, wait for 15 minutes, no sign of him, go downstairs and back up. Send email to Dora asking if he's contacted her, then 2 minutes later he appears from Baggage Claim, around 10:20. His plane took off an hour late, landed 30 minutes late. So all is well.
I'm headachey; took a Dolacatil. To shuttle bus, other terminal, to train station, wait 10 minutes, onto train, wait 10 more minutes while it sits there, off at 11:08. To Sants Estacio, onto L5 Metro, off at Publia Cases, to apartment by noon.
My brother lies down to sleep, and soon Dora and I go out. Down toward the big market, Mercado del Torrent Gornal. Stop at an eyeglass store, Dora's new eyeglasses are hurting her, but they're busy, we don't wait. To the mercado, which is a bit disappointing. Dora hits an ATM for a while. Across the street, and a big lunch at a Chinese place, I'm starving.
Back to the optical place, the guys bends her ear-pieces in 2 seconds, no charge. To fruit and veg shop and buy a ton of fruit. Drop Dora off at apartment building, I go to Mercadona. Which turns out to be huge. I buy groceries, back to apartment, find Dora waiting on the stairs, her key doesn't work and she didn't want to wake my brother. In by 2:20, and I'm ready to lie down for a while. Host has dropped off new top sheets for us to use.
We crashed for a nap for a couple of hours.
Out with Dora and my brother after 6. Wandered, doing a big loop around the neighborhood, soon looking for a cafe. Street art: pics. Eventually looped back to near the apartment and settled on a place. Dora had a Coke, my brother had a cerveza then a tinto verano, I had two tinto veranos. Four plates of tapas: chicken, pork, calamari, more calamari by mistake. Quite nice.
Pics. To Mercadona for groceries, then home before 8:35.
Out before 11. To Metro, connect through Placa Sants, out at Arc de Triomf. Walked down the promenade to Cuitadella Park, full of people, lots of people selling roses for Dia Sant Jordi, but missing the usual break-dancers and skaters. Into the park, and over to the fountain area, and sat for a while. Beautiful weather, lots of people on this holiday Sunday.
Checked out the mammoth statue and the rowing lagoon, then across the park and out and into Old Town. To Born CC, and sat for a little while. To Esglesia Santa Maria del Mar church, and sat in on a mass for 5 minutes. Up across Via Laetana and to Placa Jaume, which is thronging with people and has a traditional band playing in one corner.
Wanted to take the free tour of the City Hall, open just this one day each year, but what appeared to be a short line turned out to go far down a side-street, so we passed on that. Around to Placa St Miguel and into the first restaurant we saw, El Beso y La Lluna. A little pricey, but nice. I had a nice moussaka carne, Dora had a disappointingly plain chicken and rice, my brother had a very nice meat-and-pureed-carrots thing that came in a too-small nouveau-cuisine portion size. Pic1 and pic2 and pic3.
Street art: pic. Down to the waterfront, across to the harbor, and bought tickets on a 3:30 boat-tour out of the harbor on power-catamaran "Golondria". Had 45 minutes to kill, and my brother needed a coffee to neutralize the potent sangria he had with the meal. So up La Rambla, which was crowded. Found a place and had coffees. Back down to the harbor, sat for 10 minutes, then onto the boat and sat for another 10 minutes or so.
A sailboat tour-boat docked next to us just before we left, and made a hash of it, ending up slewed in their berth with their bowsprit resting over top of the catamaran on the other side, but I think there was no damage.
We undocked, and out through the harbor, seeing cruise-ship row from the outside. Out into open water, and it's very calm with little wind. Lots of boats out, mostly sailboat getting not enough wind. Up along the city waterfront, looking at all the buildings and monuments we know, very nice.
Up to Parc Forum and turned around. Back down and into harbor, and this time we went under a bridge and right down cruise-ship row, with container-ship docks on the other side. Very interesting. 4 or 5 cruise-ships, one of them fairly huge, but none of them had many people on them. Back into the inner harbor, and done by 5. Quite nice. Pics.
Up La Rambla to Drassanes Metro, through the turnstiles, and then a disaster. My brother was behind us, and apparently he held his tablet in one hand and put his normal glasses on and put his sunglasses in his pocket, and immediately someone pickpocketed his sunglasses out of his pocket. He didn't notice for about 10 seconds, and by then it was too late. Dora and I had gone all the way to the platform before we realized he was missing, we went back and found him, and we searched, but the prescription sunglasses are gone. Bummer.
Onto Metro, connect at Sants Estacio, to Pubilla Cases, out and home around 5:40.
Confirmed that we do have a washing machine in the apartment; you have to roll out the refrigerator and open a door behind that to get to it !
Napped for an hour or so.
Out at 8:15, looking for a bar to watch the big El Clasico football game, Barca - Real Madrid. First bar had all the inside tables reserved. To the Chinese cafe where we ate dinner last night. Took a table outside, but already it's cool out. Asked, and found one free table inside, pushed right up under the big TV in there, a little too close for comfort. But we took it, and started ordering food and drink.
Game started at 8:45, and it was a doozy. Very excited crowd in the bar, and we shouted ourselves hoarse at the Barca goals. Neymar didn't play because he's on suspension. Bale went out with a hurt leg. Messi took an elbow in the mouth and got very bloody [found out the next day: he had two teeth knocked out]. Later a red card for a Real Madrid player. Seesaw game, 1-0 Barca, then 1-1, then 2-1 Barca, then at about minute 85 Real Madrid scored to make it 2-2, then with maybe 30 seconds to go, Barca scored to win 3-2. Perfect ! I'm happy for their manager, Luis Enrique, who is leaving at the end of the season, under some criticism.
Home by 10:45, a little hoarse and tired and feeling sunburnt from getting too much sun today.
Out with Dora and my brother at 12:15 or so. Long Metro ride to Virrei Amat, where Dora and I used to live. Up to the government office before 1, for my 1 PM appointment. I was done in 5 minutes, as I expected. They did receive my application and the resulting document probably arrived in Jerez a day after we left. Then Dora proceeded to talk to them for 20 minutes and do three things she didn't really need.
Out, and down to the street, and to a jewelry shop where Dora needed to pick up something she'd left there a long time ago. Tried to find a kebab shop, but had to settle for a quite nice cafe where I had a great hamburger, and we ate well.
Down to Dora's old apartment building, and she collected mail from a lady and chatted with her. To bank so Dora could do something in the ATM. Back to Virrei Amat Metro, and ride to Diagonal.
Strolled down Passeig de Gracia, window-shopping and people-watching and resting on benches a few times. Pic. Into one mall and used the bathrooms. My brother said my baseball cap was ratty and disgusting (it's really not so horrible), and bought me a nice new Barcelona cap at a sidewalk stand: pic.
Into El National cafe/restaurant, and into a fancy coffee bar. Decent coffee and surprisingly mediocre cakes, for a moderately high price, but the decor was amazing. Pics.
Out, and strolled down to Placa Catalunya. Sat for a while, watching the thousands of pigeons. Down Placa Angel a little, into a shop for a bit, then up to Metro. We've timed our rides to avoid the strike periods today, 7-9 and 4-8 and 8-10. But the trains still are full and hot. Rode to Placa de Sants, connect, to Pubilla Cases, out, home by 7:30, tired.
The three of us out around 12:45. To Metro, longish ride to Sagrada Familia. Across and up a block to get away from it, and found a sidewalk cafe for lunch. Pic. Decent food, nice people-watching. As we left, some acrid smoke was drifting up from the intersection below us. We walked down and couldn't see anything wrong, kept going into the park next to Sagrada Familia. Soon firetrucks and ambulances and police vehicles were screaming past. I walked up and they were parked halfway down a side-street, but I couldn't see any smoke or fire.
We sat in the park for a while (pic), then over to Sagrada Familia. Entrance on other side, so we walked around and through a short line and bag-check, and then in.
We three have all been here before, but still it was nice, and they've been adding various decorations and stuff. We wandered and sat and watched a video and wandered. I joked that the Wi-Fi should be better (of course they have no Wi-Fi, it's a basilica). Pics. Eventually out, hit the bathrooms and a quick look into the museum underneath, then out.
Into Metro, longish ride back, home before 4:40, tired.
The three of us out after 8, to Metro, to Placa de Sants. Up and to a row of restaurants, and Dora and I have been to one of them, a Syrian place, before. Tonight we chose Fenicia, a Lebanese place. Big platters of good food, and some beers. Quite nice. Cool and raining lightly when we came out, and we just went right back home.
Out after 11:30, I think. Through light rain to local Chinese store and bought a couple of cheap umbrellas. Through heavy rain to the Metro. Connect through Placa de Sants to Placa Espanya. Walked up to CaixaForum museum and saw a couple of art exhibits, one from the British Museum, that were pleasant but not impressive. But we got in for free because Dora has an account at Caixa bank.
Down to the Arenas shopping center, and wandered around a couple of floors of that. Back out, into Metro, rode home on crowded trains. Down to a kebab shop and had a very nice lunch, with some football highlights on the TV. Funny sign over the door to the bathrooms: pic. Home by 3:20.
Napped, then out at 6:20. To Metro, one stop to Collblanc, and joined a stream of people heading to Camp Nou for the football game, Barca - Osasuna. Into the stadium area, and took some pictures. Bought a couple of souvenirs. Into the portal for our section, and up up up about 6 stories, then up some more. We're in the third row from the top.
Sat down and watched the players warm up, and tried to figure out what direction we're facing. After a while, clouds lifted off the nearby hilltops and I got oriented, but we're facing away from the sea and downtown and Montjuic.
They rolled out an enormous banner in honor of Messi's recent 500th career goal. Then the game started, and soon the light rain started. We kept putting umbrella up, trying to keep it low so it didn't block the view of the people behind us. A little cool tonight, too. But really not too bad. Only about 2/3 of the seats are occupied.
The game went exactly as we expected. Osasuna is last in the league and needs to win tonight to avoid relegation, but Barca had them outclassed even without playing Iniesta and Suarez and Neymar. Barca soon up 2-0, then a scare as it went 2-1, then by half I think it was 4-1. At the 3/4 mark, it was 7-1 and both teams slowed down. But it never rained hard, and we stayed until the end. Pics.
Out and walked along with throngs of people, and started walking toward home. But it turned out to be a lot longer than it looked on the map; the scale is deceptive. Fortunately, we got to Collblanc Metro and found it was no problem to get in. One stop to Pubilla Cases, and found a bar to have coffees and watch 15 minutes of the Real Madrid - Deportivo game on TV. Home by 10:20.
Out at 11:30. To Metro, connect at Placa de Sants, to Placa Catalunya. Hustled down to the cathedral and had 20 minutes or so inside before they started closing the place (changing from free to pay-€7). Wandered through a few small courtyards, sitting for a while, then down to a coffee-shop. But service was terrible, and we left after 15 minutes without ordering. We've had that problem here before.
Up through Placa Jaume, looking for a place, and eventually found a wonderful hotel lobby, in Hotel Avinyo. Pics. Had sandwiches and nibble and coffee.
Out and did a little shopping, then to Jaume I Metro, and a long crowded ride home. Into apartment by 3.
Online, bought tickets for my USA-to-Spain flight in August. $538 one-way, Newark to Sevilla.
Out after 7. Metro to Placa de Sants, and went to a Palestinian restaurant. Food mostly similar to that in the Lebanese place two night ago, and very good also. We shared a pitcher of sangria and had a good time. Afterward, around the block a little bit, but too cool to do much wandering. Home by 9:10.
Out before 11. To Metro, 4 stops to Sants Estacio, to platform with 3 minutes to spare, onto train. I had to stand. To airport, to Ryanair, and we were so early that the agent had to check that they were accepting bags for our flight. They let us get away with 16 kilos when our limit was 15.
Took our time, through Security, sat for a while. Had some lunch. To the gate, and sat for a while in the middle of a big group of girls from Poland. Plane loaded slowly; many of the last 15 passengers on tried to bring suitcases on, and they all had to be put down in the hold at the last minute.
Uneventful flight. Even though I had a window seat, we flew over sea and then over clouds, so I saw little.
High crosswinds in Jerez; the landing was a little wrenching, but probably technically a very good landing. Anyway, any landing you can walk away from ...
Our bag was just about first off, and we hustled to the train station, only to find a 45-minute wait for the next train. Back to terminal, had coffee and snacks. Back to train, confusion about buying the right tickets, ended up with the wrong ones. Onto the train, and no problem.
Home at 6:05; all is well. My "padron historico" from Barcelona has arrived. Also a notice that I should go to Correos to pick up the package with the toilet part. It would have fit in the mailbox; why do I have to walk a mile to go get it ?
Dora soon out to Correos and banks to try to pay a couple of bills. I went out to Mercadona at 8:30 or so, and managed to time it to hit the rain and wind as I came out.
I was planning to go to Sanlucar to teach English to the niece, but then she wasn't going to be then, then she was, finally she wasn't again. So I went for a walk and then to Mercadona for groceries.
Headachey in late afternoon. Printed a science lesson the niece has to learn. Out to recharge Lebara SIM for Dora, go for a walk, and Mercadona again; I'm restocking after our week-long absence, and everyone's stocking up because Monday is a holiday and the stores will be closed. Took a sumatriptan.
Dora home at 11:20; the sick doctor came in to work anyway. Soon to bed.
Dora dragged herself out of bed and we caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's house, nice dinner with her parents and niece, but the afternoon was mostly a waste. We chased the niece around trying to teach her English, and she didn't want to. Watched some TV, chatted, caught the 6:15 bus (20 minutes late) back to Jerez. Home at 7:20, tired and headachey. Took a Dolocatil.
Later, still have headache. Took more acetaminophen. Napped. Watched most of Real Madrid - Atletico Madrid game (UEFA Championship semi-final). Real Madrid dominated and won 3-0.
Took a sumatriptan and some melatonin, and to bed. Slept well.
Out, and hit an ATM. Did the long walk to the Correos where our packages are delivered, and picked up the new toilet parts. Got home, opened them up, and they're the wrong size.
Dora out to banks to pay rent and such.
I got a little headachey in the midafternoon. Took a Neobrufen. Dora called by work at 5:10, has to go in. I walked her to the 5:50 train, then went to Correos to mail the package back to Amazon. Correos not crowded, but extremely slow, and it took almost 25 minutes to get through there.
To Plaza Arenal to check out the high school scienc fair there, and it's jammed full of people. Saw the place and headed out, and got a call from Dora, she got to work and they didn't need her, so she's on her way back. Walked to the train station, and met her coming out. We stopped at a cafe for drinks, then home by 7:45.
At 8:45, out to Mercadona for groceries.
Couldn't sleep at all until after 3 AM.
Out at 4:15 or so, and long walk up to Plaza Mamelon. Warm day. Hoped to see some Moto Gran Prix motorcycles; they're having some kind of opening fete here at 5 for the races that will take place this weekend outside town. But got to the plaza, and no motorcycles, just setting up a bandstand for a small concert. Looked in a Chinese store for a few items. Walked down to Plaza Arenal, too early for the science fair to resume. Sat near the mercado and listened to my MP3 player for a while.
Back up near Mamelon around 5:15, still not much happening. Down to Plaza Arenal, and the science fair is hopping. Wandered around that, then started heading home. Into the bazaar to look for a few items, but no luck. Home by 5:45, hot and a little tired.
I've been hearing military planes fly over several times today, don't know if they're for the science fair or the MotoGP or something else. Around 6:30, got a good look as seven flew over in formation pretty low, trailing colored smoke. I think it's for the MotoGP.
Out again, and Hiper Number One had a couple of the things I wanted to buy.
Headache in late evening; took Neobrufen and melatonin.
Gave flowers and a music-player to Dora for her birthday. I'd like to buy jewelry for her, but she never finds anything she likes when we're looking.
Headache; took a Nolotil. Didn't work. Took a diazepam. That didn't work. Took a Neobrufen.
Took a melato-zinc and went to bed. After midnight, took a sumatriptan, and that knocked out my headache.
Trying to upgrade my smartphone from Android 5 to 7, and it's fiendishly complicated. Consulting with an expert online.
Went for a walk in the center. Tons of people, nice sunny day, but lots of motorcycle idiots revving engines everywhere. They've all come to town because of the MotoGP races taking place at the circuit outside town.
Cooked a big omelet for dinner.
Finally succeeded in upgrading my smartphone; now running (LineageOS) Android 7.1 !
Caught the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's place, tried to teach some English to the niece, but she's a little sick, and balky as usual. She wants to play or watch videos, not study. Had a big dinner, tried some more studying, finally caught the 4:10 bus (late, as usual). Home by 5:15, tired.
Out with Dora at 10:30 or so. Lovely slightly-cool night. Took a long walk through the center; lots of people out, jamming the cafes and bars. We sat at a cafe in Plaza Arenal and had coffee and cake and talked. Home by 12:10.
Out at 11:45 to catch the noon bus to Rota, despite many last-minute msgs from Dora saying she might be home soon, we might go to Sanlucar, etc. Onto the bus, and had a nice chat with a couple from Oregon. They've been wandering around Europe for a couple of months, now are going to Rota to hang around until they can catch a military flight to USA (he's ex-Coast-Guard). They happened to be in Malaga a few ago when they took pictures of a ferry coming in, and then watched it crash into the dock (it was on the TV news, believed to be steering failure).
To Rota by 12:35, and the route in town was different than I expected, so no choice but to get out at the station, which is fairly far from the old town. Long, hot walk, hustling to see if I can get to the Castillo to catch the 1 PM tour. Got there with 4 minutes to spare, but the lady in Tourist Info said "no tour today". [Later I realized I was mistaken, the tours are only on weekends.] So all I could see was the ground-floor inner courtyard of the castillo, which was disappointing. Pics.
Out, around the corner, and of course the nearby parish church closed at 1. The bus schedule and attraction opening times here are not synchronized: I had a choice of an 8 AM bus or a noon bus, everything closes at 1 or 2, and the last bus out is at 5.
Wandered a bit, had soda and ice-cream at a place, wandered more, lovely Jesus Nazareno plaza, went on the beach and dipped my feet in the ocean. Pics. More wandering, bought pastries at a shop, sat in a plaza and got free Wi-Fi while I ate them.
More wandering, found another nice plaza (Plaza Pio XII) to sit for a while. Pics. Eventually to the bus station by 4:15. Waited, onto bus, back to Jerez, home by 5:45. Expected to find Dora home, but she's not here. Turns out she had to work all day, so I'm glad I went to Rota.
Dora home at 6:35.
Headachey; took a Neobrufen.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Correos delivered from Amazon: another birthday present from me to Dora, an ionizing hair-straightening hairbrush.
Dora and I out after noon. To the center, and to a tourist-attraction I've been meaing to go to for a while: the Palacio del Virrey Laserna. Which turned out to be better than I expected, quite nice. But no photography allowed, bummer. It's a historic house/palace, still lived in by the current Count, and he gives the tours. So it's full of "here is a picture of my father with the old king, and a picture of me with the current king" and various other family history. As well as paintings, at least one by Rubens, some from the school of Goya, lots of others whose names I don't know. Lovely furniture, building, nice gardens, and a very personal experience. Fabulous !
Then we went around to the plaza in front of the government building and had a nice lunch in an outdoor cafe. Iberic ham, a Stilton-cheese-nut-honey dish that was nice, and roast beef cheeks (from the front end of the cow, not the back end). The only downside was getting solicited by a couple of beggars who came by several times. Stopped at Carrefour for groceries, then home by 3:30.
And then suddenly at 4:30, the plan is that we're going to Sanlucar again, to try to teach English to the niece. Sigh. I feel the tiniest bit of headache, so took a Neobrufen.
Onto the 5 PM bus, and to Sanlucar, and walked to sister's house. The niece still has a moderately bad cold, and hasn't been going to school this week. We sat her down at the kitchen table and started going through her lesson, a combination of science and English. At times it went well, other times she rebelled and we had to cajol and nag her to get her back to the studying. Later, some playing, and a tiny bit more of studying.
Dora wants to stay here overnight, but I don't want to stay. And the niece has tired me out with demands for piggyback rides and such, and managed to knock off my glasses and almost rip my shirt while doing it. So eventually we're onto the 9:10 bus, and home in our apartment in Jerez by 10:05. I think I'm catching the niece's cold, and I take a Dolocatil.
Out in early evening, under very grey skies. To banks, then headed for Correos, but had to turn back halfway because Dora forgot something. Back out, to Correos, to center, sat for a while. Still feeling a little sore throat and headache, and a little weak. Home, and took a Dolocatil.
Out at 8:30, and down to the estaciones to watch the semi-finals of Champions League, Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid. A little trouble finding a spot, but got a table at the edge of one bar. Fine, until it started pouring rain. And it turned out they didn't have coffee. But we drank Pepsi and ate roast chicken and watched the first half, and it was a good game. But then I'd had enough, and we went home through the rain. I'd foolishly brought only one umbrella, so we got a little wet at the edges. [Turns out there was no scoring in the second half; Atletico won the game 2-1 but lost the series 2-4 and Real goes on to the final.]
Went for a walk in early evening. Home, and looks like football game coming on TV. But the channel did that thing where they show you every detail up through the coin toss, then surprise! we're not showing the actual game.
We're out at 10:15. Down to the taxi rank, and take a taxi to the Tributaria (tax) office. In for Dora's 10:30 appointment, and I wait as she takes about 45 minutes in there. She's out, but has form to fill out, then she's back in for 5 minutes. Out by 11:30 or so, and to a nearby bank, but she's forgotten to bring her bankbook. Back to the bus stop, and it appears we've missed a bus by 1 minute, but then it comes 10 minutes later.
A long, looping bus ride on the 9 bus. We should have taken a taxi instead. And just as it starts making progress toward home, it's hit on the side (scraped) by a car that failed to yield out of a side street. As we all pile out, an old lady feels faint, thinking someone had been killed. Dora and I start walking, then call a taxi, then see that another bus has picked up the people from our bus; we should have stayed there. Home before 1.
Out in the evening. To center, Dora tried to pay tax bill at ATM with no success, we wandered, into a pastry shop for coffees and pastry.
Heavy rain at 9:45, slanting into the balcony and getting the laundry wet again. Oh, well.
Out for a walk in early afternoon. Lovely partly cloudy weather, lots of people out. Lovely purple flowers on trees next to the Alcazar: pics.
In late afternoon, two trips to Mercadona for groceries. Monday is a holiday.
Just before 10, some reasonably-nice fireworks from the horse-fair starting today and running for a week.
Out for a walk at 10:45 or so. Lovely slightly-cool night.
Slight headache/sorethroat/cough; took a Dolocatil.
At 1 or so, met Dora's father and her niece at the Jerez bus station and brought them home. Dora and I cooked dinner. Napped.
In the evening, got ready to go to the Jerez Feria Del Caballo, and suddenly found out Dora's father has to go back to Sanlucar tonight, he has to pick up her sister in the car early tomorrow morning. We thought they were staying here overnight, so no hurry in getting to the feria. Suddenly we're in a rush.
So, out by 6:45 or so, down to bus stop on one side of our building, and wait for a feria-special bus. Dora wants to take a taxi, but we wait 5-10 minutes and a bus comes. On, get seats, into center and then up. Soon we're seeing horses on the streets. Feria is not where I expected it to be: it's in Jardines da la Rosaleda / Jardines del Bosque, near Plaza de Caballos [later figured out, it's so huge that the other end of it IS where I expected the whole feria to be].
Off the bus, into the park, and it's enormous. Huge avenues with restaurants down the sides, noisy and full of people and all blaring music trying to drown out the music from their neighbors. Very crowded. Pics.
We start walking down the main avenue, and it's slow going. Lots of women and girls in traditional Flamenco dresses, quite nice.
Niece is starting to get a bit anxious; she thought there would be amusement-park rides, and so far it's all restaurants. But then we see a ferris wheel in the distance, and head for it, and there turns out to be a huge amusement-park section, on the other side of the train tracks.
It's even more jammed over there, and noisier too. Rides about €4 per person, and lines. Dora, niece and I do the "Super Raton" roller-coaster first. A deceptively small roller-coaster that turns out to be a rough ride, especially when the cars start spinning sideways. Hard on the stomach, especially when the spin is added to the motion around a curve in the track. I do as much fake screaming as I can. Pics.
Stagger off that, and across to a haunted-house ride ("Casa del Miedo"). Dora's father goes with us for that one, and he and I get wedged into the back seat of the car, where there is legroom only for small Spanish people, and I have to twist sideways and put my knees almost on top of his. The ride is fairly gentle, with various monsters lighting up or popping out at us, and I fake-scream a lot and make my fingers act like spiders on the shoulders of Dora and her niece ahead of us.
Out, and soon onto a multi-armed rotating thing ("Maxi Kanguro") that yanks us up and down wildly while spinning around. I'm doing okay until it stops and then does all the same stuff backwards, and my stomach starts getting queasy. I make it through that one, and declare I've reached my limit.
We work our way down the main avenue of the amusement-ride area, stopping to watch people ride some of the wilder rides. Some of the music blaring is painful to my ears. Get to the end, a bathroom break for the niece, and it's 8:45 and time to start heading out if they want to catch the 10 PM bus to Sanlucar. It's still unclear whether 0, 1 or both of them will be taking that bus.
We work our way down a quieter shopping-type avenue of the fair, crowded but making decent progress. Out to the bus stop area, some confusion, find the right place to wait, and before long a usable bus comes. Onto it, wait another 5 minutes, then off. To the stop between our apartment and the bus station by 9:40.
It appears at least Dora's father will be taking the 10 PM bus, so we walk towards the station. Into a cafe for sodas, and then the niece is ordering food ! We don't have time for this. After much talking on the phone with the sister, it's decided both niece and father will return to Sanlucar tonight. By 9:55 the food has not come. Dora waits for it while niece, father and I go to the bus station. The bus is there already, I put them on it, and at 9:59 it closes doors and starts backing out. Niece is sad that she doesn't have her food.
I walk out to front door of station, and meet Dora coming in with the food. I say "too late", but she runs around to the road-exit, intercepts the bus as it's coming out, gets the driver to open the door, and gives the food to her father ! Amazing.
Home by 10:10, tired.
I go out before 11:30, to pay Dora's tax bill at the bank, while she goes to the health center to register. I go to the bank, get the wrong kind of ticket, wait, they redirect me to the cashier, wait. Sign says you can pay these bills only from 0830 to 0930, but then I'm in front of the cashier with the form and cash, easier just to do it for me. Done.
Out, to health center, no Dora there. Come out, she calls me, turns out work called her right after I left the apartment, she has to go in. I go to the train station and meet her there, we sit for 10 minutes while she has an orange juice, then she's onto the 11:51 train.
I go to Mercadona for groceries, then home. Two minutes later, Correos is buzzing to deliver a certified letter to me from the central health administration. Perfect !
And I'm approved for the "Convenio Especial" way of getting onto the Spanish NHS. I'll pay €60 per month for it.
Out in midafternoon to try to break a €50 bill, and maybe recharge my bus card. But the Tabaco shops are closed, and the BBVA ATM will only give me more 50's. To Mercadona for groceries and to break the bill.
Out at 4:45, to pick up the niece from school. Down to the taxi rank at Hiper Number One, no taxis, waited 10 minutes. Gave up and went to the train station. Got into first taxi, guy wasn't too happy, probably had been hoping for 3 people plus luggage. But to the school by 5:10 or so, and he waited several minutes as I was guided to the niece and came out with her. Back into the taxi, home by 5:25.
Niece made a beeline for my stash of chocolate in the refrigerator, then for Dora's computer to watch videos. I made a sandwich for her, cooked a little ham-and-eggs, as usual she ate about 10% of everything given to her.
Dora's father and sister arrived at 8:45. Dora home at 9:05.
Some confusion: the whole point of them coming here was to go to the Jerez Feria Del Caballo, and now the niece doesn't want to go, doesn't want to wear her Flamenco dress, etc. That gets sorted out, then it's unclear if I'll be going with the sister and the niece. I'm willing, but then Dora says she'll go too. She has to work a 24-hour shift starting tomorrow at 8 AM ! I take a Neobrufen.
More confusion, more delay, eventually we're out the door at 10. Down to the taxi rank (pausing a couple of times), into a taxi, to the feria.
And it looks very beautiful, lit up at night. And the crowds are much more manageable than when Dora and I and the niece and father came here on Sunday evening. Pics. I have to pull Dora out of the clutches of a gypsy lady at the entrance trying to sell her a rose and a fortune-telling.
Down the main avenue, and into a place to have some drinks and food and dance. It's mostly Flamenco-type music, but I do my best to dance while Dora (who knows all the proper moves) does her thing.
Eventually out of there, and the niece wants to go on the rides. So down to the amusement-park area, and it turns out the niece wants to go on exactly the same rides we went on on Sunday ! Back onto the Super Raton, which I do, then she wants to do it again, and I skip that one. Over to the Kanguro, and I refuse to do that one, it's evil. They have to wait a long time for it to start, there are only about 8 people on it, and the operators try to wait for more, but eventually give up and run it. Then BACK to the Super Raton, and I get pulled onto it again.
Enough rides. Off to a stand for mini-donuts hot out of the deep-fat and slathered with toppings; I could eat nothing but these for a month and die happy.
Back out to the main avenue and looking for another place to dance. I want to go home. We find a place, do some dancing, enough. We buy drinks. Dora wants to dance more, I've had enough, so has the niece. Dora and sister do a little more dancing, eventually we're out. Walk out to the taxi area, no problem getting a taxi, home. Into bed by 1:30. Hard time getting to sleep. And I think my ears are ringing slightly from the loud music.
Dora out at 7:20, to work a 24-hour shift, 8-8. I feel tired just thinking about it, in addition to already feeling tired. I take a Dolocatil.
Laundry, breakfast, internet, then back to bed for about 3 hours. Still feeling lousy.
In early evening, took a Neobrufen and went for a walk.
Met Dora at 9 at the train station. Her shift got cut short, they'll call her and pick her up at home if there's a need during the night.
Online, I see that the dollar has been weakening against the Euro. Euro was about $1.06 a couple of months ago, now it's almost $1.12. Thank you, Donald Trump :-(
I took a melatonin before bed.
Dora doesn't get to bed until 11:45; I thought she would head right for bed when she got home. But she did get a shower and food and then some sleep, before they called her at 2:45. She's out at 3:20 AM.
Home after noon, and Dora is home ! I thought she said she had to work today, but it turns out she just worked the remainder of last night's shift, until 8 AM. Then she went to a hospital to drop off her CV and ask about work. And she learned some useful info about getting onto the government hospital list.
Headache in midafternoon; took a sumatriptan and napped.
Out with Dora before 5. To Correos, and sent healthcare paperwork to Sevilla. To govt building, but they're closed early for the feria, as I suspected. Walked around, looking in some shops, but I'm not feeling well. Home.
In midafternoon, I was out for a walk and groceries.
Dora home at 4:35, but they called her right back in to work just before she got home. So I walked her to the 5:25 train.
Message from Dora: work sending her home again, waste of a trip. So I met her at the train station, we're home by 7:05.
Dora made noises about going to the feria yet again, but I'm not up for it. In fact, I had a bit of a headache, took a Neobrufen.
After midnight, strong and gusty wind most of the night.
Out at 12:45, caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Major feria being set up in many of the streets there. To sister's house. Put in a good 20+ minutes teaching the niece a story in English from her school, and she learned well. Then dinner, then the niece didn't want to study any more. She started watching a film on TV, I went for a walk on the malecon, then I went back and watched the film too. Got a tiny bit of studying in during one set of commercials. Caught the 6:15 bus (20 minutes late) back to Jerez, home by 7:20.
I loafed all day, did internet, went for a couple of walks.
I had neck pain during the night; took a Neobrufen.
Out with Dora at 10:15, to gestor in the center to start her income tax return. She was in there for an hour, and came out a bit depressed. So on the way home, she had some retail therapy (two blouses, I believe) and then we went to a cafe for coffees. Home before 1.
Out again with Dora at 1:45. Back to the gestor to drop off more papers. To local centro de salud so Dora could register there, cutting one of her last ties with Barcelona. To fruit stand to buy fruit. Hot. Home by 2:30.
Out again at 4:45. Down to the central local govt building, where we've never gone before. In and waited a few minutes for our appointment to ask some questions about applying for pareja de hecho (civil union). Got useful answers, and learned several other useful things about operations we can do at this office. Out, asked a question and got some info at Tourist Info. To a bank to use the ATM, then home by 5:45. Hot.
After 8, out to ATM (broken) and then to Mercadona for groceries.
Didn't sleep well.
Then soon we're all piling into the car and off to the mercadillo, a big flea-market. Dora and her sister go wild buying clothes and shoes and such, while her mother and I trail then and wait and I carry stuff. Fun to people-watch, but it's crowded and hot.
We shop until we're dropping, then across the street and have food and drinks in a cafe. Then back to the car, where Dora's father has been waiting this whole time. I think he spent a lot of the time in the nearby Burger King.
Into the center of town, Dora and sister and I get out, and we go to a notario. I wait 30-40 minutes in a reasonable air-conditioned lobby while they do stuff. Out, call a taxi, home after 2.
Some waiting, then we're having a simple dinner. Plans have changed three times; are we catching an early bus back to Jerez, staying for the feria tonight and catching 9 PM bus, or doing feria and staying here overnight ? Eventually Dora decides on early bus, and we hustle to the bus stop area through the afternoon heat, getting there with 3 or 4 minutes to spare for the 3:10 bus. Bus passes us and goes around a circle and stops on other side of street from where we're waiting, but we anticipated that might happen, and hustle across in time to catch it.
Driver has pedal to the metal, and despite stopping at hospital, we arrive well before 4, and home after 4. Hot and tired and achey. I take a Neobrufen.
Later, headache, took a sumatriptan. Glad we didn't stay in Sanlucar for the feria.
Still feeling pretty bad. Took melatonin and went to bed early. Slept well.
Out with Dora at 12:20 or so. Hot day. Down to the center, to the Alcazar (Moorish fortress) and in. Major tourist attraction, and we've never been in it. Interesing place, fortress with mosque inside, olive oil mill inside, then later someone built a Spanish palacio inside. Full of cisterns and aqueducts and water-handling stuff. Towers, parapets, nice views, some nice flower gardens. Pics. But very little art or decoration. Enjoyed it, but hot. The "camera oscura" seems to be closed; didn't get to see that. Web site with great pictures and a great narrative: Fun with Dick and Jane's "The Alcazar". Home by 2:15, hot.
Gas refill will cost €16.78, up almost a euro in 2 months.
At 3, we're sitting down to dinner, and the phone rings. Dora's sister is having a travel emergency, her bus tickets for tonight got charged but not confirmed, her father is on the local bus to come here to Jerez to see if he can pay at the bus office.
So at 3:35, I'm out. Hit the ATM, then to the bus station. Find that the relevant bus office closed half an hour ago and will be closed until 6:30. A few minutes later, Dora's father arrives. We look at the signs, call Dora, head to apartment. There, I try to buy the tickets online. Doesn't work on Dora's laptop, switch to mine. My browser is fighting me, finally get things right, have to pay with sister's credit card, no problem, I have all the info. Except the site insists on sending a code in SMS to her phone, and I will have to type it in to the web page, and now she's not answering either of her phones, and neither is Dora's mother. Finally get through to the mother, and the sister is with a patient. So can't buy the tickets.
Out at 6:15 with Dora and her father. To the bus station. Office isn't open quite yet, but Dora is first in line when it does open, and spends a good 15 minutes trying to straighten out the situation, with people fuming in line behind her. She comes out saying there are no tickets, the other people get served, then she's back at the window. I put her father on the bus to Sanlucar, come back, and suddenly Dora is calling my name and handing me tickets and receipts to take to her father. I hustle out and hand them to him on the bus, and a minute later it's going.
But we're going to be back here at 10 tonight to help her sister get on the bus to Madrid, so we could have held the tickets anyway. We head toward home, and sit in a cafe for 45 minutes sipping sodas and relaxing. Home at 8.
I'm out again at 9:30, to bus station to wait for sister and niece and help them. They arrived, I hauled heavy bundle and rolled a suitcase, then waited with them for 20 minutes or so until the bus came. Niece full of energy as usual. They were onto the bus and off to Madrid by 10:10, I went home.
Waiting all morning for the gas refill man. No show, although someone buzzed after 9 but then didn't come up. But Correos did come after 11 with two certified letters. One is my NHS certification, which I can take to the local health center. Gas man came just after noon.
Went to local health center to try to register there and get my health card, but the not-very-friendly guy said I have to go to the central hospital. Maybe that's the only place they do new cards ?
Out at 7. To train station, and onto train to El Puerto de Santa Maria. Not sure where the feria is, but walked into the center. Fortunately got into Tourist Info a minute before they closed, and they set me straight: feria is at the edge of town. So up to Plaza Espana and onto a crowded feria-special bus. Got to the feria around 8:15.
And found that there's a special direct bus to/from Jerez ! So noted the times of that bus. Walked through the feria, which is smaller and not as nice as the Jerez feria, which is to be expected, this is a smaller city. Still plenty of pretty women, and some of the same rides from the Jerez feria. I think some of the rides they have here would not be legal in USA, rides where a bunch of kids get thrown around together in a moving platform, trying to keep their balance, falling all over each other.
Had some of the mini-donuts out of hot oil that I love; they're called "buñuelos". Not much to take pictures of, except the bull at the entrance, and even for that there's no good place to snap it from. Pic.
Saw everything, decided to catch the early bus. Found the 9:15 bus not exactly where I expected it, soon the driver opened up, and it turned out I was the only passenger.
To Jerez station by 9:45, home 10 minutes later.
Loafed all day, then out at 4:45 and caught 5 PM bus to Sanlucar. To sister's house, where Dora's parents are.
Out with Dora at 7 or so. Checked out some of the feria, then to Aldi's for groceries, and home.
Out at 8:45 with Dora and her parents. Several blocks down to a restaurant, where we ate and drank and watched the first half of the Copa del Rey football final, Barca versus Alave. Not the best game, but it was close for most of the half, until suddenly Barca went up 3-1. [And that ended up being the final score.]
We left at halftime, and wandered through the feria. First looking at clothing shops, then into the crowded main drag, then over to the amusement-park rides. Pics. I enjoyed it. Eventually we all were tired, especially Dora's parents, and we headed home. I was surprised to see it was 11:45 when we got there.
Rested for a while, then Dora and I went out again at 12:30 or so. To the feria, looking for places to dance. Tried a couple, but they were crowded and high-volume. Very crowded in the avenue near the bus station. Better out in the main drag. Dora watched some Flamenco singing that I didn't care about. I bought some buñuelos; yum. Down the main drag, stopping several times to dance outside of places, the best strategy in my opinion. Dora can dance ! I just do my best. We had fun.
Down to the malecon, strolled along it, nice and quiet and cool after the feria. Toward home, stopped in the clothes-shopping area of the feria for a little while, but I pulled Dora away from buying a dress, and we got home by 2. Into bed.
I loafed all day. Then out in evening for a walk to the center, to a couple of shops, then Mercadona for groceries. My NHS card came in the mail !
Out with Dora at noon. To center, and she's into her gestor's office by 12:15 to do tax stuff. I went to an ATM, then loafed and waited for Dora. Hot, and few places to sit in the shade. She came out around 1:15. Over to the centro salud to hit the bathroom and ask some questions about my healthcare registration. Hot walk, and home by 1:50.
Dora's sister and niece are back from their trip to see their apartment in Benicassim, and it's the usual emergencies. The renter destroyed the apartment. And the niece has a school assignment due now that I have to help her do. Dora's father is coming here by bus to give me a thumb drive, I have to do a Powerpoint presentation, put it on there, and he'll take it back. We don't even have Powerpoint, we have a free supposedly-compatible application.
In late afternoon, headache, took a Dolocatil.
The school-assignment crisis went away; it's being handled in Sanlucar.
Went out at 8:30, to hit a shop and then Mercadona for groceries. Got home, only to have Dora announce she'd just eaten the last two oranges, and she wanted two more to take to work tomorrow. Out again, but the fruit stand was closed, instead bought a fan at another shop. Dora will have to survive on apples, peaches, bananas and grapes tomorrow.
At 9:30, message that the niece in Sanlucar needs some English translated and then taught to her. Sent the translation via email, then realized they don't have email only Whatsapp, struggled to copy it across, finally had to take a picture of it on the computer screen. Then on a phone call for 30 minutes or so with them, teaching the English sentences to the niece. And apparently she has some test on Friday, so probably we'll go there tomorrow to teach her more.
Dora called by work at 11:11, she has to go in.
I went out before 1, to some shops and then groceries at Carrefour.
Dora home unexpectedly at 2:30; I missed a message from her saying she was coming home. Her trip to work was a waste of time.
We napped for a while. Then I was out at 4:45 and onto 5 PM bus to Sanlucar. Arrived about 5:35, waited with Dora's father until the niece's schoolbus arrived 5 minutes later, into car and went to sister's house.
Where the niece resisted being taught, as usual. She was getting home from a long day at school, so last thing she wanted to do was study more. Eventually got her to look at the Powerpoint presentation she has to do tomorrow. I fixed the English, we ran through it a couple of times, and then she'd had enough. So I loafed around, tried to get her to speak some English, had osme food, etc.
Onto the 9:10 bus back to Jerez. Arrived around 9:45, and Dora was waiting for me at the station. In honor of my birthday tomorrow, we went to a cafe and had coffees and some chocolate cake. Dora floated the idea of going to a disco, but it's well after 10 and she has to be up at 6:40 tomorrow morning to work a 24-hour shift. She could do it, but I'd rather she didn't. Home by 10:30.
Loafed, did a little yoga, etc. Gave myself a haircut. Was standing in the bathroom with hair all over me when the downstairs buzzer sounded. I assumed it was Correos and ignored it, shaved, showered. Came out and found my phone exploding with Whatsapp messages, Dora's parents have arrived on a surprise visit for my birthday, and can't get in.
I went down and found her mother, then it took 5 minutes to round up her father. Brought them upstairs and turned on the air-conditioning and gave them sodas and fruit; it's hot today. We watched TV and I exercised my primitive Spanish-language skills to the max; they speak no English. 45 minutes later, walked them to the bus station and put them on a bus back to Sanlucar. I went to Mercadona for groceries. Home and started cooking dinner.
Realized later I should have offered them some of the birthday cake. But they had been saying they didn't want anything, the whole visit was rushed, I was off-balance.
The cake is delicious.
Suddenly before 1:30, Dora decides we're going to dash out to pick up her new eyeglass frames. So without showers we're dressed and out and to the center. Get the frames, stop at a dentist office, hit an ATM unsuccessfully, out and past out apartment and to another ATM, I buy envelopes in a shop, home. Hot.
At 3, I'm cooking dinner, and Dora's sister calls and says they're coming in the car to pick us up and take us to a mall near Sanlucar for a birthday meal at a sandwich place. I put my foot down: no, we're staying here today, I'm cooking, Dora and I are going out tonight, we'll go to Sanlucar tomorrow. [Later, I find out that Dora is working tomorrow.]
So, at 8:30, we're out. Dora dressed to the nines, I'm dressed to about the threes. Slightly longish walk up to an area of Irish pubs, and we find the last decent table to watch the UEFA Champions League final, Real Madrid vs Juventus. I have a Guinness. Pics. The game is fun, the crowd in the bar goes wild at each goal. 1-1 at halftime, then 3-1 Madrid about 20 minutes into the second half.
We leave, and go around the corner to try to get into the Soho disco, to do some dancing. But it's closed, and maybe permanently closed. So we walk out to Avenida Domecq and up a couple of blocks, Dora twisting her ankle in a hole in the sidewalk, but she's okay.
Get to the other discos, Kapote and Tribecca, by about 10:30. Kapote has the game on, but we don't hear music anywhere. Into Tribecca to ask, and they say the music and dancing will start at 2 AM ! We call a taxi and we're home by 10:45.
As we walk to the discos and took the taxi home, several times we heard cheering, and we guessed Madrid had gone up 5-1. But the game actually ended 4-1.
Out for a walk in early evening. Then back home and online to start my Spanish income tax filing for 2016. Got through most of it, stuck at section where you compensate for international double-taxation.
At 10:35, a bunch of fairly serious rocket fireworks launched from roof of an apartment building a block away. Is that legal ?
I went out for a walk in late afternoon; hot but nice.
Out with Dora at 8:30, for a walk and to a cafe for coffees. Lovely cool weather with a nice breeze.
Couldn't sleep at all at night; maybe slept for 1 hour all night.
In late afternoon, out to ATM and Mercadona.
Did some work on Spanish income tax; I'm stuck on international double-taxation. Did a little caulking on the showers. Not feeling well; tired and headachey. Took a Neobrufen.
Out for a walk at 9. Lovely weather.
Took a melatonin. Slept well.
We're out at 10:10. To train station, train to Puerto Real, taxi to the huge hospital outside town. Dora goes upstairs to do paperwork; I wait.
I'm not surprised to wait for quite a while; someone is helping her put her certificates into the medical system so she can be considered for government jobs, something that's she been struggling with for a while. I have a newspaper to translate and learn some Spanish, and I listen to my audio player. But this hospital is so noisy everywhere, marble and people talking loudly. Even outside, sometimes people come out and talk or talk on their phone next to me. Nice birds-nest out there with several baby birds being fed by their parents.
She's done at 12:50 or so, and happy: everything went well, the guy was super-helpful, now she understands the job-roster situation better. And it turns out today was some kind of deadline she didn't even know about; tomorrow would have been too late somehow.
Into taxi and back to the train station by 1:10. Next train not until 1:40, so we go across the street to a cafe for sodas and tapas. Then onto train, and home by 2:10.
Dora out for a 4 PM dental appointment. She has to wait, it takes a while, then at 5:45 she's sending messages saying they say she needs €3000 of work, and there's a 10% discount if she signs up for it right now. I tell her not to make any decision, come home. Then I head out and go to the dental office. Wait 15+ minutes for her, she comes out, and it turns out the problem is real. Ten years she had two teeth extracted in Peru, and it was wrong, and now she needs a couple of implants. This dental place (a chain) is supposed to be okay and fairly cheap. But this "sign right now or lose 10% discount" sounds wrong to me.
I convince her to look for a second opinion, and we head out towards home. Past home, into another dental chain place, but their doctor is in only on Mondays. To a private dental office right across the street from our apartment, but the doctor is busy, we get an appointment for tomorrow at 12:30. Home by 8:15. Pics. Enjoyed it. Paid €10 for the two of us.
Out, and now we don't know how to catch a taxi; Dora forgot her phone, and I don't have the taxi number in mine. We head toward the center, but don't see a taxi stand anywhere. Come out near Deutschebank, and by then we're halfway home, so we keep walking. Hot, but we stick to the shady side of the street.
Home before 12:30, quick stop, then Dora's out to go to the dentist office across the street for a 12:30 appointment.
Dora home before 2, and this dentist agrees with the chain-store dentist. Dora is in for a lot of dental work (cleaning and implants).
I'm headachey; took a Neobrufen.
In early evening, trying to get Dora to go with me to chain-dentist to see if their discount offer still is available. She's tired and and hot and depressed and won't go. But I get her to call, and they say we can come in on Monday and still get it.
At 8:30, I'm out to Mercadona for groceries.
Puzzling through Spanish taxes some more, headache, take my blood pressure and find it's a bit high. Take a sumatriptan.
Got to bus station 5 minutes early for the 1 PM bus, so of course it was 45 minutes late. Found out why: some serious mechanical problem, bus doesn't accelerate well, doesn't go over about 40 MPH. Slow trip to Sanlucar. Hot walk to sister's house, stopping on the way to buy some desserts.
Had some dinner, loafed with the family, watched TV, etc. A pleasant time.
In the car to the bus station, arrived 5 minutes early, and almost immediately the bus arrives (not the same one as the earlier trip). To Jerez, hot walk to apartment, home after 7.
Online, filed my Spanish income tax return. I owe them €0.53 (!), which will be taken out of my account on June 30 or so.
At 1, I'm still headachey; took a sumatriptan. Dora coming back on bus, and she's accomplished about 5 errands.
Out with Dora at 4:45, into the hottest part of the day. Down to the taxi rank, and of course there's no taxi. We watch as several go by, then call and one comes promptly. To the niece's school in the NW end of town.
Get there, meet Dora's mother, find out the music recital doesn't start until 5:30. Eventually we all go into the library, which is nicer than I expect, not full. And the music program chugs right along, no wasted time, each student playing one piece, most on piano, a few on guitar. Dora's niece is about 8th in the first half of the program. She plays passably.
We're out and into Dora's sister's car. We're going to head to an ice-cream place, start a roundabout trip around the outside of town, I'm lost. Then the niece wants Burger King instead. Then it turns out the driver has to get back to Sanlucar soon. So they drop us off near our house and they're off back to Sanlucar. We hit a fruit shop and home before 7.
Quick stop, and then we're out again. Walk to the center for Dora's 7:15 appointment at dental center to sign papers. She's in there for an hour, so I figure they must be doing a treatment too. But she comes out and says the amount of the papers was off by €5 (on a total of about €2800), they insist on re-doing them, they want her to come back in a few days to sign. Crazy !
We check the "Ilusionismo" installation in Plaza Arenal, but it's broken today. To a nearby cafe for ice cream and coffee. Then the dentist office calls and says come back, Dora can sign the papers now. So we go back there, she's in for 15 minutes or so, then done.
We stroll and go into several clothing shops, to the locutorio to buy calling-cards for Peru, and then home after 9:30.
I catch the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar, going to help Dora's mother mail a bundle of legal documents to Peru ? Not clear on why I'm doing this. I arrive, find Dora's mother near the cafe where she said she'd be. Give her a couple of items from Dora, as we're walking to the Post Office.
In the Post Office, all is confusing. I get a number, we're trying to find out what kind of envelope to buy, a sign over the big envelopes say sending outside EU will cost €55;, and it turns out I have €60 and small change in my pocket. I can't get them to give me the form to fill in; they think I'm asking for a pen or something. We talk to Dora, first on her mother's phone, then on my phone, I can't hear half of what she's saying. I can't understand anything Dora's mother is saying.
Our turn gets close, and then suddenly Dora's mother is leaving ! I need her to handle the language. But she forgot her glasses. I start to follow her, and she tells me to stay here, I have to do this. She's gone.
A minute later, my number is called, I go up to the counter, get the form and envelope I need. Move aside for a while, write all the addresses and stuff, which are not simple. Back to counter, price turns out to be around €13, not the €55 on the sign. Certified, need a factura, ask if it will be there in 5 days or 8 days or what, we tried to ask that before. Can't understand, keep getting yes, yes, finally it's done, I'm out.
Try to call Dora, and I think my phone is saying the SIM is empty, add money. Give up, go to bus station. Eventually Dora calls, where am I, her mother is back at the Post Office. We agree that probably I sent the envelope normal-mail instead of air-mail or whatever. Which is bad, because this whole deal was somewhat urgent. I feel bad. [It took about 2.5 weeks to arrive in Peru, not too bad.]
Onto the bus at 1, home by 1:50.
Omelet for dinner. To Mercadona for groceries. Later to the locutorio to recharge a couple of phone SIMs. Online, finished and filed my Spanish wealth tax return. Out for a walk at 10:30 or so; nicely cool out tonight.
I went out after 8. To Plaza Arenal, and into "Ilusionismo", a free science-museum type thing they've installed there. Fairly nice, lots of optical illusions and science-stuff and some history of cinema. Crowded at this hour, lots of families.
To Mercadona for groceries, then home.
Dora called to say her niece was the only one in her class to earn a certificate in English this year. Still have to confirm that, but great !
Out in evening for a walk, and to "Ilusionismo" again.
Headachey. Took a Dolocatil.
Out with Dora before 11. To INEM, where they agreed with her and not me: her employment contract that doesn't specify pay rate is legal, and making her work 24-hour shifts is legal. To Centro Salud, where they say I have to wait 3 months since starting on the NHS, before I can change centers. But somehow they calculate the end of 3 months to be June 24, a week from now. That's 1 month since I got onto the NHS. Home.
Out after 8 with Dora. To the "Ilusionismo" in Plaza Arenal, then walked, bought a blouse in a clothing store, had drinks and a sandwich at a cafe. Warm, humid evening.
I'm out into the heat at 12:45. Caught the 1300 bus to Sanlucar, and it's the white one that was having major problems. They've fixed it a bit, but first gear still is bad. To Sanlucar, and hot walk to sister's house. Everyone is home, and staying in front of the air-conditioner and fan. I give plane boarding-passes to Dora's mother, my main reason for coming today.
Not much else for me to do here; the niece is flighty and her school-year is finished, the attempt to take the father to the hearing-aid place this morning failed because it was closed. We had lunch, watched some TV, chatted a little, then I walked to the station and caught the 1610 bus back to Jerez. To Mercadona for groceries and home by 5:20. Hot.
Headachey in late evening; took a Neobrufen.
Out for a walk around 8:30 in the evening. Lots of people out. Looks like there has been some parading in the center; they've put down some of those colored-stone pathways, and there are some religious platforms and displays sitting around, one with "second prize" tagged on it.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Dora in a cleaning-frenzy in later afternoon.
I went out to ATM (broken) and Mercadona after 8. Hot, and Dora says it's supposed to be hotter tomorrow.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan. Didn't sleep much at all, all night.
Where it's SNAFU. I've been telling them for months that her father needed hearing-aids, and they've left it until 2 days before her parents fly away to the north for the summer. I'm carrying cash to pay the first €500, but we have to sign up for an installment plan to pay the rest, even though I intend to pay it off in a lump-sum a few weeks from now.
But as I'm waiting in the lobby while Dora's mother and the office agent do the details, I hear a bad word, "hipoteca" (mortgage). And they're getting Dora's Barcelona info; why do they need that ? Turns out that when they say "pay in easy installments", really they mean "we'll call your bank and try to take out a loan in your name, so we get our money right away". And the numbers they told Dora that amount to a low interest rate are bogus; the bank will set the interest rate itself.
Dora's credit rating is in the pits, so neither of her banks that they call will do the loan. No hearing-aids today, and there's no way to get money over from USA by tomorrow. What do we do ? I'm calling Dora every 5 minutes, saying things to her, handing phone to her mother or the agent, getting it back, more talking with Dora. Finally they decide: pay the 500 today, pay remainder in a week or so, hearing-aids will be mailed to the north in 3 weeks or so, father will have to go to an office in Bilbao for a fitting. A hassle for them.
Out, and home after 12. Wait a while for lunch, watching TV and chatting with the niece. My phone SIM has run out; need to recharge it; glad it did't run out at the hearing-aid place. Finally eat, and soon I'm off to catch the 2:10 bus. Which is in a hurry for some reason; the driver blows through a red light early on, and drives pedal-to-the-metal all the way. But we hit some heavy traffic getting out of Sanlucar.
Home after 3, tired and hot. Shower. Go online, and start the transfer of hearing-aid money from my USA account to Dora's Spanish account.
Headache; took a sumatriptan. Napped.
Felt okay in the evening. Took melatonin before bed. Slept pretty well.
She doesn't want to go without me, and she's probably going to be late for the bus anyway. So she goes to the bank, and we'll take the 10 AM bus together.
She's back at 9:15, the money has not appeared in her account. We're out at 9:45, onto the 10 AM bus. Into center of Sanlucar, go to ATM, money still is not in her account. Have breakfast at a cafe. Back to ATM, money still not there. To hearing-aid place. To a shop to recharge the SIM in my phone. Then to sister's house.
We chat with the family, parents go out shopping for a while, they're back, we have lunch, watch TV. I find out that the hearing-aid place has agreed to provide the hearing-aids tonight, if they arrive from another place today, which they probably won't. So the money is not an obstacle any more, supposedly.
Parents take niece out to join her mother at the hospital, but bring her right back, the mother was busy. I thought we're staying through 8 tonight to see if the hearing-aids come through, but suddenly before 4 Dora says let's catch the 4:10 bus home. So we do that.
Walking home at 5, we stop at an ATM and find the money finally has arrived in Dora's account. Took almost exactly 24 hours from USA, not bad. Home by 5:10, hot.
Out after 7, to Hiper Number One for printer paper. Then out again to Mercadona for groceries.
Out in mid-evening for a walk with Dora. To the Ilusionismo for a little while, into several clothing-shops, home.
Defrosted the freezer, a big job involving lots of time and lots of mopping.
Out in early evening to bus station and then into center for a while. Later out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out in mid-evening for Dora. Walked into the center, sat, wandered around. Eventually to a bar we haven't tried before. Nice big Guinness sign etched into the woodwork, but they don't have Guinness. I had a Paulaner, Dora had a mojito. A rare time of Dora drinking alcohol, and it was fun. Home before 10:30.
Around 12:45, I went out to the local health center. Wanted to change my registration to here, but there was confusion about whether I have to wait another 2 months before I can do that. Finally the boss in the back room approved the change, and it's done.
Dora gave notice to her ambulance job in El Puerto, going to a new hospital job in Puerto Real. The boss of the old job is not happy. But new job is almost twice the pay, better conditions, no 48-hour shifts.
Dora out at 3:45 to a medical class, 4-9. I'm out to Mercadona for groceries.
I went out for a walk in the center around 7. Dora home at 8:30.
After 11, lots of fire-trucks and police going past. There's a building fire maybe 6 blocks down Calle Medina from us, maybe across from Correos. I saw orange glow on the top floor for a few seconds, then just lots of smoke.
Took a melatonin before bed.
Online, made appointments for Dora and I to see the NHS doctor next week. His time is assingned in 6-minute slots, as was Dora's time when she was doing this kind of job in Barcelona.
Out with Dora in early evening. To the center, strolled, clothing-shopped. Then into Carrefour for groceries. Home by 7.
Bummer: exchange rate has jumped to $1.14/€.
I went out to BBVA ATM for cash, then to Bankia to straighten out an internet-only account I'm trying to open. It's been stuck at the same error on a web page for 4 days now. Account-manager lady typed a lot, seemed to fix everything, I signed several times for contracts etc, gave ID, deposited €100. I left thinking everything was good, but at home I see that she created a new account number. Logged in online, no longer have the error, but it looks like I'm still in the old account. Signed contracts online, now it says "wait a while so we can verify your identity".
Went for a couple of walks in the center, in early evening and late evening. Lovely weather.
Out at 2 with Dora, into the center, and tried a cafe we haven't been to before. Nice lunch.
Out with Dora around 8. Half a block away, and a strap pulled out on her shoe. To a couple of Chinese shops for various things, then Mercadona for groceries. Back home, and glued the shoe.
Headachey; took a dolacatil.
Out with Dora in mid-evening, to stores and an ATM in center. Nice breezey weather, lots of people out.
Out before noon. To bank to try to straighten out creation of my account. Got a senior guy who seemed to know what he was doing, but even he sweated and puffed as he worked on it. Had me sign out a US tax form, which I figured had to be done at some point. At the end, he said "give me 2 days to get this all working", which is fine.
To bus station, and bought an overnight bus ticket to Madrid for my trip to USA. €27 for an 8-hour trip on what should be a nice bus and straight to the airport; not bad. The train schedule and train station location/connections are much less convenient, and more expensive, but the train would be faster.
Scanning lots of old pictures for Dora: Peru, Japan, Italy.
Out for a walk in mid-evening.
Out with Dora at 10:15. To center, and I waited while she met with her lawyer. Then back past the apartment and to a print shop to ask about ordering a signature-stamp. Then a block over to the medical center.
Met with our new family doctor. I handed him three pages of my medical history and requests, translated into Spanish. He and Dora exchanged rapid-fire Spanish, most off which I didn't understand. Eventually out, and downstairs to make appointments for blood tests. Home by 12:15.
Dinner, then Dora napped for several hours.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out with Dora after 10 for a late-evening walk in the center.
Out for a walk in early afternoon. Day turned sunny a little later. Dora home before 4.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Out with Dora at 5:30 to key shop and print shop. Then Dora out at 6:45 to go to Sanlucar to chat with her sister, and she wanted me to tag along but I said no.
Out at 9:30 to bus station, to meet Dora. Hauled a couple heavy bags of fruit home. Not surprised to hear that her sister was busy, Dora only had about 10 minutes to chat with her.
Out for a walk around 9; lots of people out, lovely weather.
Dora home after 11.
Out in mid-evening for a walk in the center, then Mercadona.
Out again at 10 or so, for a walk in the center. A concert going on in the Alcazar, and some kind of flea-market closing down outside it.
Out for a walk at 10:30.
Out with Dora at 9. To local Centro de Salud, to turn in urine samples and have blood taken for tests. I had no problem, but the nurses had to try three times before getting a suitable stick on Dora, she has small veins. Afterward, Dora realized I'd eaten breakfast this morning, which we weren't supposed to do. I'd read the instructions looking specifically for that, and they said nothing about fasting. I joked to Dora that they'll diagnose me as diabetic, and her as dead.
Across the street into the bank to try to get my new account going. Turned into 45 minutes of sitting and signing things, as the guy opened a third account number, but at the end he said everything is working now.
Out and to a cafe for coffees and a little breakfast for Dora. Then to print shop to see if the stamp is ready. Home by 11:15. Online, my bank account is working.
Nap, dinner. Online, trying to book tickets for Dora and I to go to Peru for the whole month of October.
Out with Dora to Mercadona for groceries.
Out with Dora at 11 for a walk in the center.
I got the Peru tickets paid for and confirmed, and somehow the total price went down €70 in the process. About €1650 (about $1890) roundtrip for the two of us Madrid-Lima in October.
Out for a walk in midafternoon; hot.
Dora home at 4:15. Dinner. Out with her before 7, to go to bank and several shops within 2 blocks of our building. Hot.
Online, ordered something from EBay.es, but accidentally chose wrong address. Cancel, have to wait for vendor to respond, argh !
Out with Dora at 7:30. Hot. To Correos to send a box, only to find they've changed to summer hours, now they close at 14:30. Into center, to a cafe, had sodas and a montadito. Heading home, into a shoe shop, bought a pair of shoes for Dora.
Didn't sleep well at all.
I went out at noon. Hot. To Correos and sent package. To center and sat for a little while. Hot. To Carrefour for some groceries.
Dora home around 4. Air-conditioning, and dinner.
Hot evening; stayed in. Melatonin before bed. But Dora tells me I've been taking it the wrong way: you're supposed to get into bed, into the dark and quiet, and then take the pill.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Loafed all day. Out for a late-night walk.
Out at 8:30, to train station to meet Dora in transit. Gave her some stuff, she gave me dirty clothes and the melon I cut up for her yesterday morning, now spoiled from sitting unrefrigerated for 24 hours. She didn't even have time to drink her coffee, just grabbed it and off to a taxi. Weather getting hot already; it's supposed to be very hot this weekend, I think.
Loafed all day, to Mercadona in midafternoon, late-night walk in center.
Finding out more about Dora's house in Lima Peru, and like the rest of her financial affairs, it's a disaster. Title unregistered and requires a $3000+ payment to settle. Three-way ownership with her two sisters, neither of which has the money to pay their share of anything. Top floor, owned by one sister, is virtually non-existent, just stubs of a few outside walls. And also Dora has a small personal loan outstanding with a cooperative in Peru that she forgot to tell me about. Dora hopes to rent or sell just her floor of the house, but is unwilling to consult with a real-estate agent until the title is settled. I want her to get estimates for fixup and rental or sale before paying the title registration, but she won't. SNAFU.
Out with Dora for a late-night walk in the center. Lots of people out. Warm but comfortable. Home at midnight.
Correos delivered pulse-oximeter I bought for Dora. I went out in midafternoon. To bank and my new ATM card works. To Mercadona for groceries. Home, and Dora's home, someone wanted to change shifts with her, so she did.
Out with Dora for a late-night walk; still and humid and warm out. Home a little after midnight.
Out with Dora for a late-night walk; breeze and humid and nice out. Home a little after midnight.
Dora out to bank before noon, and SNAFU. Lots of bogus charges on her credit card going back to late March, and she didn't know. Can't log in on the internet; I've been nagging her to get login info for a week now, and it would really come in handy right now. I'm out with her soon, and thought we were going to police station, but we go back to the bank to get a full list of charges. A couple of them may be legit charges from her son; we're not sure. Bank is a zoo, as usual. We get a list, go back home. Still don't have the internet login info.
Dora calls bank, gets internet access working. We look at charges, and more of them are coming back to her son. I get her onto text-chat with Skype support to figure out those charges. And finally we find out what's going on: somehow her son's debit card has been charging to her credit card, and he's been spending some money he shouldn't have (and some that was okay).
Out before 7, to center. Dora to dentist, and I wandered and sat for a while. We're both home around 8:30.
Figured out the last of the charges on the credit card; more stuff Dora's son bought. So all of the charges are legit; no one has stolen Dora's number.
Dora home at 4. Dinner.
Out with Dora at 6:15, to local health center, for appointments at 6:30. Short wait, in, and it's a substitute doctor. He evaluates the results of our blood and urine tests, and says my results are perfect, better than Dora's and his. (But he's being generous; my cholesterol values are just about at the limits of normal.)
Out, and we have coffee (Dora) and ice cream (me) in a cafe next to the health center. Then a walk into the center, sit for a while, a little shopping, home by 9.
I called Dora at 8:15, she answered right away, her shift got changed so she has to work until 10.
Went out for a late evening walk. Actually fairly cool tonight; nice.
Dora home at 11:15.
Dora home at 9. She had a bit of stomachache from a sandwich during her shift last night. Changed her shift today to be 3-N instead of 9-3. But then I find her shift today is going to go overnight: 3 until 9 tomorrow morning.
Sleep. Then up, and fed Dora, and she's out to work 2 today to 9 tomorrow. I ate, went for a walk, headachey, took acetaminophen, went for a late-night walk.
Dora home at 8. Then we're out together at 9. To train station, and caught train to Sevilla with about 1 minute to spare, because of line at ticket-counter.
To Sevilla by 10:15, taxi to Peruvian consulate by 10:30. Dora out with new passport and DNI by 11:05.
Walked up through the university, to the Alcazar, and decided to go next door to the cathedral. Admission €9 each, pretty steep. Huge place, lots of art, much of it behind bars. Interesting, but not the nicest cathedral I've seen. Up, up, up a tower to get nice views over the city. Down, down, down again. Pics.
Out and looked at some shops, then found a cafe for lunch. Pics. Water spraying down from the edges of the umbrellas to cool everyone off. What's the point of a "menu del dia" sign if half the things on it aren't available today ?
After lunch, tried to cut across to a different train station than the one where we arrived, but everyone says it is far away. We emerge to a big plaza, and I realize I've been reading the map wrong. Head for taxi, and we get in, and then I realize I've been reading the map REALLY wrong, the place I was heading is a bus station, not a train station. Take the taxi to our original station.
Dash in and buy tickets with 5 minutes to spare, but then the ticket-gate won't let us in. Turns out the train in 5 minutes is full, and we just bought tickets for the next train, an hour from now. So into the cafe to kill an hour. Pic.
Onto train, doze, off at Jerez, home after 5.
At 8, out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out at noon. Hot. To ATM, then walk in the center. Hot.
Dora home after 4. Dinner. Loafed. Out to Mercadona at 8:30.
Took melatonin at bedtime.
Dora home at 4. Dinner, then we're off to catch the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar. Got to her sister's place, and as I predicted, her sister is busy with patients. We napped upstairs for a while, then came down when the patients were gone. Chatted with her sister, and I took lots of pictures of a new English book for the niece to study.
We all were about to go to the center, when suddenly a new batch of patients showed up unexpectedly, and Dora and I relocated to the kitchen. The table was loaded with stuff and balanced on one edge, so when I put down 2 kilos of rice, the whole thing started flipping over, and we barely averted disaster.
Looked around the kitchen, and found various food spoiling (sister is here by herself, her parents and daughter have relocated to the north for the summer). I found lots of ice and water at the bottom of the refrigerator, and a sheet of ice at the top of the freezer, and cleaned all that out. Threw out bad food and various garbage. Watered the mother's plants that badly needed it.
Patients left, and soon we were piling into a taxi. Dropped the sister in the center to do an errand, then Dora and me at bus station 25 minutes early. No problem, nice evening, lots of people out.
Bus on time at 9:10, made a lot of stops in Jerez, home by 10:10.
I'm heading out at 11:15 when the building power goes out. Down 6 stories on the stairs; hope it's back on when I come back, carrying groceries. To the health center and get a cita for Dora. Walk and sit in the center. Hot. To Mercadona for groceries. Home, and the power is back on.
Start to cook my dinner, but at 12:55 the semi-main circuit-breaker flips, and something is seriously wrong, I can't get it to come back on. I turn off everything, unplug things, play with the fuse-box. I can get several breakers back on, but not the final one, that causes the semi-main to flip. Try for a while, no go. Eventually call Dora, but she's busy. She calls me back later, electricity still out, she'll send a message to the owners.
I keep trying the breakers every now and then. Dora says the owners will come at 5:30. Just before she gets home at 4, I find a combination of breakers that will let us have lights and TV and such. But the refrigerator and stove still are dead, and any time I flip a final breaker, the semi-main flips and I have to start all over again.
Dora home at 3:45, and we're out after 4, into center for a dental appointment for her. Hot. Back home by 5.
Owners show up around 6:30. We unplug everything from sockets, no go. Finally he slides out the clotheswasher and unplugs the refrigerator, and now everything else works. It appears the refrigerator has died, shorted. And apparently this is the second time this has happened; the motor was killed previously by electrical work, and replaced.
So, spent the evening trying to salvage what we could from the freezer and refrigerator. Ate a lot of melting ice cream; pleasant. Cooked up lots of chicken and pork from the freezer.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Refrigerator guy came around 1:15, worked for about 20 minutes, left, refrigerator still dead. He got some life out of the controls, maybe by disconnecting the motor.
Ate lots of food, took a couple of walks.
Sounds like it could be a week before we have a new refrigerator ? The owners want the electric company to come and determine if the damage was due to the building electrical work.
Out at 1245 to catch 1300 bus to Sanlucar, taking some refrigeratable items with us. Walked to sister's house. Hot.
I get bored listening Dora and her sister talk in high-volume high-speed Spanish. Problems at sister's work, and the sister needs to vent. Then trying to see if Dora and I will go to Bilbao area for a short visit in August, trying to see if some or all of us will go to Port Aventura or Benicassim. I want to teach English to the niece over the phone, but the textbook hasn't been sent to her, the files I emailed haven't been printed, and the sister wants me to teach the sister who will then teach the niece; madness.
But the major thing to talk about is the sister's financial troubles, which I later find out are more dire than we knew, she's missed a bunch of court notices and is about to have various judgements taken against her. Well, at least that will resolve part of the situation; she's been unwilling to give up anything, insists on keeping two apartments she owns (as well as the one she rents, here) and keeping her daughter in a very expensive school. Now a court will decide about the apartments. But she'll still have crushing mortgage debt, zero savings, big payments on medical equipment, expensive school payments, and a daughter who will need to start university in about 7 years.
I go for a nice but hot walk on the malecon, and down to the water to dip my toes in.
There's talk of staying to go to a movie, but I don't want to. Had been talk of going to a concert at 10 and staying overnight, but it's too expensive, and then Dora gets a call that she's needed to work a 24-hour shift starting early tomorrow morning.
Catch the 6:15 bus back to Jerez, home by 7:10. Hot.
Dora crashes into bed around 9. I go out for a walk in the center around 10:30.
Loafed all day. Tried to call the north to teach English to the niece, but the phone number doesn't work. Out for a walk in early evening. Got the phone number corrected, but no answer. Out for a walk at midnight.
After noon, Dora wanted to go out to buy a pair of shoes at the corner shop. I said no, and instead brought out every pair of her shoes, slippers, boots etc that I could find in the apartment, and spread them out on the living-room floor: pic. I counted 63.5 pairs, although I might be off by maybe 2 in either direction. She's wearing a pair of flip-flops now, so add 1.
Still no progress with teaching English to the niece. She's been sick, they're not sure if she has a copy of the book, they're busy doing other things this afternoon.
Dinner. Out to Mercadona for groceries. Later got Dora to designate about 3 pairs of shoes to go to the donation bin, and another 6 or 8 pairs to go to her relatives in Peru when we go there.
Finally got connected to the niece in the north, and did 2 pages of her English book. 30+ minutes on the phone, I think.
Out for a walk in the center; lovely slightly-cool evening.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan. Out for a quick walk in the center, keeping an eye on my phone; refrigerator guy is supposed to come sometime today. Taught English to the niece over the phone for 20 minutes. Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Dora home after 4. Dinner. Then half an hour on the phone teaching English to a reluctant niece.
So, no refrigerator repairman today. Now the owners say they're going to buy a new refrigerator tomorrow.
Out with Dora after 9. Wandered in the center, sat at a cafe and had coffees and pastries. They closed, so we sat on a bench for a while. Lovely weather, lots of people out. Then around the Alcazar, and back into Plaza Arenal, and to a cafe for bathroom, beer and coffee. Home by 11:20.
Out to local heatlh center to get a particular form, but they don't have it. To a liquor store to buy a bottle to take to USA.
Called the niece at 1 and taught her some English, but the 3-year-old twins kept charging into the room and she kept putting them on the phone and trying to get them to say "hello, uncle Bill" to me.
Called the niece again at 3 and did some more English, but she was very reluctant, got through only one page of her book instead of the usual 2.
Out to Mercadona for groceries. Home just before Dora. Dinner.
Trip to USA:
Took a Neobrufen as a preventive measure. To bus station with Dora by 21:55. Bus arrived about 10 minutes late, at 22:15. Bought the ticket a while ago; €27 to Madrid. Say good-bye to Dora and I'm on and we go. Wi-Fi on board, but no AC power. Bus is comfortable but not great.
Stops at several smaller towns, then at Cordoba at 0100. Some seats have opened up, so I'm able to move to two seats by myself and spread out, which is more comfortable.
Long ride to Madrid, everyone trying to sleep. Into Madrid Sur station by 0545, and everyone off and switch to an identical bus next to this one. Go, and to airport by 0615.
Into terminal, hit bathroom, up to departure level, find I'm right where I need to be, here's my check-in counter (not open yet). I use the automated machine to get baggage tag and boarding pass, and it says "surprise ! your flight is delayed 5 hours !". But the ticket it prints and the TV screens don't say that. We'll see. I find outlets, plug in, start charging and typing. Plenty of other people waiting too.
Check-in starting to set up at 0700. I got in line at 0730, but they didn't open until before 0800, and then took all the Washington passengers first. Sign still showing takeoff on time at 1120, but when I finally got up to the counter, the guy said "we don't know WHEN this plane will take off", checked me in and took my bag, and gave me a €14 food voucher.
Breezed through Security and passport check, of course, no waiting. Walked to gate area. Few AC outlets in this airport, have to sit on the floor to use one.
Got free Wi-Fi, emailed Dora and my brother about the flight delay. Airline sent me a couple of emails starting at 0430 this morning telling me of the delay.
Waiting. Nowhere comfortable to sit if I want to use my devices on AC, and their batteries are weak, and there's nowhere with two outlets so I could both use the laptop and charge the phone simultaneously. I'm drowsy.
To Burger King, and €14 is not overly generous. I have a big burger, some chicken-fries, and a Kit-Kat milkshake (good, but not as good as I hoped). Found a booth that has two AC outlets ! Lingered and did Wi-Fi.
Wandering and waiting all afternoon, doing some charging of devices and some internet. Around 1400, the displays start saying "we'll give you a gate assignment at 1430", which is encouraging. At 1430, we have a gate, people go there, a line forms, but doesn't move. They start calling individual names, maybe for paperwork or standby or security, I don't know.
At 1600, a plane has arrived, pilots standing around, the top check-in agent guy is here. Took a sumatriptan. Finally at 1610, the line starts moving, people are getting onto the plane !
We're all aboard fairly quickly, maybe by 1630, but then we sit. At least I can lean back and doze a bit. We sit and sit, then they announce that a cargo hold door won't close because some bulk cargo is on a pallet that doesn't fit, they have to take it off and put the cargo back on without the pallet.
Finally we push back from the gate at 1800. Eventually to a runway and off the ground at about 1815.
The flight is okay, decent chicken curry for dinner. I get some sleep, but mostly just kill time, looking at some movies other people are watching on their screens. Too loud to listen to my MP3 players, which mostly are out of charge anyway, and my laptop battery is low too. More food and drink. But the 8-hour flight stretches on and on; at one time I hope we're mostly there, and find we're barely past the halfway point.
Thunderstorms in the NYC area, and bumpy as we're descending. Finally we land, before 2000, about 6 hours late. Gate area is so crammed that we have to shut off engines and get towed the last 50 yards or so.
I'm in the last row of the plane, so just about the last off. Feeling reasonably good. Takes about 20 minutes to get through passport control, no automated picture-taking machines here, but they ask me few questions.
Baggage claim is crowded, but my bag is out already, grab it and through the line. Follow signs to the airport train, buy a ticket to Hamilton. Get to the airport train, and someone's preventing the doors from closing, as confused people are getting on and then changing their minds, so I slip on with no wait. To airport train station, and a train to the southwest arrives in 5 minutes or so, a little after 2100. I'm on, and to Hamilton station before 2200. Fast.
A bit too fast for my brother; I don't have a working phone or internet, no way to notify him, just have to wait. He shows up at 2230, not bad at all, and of course I'm very glad to see him.
Arrived at brother's house at 2245. That was about 31 hours door-to-door. Send messages to Dora, start charging devices. Messages from Dora sent earlier; we have a new refrigerator in the Jerez apartment now. Shower, take melatonin, to bed.
Sorting through several months of accumulated paper mail.
For delay yesterday, United is giving me a "token of appreciation": more miles in my frequent-flier account.
Opening several packages I ordered recently: sumatriptan, external disk drive, laptop battery.
Weather is cool for August in New Jersey, but still a bit hot on a midday walk.
Headachey in the evening; took a sumatriptan.
Heavy, heavy rain at 3:45 AM.
Had some nice Jersey tomato and peach, and also spinach-feta pierogis.
Going for lots of walks in the neighborhood; weather lovely. And suddenly cooler at night; windows open tonight.
Picked up by rental guy, to office, rented a car for a day ($71 plus gas). To downtown Trenton, to Vital Records office, got a certified copy of my birth certificate and a "statement of no marriage", for $92. After a wrong turn, to another office and submitted the documents to be apostilled, for $80. Will pick them up tomorrow. Experiences in both offices were terrific: no lines, clean offices, friendly employees, in and out quickly. Stopped in a couple of pharmacies to ask about vaccinations, but I think I may buy the vaccines in Spain and have my favorite doctor inject me.
Out in midafternoon to Walmart to buy clothes, shoes, groceries, etc. Raining harder and harder.
Online, trying to do things, and hitting some roadblocks. Put on credit-freezes with two credit agencies, but third is failing. Tried to create an online account for Social Security, but it's failing, will have to go to an office to do it.
Went out to two more pharmacies, asking about vaccinations. Went home, and one of them called me back later. Prices all over the map. Looks like I'll do measles here, tetanus in Spain, skip the hepatitis B.
When my brother came home in the afternoon, out with him to downtown Trenton again. Picked up my apostilled documents. Into a pharmacy but they didn't have measles vaccine in stock. To Social Security office and got code to create my online account. Into another pharmacy, but they want a prescription before vaccinating.
Home, and got the SS account created okay. Out for a walk, then later with my brother for another walk.
Messages from Dora: she's found a way to get vaccinations for international travelers through the health service in Spain, so we should be able to get Tetanus and Hep B and Yellow Fever vaccinations at least.
Online, finished doing credit freezes with all three credit-reporting agencies.
Out for several walks. Lovely, slightly-hot weather, better than I expected in August in NJ.
Did English with the niece.
Slept, went for walks. In evening, out with my brother to a nice pizza place near the Delaware river.
Spent 20 minutes on Skype with Travelocity trying to resolve a billing problem from a year ago. Out for a walk. Lunch. Another 80 minutes on Skype with Travelocity. They say they'll email me with a resolution on Monday.
Went for several walks, including one with my brother. Lovely weather.
Up to my sister's house, to help my other brother load a heavy sculpture into his truck. Went out for lunch with everyone. Nice time.
Out for several walks in the afternoon and evening. Humid and trying to rain, but not quite raining.
To Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia, to see outside of new townhouse my sister and her husband have bought. Nice neighborhood. Nice lunch at a bar-restaurant. Pics.
On TV, watched Barca lose to Real Madrid 3-1. A fairly wild but frustrating game, Barca unable to get decent shots on goal. And the announcers talked incessantly about Neymar being gone.
Out to a towpath in Pennsylvania for a long walk, with my brother.
At home, was using my laptop when Windows 10 crashed pretty horribly, and would not restart. Finally got it into Automatic Repair mode, but that said it couldn't repair it (probably means: found nothing wrong). Booted into Safe Mode successfully. Did a Restart and normal-mode Windows came up okay. Phew ! Did a backup. Restarted and it still works.
Out for several walks. Rainclouds hovering all day, no rain.
Headachey at 3 AM; took a sumatriptan.
Went to Asbury Park with my brother. Just barely sprinkling rain as we left the Trenton area, but raining harder in the middle of the state, and raining lightly but steadily in Asbury Park. Only a few people on the beach, although we did see a flock of beautiful women in bikinis just before we left. Had lunch, walked a little, drove up the coast looking at houses a bit. Pics.
Headache in the evening; took acetaminophen. Worse later; took a sumatriptan, and that worked.
Out for a shopping trip. Out later to buy tickets for the $430 million Powerball lottery.
Out to dinner in Yardley with my brother and a friend.
None of us won the lottery, but then no one did. Prize rolls over to next time.
Packing. Will go see my brother in South Orange today, then to Newark airport and back to Spain.
Out at 10, up to Newark area, stopped to buy tickets for $510 million Powerball lottery. To my other brother's house, saw all the stuff he's been renovating there, had a big nerf-gun battle with us three brothers and the nephew. Eventually out to a diner for lunch. Back to brother's house, played chess with nephew.
To airport by 15:10 or so. No problems checking in, Security a little slow, to gate by 15:40 for 18:05 flight. No Wi-Fi.
Just before arriving at the airport, I heard about a big terrorist attack in Barcelona. Dora's son is there, but he's fine, he was nowhere near the attack.
Flight is only about 40% full, so I had my row of three seats to myself; nice. Took off more or less on time. Uneventful flight, tried to sleep but mostly watched a movie and then about four Game of Thrones episodes, all with subtitles in Portugese.
Flight left delayed a little, I think, because we had to load onto a bus and drive a long way around the airport to get to the plane. A one-aisle turbojet holding about 75 passengers. No empty seats. Uneventful flight to Sevilla, then the whole bus had to wait while one young woman slowly re-arranged her suitcase and backpack after getting off the plane.
No passport check, suitcase appeared quickly, out through nothing-to-declare lane. To bus queue, and had to wait about 15 minutes for the bus, not bad. And usually it's packed and standing room, but not today; I had an empty seat next to me. I accidentally went one stop too far, but that was only about 3 blocks, and I had plenty of time. Into the Santa Justa train station by 1555 for a 1645 train. No Wi-Fi or AC power here. I'm tired. And it's fairly hot here, although inside the station is fine.
Train to Jerez. Trundled my heavy suitcase and carry-on through the heat. Home at 18:05, hot and tired. Soon into the shower. That was about a 21-hour trip. Dora's working until tomorrow.
Out of the shower, standing around naked and feeling clean and somewhat cool, and get a phone call from Dora's sister, the one who speaks the least English. At first I think she's calling from Bilbao, but then it turns out she's at the bus stop here in Jerez, about to catch a bus to Bilbao, and there's some difficulty. It sounds like her suitcase is broken and the bus company won't let her put it on the bus ? And the bus leaves in 15 minutes.
So, I throw on some clothes, dump out my suitcase, and run down to the bus station with the suitcase. Turns out she has a big awkward semi-heavy bundle where the straps have broken off, and she needs me to carry it to the bus area and then load it onto the bus when it gets here. So I do that, bus soon arrives, she's on and gone. I'm back home by 19:05, hot and sweaty again. Another shower.
To Mercadona for groceries.
Took a melatonin and to bed at 10:30. Slept well.
Out with Dora after 11. To main post office, then to a cafe for coffees and toast.
Dinner, nap, loafed.
Out to Mercadona at 8:45 with Dora, which is much more stressful than just going by myself. Brought back a ton of stuff.
Took a melatonin and to bed. Slept not so well.
Loafed. Did one short page of English with the niece. Spaghetti for dinner.
Out in midevening. To ATM. Bought Peru calling card for Dora. Walked in the center.
Online, bought plane and bus tickets for Dora's son to go back to medical school in Slovakia.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan. Out for walk just before midnight.
Took a melatonin and to bed. Didn't sleep well for a while.
Out with Dora around 11:30, into center. To main govt office, to ask about solteria certificate. She's told we have to get a cita for the pareja de hecho, it might be hard to get an appointment. So we wait for almost half an hour, go in, and are told no cita needed, just come any time you have the documents.
Out, bathroom stop, and to a bank. Lines incredibly slow, took almost half an hour there.
Into a taxi, to Juzgados (Jusitica) building to get solteria certificate. But they closed at 1. Into HiperAsia market, bought a little stuff, looked around. Out and tried to find a bus, but none of them here go where we want. Called a taxi and home by 2, hot and tired.
Almost finished cooking dinner at 2:30, and the niece calls, wondering why I didn't call at 1. So I called her back and we did a page of English.
Laundry, dinner, crashed for a long nap.
Headachey in late evening; took a sumatriptan. A little concerned that this is becoming necessary most days. Maybe I still have some jet-lag, maybe it's the heat, don't know.
Took a melatonin and a muscle-relaxer and to bed. Took a while to get to sleep.
Gave myself a haircut.
Out to the bank after 11, to deal with three problems with my account. Had to wait a while, and the lady didn't speak any English, but I think she took care of the problems. Back home, logged in, looks like she did two out of three, and one of the two has a detail wrong that I'd like to fix. I'll try that tomorrow.
Online, sent scans and payment to a translation service, to translate my birth certificate and no-marriage documents from NJ. Total cost €66.37.
Out after 2. Hot. Tried to scope out restaurants for tonight, but the one that is open has no sign about hours. To big store to look for envelopes, but came away empty.
Dora home at 4 or so. Salad for dinner. Loafed.
Out at 9:30 or so with Dora, to a semi-fancy restaurant about 2 blocks away, Restaurante Meson Alcazaba. Nice meal, good soup and nice meats and wine, nice conversation, pleasant waiter. Pics.
Loafed all day. Called the niece at 1, but they're out. Got busy with messages for Dora about buses and such, forgot to call the niece back later. Spaghetti for dinner.
Out at 6:30, trundling an empty suitcase. To bus station. Tried to buy a ticket for Dora to go to Bilbao and back, but the return schedule isn't what the web site said, so I didn't buy the tickets.
Onto the 7 PM bus to Sanlucar. Got there, to sister's house, called caretaker guy, he showed up and gave me the keys. Hauled a baby-car and an electronic keyboard up from the basement and out into the front yard. Tried to find notepads and coloring books and other kids-books I was asked to fetch, but only found a handfful of them. And then realized I can only bring back 2 out 3 items anyway, since I'll have to carry them from bus station to apartment in Jerez. Left the suitcase with about half a dozen coloring books in it.
Caretaker guy showed up a bit late, hauled the stuff down the block to the car, to the bus station with about 5 minutes to spare. No storage compartment underneath on this bus, but no problem putting the stuff inside in the middle. To Jerez, and then a slow slog home lugging the heavy, bulky items. Home after 10:20, and now exchanging messages with Dora.
Out again at 10:45, to train station, Dora arrived at 11. She's tired, and I'm a bit tired too. Over to the bus station. This time I've brought a web page printout showing the bus coming back from Bilbao that Dora would want. At first, the lady again denies it exists, then it turns out it's not a direct bus, and she makes it sound like you're likely to get stranded in Cordoba and Dora would miss her work shift on the next day. Sounds bogus to me. We ask about other options, such as sending just the cargo (baby car and keyboard), but that's fairly expensive.
Dora spends a long time on the phone discussing it with one of her sisters, and finally decides not to go. Which is what I'd been advocating all along, and I'd been refusing to go myself. 2 days of travel in order to spend 2.5 days there, and half the people are going to be somewhere else anyway, and in 2 weeks some of those people wil be back home down here anyway. And it turns out the person who would have to shuttle her between Bilbao and the town is working, so she might lose another half-day on each end. Dora really wants to see the 3-year-old twins, but it's not to be. We give up and get home by 11:50.
Shower, food, bed.
Out at 10:30 or so with Dora. Into a taxi, to Juzgados office to get her solteria certificate. She was out in 15 minutes or so, got a certificiate or it will come in the mail, I'm not sure. Into nearby shopping center, soon into a bakery for coffees and pastry.
And then Dora tells me that the Pareja de Hecho process we're in the middle of, that I thought we had all the instructions for, has a whole second procedure that has to be done at this office. I may need a second set of documents from USA. I can't believe it; I thought we had this under control. We've spent $350 for documents and translations, and now they may expire before we can get all the way through it. I'm upset.
I force Dora to go back into the office and ask for a copy of instructions, and ask about the fee. She comes out with the answer that's there's no fee, but had no chance to ask for instructions. Crap !
Taxi back home. Buy fruit at stand nearby. Home after 1.
Sure enough, translation service has sent email saying good news, we're mailing your translations today. Emailed them to ask for two sets of each. Had to pay another €24.
Didn't win last night's Powerball lottery.
Dinner, loaf. Then found a hotel near Gibraltar and made a reservation for Sunday night. €79 at Ohtels Campo De Gibraltar (actually in La Linea). One major drawing card is the pool; it's hot here today.
Out at 9:30 or so with Dora. Wandered to center, around Alcazar, up to upper plaza, then to an outdoor cafe we've never tried before. I ordered a sweet Vermouth, expecting a shotglass, and got a big drink with ice and cherry etc: pic, pic2. Dora had a red wine. We sat and talked for a long time, lots of people out tonight, very warm evening. Wobbled out and walked home, in by 11:30.
To my bank, where they removed a charge from my account, then I tried to show them that their web page for creating transfers was broken. And of course it worked fine on their computer, so I felt like an idiot.
Into the center, to post office, mailed a letter to USA. Then Dora bought lingerie in a couple of shops, and took so long that I gave up waiting and went home. Dropped off stuff, back out to Mercadona for groceries, back home, and there's Dora just getting home. In by 2:15, hot and tired.
Dinner, nap, loaf. Glued shoes: Dora pulled a strap out of one of her shoes yesterday, and the tip is peeling off one of my (fairly old) shoes.
Dora out in the evening to have her hair done. Later I went out to ATM and then Mercadona. Hot, humid out.
Dora home, her hair very straight and nice. But another pair of shoes has broken; a strap pulled out, as usual.
Tried to arrange a BlaBlaCar for going to Gibraltar, but someone snagged the seats while I was messaging the driver.
Dinner, TV, loaf, nap. Lining up what to see on our 2-day trip to Gibraltar, I see that Monday is a bank holiday there. Probably won't affect us much.
Dora out to work 7 PM to 2 AM at a motorcycle race in Medina-Sedona.
Out for a walk in the center after 9. Warm and absolutely still, no breeze. Lots of people out, as usual.
Dora home at 2:30.
Trip to Gibraltar:
Up at 7:15, showers, packing for trip to Gibraltar, out to catch 0830 bus to Algeciras (€22 for two of us). Starting to rain a little, skies very grey. Some real rain halfway through the trip.
Arrived Algeciras around 10, and I think we just missed a bus. Caught an 11 AM bus to La Linea, and arrived about 11:45. 3 blocks to the hotel, checked in (€80 for one night), all is well. They gave a room with a view for no extra charge, and let us up to the room right away, instead of having to wait until the 2 PM check-in time. pics.
Out around 1, and walked down 5-6 blocks to the frontier crossing into Gibraltar. Walked in with officials not really checking papers, just eyeballing things as we walked past. A few raindrops, but they soon stopped.
Quickly onto a crowded #10 bus, and through town and down to the cable-car bottom station. But we walked away from it. Nice cemetery: pic. Various things on the street: pics. Found a place for lunch, The Angry Friar pub. Great decor, good food, service a little spotty. We ate and lingered. pics. Not cheap, €27.
Out and to the cable-car station, and a 20-25-minute line to buy tickets (€39) get onto a car. Up the side of the Rock, with Dora whimpering that she didn't like it. There was a monkey (ape ?) perched right on the railing at the upper station as we came out of the car.
We wandered around the upper station, lots of people taking pictures of the monkeys, and some pictures of the views. We're right at the base of the clouds here, so it's very humid. Pics. We wander up higher, see more monkeys. Back to the station, and into a restaurant to relax and have drinks.
Dora wants to walk down instead of taking the cable-car again, but it's a long walk, and I doubt she'll like the bridge in the middle either. We get onto a cable-car and Dora is softly squealing for much of the trip down. But we survive.
Ten-minute wait for a bus, but it takes us right back to the frontier. I have to hand my passport and residency card to an official for inspection, but otherwise it's a drive-by check like the one on the way in.
To the hotel by 7 or so. Shower and relax. Down to the pool around 8, and the pool is fairly small and the deepest part is 1.5 meters deep. But the water is warm and we enjoy floating and paddling around. Pics. Back upstairs after an hour or so.
Out at 10:30 or so. Skies clear now. Dora has the idea that La Linea is a dangerous place, but she's only seen the other end of town, near a hospital. This part seems okay, and a few blocks in we find a central plaza that has plenty of people and cafes etc. After looking at some pricier restaurants, we sort of stumble into a kebab-shop where the Real Madrid - Valencia football game is on a big TV outside. We have decent cheap (€14) food (pic) and watch about 2/3 of the game. A sloppy and wild game, pretty exciting. After we get tired and leave and start walking home, we hear cheering as two more goals are scored. Oh, well.
Home after midnight and to bed.
Weather a little clearer this morning: pics.
Loafed. At 10:45 or so, down to the hotel pool, which doesn't look all that clean. I'm not in the mood for a swim, but Dora has a nice swim under darkening grey clouds. Pics. A few raindrops as she finishes. Actually, we're running out of time; check-out time is noon.
Back to the room, out of it by 11:45, down to the lobby. Lucky to beat the line, which forms behind us. We check out and put our suitcase into storage to be picked up later.
Up to 1st floor for a few pictures. Pics.
Out and walk down to the Gibraltar crossing point. Through Customs and Immigration, and then we walk across the airport runway (pics) and into town. Trying to find the #2 bus, but we don't have a decent map, and roads are curvy and confusing. Eventually we're looking down on a bus terminus from a bridge above it. We wind down into Casemates Square and then to the bus terminal. Out bus arrives promptly, some confusion about what ticket to buy, then we're on.
Down to Europa Point by 12:40 or so, I think. See the sights: lighthouse, view of Africa, lots of commercial ship traffic, a big gun, a mosque that is closed today. Pics. Catch the 1:15 bus back.
Off at the terminus next to Casemates Square, and we go into the square. Full of cafe tables from a dozen different restaurants. We choose Rock English Fish And Chips. Pic. Dora's fish-and-chips is good, my chicken-mushroom potpie is disappointing. Food definitely inferior to yesterday's lunch, and about the same price, €26.
Back to the terminus, and Dora wants to go to the (new) hospital to network about jobs. Each bus that comes is going the wrong direction, but after 20+ minutes, we get a bus that works for us. 10-minute ride, and we're lucky to get off at the right stop, they don't have names on the stops here, and the bus driver wasn't going to call out to us, even though he knew where we were going.
Into the hospital, and of course the place is mostly empty, it's a bank holiday. We find a little activity at Emergency, they direct us up to the Administration floor which is deserted, we come back down. Go out back because I want to take some pictures of the harbor, and find various nurses and such on break. So Dora talks to a couple of them for a while. Eventually back up to Administration, find someone, Dora gives some info, she comes away happy. Some ships moving in the harbor, including a cruise-ship coming in: pic.
Out at to a stop for the #5 bus. It takes 15 minutes to come. I'm watching the clock; we have to catch a series of buses to get home. The #5 comes in good time. Takes us to the frontier, and we cross back into La Linea (Spain).
Planning to catch the 5:45 bus from La Linea to Algeciras; the 6:15 bus might get there just in time to catch the 7:00 bus from Algeciras to Jerez, but missing it would be a real pain. But we got to the hotel just after 5, picked up our suitcase, and a little hustling got us onto the 5:15 bus.
To Algeciras by 6. We freshened up, bought tickets for the 7 PM bus, had something to drink in the cafe.
Onto the 7 PM bus, dozing, made a few stops but mostly a direct ride.
Home at 8:30. Tired, headache, took a sumatriptan. Some food revived me. Unpacking.
I spend a couple of hours copying and sorting and labeling pictures from our trip, from three phones.
Put out laundry, loafed. Before 8, out for a walk in the center, then to Mercadona. Lovely cool weather. Out again for another walk at 11 or so.
Two blocks, and into the Vaccination Center for International Travelers, for 0900 appointment. Soon talking to a doctor. Dora is spinning a tale about us planning to go to the jungle in Peru, so we can get Yellow Fever vaccinations; I expected that part. But she's also BSing about us going to India; I didn't expect that. Turns out she wanted us to get meningitis vaccinations too, but that's not happening.
Takes a while, but finally we're done with the doctor, and we have prescriptions for various vaccinations. For me, tetanus, Yellow Fever, typhoid, and malaria pills. Plus blood test to see if I need Hepatits B and measles vaccinations.
To the nurse's office, and I get my Yellow Fever vaccination. Dora gets Yellow Fever and Hepatitis A vaccinations. I'm amazed that she doesn't already have these, and doesn't have a vaccination "passport" recording her vaccinations. She worked in the Peruvian jungle, traveled to Gaza, other places, and she doesn't have these ? [Found out later, she has a vaccination passport, somewhere in her "filing system", but forgot to bring it, and wanted to kick me for mentioning it in front of the doctor.] My yellow vaccination records from USA are rejected; I get an international "passport" now.
We pay €19 for each vaccination, a bargain. Out at 1025, just late enough to miss the train.
Around the corner and into the ferry terminal, and have coffees and toast etc. Dora makes phone calls and checks messages.
Catch the 1125 train, to Jerez by 1215. Stop at locutorio, then I leave Dora at the butcher shop, and I'm home by 12:30.
Dora home after 12:45, and I'm out to Mercadona for groceries.
Nice dinner of ribs, rice, salad. Then crash for a big nap.
Out at 6:15 with Dora. To center, and I loafed while she was in a dentist appointment. She came out with braces on her upper teeth. Walked a bit, into several shops, eventually to a pastisseria near our apartment. Coffee for her, ice cream for me, and we lingered for a while. Home by 9:30.
I went to local health center for 0900 appointment with doctor. He did my vaccination-related paperwork, but since I hadn't also made an appointment for Dora, he was unable to do Dora's paperwork. Went back home, got online, tried to make an appointment for her, and something is going wrong with the digital certificates. Eventually got a cita another way.
Went back at 1120, the doctor did paperwork for Dora, then I took both sets down to Administration and got citas to have our blood taken.
Received translated documents for PdH.
Headache; took a sumatriptan.
Dora home at 4, and she cooked a big pesto dinner.
Getting our documents together to do PdH. Dora thought she needed to wait for a document from Peru, but I think we're ready to go.
Out at 9 for a walk in the center; warm and humid.
Called the niece and did two pages of English with her, but I think her English textbook got left behind when they came back from vacation.
Out at 2, to ATM and walk and then Mercadona.
Dora home after 4. Dinner.
Out with Dora in the evening. To ATM, to farmacia for a big load of stuff, back home to dump it, back out, to another farmacia for more stuff, then clothing store. Then into center to a cafe. Lots of people out tonight. Home by 9:30 or so.
Glued one of Dora's shoes.
Dora stayed up until 5 AM or so, typing some paper for an online congress, and maybe another paper for her sister ?
Headachey, but didn't take anything.
Did one page of English with the niece, but she was reluctant and the phone line dropped several times.
Spaghetti for dinner.
Out at 8:45. To a bar for a beer and to watch 20 minutes of Spain vs Italy game. Walked, then home, and watched a little more of the game on TV.
Out before midnight, for a walk in the center and to sit around there for a while.
Out, and walked to the center. Into the city hall government office, short wait, then we're in to do Pareja de Hecho (civil union, sort of). Lots of forms and handing over papers and signing and stamping stuff. Good news: we have everything needed. Bad news: the man is taking all of our originals, and we're going to need a second set of originals for the registro central. Charge here is only €2.50, but we've paid about $300 to get these original documents from USA and Barcelona, and we're going to have to get another complete set. Mayor has to sign our certificate here, so we'll receive that in about 2 months.
Out, and to a cafe for coffees and toast and ham.
Out, and to bank so Dora can send some money to the north, then a slow walk home with Dora talking nonstop on the phone. Home by 10:15.
Dora in a whirlwind of activity, paying rents on the computer, then typing a paper for a congress. I make a nice dinner and she doesn't have time to take a bite of it. Then she's mad at me for not helping her sort paperwork. She rushes out the door after 1:15, in a rush to make it to the train to work 2 to whenever. Insanity.
Out at 7 for a walk and sit in the center. Nice breeze.
To train station and met Dora as she arrived at 11. We walked into the center and found a bar, Cafe Canela, which turned out to be very nice. Gin-and-tonic for me, local red wine for Dora, and we relaxed and chatted. Home at 12:50.
Dinner, then we're out at 3:30. Hustled to heath center for a 3:40 appointment, but it's a mess there. The doctor is running behind because of an emergency, and some other people are trying to get in with supposedly urgent problems. We wait about 15 minutes, and plow in.
The doctor and Dora disagree about whether we need prescriptions to have vaccinations done, but he starts writing them for us. Eventually we're out, and to administration. Where Dora butts heads with the nurse who does vaccinations. Dora wants to get them today, administrator is willing, even though we have an appointment to do that tomorrow. But the nurse refuses. Then tells us they only have two doses of the tetanus vaccine, which they're saving for babies and pregnant women. Dora tells me later she's sure the nurse is lying. Nurse goes back in to the doctor a couple of times, we get nowhere, we're out of there.
To a nearby cafe to have coffees and let Dora calm down.
Out after 5, and to nearby farmacia. Dora goes through a long list of vaccines with the pharmacist, but they don't have 2/3 of them in stock. He agrees that the health center is supposed to do the tetanus vaccination for free, and says none of the pharmacies have the tetanus vaccine for that reason. Dora has a friend who specializes in vaccinations at the clinic where she works, and he has most vaccines (but not tetanus-only), so we could go there. About all the pharmacy has in stock is meningitis B and C vaccines, and neither is cheap. No hepatitis B, no measles, no tetanus, no shingles, no pneumococcus.
Finally out of there, and home before 6.
Dora's parents and niece are almost home, after flying back from the north on tickets I bought. I'm glad their trip went okay.
And now we're getting roped into fixing some of her sister's paperwork problems. She never bothered to update the padron when she moved, her parent's healthcare cards were never updated when they got citizenship, I'm sure they never updated their addresses, the parents need family doctor appointments that I should arrange and Dora will have to attend.
Dora out in the evening to get a factura at a store, and she was out forever. I watched 30 minutes of first half of Espana - Lichtenstein game, and it was 4-0 Espana at the half.
Before 10, I dressed and went out to find Dora. She was down in the building courtyard finishing a phone call. Back up to the apartment. And online I made doctor's appointments for her parents.
Then out with Dora, for a walk in the center. No breeze at all. Home by 10:45 and turn on the air-conditioner.
I went out around noon. To health center to cancel appointments. To ATM for cash. Walked in the center. Hot.
Dora home at 4. Rush to cook and eat dinner. Out at 4:45 to catch the 5 PM bus to Sanlucar.
Met her parents in the bus station. Walked to the health center there. Saw a doctor pretty promptly, but the doctor wouldn't do much because her mother's illness isn't urgent enough. Did get a list of medicines.
To the "cow" cafe, and had smoothies (not so good) and ice cream. Then we all had Cokes, which we enjoyed more. Dora's sister and niece showed up, and we chatted for a while.
Then into the center, and down to the father's hearing-aid place. Dora comes out saying the model delivered to her father is not the model they promised we were buying, but a knock-off. I think the paperwork is screwed up, so we can't prove it. I hope he can just have them adjusted a couple of times; they seem to work semi-okay for him.
Out, I thought we'd go to sister's house, but it turns out patients arrived there and the sister dashed off to them, so we can't go there. Back around to a cafe and sat for a while, drinking some more Cokes. Eventually niece and father left for home.
Dora and I to bus station, and caught the 9:10 bus with 30 seconds to spare. Home after 10, tired and hot. Shower made me feel better.
I went to bed at midnight. Dora still up, working.
Up at 7, rushed, out with Dora at 7:50, caught train and taxi to her work in Puerto Real. She took me upstairs to arrange vaccinations, then down to cafeteria for a bite. She went to work, I went back up for vaccinations.
The nurse put 3 shots (2 Hepatitis B baby doses to make 1 adult dose, and a measles/rubeola/parotiditis dose) into me, and the 3rd was a long one where she pumped in a lot of juice. After that, I felt dizzy, had to lie down, doctor and another nurse came in. Probably mostly a psychological reaction; I've fainted or felt dizzy in doctor's offices before. But also I didn't really eat breakfast this morning. Dora came up, and they all had a chuckle at my expense. Put off a 4th injection to be done when I come back in a week, for 2 or 3 more shots.
Down to see Dora's office in Trauma, and chat for a little while. Pic. Then I'm out, taxi to train station. I've missed a train by 2 minutes, next one is in 50 minutes. So I walk into town, find Correos, mail a letter to USA to get more documents. Stroll around a bit, eventually back to train station, home before 11:30.
Dora home from work at 4:15 or so, but with bad news: her mother in Sanlucar is feeling weak and having difficulty breathing, has been in bed all day, yet refuses to accept a taxi to the hospital or an ambulance. Dora has heard of this only through her son in Slovakia. Her sister is working, Dora calls to get a neighbor to check on her mother.
Feeling better after dinner. Napped a bit.
Dora to bed before 9. I went out at 9:30 or so for a walk in the center, sat for a while. Humid but a nice breeze.
I thought Dora was working 10-10 today, then she said 12-12, then 3-12 and she may sleep at the hospital.
I went out at 12:30 or so, long hot walk to university-area post office to pick up an international package for Dora.
Now Dora says she has to start work at 2:30. She's out.
Pesto-spaghetti for dinner.
Out to Mercadona twice for groceries.
Headachey; took a Dolocatil.
Out for a late-night walk and sit in the center. Home at midnight. Dora home after 12:30. I'm still headachey; took a muscle-relaxant.
Out with Dora at 10. Headed for the center to buy some clothing for her sister, but got the job done in a store halfway. Reversed course and to farmacia in Madre de Dios. To bus station and caught the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar. Picked up by her father in the car, which is a surprise, I thought the insurance had lapsed and they weren't going to let him drive any more anyway. To sister's house.
Vodafone guy is here, installing Wi-Fi and phone and cable TV. I test the Wi-Fi and connect it on various phones and laptops.
Dinner with 6 of us crammed around the table in the small kitchen.
A while later, 6 of us cram into the car, and we're off to the big shopping center on the west side of Jerez. Lots of back-seat driving and shouted instructions as we navigate lots of tricky turns near the shopping center. Finally we arrive in one piece.
In, to Vodafone store, and their computer is down, sister can't get the SIM card she needs. Various shopping in shoe-stores, eventually to a cafe for a long session. The niece is accumulating more toys. I thought we were here to buy a laptop, but no. Out of cafe, eventually back to Vodafone, computer is working. Many delays, finally out to the car, home in Sanlucar around 6:15.
Loaf, the women doing various cosmetic things or something. I go for a walk on the malecon, but the wind is 20-25 knots and blasting some sand off the beach. Back home, and I lie down and listen to my MP3 players.
Eventually 5 of us into the car, drive us to the bus station with a heavy suitcase and a smaller one, and we catch the 9:10 bus to Jerez. Home before 10:15, tired and headachey. Take a sumatriptan and have a shower.
Took a small melatonin at bedtime.
Out at 12:45, caught the crowded 1300 bus to Sanlucar. Walked to sister's house, and found that niece is not there, she's at the hospital where her mother works. Dora's father went in the car to fetch her. Watched cable TV for a while, started to have lunch with Dora's mother. Father and niece got home after 3, had lunch.
Then I taught English to the niece, interrupted by bouts of her playing in the front yard. We got through about 5 pages before she'd had enough. To the park for a little while. Tried to go to a store, forgetting that they're all closed on Sunday afternoon.
Caught the crowded 6:15 bus back to Jerez, home by 7:10.
Took a late-night walk in the center. Lovely cool evening.
At 10:45, we're out, and catch the 1100 bus to Sanlucar, me carrying a heavy bag that turns out to contain Dora's centrifuge, her laptop, various notebooks, etc.
We walk to the local health center, meeting Dora's mother on the sidewalk. The elevator has a long line, and of course the doctor's office is on the third floor, back corner. It's a strain for Dora's mother, going up all the stairs. I go right back down and soon up again, looking for Dora's father, but somehow he slipped past me and is with them now.
We wait 15 minutes, then the three of them go in, and I wait. And wait. They're in for about 30 minutes, and four more people are waiting by the time her father comes out and goes past saying he's going home. Later Dora tells me the doctor started telling her father "no salt, no sugar, no alcohol, no ..." and her father got up and said "I'm going home, good-bye" and left !
Dora and her mother are in for another 10 minutes; her mother has some alarming problems, but has been refusing to get tests or get admitted to the hospital. Finally they're out, and later Dora says her mother has agreed to a test that involves a scope down into the lungs, and I assume a biopsy or several.
As we're downstairs waiting at Administration so tests can be scheduled, Dora's sister joins us. Ten minutes there, then we're out and to a nearby cafe for Cokes and pastry and coffee. We sit for quite a while, then catch a taxi to the house.
Soon a patient arrives for the sister, so we retreat upstairs and nap for a while. Down around 4, and have a meal.
At 5:15, Dora and I and her father out and to the hearing-aid place for a 5:30 appointment. I wait there for an hour or so. They come out, and her father has had a complete new fitting and now can hear.
Home (stopping to buy a bike-tire pump), and the niece is home from school. Can't get her to study any English, she just wants to eat junk and do cartwheels and ride her bike. We go to a park for the bike-riding, but I see that her bike seat is far too low. Home, I adjust it, but she doesn't want to ride any more today.
Kill some time, niece refuses to do any English, then it's 8:45. Dora has been doing some big injection-treatment to her face, and she's too swollen to go on the bus right now. I could sleep over here tonight, but I don't want to. So Dora stays, and I head to the bus station.
Onto the 9:10 bus, and home by 10:05.
Dora home at 4:15. Dinner. Down for a long nap. Still headachey by 8:45; took a sumatriptan.
Out for a late-night walk in the center. Then took a melatonin and to bed.
Out for a walk at 2:30 or so, then to Mercadona for groceries.
Dora home by 4:30 or so. Dinner, then we had to hustle to make it to a 6 PM appointment at the optician's. Afterward, to a cafe for coffee and ice cream. Headed to the farmacia, but then made a U-turn and headed for Correos, which turned out to be closed. Back again, to farmacia, home after 8:15.
I'm dragging; can't get rid of this headache. Shower and then tea. Dora gives me a couple of muscle-relaxers and then I take a Neobrufen. To bed before 10.
Dora out at 6:45 to work.
Out at 11 or so. To center, to ATM and then to Correos. Sent money to Peru for Dora. Went for a walk, then bought lightbulbs, then home.
Searched the closets and pulled out every purse I could fine. The count is 20, plus the one she's carrying at work today. Pic.
Dora home at 4:15. Dinner. Then she's called and asked to do a night-shift tonight, 10-8. The one clinic has been shorthanded because one doctor is in critical care with some cancer or something, and another doctor has a wife with appendicitis who had to be taken care of.
We slept from about 6 to 9:15. Then Dora out to work, and I went out for a walk in the center.
Then I got vaccinated for Tetanus and Meningitis C. Didn't feel faint this time. No vaccinations for Dora, for some reason.
Dora off to work, I caught a taxi back to the train station. Arrived just after the 1000 train, as before. So walked 5 blocks or so to Correos, and mailed a letter to USA. Back to train station and caught the 1050 train back to Jerez. Home before 1130.
Dora wants to go to a medical conference in Athens next week, so suddenly I'm trying to research flights and AirBNB for that. But my main air-ticket site, Expedia, is having technical problems, maybe because of overloading after hurricane Irma.
Out to Mercadona for groceries.
Out at 2:30, to bus station to pick up Dora's parents from the 2:10 bus from Sanlucar. Bus arrived before 3, but no parents, only about 4 people got off it. Waited another 10 minutes, and there comes Dora's mother walking into the station from outside. No father. I can't understand what she's trying to say.
We start walking to the apartment, and finally I get Dora on the phone. The story is that Dora's father got to the Sanlucar bus station and jumped onto some bus, apparently the wrong one, so who knows where he is now. Her mother missed the 1410 bus and talked her way onto another, which dropped her somewhere else in Jerez, and she walked to the bus station. So she and I are home now (3:20 or so), her father will reappear somewhere someday, and Dora will be home around 4:15.
I start cooking, Dora home at 4:15, we start eating. I was told we have to pick up the niece from school at 5, so I eat quickly, but then Dora says no hurry, the teacher will wait. So we finally leave before 5:30. And find her father waiting on the street outside; he forgot our apartment number, and has been waiting for an hour or more. [Later, I find out he went to the Sanlucar bus station, didn't see his wife, and went back to the house. Meanwhile, she hopped on some bus. Later, he went back to the bus station and got a later bus. So he was never lost.]
The four of us pile into a taxi. To the hospital clinic where Dora works part of the time. We start signing up for vaccinations, and then Dora is back into the taxi and off to pick up the niece from school. When they arrive, Dora leads us downstairs, we wait 5 minutes, then we're in and all five of us are getting flu vaccinations (nasally, no injections). Total cost is €125. These are supposed to be special year-long vaccinations, not the normal one that lasts only a few months.
Finally out of there, and I'm surprised that Dora wants to walk home instead of taking a taxi. It's not a long walk, really, but maybe longer than her mother would like. We start going, and halfway there, the niece wants to play on a playground. So she and I stop there, and Dora and parents go ahead to find a cafe.
The niece does various gymnastics on the playground, until I've had enough. We head towards home, and find the others in a pastisseria pretty close to our apartment. In and sit for a little while. Then home by 7:20.
I thought they might catch the 8 PM bus back to Sanlucar, but then Dora is cooking, and they're going to take the 10 PM bus. They have a big meal, but I'm still full from dinner.
Suddenly before 9:30 they're going. I go out with them, and to the bus station. Lovely cool evening. We wait, the 10 PM bus comes, I use my card to pay for their tickets, ciao. Home by 10:15.
Plane tickets to Athens too expensive, and as usual Dora has only a 4-day window free and 2 days would be taken by travel. I think we're not going.
To bed before 11.
Out in late afternoon for a walk in the center, hit an ATM, buy a few things in the bazaar. Outside the Alcazar, the usual flea-market going on, and I happened to spot a book in English I hadn't read yet by one of my favorite authors, and bought it for €1 !
Out in early evening to Hiper Number One for a couple of items.
Out later for a walk in the center.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
To sister's house, and soon teaching English to the niece. We get through a good deal of it during the afternoon, among some bouts of playing, lunch, riding her bike in the park, etc.
To bus station by 6:10, but the 6:15 bus is 20-25 minutes late. And right near home, it takes us about 10 minutes to go the last 300 yards. Home at 7:35. Tired.
Online, found a way to make the trip to Athens work, flying out of Malaga. Would cost us about €420 for airfare, €150 for trains and cars, €150 for an apartment, be there for 3 days and nights. Dora wants to do it to attend a medical conference which will help her on the job rolls here. Conference would cost another €500. And about 5 days after we got back, we'd be leaving for Peru. Blech.
A little headachey; took a sumatriptan.
Dora sending messages after midnight. Sounds like she had a very tough shift today, won't get home until 12:45, yet she's saying she wants to go dancing at a disco ? I want to go to sleep.
Dora finally arrives about 12:50, I go down to give her money to pay the taxi, we're inside by 12:55.
She wants to go dancing, to work off her anger about work, but I'm not interested, and she hasn't been drinking water and eating properly, and she's a bit unsteady. We're not going out.
And her work schedule has changed, negating much of the Athens trip info I compiled. Will deal with it tomorrow.
Dora home after 2:30. Afterward, we both take Neobrufen: I'm having some pain when I chew, and Dora has some muscle pain.
Forecasts have Hurricane Maria coming close to my sailboat in Puerto Rico. But weather forecast is for max of 50-55 knots of wind from the W near my boat. I think it will be okay.
Dora has decided we ARE going to Athens. So online I bought airline tickets (total €412). Submitted AirBNB reservation (total €135 for 3 nights), but AirBNB wouldn't take either of our mobile numbers, had to use that of my brother in USA, and get code from him. Got BlaBlaCar to Malaga (€43.50). Got BlaBlaCar back from Malaga to Cadiz (€51). Then the AirBNB guy said those dates are not available; have to find another apartment. Found one (€157 /$187.70 for 3 nights).
Out after 8 with Dora. Into taxi, up to Demalaser clinic. Supposedly to see why her sister's echography machine isn't working, but instead I wait while Dora talks to the director, and we never get to the machine. Which her sister bought at great expense, put here a year ago, and then never used. So Dora is smoothing things over with the director, and we'll have to come here again some other day to look at the machine.
Walk a few blocks toward home, then into a cafe for coffees and tapas. And Dora spends 30+ minutes on the phone with her sister.
Out of the cafe, head towards home, make a slight wrong turn, then Dora wants to go into an Irish bar we've been to before. So we go there, and I have a Guinness and Dora has a gin-and-tonic. Pic. Pleasant place, we sit for a while, but Dora is talking to her sister again on the phone interminably. Finally she finishes, we chat, she's impressed that I can name most of the 1970's-era rock music they're playing. Eventually we get ready to leave, then Dora finds that my Guinness comes with a lottery entry. She "wins" a free cheap bag, then spends another €2 on another small Guinness so she gets another entry. I don't want the drink, but drink it anyway. So we stay a while longer.
Finally out of there, and a longish walk home through empty back streets. Home at 1:40. Blech.
And there's an email saying the SECOND AirBNB apartment I reserved in Athens is not available, it's a new listing and not ready yet ! Found a third apartment ($165.62 for 3 nights) and reserved it.
Dora stayed up until 2:30 or later, for some reason. She sleeps harder and recharges faster than I do; I need my regular sleep schedule.
Good news: the third apartment in Athens is solid, I'm talking to the owner and I found it on the map.
Out after noon to center for a walk and sit, then to Mercadona for groceries.
To bus station at 2:30 to meet Dora's father and bring him to the apartment.
Dora home at 4. Dinner.
At 5, it's time to go pick up the niece from school and take her to a circus. I've looked online, and I think all the tickets for the circus are gone. But Dora says try anyway. But she's falling asleep at the table, and needs to sleep before starting work again at 8 tonight.
So her father and I head down and get a taxi. To the niece's school, where kids and parents are pouring out. Fortunately the niece spots us right away, and soon we're out and back into the taxi.
But on the way to the circus, the niece tells me she was sick today and didn't really eat anything, and just wants to go to our apartment. So back to the apartment. And I was right about the circus "tickets"; what she has is a flyer about "kids get in free with an adult", not free tickets for adults.
For the next couple of hours, I cook for the niece, heating turkey-rice leftovers, then cooking an egg with ham, then more leftovers. For some reason she likes broccoli, so I steam a couple of small plates of that for her. She wants chocolate, and gets a little, but I try to divert her into grapes.
Dora up and groggy at 7:30. At 7:45, I walk her father and niece to the bus station and put them on the 8 PM bus to Sanlucar. Back home, and Dora's work has changed from starting at 8 to starting at 10.
Online, bad news: Hurricane Maria's forecast track has shifted slightly SW, bringing it closer to my boat in Puerto Rico. Now gusts of up to 66 knots from WSW forecast in my boat's harbor tomorrow.
Walked Dora down to the taxi before 10. She's tired (got about 5 hours of sleep last night), and starting a 10-hour shift. I'm tired (got about 6 hours of sleep last night), but I'm not working. Went for a walk in the center.
Dora home unexpectedly at 2 or 3 or something. Schedule changed.
Out at 11:15 or so, into another taxi, and to train station. Dora goes to have breakfast with the rep and then be driven to the hospital, I'm home by 11:35.
Early afternoon: worst of Hurricane Maria should be hitting my boat right now. WindGuru says NW wind gusting to 71 knots in Ponce PR, not far from my boat in Playa Salinas. My boat should be okay, but we'll see.
Dora's sister calling with some emergency request to do business cards, but I can't quite understand what she wants, and Dora is too busy at work to answer our messages.
Out in midafternoon for a walk in the center. Out again in the evening to do the same, and to Mercadona for groceries.
I went to bed at midnight. Dora home at 1:30, but she didn't go to bed until 3.
Out at 11 or so. To town hall. Glanced for a friend of Dora's waiting in a bar nearby, but didn't see him. Into town hall, took numbers, and there's a long wait. I didn't realize we were going to do three things here, so I didn't bring all of the documents. In for first thing, and Dora talks the guy into referring us upstairs. In for second thing, bad news, the padron-switch Dora did last November while giving her Barcelona apartment back to the bank is coming back to bite her. Upstairs, and guy did compulsados for us, something we were told they couldn't do, last time we were here.
Out by 12:30 or so, and found Dora's friend. Sat and had drinks and nibbles and chatted with him for almost two hours. Nice guy, retired, former patient of Dora's.
Tried to go to farmacia, but they're closed in midafternoon.
Home by 2:40. Dinner. Niece was laughing about my baby shoes versus current shoes the other day, and Dora is laughing about them now: pic.
I was going to do a quick there-and-back trip at 5 to Sanlucar to pick up a number of things, but the most important item isn't going to be ready, so it's off.
Dora out to talk to some diet-product sales rep.
Scrounging to find manuals online for a very complicated echography machine that I have to try to diagnose/fix tonight at a clinic.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan. Dora home with rep at 7:15.
Out before 7:30. Down to the parking garage, into the rep's car, out. Up to the dermatology clinic. But the room with the echography machine is in use; I have to wait. Dora waits then goes in for some minor aesthetic treatment.
Then the room is free, and I go to see the machine. Plug it in, flip a set of circuit-breakers, and it starts powering up (I had been told it was dead). The monitor shows a "no boot device" message, and there is no CD-ROM to put in the CD drive. So either it needs a CD-ROM to start up, or the internal hard disk is damaged. It won't power off, so I have to throw the circuit-breakers to shut it off. Back downstairs.
Soon Dora comes out, I tell her about the machine, she calls her sister to ask about the normal booting of the machine, and it sounds like the hard disk has failed. Soon we're out of there, and walking home.
And Dora tells me that her sister has been up to her typical tricks. She bought this machine used, so no warranty. She showed another, better machine to this clinic, but then installed this older, less-capable one, which doesn't work, so they're mad at her. And she's let it sit there, not fixing it or using it, so they're not making any money from her or it.
Home by 9:30.
To ATM and then bus station, and I catch the 8 AM bus to Sanlucar. Walk to sister's house. Her mother gives me a couple of documents and ID cards, but says there's a fatal flaw in the key document we're taking to Peru: the address of the house is missing one digit. This is a notarized power-of-attorney signed by Dora's two sister's in the north of Spain a month ago, and apparently they didn't proofread it. Later I find another, smaller problem: they used the Sanlucar address as Dora's home address.
As I wait for the sister to get home, I collect some things: two big suitcases, documents. Finally she arrives, closely followed by patients.
The mother and I go out. She goes to a print shop and asks if they can add a digit in the notarized document, but no way they can do that. To a notary here, and we get compulsados of the ID cards. To a shoe store to exchange some shoes. To a church for a minute to look inside. Back home.
I get the sister to collect echography machine manual and some jewelry for me, items to take to Jerez. Soon the sister and mother are going out somewhere. I wait a bit, then it's time to start walking to the bus. Dora's father says he'll drive me, so we load the suitcases into the car. But then the sister calls and says wait, she'll come home and we'll drive to Jerez.
So I wait. And wait. She calls again, says the father won't drive, a friend will drive. Wait more.
Finally friend arrives in a car, we transfer suitcases. Wait another 10 minutes while the sister does various things. Finally into the car, and it turns out the sister is trying to hit a 1 PM bus out of Jerez to Algeciras. Not a chance we'll make it in time. Bit of an anxious ride, feeling a little queasy and missing lunch.
They dump me out of the car a couple of blocks from our apartment at 1:05. No chance Dora's sister will catch her 1:00 bus to Algeciras, but they're going to the bus station on the off-chance. I trundle the two suitcases to our apartment, in by 1:15 or so.
My phone lights up with messages as I get Wi-Fi, and it turns out Dora is here, feeling sick, in bed. I go in, and she's feeling flu symptoms, and has taken pills and wants a massage and she sleeps for a while.
But then she has to get up around 2:05. A struggle, but we get out the door and make it to the 2:38 train with about 2 minutes to spare. I'm back home by 2:45, tired and hot and needing food and drink.
By 4:30, I'm feeling headachey and a little feverish. Took a sumatriptan. Hope I haven't caught whatever Dora caught. Had a bit of a lie-down.
After 6, on Facebook, saw that I had a message from a cousin of mine. She's here in Jerez, but only until about 7 tonight. I think she sent the message at 1 AM last night. Too bad, we just don't have time to meet.
Out before 7 to recharge my phone SIM, and to Mercadona for a couple of items.
Took about half an hour, with various mysterious web site errors and Adobe Acrobat errors, but I was able to enter all of our ID info, check in for our flights tomorrow, download boarding passes, and print them.
A screwup: Dora didn't tell me she had placed a big order at a farmacia, and I wasn't near my phone tonight for a while. Suddenly at 8:30 she messaged and called to get me to go pick up the order, but I didn't hear and didn't see the message until after 9:30. Went out and it's closed, and not even a sign on the door saying when they open tomorrow morning.
Out after 9 to farmacia, but they're closed. Out again after 9:30, and they're open, bought the stuff.
Trip to Athens:
Down to street around 10:15, and perfect timing, the car to pick us up just arrived. And really great, we're the only passengers, so I can stretch out a bit in the back seat. Nice older guy driving, and he and Dora chat.
We drive about halfway to Malaga, then stop at a cafe for some lunch. I switch to the front seat, but Dora talks nonstop from the back seat.
To Malaga airport, and to the ticket counter by 1345. But it's not open yet. We grab a snack, and take the first dose of our newly-bought Typoid A vaccines.
Check-in opens, wait 5-10 minutes in line. Find that the system doesn't have Dora's passport information, although I entered it last night. And the information is rejected 3 or 4 times here before the agent can get it to "stick". Finally get our boarding passes.
Then Dora goes to ask about frequent-flyer stuff, and gives the two ladies at the service counter and sale pitch about medical services.
Through Security. I breeze through, but Dora's small suitcase gets searched and her laptop scanned.
Walking toward the gate, hit the bathrooms, then suddenly a passport-check we didn't expect. And it's slow, 15-20 minutes to get through. We have plenty of time, but others are anxious.
Stop for a small meal. Then to gate, and soon onto the plane.
Uneventful flight. We get a bit of sleep. Land, onto a bus, into the terminal by 2220 local time (1 hour ahead of Spain). Find AC power to do some phone-charging and laptop use. 2.5 hours until flight to Athens leaves. But we can't use the free Wi-Fi here; it demands a Turkish phone number.
So we walk down there, through throngs of people, then Dora wants something hot to drink. Eventually we find a place upstairs, and Dora orders a coffee and a hamburger ! I tell her we don't have time, but she's feeling sick and didn't eat enough on the flight. So I sweat out the 10-15 minutes for the food to arrive.
Dora eats about 1/4 of it, then we pay and go, with her eating and drinking on the way. We get to the gate with about 2 minutes to spare. Through the gate, onto the bus, and it leaves. To the plane and aboard.
Uneventful flight to Athens, me with a window seat watching the lights of the coast and Greek islands. Then I recognize the hills of Athens, and can pretty well see where we're going to stay.
Land at 2 AM or so (1 AM Spain time), bus to terminal, through passport control, then a bit of a wait at baggage. Then an anxious time as only one of our two appears. But then we realize we were looking for the wrong bag, and it is here. Out through Customs.
Found the bus ticket booth, and the bus stop. Bought tickets, onto bus, then it sits for 15 minutes or so. Our stops are not listed on the display, but everything on it is Greek-only and I think it's not showing all stops. Driver gets on and says we're in the right place. Bus leaves at 3 AM.
Longish bus ride into town. Dora is still feeling poorly, sleeping. She's been feeling cold since we arrived, but really the temperature is quite nice. I get us off at the stop I wanted, near the conference center for her medical congress, around 3:45.
Then it goes wrong. I told her several times that we can't get into the AirBnB apartment until 1 in the afternoon, so we have to find a place to wait for 9 hours. Registration for her congress starts at 11 AM, so we can do that first.
But this is news to her, and unacceptable. She needs to be well-dressed and hair done etc before she can show her face at the congress.
And I thought there was a hotel attached to the conference center, but we get there and no hotel. Security guard confirms it, no hotel. He points us to a Hilton further in toward the center. Which turns out to be a long six blocks more, and we're on the wrong side of a high-speed road, with only bad intersections for crossings.
We make it to the Hilton, stash luggage and me in a hidden corner of the huge lobby, and Dora goes off to talk to Reception. She knows someone high up in Hilton in the USA.
Eventually she comes back, and as I expected they don't care about anyone she knows, they would charge €400 for us to stay in a room for about 8 hours, and they're totally booked for the following nights. But they kindly will let us sit on the comfy leather chairs here for a few hours.
So we charge devices and sit and sleep, getting maybe 2-3 hours of semi-decent rest. Dora takes a picture of me sleeping (pic), but she should be glad I didn't think to take a picture of her sleeping. We're wiped out.
We start stirring after 7, and eventually Dora washes up in the lobby bathroom, then I get my shot at it. But I forget to brush my teeth, and come out feeling grungy.
Now Dora is saying she wants to sign up for a class starting at 8:30, not just the overall conference.
Dora yacks to the Reception and then the major-domo for a while, with me waiting outside and getting cranky. Finally we're moving, and up to the conference center by 8:30 or so. I sit down and start sorting out the luggage a bit, while Dora goes to Registration.
She comes back triumphant; she registered for course and congress for about 1/2 what they really should have charged her, given that she's missed all the pre-registration deadlines. Still not so cheap at €590.
So we hand over the two big suitcases to the cloakroom, then go out and across the street to get a little breakfast. Coffees and pastries at a bakery. Still tired. Pics.
Then she heads to the congress, and I go the other way, walking toward the center of the city.
I walk down past the Hilton, to the National Gallery shown on the map just across the street from it. But it turns out to be a construction site; Gallery not open yet.
Across the street and into Evangelismo Metro station. Buy a 5-day card, down to platform, take Metro one stop to Syntagma station. Out, and the plaza is nice (pic), but not as great as the writeups made it sound. Maybe it's not at its best on a Sunday morning.
I walk several blocks to the National Historical Museum, which turns out to be free today (either because national museums are free today, or because this museum is free every Sunday). Some nice wooden busts, some weapons, a zillion paintings of politicians and generals from 200-400 years ago. Pics.
Out, back to Syntagma Square (interesting language here: pic), then down to the cathedral. Which is having a big Greek Orthodox mass, filmed by a TV truck. I get in for the last 10 minutes or so of the service. Pics.
Head toward Monastiraki Square, stopping to see an odd temple along the way (pic). Street art: pic.
Then down through the flea-market street, which really is just a bunch of surplus and souvenir shops. But since today is Sunday, there's also a real flea-market going on, at the far end of the area, and on various sidewalks. Slow going when coming back along the sidewalks.
Over to the edge of the Acropolis area, before going into the Metro station, but I find that admission to the Acropolis area is free today ! So I go in to the lower part, and find it's garbage, just fragments of ruins. Pics. Okay, birthplace of democracy and all that. But not much to see.
Out of there, into the Metro station, and to the convention center before 12:30, a bit early. Get the suitcases out of the cloakroom, wait for Dora. She comes out and wants food, so she buys a salad and we eat it.
Finally out of the convention center around 1, and a slog slightly uphill to our AirBnB apartment. Rolling the big suitcases along narrow sidewalks is a pain. But we find the building, get buzzed right in, and the owner lets us in. Nice apartment, nice guy, no problems. We get keys and info, he leaves, we take showers, unpack, set up devices, relax.
Dora has to be back at the congress for a class from 3 to 4:30. But we don't get out of the apartment until 3:15. We try the Metro station near our apartment instead of walking, and have to wait 6 minutes for a train. So it's almost 3:30 when Dora gets to the congress (not a problem, really), and we've arranged to meet there again at 4:30.
I go for a walk in the neighborhood, but the direction I picked has a lot of uphill, and it's getting hot. (I think this is a place where you and a bunch of friends get put in a locked room and have to puzzle your way out in an hour or less: pic.) Eventually I circle around and back down to the main road and to the congress by 4:10. I send a message to Dora, but she doesn't get it. I wait and wait, and she doesn't come out until almost 5 PM. She says she flat-out fell asleep in the class.
We head to the Metro, and into the center. Find a restaurant. Pic. Have fried zucchini appetizer, mushroom risotto, and moussaka. Pics. By the end of it, Dora is getting sleepy again.
Out and we head down towards Monastiraki Square, but the way is dense with shops, and soon I'm waiting while Dora wastes the time of various shopkeepers, including one pricey jewelry store. Maybe €2100 is a good price for that nice emerald-and-diamond ring, but I don't know, and I'm not going to pay it.
Finally down to the square, which is full of people. Into the Metro station, onto a packed train, to Ambelokipi station. Out and looking for a fruit stand or mercado, but nothing's open. Home after 8:15.
Took melatonin and went to bed around 10:15. Slept hard.
Then out again at 11:20. Onto the Metro, connect, ride to end of Green line, to Piraeus. Out into chaos, crowds, narrow sidewalks, hot. And my map is not the best. I wander around, trying to get oriented, but nothing is square.
And street signs are a little less frequent and more varied here than in Athens. Often you have to look at a streeet-name in Greek and say "well, 4 out of 8 letters match what I was looking for, so this must be it".
Lots of cruise ships and ferries, but nowhere good to take a clear picture of any of them. Eventually down to a church, I think called Agia Triada. Pics.
Found a place for a little lunch (felafel), and it was okay, but I should have picked something fancier. Counter guy was friendly, we talked a little.
Out and trying to head south, but confused about directions. And several of the main squares here are under construction, making things more confusing. Learning that cars and motorbikes here are less respectful of pedestrians in crosswalks than those in Athens. Eventually down to another big church, Agios Nikolaos. Pics.
Now turn east, sort of, up over the hump of the peninsula, and down to marinas on the other side. Walking my legs off. To the Hellenic Maritime Museum. It's closed. But at least one marina with some pretty expensive boats. Pics. Over on this side I've been seeing a lot of marine businesses, and all over town I see shipping-line offices.
Start heading back, a different way, sort of up the east side. Stop to buy a much-needed bottle of cold water. A couple of interesting things: pics. No wrong turns. Past the Municipal Theater. Back into the chaos of the Metro/bus/ferry area.
Onto a waiting Metro train, and grab a seat. But then stupidly I don't use the Metro map I have on paper, I try to read the painted map on the train car from 20 feet away. And I get it backwards, and miss my stop. No problem, get off at next stop, wait 2 minutes, onto train going back. Connect to blue line, head home.
Home after 3:30. Dora is going out; she's been here all day. Owner came with a worker and fixed toilet leak, toilet running, and light in bathroom. But now we can't use the toilet until 8 PM, while some caulk or something is drying ?
Dora out before 4, taking Metro down to Syntagma Square to go to Western Union. I hope it's open. She liberated almost all of my cash from me before going.
I sort my pictures from today, doze a little, listen to MP3s. Dora supposed to be home around 5, we'll go to the awards dinner which is from 5:40 to 6:40. Around 5:30, still no Dora, I put on my suit pants and shirt etc. Finally I get a message from her at 6:23, she got lost, she spent hours arguing with her sisters and parents on the phone, etc. She'll meet me at the convention center.
So I dress, take a sumatriptan, to the Metro, out. (A line of ticket-checkers to go through coming out of the Metro, but my ticket is fine. Odd that they weren't wearing uniforms; maybe 3 out of 7 or 8 were wearing the same light-blue shirts.) Into the convention center by 6:46. No Dora.
I wait. Still no Dora. I wait. It's almost 7:30 before she appears.
We go in, but the place is pretty deserted. Pic. Fortunately, she runs into an old teacher of hers, someone with whom she really needed to re-establish contact. (A couple of years ago, she lost her agenda book containing all of her old contact info, a disaster.) So the evening is not a total loss.
We start to head out around 8, then Dora goes back in with a security guard. I'm fuming; I've waited long enough.
Finally she's out at 8:15 or so, and the news is that the dinner is tomorrow, not today. So I have to get all dressed up again tomorrow.
It's raining a bit now. To the Metro, out at next stop, and it's raining a little harder. Home before 8:30.
Out again at 9:30 or so. Looking for a restaurant close to the apartment, and quickly decided on one called something like "Agora", although the receipt says "Gkaroni Athina Granitsa 5". Lively place, nice decor, interesting menu. Dora immediately on the phone, and incessantly for 20 minutes or so until I took it away. We had Cretan cheese pie (feta cheese baked in a pizza-dough and with honey) appetizer, bread with hummus, I had lamb marinated in Madeira for 24 hours and then served with asparagus and Peruvian potato ravioli, Dora had chicken leg filet stuffed with feta cheese and mashed potatoes, I had some Athenian unfiltered beer, Dora had a Greek white wine. All quite nice, with interesting spices. Total of €46. Pics.
Done after 11:30. Back to the apartment, intending to freshen up and then go into the center for a little while. But then I realized that the Metro doesn't run from 11:30 PM to 6:30 AM. And Dora has to go to the congress early tomorrow morning, not that that would stop her from going out dancing tonight.
Melatonin and to bed by 12:30.
Dora wants me to come to the congress to have breakfast with her. No, I don't want to go near that place again, I've wasted enough of my life waiting for her in there.
Out before 1. To Metro, down to Syntagma Square. Wandered south, sort of looking for print shop and ATM. Got to Hadrian's Arch, and (looking through a fence) the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The historical stuff here is too ruined and fragmentary to be of much interest. Pics.
Into the National Garden, and it's disappointing. Big but not interesting. Did see the place where it turns out the medical congress will be having its dinner/dance tonight, Zappeio. Pics.
Out of the Garden, back into busy streets. Found an ATM and got cash with no fee. Saw police trying to decide what to do about a small sit-down strike by some ladies blocking the entrance to some office. Got a sandwich and soda at a shop, and into Syntagma Square to eat them and people-watch.
Got a tiny bit of sporadic free Wi-Fi. Dora wants me to come to the congress to have lunch with her. No. Sent some messages to her. But it looks like her phone isn't receiving them right away, she must be disconnected or something. Waited a bit, no response. [And my mistake: I shouldn't have told her where I was, just to go to the apartment.]
To Tourist Info, got directions to a print shop, found it. Printed airline tickets for tomorrow.
Back to the Square. Can't get any Wi-Fi at all now; tried and tried. I hope Dora isn't on her way to here. [Should have tried a phone call, but I'm 99% sure my phone doesn't work here, doesn't even connect to a network.]
Into Metro, ride, out.
Home at 3:15, suddenly have Wi-Fi, and my fears came true: our messages crossed, and while I was coming home, Dora was going to meet me in Syntagma Square. Well, I'm not going back out. She'll have to come here.
Phone call from Dora at 3:50, she's in the Square, and fainting from hunger. I'm not going there. She will eat, look for a pharmacy, then come home. As usual, she wants to stuff 8 hours of activity into 4 hours this evening. Then the call dropped.
No Dora until 6:15 or so. She blew in, said she had to sign up for a membership of a medical society, then go right back out to a meeting of that society. Her phone started going crazy with messages as it got connected to Wi-Fi. I did the signing-up online. She blew back out the door at about 6:40. About 3 minutes later, it started raining.
Out around 7:15 or so, to buy an umbrella and check the Metro times for tomorrow morning. Had to go far down a long block and across to find a stand that had umbrellas, and bought one for €5. Back up on the other side, across to the Metro station, and there's a guy selling umbrellas. And there is Dora, who just bought a nicer umbrella than mine for €4 !
Down into the station to check train times, then up. Toward home, but Dora goes into a pharmacy, and I get tired of waiting, and go home. Good call; she didn't get home for another 20 minutes or so, having stopped at the grocery store too. 8 PM, and we have to be in the center for a party at 9.
Out a bit before 9. To the Metro station, but grabbed a taxi instead of taking the Metro. Down to the Zappeion Mansion in the National Garden. Taxi ride cost less than €5.
Turns out our event is not in the mansion, but in the bar/restaurant next to it. We check in and are given chits for 6 drinks. Dora has wine and I have a gin-and-tonic.
Seating is slightly limited because it rained and the outside tables and chairs are wet. So we join an Austrian/German couple at a table, and chat with them. I fetch food for the two of us. The food is simple but Greek and nice. After a while I have a second gin-and-tonic. Desserts are very nice.
The couple leaves after a while. Then the music starts up, and we dance for a while. Dora wants to dance and dance, but I have to take breaks. It's fun, but too crowded for my taste. Pics.
Dora wants to stay all night, but I manage to drag her away around midnight. We walk over to the main mansion, and a whole bunch of classic race-cars are parked in front. Workers are still setting things up, and one of them tells Dora this is a stop on a trans-Europe race with Dutch drivers. Pics.
Out to the main street, right into a taxi, and a little difficulty telling the guy where we want to go, but we get it set. Up to the Ambelokipi Metro station, around the corner, and out. Fare is €8. Home by 12:30.
I'm in bed by 1, but Dora says she's going to stay up all night, working. [But the next morning, she said she was falling asleep so couldn't work on the computer, so she did most of the packing, and went to bed maybe at 3.]
To the airport by 8:15 or so. Short lines at check-in, Security, and passport control, so we're through to the gate area with 30 minutes or more to spare.
Uneventful flight to Istanbul. We're a bit anxious because we have a short connecting time in Istanbul, and somehow we think the flight is running a little late. There's a crush to get off the plane. But then we find that we're right on time. And both the arriving and departing flights are pulled up to gates, so we don't have the 15-minute delay of a bus ride between plane and terminal.
It's still a long walk from one end of the terminal to the other, and I lose my temper as Dora keeps disappearing into shops. We get to the gate with 10 minutes to spare, but it would have been a disaster if we'd missed the flight.
The flight is only half-full, which is very nice.
Land at Malaga after 4. Short lines at Immigration. Very long walk to baggage claim. Out and we have more than an hour before our pickup for BlaBlaCar. We find a cafe and have drinks.
Dora talks on the phone to her mother for 45 minutes straight, and finally I have to pry her away. I haven't had any luck contacting the car-pickup online.
And now I find that we're on the wrong side of concrete barriers at the taxi rank, we have to take the long way around to get to the parking garage. I head around, then get confused. Tell Dora to get off the phone and help me figure this out. By the time I've figured out we have to go up one level, she's gone back to the taxi-rank area and is refusing to budge. She's trying to call the car-pickup and get them to come here. But I know they can't; only taxis allowed here. I lose my temper some more and finally get her to follow me. Into the terminal building, into a lift, up and across to the parking garage. And there's the driver waiting for us.
Of course we have twice as much luggage as we're supposed to, and it's a major operation to squeeze everything into the car, which already has another passenger (driver's partner) and a small dog as well as boxes etc. But we get it in and get going by 6:15 or so.
We take the southern coastal route from Malaga to La Linea, which is interesting because I've never been here before. Dora is talking nonstop to the two women, and I guess they don't mind. I just want to listen to my MP3s.
Very nicely, they drop us off at the Jerez train station instead of going straight to Cadiz. Saves us an hour of dealing with the trains.
Home at 9:15. Dora and I tired and still a bit miffed at each other, about the various irritations of today's trip.
Cold shower; the gas bottle has run empty. Switched to a new bottle. Food.
Dora sends me out right away to look for her phone on the ground between here and the train station. I go, look everywhere, ask all of the information offices and police and sanitary workers, no phone. Sit in the bus station and wait for her parents to arrive from Sanlucar. They arrive around 9:15, and we go to the apartment.
Shower, dress, eat some cereal, out at 10. Raining lightly, so I run back upstairs for umbrellas. Down, into taxi, off to the Registro Civil. In and soon the four of us are in the office with a lady. We hand over a mound of documents and forms and ID cards. It seems to be sufficient, even though a couple of our documents have defects (no originals of my US documents, since we handed them in at ayuntamiento, and Dora's padron has a 4-month gap in it, so she shows utility bills).
Dora's parents hand over their IDs and sign a form attesting that we're honest people and not running a scam. Then the three of them clear out of the office and the lady talks to me to write up a document. Takes about 15 minutes, and stretches my Spanish language abilities. It's an interview/quiz, and I have to tell her things such as the names of Dora's parents and son, how we met, how long we've lived together, etc. She prints up the document, I correct it, she prints it again, I sign it, then I'm out and Dora is in.
Dora's interview takes even longer than mine, which surprises me, since she knows the language. Turns out she was bonding with the lady, they chatted about all kinds of things.
Finally out around 12:15 or so. I thought we were going to have a big lunch, celebrate a bit, and led them to a nice-ish restaurant around the corner. Pics. But all they wanted was some tapas and soda. Dora's sister is calling, but our communications are a mess: Dora's phone is lost, mine receives calls but I'm not sure it will originate them, her mother's mobile has very little charge in the battery.
I ask about the pharma rep Dora was supposed to meet at 9, and she says fortunately the rep called and tried to reschedule for 10, and Dora was able to say she was busy.
And then we're into a taxi and off to the general hospital so Dora can see someone there who is in an urgent situation.
Out of the hospital at 2, into yet another taxi, and horrible traffic as schools are letting out. Finally homw by 2:20 or so.
Out at 2:45 to walk the parents to the bus station in the hot sun. To Mercadona for groceries, home after 3:20, and now I want to stay right here for about 2 days.
Turns out Dora's dental appointment today is at 5, not 6 as she said. We've been wrong-footed all day.
Dora out before 5. I dozed and listened to MP3s.
Online, I login and find that Dora's phone was saving photos automatically onto Google, so she hasn't lost them. But her phone can't be located, so it's out of battery or SIM is removed or something.
Out at 7 or so. To locutorio to check on my phone charge and add €10 to Dora's Lebara phone. Then into the center to try to find Dora.
Found her in the Vodafone store. And they've sold her a new top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S8+ 64 GB phone. I think she should get something cheaper, but it's too late now. And the deal she tells me sounds too good to be true. We're paying about €60 monthly for internet, fixed line, and mobile line. She's getting this new phone for an additional €10 per month for 2 years. A brand-new top-of-the-line phone for €240 ? That sounds wrong. Her old phone (a pretty nice model, too) was paid off already, so at least she's not still making payments on a lost phone.
I wait 15 minutes, and she's out. To a cafe for bathroom and drinks and pastries. Dora says all of her Contact info and Whatsapp contacts have been restored into her new phone; I'm not sure how that was done, from Vodafone or from Google. So she hasn't lost much data, apparently.
Home at 9:45.
Sales receipt from Vodafone says 24 payments of €35.5 each (total €852), so we'll see what the next monthly bill says. And the receipt shows the wrong phone, a black one that they were going to sell to her, instead of the orchid-grey one she received. She has to go back tomorrow to straighten out that, and I'm talking her into questioning the total price, and maybe switching to a cheaper phone.
To bed at 12:30 or so, but Dora stayed up, working.
I thought Dora was going to rush this morning to get to the bank first thing, then to a congress in Cadiz. But she's not out the door until 10:15. I went out 5 minutes later and caught up with her at the bank. Wait a few minutes, she got to the ATM, gave me €1000 to send to Peru. She headed for the train to Cadiz, and I went to Correos and sent the money. Sat in the center for a little while, then home before 11:30.
Loafed all afternoon. Before 4, Dora trying to rope me into some kind of "let's all meet at niece's school" thing. No, not interested.
At 4:40 or so, I go out for a walk to the center, then to the train station. Meet Dora arriving at 5:20. Home by 5:40. And she wants to go to Sanlucar tonight, so I can try to fix her sister's laptop, and she can talk to her sister about business.
Start cooking dinner. Dora looks at the receipt I got for sending the money this morning, and the destination name is wrong. It's one of these 4-part Spanish names plus a "del town-name", and one of the 4 is missing. So I dash out, back to Correos. Fortunately, they're open and there's not much of a line. Guy corrects the name, I'm back home by 6:15.
Then Dora looks at the new receipt, and "Valasque" has a "z" instead of an "s" in the middle of it. Argh !
Dora contacted Vodafone today and found I was right, she's paying €35.5 per month, not €10 per month, for this new phone. But she's decided to keep it, she's willing to pay €850 for a phone.
Hustle and catch 1900 bus. Picked up by car in Sanlucar. To the sister's house. The usual SNAFU: an anti-oxidant salesman arrives to give a long sales pitch to Dora and her sister, tying up the main living room. I start working on the broken laptop, which is a real mess, Windows 7 and broken links on the desktop and updates failing and error messages. Over the evening, I manage to fix much of that, but the laptop still hangs solid after 10 or 20 minutes of use, maybe a heat-related hardware problem.
To bed around midnight, feeling hot and tired and uncomfortable in a cramped bed in a cramped room. Dora is sick: feeling cold and trembling and weak. She takes Neobrufen and finally sleeps solidly.
We're supposed to go out to a mall in the afternoon, but we're delayed as Dora finds a notice that the sister's car insurance payment didn't happen. We log onto the insurance company web site, and it takes a while to find a message saying "well, we said you didn't pay, but then maybe we did get the money, so if you don't get another message saying you didn't pay, you're okay". And later the bank account shows the payment was made.
Headachey; took a sumatriptan.
So we pile into the car before 4, and off to Las Dunas shopping mall. Upstairs to the montaditos place, and we pig out on sodas and sandwiches and chicken-wings and onion-rings and french fries, etc. But Dora talks and talks on the phone, and we have to pry her away from it.
Then to the big Al Campo store in the mall, and I find out we're here to buy a laptop for the niece. I thought we were coming for mobile-phone stuff. We pick a laptop, then Dora sits down with a rep and tries to arrange payment, paying in three installments, and paying through her business-registration so she gets a tax deduction. This takes forever, and finally I find out the sticking point is that Dora's credit-rating is still at the "shoot on sight" level. I'm willing to supply cash, but it turns out this huge shopping mall has zero ATMs, none at all ! Finally everything (laptop, two flash-drives, and a TV-channel-box) gets put on my credit card, to the tune of €323. Not surprised.
Back into the car (after a long bathroom stop), back into town. I thought we were going home, and then Dora and I would go out to a mobile-phone shop. Instead, the others drop us off in the center and wait for us. We go to a shop, but it's closed. To another, fancier shop, and Dora takes almost half an hour to get a phone-case, sort out two flip-phones, and give people a sales pitch about medical services. Finally I prod her out of there, we find the car, and home by 8:40.
Start setting up niece's new laptop, but as soon as it goes live, she elbows me away from it and starts playing videos and such on it.
We're sleeping here again tonight, and I guess Dora isn't going to the congress tomorrow (I think it just would be a short morning session anyway). We'll catch a bus to Jerez tomorrow, and have about 1.5 days before our flight to Peru.
Backed up one laptop to flash drive. Updated niece's laptop a bit. Couldn't get TV box to work with upstairs TV, because of problems with the TV.
To bed at midnight-thirty.
I do some stuff on my laptop, then some more on the niece's new laptop. Niece up after 10. I reminded her to put her name on a sticker on the outside of her laptop, and she started doing stickers, with this result (but no name so far): pic.
Dora not back until 11:30 or so, and she's been arguing with her sister about various things, they're mad at each other.
Father is at church, so no car to take us to bus station, so we have to walk. Out of the house at noon, hustle to bus station with two big heavy suitcases and various other bags etc. Get the 1220 bus with about 4 minutes to spare. Fast ride to Jerez; the driver was in a hurry. Fine with me; I want to get home and out of clothes and shower and eat.
But Dora is feeling weak and sick, so we have to perch in a cafe for half an hour, sipping sodas. Turns out she wasted most of her morning waiting for her sister to be done working, didn't eat any breakfast, etc. Finally home after 1:45.
Did the dishes from two days ago. Unpacked a bit and did laundry. Showers. Dinner, with Dora regaling me with stories of how dangerous Peru is. Then she says her parents want to come here and say good-bye for our trip, but I had hoped we left that behind in Sanlucar, we need time to ourselves here to pack etc. Tell them no. Did the dishes again. Rested for a while.
Online, did check-in and tickets for flights to Madrid and Peru. Had to pay an additional €100 to add 4 big pieces of luggage to our Jerez-to-Madrid flight.
Dora slipped out at 7:30 or so, I guessed to have her hair done [but I was wrong, she went to the locuturio]. I'm sitting around in my undershorts at 8:30, cooking a little sandwich, when there's a phone call and her sister and niece and parents are downstairs, come let them in ! So I dress and go down and bring them up, send msgs to Dora, and start serving them soda and ice cream.
Dora calls at 9, and I go to meet her in the locutorio across the street and get a bag of groceries she's bought. Take them up to the apartment, and she's home by 9:10.
Dora insists on cooking, so we have a meal of chicken and quinoa and some kind of Peruvian corn. Nice.
They left after 10:30. Dora starting to pack four huge suitcases for Peru.
Dora out at 11:30 or so to do errands. I went out to Correos to mail a package to the north for her, and hit an ATM. Back home, and printing info about Peru trip. Dora home in a rush at 2, she had no success at all at INEM or Vodafone. She will leave her expensive shiny new phone here while she goes to Peru.
Turns out Dora's strategy is to leave most of the packing to the last half-hour. I'm pulling my hair out. She wants me to help, but everything I do is wrong. Pic.
The packing is done by 4, and the taxi arrives downstairs by 4. I make a couple of trips, hauling the four heavy suitcases down. Then before 4:15, Dora is in the shower ! I'm sure the meter is ticking on the taxi. I haul down a couple of smaller bags.
Trip to Peru:
Finally by 4:25 we're down and into the taxi.
To the airport, unload our four heavy suitcases, two small suitcases, a bag, Dora's big purse, and my computer/everything bag. Somehow Dora has sweet-talked the taxi driver, and he charges us only the normal airport fee, €17, not charging for the luggage or the waiting. I'm amazed.
We go into the airport and there's very little line to check in for our 5:40 flight. And I'm amazed again when they let through one seriously overweight suitcase (30 kilos instead of 23). Dora disappears into the bathoom for 15 minutes, and later tells me she got locked into a stall for several minutes before someone sprung the lock for her. We stand in the hallway to the bathrooms and she injects us with blood-thinner for the trip.
We jump most of the Security line, pleading late for our flight. And it is boarding, but we probably could have stayed in line and still made it.
Uneventful flight to Madrid, land by 6:45 or so. Then Dora disappears into a bathroom for 10 minutes, holds me up again by asking directions when I know where to go, and insists on disappearing into shops for 20 minutes to buy presents for people in Peru. I'm irritated. I go to baggage claim and get all of our stuff onto carts, then wait 5 or 10 minutes for Dora. Out to the terminal exit, and Dora disappears again for 20 minutes to recharge the SIM on her phone. We don't go out of the terminal until after 8. Ridiculous. But we have plenty of time until our near-midnight flight. I think.
Out to the inter-terminal bus, wrestle 8 pieces of luggage aboard. Ten-minute ride, some of it on highways, to two of the other terminals. Out at T1, wrestling luggage onto two carts.
Into the terminal, and Dora goes to one of those "wrap your luggage in plastic" vendors. €7 per bag. I'm irritated. But she gets her money's worth: she works hard for half an hour or more, they weigh her bags several times, and she leaves them with a pile of stuff (including some toys etc) to throw away. I'm waiting, and wondering what third picture on this sign means: pic.
To check-in around 9, and only a 5-minute wait in line. Then they tell us the flight is overbooked, would we like a free taxi and hotel and two free plane tickets later for waiting until tomorrow's flight ? Dora wants to do it, but I say no. I say I'd do it if they give us €2000 cash, which isn't going to happen.
They don't mind, and check us in, and even check one of our small suitcases also, for free. Dora has them laughing as she gives them a sales pitch for medical services, I think.
Through Security, where I get my hands swabbed for residue of drugs or explosives, I'm sure. To Burger King for a coffee for Dora. I get a large bottle of water and drink it right down.
Through the gate, onto a bus, out on the tarmac, and I make the nmistake of going to the back door to enter. Our seats are row 20, but I didn't realize this plane has 50 rows. Finally get seated and settled. Dora bought two boxes worth of wine or olive oil or something at Duty-Free, and the attendant makes a bit of a fuss about making sure they're secure and in Dora's footspace, not overhead.
Land before 4:30. Long bathroom stop, then passport control, then a huge crowd at baggage claim. We load up two carts heaping with luggage.
We're out with baggage by 5:30 or so. A flock of taxi drivers want our business. But Dora's relative Tomas and a friend are waiting for us with taxi-van. Cool, grey and damp morning.
Long ride through a fair amount of traffic, through and around central Lima, down to the Surco district. To the house by 6:30.
Dora doesn't have any keys ! But the neighbor across the street does, and fortunately he's home. Soon we're in, to the first floor.
Dora owns this floor. It's not in as bad shape as I expected. Nice tile floors and bathrooms, and the water damage on the walls is not nearly as bad as she described, and the wooden parquet floors in bedrooms don't look bad to me (she says they were put in with no margin for expansion, so they buckle in the summer). But it's cold and damp, the water isn't working, and it's only partially furnished. Pics.
So we're going to live in the second floor, which is owned by her middle sister. We carry the stuff up there. Much warmer, less damp, mostly fully furnished. Again nice tile floors and bathrooms. Still some exposed wiring, overhead lights are just bare circular flourescents. Pics.
Third floor is owned by the youngest sister. But it's mostly a theoretical floor: it's a construction zone, probably has been for years, some walls but no roof, plumbing roughed in and one toilet installed, everything else is bare concrete or brick. Pics.
Other side of the street, viewed from third floor, looks a bit rough. Every house has an upper floor that is a construction zone, and probably has been for years. Pics.
Then we paid the two guys €60 for the pickup, and they left around 7:20. We're trying to get the water to work, but there are almost no water-valves anywhere, yet we have strong water at an atrium spigot inside the outside door, and at a sink on the third floor, but nowhere else. Open trench in garage where there was a recent serious water leak, so maybe some valves have been turned off. But I see very few valves anywhere. Toilets don't seem to be refilling, or doing so very slowly. I guess they have a septic system, because we're not supposed to flush any paper.
I turn on the refrigerator on the 2nd floor; we'll see if it gets cold.
I lie down to try to sleep a little. I'm feeling lousy.
Up at 10. Bad headache; take a sumatriptan. Unpack the suitcases to find my toiletries, then I wash up a bit. Relatives are coming over with cooked food, which is nice, but I wish I could sleep.
Water system on 2nd floor is strange: we're getting no water through the cold faucets, and we are getting water through the hot faucets, but the electric water heater is not heating it. Someone's coming tomorrow to sort out the water on both 1st nd 2nd floors, I think.
Before 11, we're giving up on the relatives, and heading out to the corner store. As we're on the street, a relative (mother's cousin Betty) arrives in a taxi, bearing a bedspread, no food. We three continue to the corner store. As Dora buys various groceries, I explore a block in each direction. It looks like her street is the most "partially constructed" in the area, mostly because of land-title disputes, I think. Some nice-looking streets nearby.
We go home and have a simple lunch, some pork-and-sweetpotato sandwiches with various condiments and desserts and coffee. Dora and Betty talk and talk, lots of family news.
By noon, weather outside getting sunny. Between the sumatriptan, the walk, and the food, I'm feeling better. Still tired.
We nap at 2, Dora sleeping hard. Then up before 3, because aunt Belen is expected at 3. Scramble to cook, but all of the matches, maybe got that way today. I go out to corner store, but it's closed, so I go to another. No matches, but tomatoes and eggs and colorant. Then back out further, find a second store, get matches and soda. Back home, and hanging some laundry. Still no sign of Belen by 5. Dor called, and she came over around 6:15, bringing lots of fruits and some cooked rice-and-chicken.
Out at 8 or so. I wanted to explore the area, but we ended up just going into the Makro bulk-goods store and shopping. And of course Dora bought a bit more than we could carry comfortably, so it was a slight struggle to carry it all home. In after 9. Belen sleeping here tonight.
At 10:30, out for a quick walk to a couple of nearby plazas/parks, despite warnings from Dora that I'd be murdered 5 times in such a dangerous area. No free Wi-Fi to be had, despite a big sign I saw earlier in one of the plazas/parks saying "free Wi-Fi here". Streets well lighted, corner store open, people walking dogs, one older woman walking by herself, etc. I don't think this is a very dangerous area.
But Dora and Belen insist on locking every triple-turn-deadbolt as well as bolts and chains on the doors. More likely there will be a fire and we won't be able to get out, than that a thief could get in through the basic slide-locks and bolts.
Took melatonin and slept solidly.
Dora and Belen talking and talking as they do stuff.
Up at 8 or so. No hot water. Can't find most of my clothes and toiletries. Eventually Dora comes in and we figure out where she stashed stuff. I consolidate all of my stuff into one drawer and one section of the hangers in the closet; her stuff is spread over dozens of drawers and the rest of the two closets.
Somehow the cold water taps are working now. Dora shows me a valve she says she changed in the third bathroom, maybe that did it.
Using water boiled in the kitchen, I have a warm sponge-shower, and feel clean for the first time in more than a day.
Workers hammering downstairs by 9, when I'm dressing and heading out for breakfast. Tomas comes upstairs to have breakfast with us.
Finally going out at 11:30. We stop in the first floor, where I see workmen are chipping out all the water-damaged concrete from the lower part of the walls. I hand over my keys to the foreman, so copies can be made.
Into Tomas's red car, and we're off. Lots of driving through heavy city traffic. Lots of no-rules merging when three lanes merge into two, or there's construction, or there's a car pulled over and unloading.
Finally get to a gas station, where it turns out our car runs on natural gas, not gasoline. Pic. We all have to get out of the car during fueling; not sure if that is a law specific to natural gas, or for all fueling, or just a custom. Dora buys sodas for all of us.
Off again, and now to Army HQ for the whole Peruvian Army. We have to circle around the place, with lots of wrong turns, to find the main gate. We go into the parking lot and wait 5 or 10 minutes to meet Dora's friend Esperanza as she's going into work, and she hands over a big folder of house documents to Dora.
Going again, through heavier traffic, to the central registry building. Into there, lugging two cases of documents, but Reception soon tells us we have to go elsewhere. Dora buys sandwiches and sodas for all of us.
Going again, through atrocious traffic, often gridlocked for minutes at a time. Finally to central court building, up to 15th floor. Several rounds of discussion with officials through the counter window, then we go back down. Dora talks to the portero, who calls a law office for her. A runner appears in less than a minute, and leads us around the corner and up to second floor and a law office.
I wait and doze while Dora and Belen are in there for over an hour. The first lawyer dashes out and pays the tasa and files the paper in the court building, using her abogado status to bypass the lines.
Finally we're out, and now we can't find Tomas and the car. Into a small restaurant right next to the court building, order food. Belen goes out and circles the court building looking for Tomas; no luck. I go out and do the same; no luck. I wolf down a ham-cheese-egg sandwich and a cafe con leche, then go out and stand on the court building stairs for 10 or 15 minutes looking for Tomas or the car. Finally I spot him standing in the corner of the plaza next to the court building, and lead him to the restaurant. Which has closed its doors at 6, but opens to let us in to join Dora and Belen. Dora has ordered a big plate of food for me, which I don't want. But I eat half of it.
Out at 6:45 or so, I think. Long drive through thick traffic. We get near home, and find the gates next to Makro are locked, we can't drive into our neighborhood. But then the gates are unlocked to let some cars out, and we force our way in.
Home a little before 8, using Belen's keys to get in.
Today I've had enough of city traffic to last me a lifetime. Exhaust fumes probably took a month off my life-expectancy, too.
I went to bed around 10:30. For some reason, Dora stayed up until 5:30 AM or so, although she says she fell asleep at the dinner table a couple of times.
We really need to get some internet today. Dora needs to do something with the employment office in Spain.
Toilet in middle bathroom is leaking water onto the floor.
I'm starting to think about breakfast or shower, when Tomas shows up with his daughter Shakira and his wife Rosio. I avoid them and heat water and have my shave and shower etc. Finally I'm dressed and presentable and join them at the table. We have a long breakfast, Dora talking a lot and eating a lot.
Around 10:45 we get moving. I start washing dishes, but that is unacceptable to the women, I'm pushed out of the kitchen. I show Tomas the non-working water-heater, and he shows me how a piece of wire is missing out of the knife-switch, he'll get a new switch. I show Dora's family pictures on my laptop to Tomas and Rosio and Shakira.
Finally out before noon, I think. Just Tomas, Dora and me in the car today. We drive NW, I think, to the coast, to the medical association center. I pay to bring Dora's membership up-to-date. Pics.
Then into the center, through heavy traffic. I manage to get a tiny bit of drive-by Wi-Fi, enough to see my email and WhatsApp messages. We pick up Dora's friend Esperanza on the street, seemingly by accident, but later I realize it was arranged. To the pension office, where they spend a couple of hours figuring out how to transfer Dora's Peruvian work history to Spain for pension credit, and how to claim a payment her father never collected, years ago, and maybe some other stuff. While they're in there, Tomas (and me) go off in the car to get fuel, and so I can hit an ATM (paying a 2% fee). I try to figure out the mileage he gets per amount of natural gas, but there's some miscommunication and the numbers don't make sense. It might be 30 KM on about $3 worth of natural gas, but I'm not sure.
Back to the pension place, more waiting, then out. Off to some other area (Brena), and Dora and Esperanza disappear into a pension-lawyer office for an hour or so. Turns out that today they've been asking about pension and work info on 5 people: Dora, her father, her sister, Rosio, and Esperanza.
Going again, drop off Esperanza near her home, then a horrible trip home, bumper-to-bumper on the main highway much of the way, gridlocked on surface streets later.
Home at 6:40, tired. Soon a nice dinner of chicken, rice, potato, corn, cheese. I'm chased away from washing dishes, again. Tomas, Rosio, Shakira left before 9.
More relatives supposed to be coming at 10, and staying the night. Dora and I out after 9, walking to the main road and to a small pharmacy (for one essential, toothpaste, and also some ibuprofen) and then an internet cafe (no Wi-Fi, and Dora's email says "new country, let's send a confirmation code to your Spanish phone which doesn't work here"). Went to park near our house where Dora says there is free Wi-Fi, same place I tried the other night, and there's no free Wi-Fi. Home by 10:15. No relatives yet. None by 11. Dora says they wanted to come at 8, she said come at 10, I guess they're not coming at all. To bed.
But it's impossible. Dora gets up at 8:30 and soon is in a fury, she can't find the important powers-of-attorney and ID cards she was bringing from Spain. It appears she grabbed the wrong folders off the table in Jerez when she was packing at the last minute. We have folders of our electric bills for the Jerez apartment, our pareja application in Jerez, etc. Stuff we never intended to bring on the trip.
And she's lashing out at me for not helping with the packing, or for not checking the documents. Or she thinks someone with the airline stole things out of the plastic-wrapped luggage: she's missing one shoe each from a couple of pairs, and a couple of dolls, and a laptop power cord for an ancient laptop. She wonders if someone stole all the documents and ID cards; I'm amazed she would have put those things in checked luggage in the first place, but I don't say so. I suggest she have her mother or sister back in Spain go to our apartment and look for the documents and send them to us, which just earns me a tirade from her. Finally I just have to get out of the room and avoid her for a while.
Hammering downstairs started again at 8, and Tomas here by 9 or so.
By 10:10, Dora is despairing, sure the documents were stolen. I'm trying to persuade her to have someone look for them in our apartment in Jerez.
I have a sponge-shower with hot water boiled in the kitchen, then we have some breakfast.
Trying to get new SIM cards working in phones. But I don't want one in my smartphone, because that will change my phone number and blow away all my WhatsApp connections, I think. So we're putting one into a flip-phone, but can't get it to work, and I've really never used a flip-phone. Tomas can't get it to work either. Dora calling to arrange Wi-Fi for the house, probably starting in a couple of days.
I went out at 1, for a walk in a new direction, and to see if I can find Wi-Fi or an ATM or the beach. Pic. I ended up at the "theme park" about 3 blocks away. It seems to be a govt-run ecology-promoting park, lots of environmental exhibits, and price of admission is a couple of used plastic bottles. Very confusing at first, wasn't sure if they wanted money, then I had to sign the visitor register. Guides eager to have me come into indoor exhibits, but I just wanted to walk around and take pictures. Pics. Then I saw a free-Wi-Fi sign ! Sat down, logged in as guest, did WhatsApp and email. Sent messages to the family in Spain about the documents.
Out of there, tried to head toward the beach, but streets very confusing. Junction of one street on the map turned out to be a house-door-sized cutout in a big concrete wall. Through there, started making progress toward the beach. But it's pretty far, made a wrong turn, eventually gave up. No ATM or bank anywhere. Back to the theme park, got Wi-Fi from outside, only one response on WhatsApp, from Dora's son. Home by 2:30. Dora still in PJ's.
Tomas has obtained batteries for a flashlight, in case of emergency. And he or someone has installed a new breaker-switch on the hot-water heater, and now it works ! I'm delighted; nothing worse than cold showers.
Nice chicken-rice-salad dinner with Belen and Tomas, although at the beginning Dora got interrupted by several phone calls.
Dora and Tomas heading out at 6:30, to buy medical supplies and then pick up Dora's aunt Teresa in the center of the city. I was about to head out to the park to do Wi-Fi on my laptop, when they changed their minds: too much driving on a busy Friday evening, someone else will bring Teresa. So Dora will go to the park with me. But of course I have to wait for her for 20 minutes while various other things interrupt.
Out to the park to do some Wi-Fi, with mixed results. Then Dora was cold, and we left. And now my laptop's balky charging connection is refusing to work.
Into car at 1:15. To ATM in this area, but it's same bback I used before, and I get a message "you can use our network only once per month". To gas station near the center. To Esperanza's casa in the center, and Tomas and I wait in the car.
Dora and Esperanza get into car, and we go to a mercado that is all medical/dental stuff, at low prices. Pic. Tomas parks in an underground parking lot with heart-stopping clearances between cars and columns etc. Dora takes a while to buy a lot of stuff; I wait on a bench outside and people-watch and watch the police close the road for a later religious procession.
To a medical congress in a fancy hotel/casino (Delfines), by 6:45 or so. Tomas and I wait and wait, alleviated by free Wi-Fi from the other fancy hotel/country-club we're parked in front of. Finally I go in to Delfines to look for the women, but the congress area is full of similar-looking women. I give up, go out, later come back with Tomas, and he finds them. Dora is buying something, but it has to be cash, so we go down to the casino and find an ATM, which is charging an extortionate 4.5% fee.
To a modern place called Norky's for roast chicken, salad, french fries. We're all starving and tired. Pic.
Drop off Esperanza, pick up two other ladies (Tia Teresa and her daughter Maria Teresa), then home by 10:15 or so.
Dora opens a drawer and finds the missing legal documents, the critical documents she thought were stolen and I thought were left at home. In her flurry of unpacking here, she stuck them in the drawer and forgot it.
I go out to the park area to do Wi-Fi and tell the people in Spain that we have the documents. Come home to find Dora talking to them on the phone; Maria Teresa has told her she can call Spain by dialing 19120034, which we didn't know. I wonder about the cost.
Tomas, Belen, Tia Teresa and Maria Teresa staying the night here.
To park to get Wi-Fi and check WhatsApp messages.
Tomas has taken Belen away, and arrives with another lady, Tia Hilda.
Dora and Maria Teresa out in the car at 10:30 or so (pic), to the medical congress again, saying they'll be back in a hour or so. I don't believe it.
I show Dora family pictures on the computer to the two ladies, and they really enjoy them, the old pictures and the recent. Found 6 or 7 other family pictures in frames in the apartment, and copied them onto the computer.
Tried to fix sink in green bathroom, and made it a little worse. The clog is up inside the fixture, not in the U-bend. The drain-washers are ancient and it's impossible to stop the last drip of leaking, so put a bucket under it.
Eventually got the burnt-out fluorescent bulb out of the red bathroom.
Looked downstairs, where the workers are no longer working, and found that they deliberately left the water running full-force in a bathroom. I guess they left on bad terms with Dora. It was running for a good 15 hours or so.
Dora and Tomas and Maria Teresa home around 3:30.
Out at 3:45 with a full car, then picked up Maria Teresa walking and carried her a mile to a bus stop.
Up through center (wasn't there a faster way around ?) and out of the north of Lima, long trip. Hills and everything up here look very dusty, not much rain: Pic. Past where Dora was born, about 10 blocks up into the foothills from the main road, so her father jokes that she was born in the mountains: Pic. For a while she lived in a main road building that now has been replaced by another: Pic. To Tomas's home by 6:30 (or was it 5:30 ?) for dinner with his family. The two older ladies (Tia Hilda and Tia Teresa) are a riot, full of energy and stories and poking fun at each other. Pics.
Out, down to south a little, and dropping off Tia Hilda turned into all of us going into the garage of a house to meet a dozen people, most of them relatives of Dora. The three sons of the house are around 20-25 years old and apparently all engineering/math geniuses, top graduates in the top engineering/math university in Lima. I chat in English with the oldest for a while; he has a telecomm provider job, installing enterprise phone systems in large companies. He's traveled to Italy, Paris, etc. Has a clear plan for the next 5 years of his career, really bright guy. Pics.
Down to center city, I thought we were dropping Tia Teresa at her home, but she just went in and came back out with some stuff, and got back in the car.
Stopped for gas. Apparently Dora had some minor stuff (MP3 player, and scarf) stolen from her purse while she was at the congress. They were in an outside pocket of her purse, and she thinks a 2-man act distracted her while she was in a booth, and unzipped the pocket and took them.
Home a bit before midnight.
Tomas and Tia Teresa staying the night here.
We sit down to breakfast at 10:30, and a guy arrives to give a quote on painting, replacing light fixtures, and fix plumbing fittings in this floor. I eat, Dora deals with it, he joins us for tea, he can't do it in time, so he calls another guy to come give a quote for doing both 1st and 2nd floors.
Good news: my laptop has decided to start changing again, so it will be usable again for a while. Headache; took a Neobrufen and laid down for a while.
Still had headache at 2; took a sumatriptan. Dora says relatives coming with food at 3, but we're hungry, she cooks some vegetables and soup. Before they're done, the relatives arrive at 2:15 (and a workman arrives too). Cousin Betty and her mother Innocenta and daughter Shayla. The daughter has lived in Canada and speaks English well. We have a nice dinner, fish and rice and sweet-potato and some other kind of potato, but Dora is late because of another workman. Pics.
Showed Dora's family pictures to Shayla and Innocenta. Laptop charging stopped working again.
Betty and Shayla and Innocenta left at 5:45. Dora still talking to workmen, but she's found a crew to do the work.
Dora locked a room in the apartment, and it turns out we don't have a key. We have a big bunch of keys, but I can't find one that works on that door. Seems that every internal door here has a unique key, so we have to be careful not to lock any of them.
Dora completing the medical treatment on TT.
I start photographing family pictures out of the photo albums.
Out at 10 with Dora and TT. When Dora suggested a walk, I didn't expect an 80-year-old woman with a cane would be coming along too. We mosey on out and find a Chinese restaurant with okay food and free Wi-Fi. Home after 11.
Laptop charger starts working again.
Workers arrived at 8:30 downstairs. Dora yelling for me at 9:30, nasty leak in wall under some sink, all work has stopped because of it ?
I have zero cash. To park to do Wi-Fi to send money her son at medical school, but totally failed. On my phone, browser crashes, site kept throwing away my input, tried about 6 times, gave up.
Back home, Dora still crazy, I decided to walk out to the main street and see if I could find an ATM. Just then, Tomas arrived, annd drove me out to banks. Tried two banks, then shifted to different card and got some cash.
Back home, then to store near big park, for a load of groceries.
At 1:15, we have Wi-Fi installed in the first floor, in the very back room. Takes over an hour to get all devices working on it, and to find the limits of the coverage. It's really supposed to be for just the first floor, so we can't complain that we don't get it in the front room of the 2nd floor, where I have our laptops set up.
Managed to start money-transfers to Dora's son and to one of my Spanish accounts, but the transfers won't complete until tomorrow.
At 3, we fed the two workers. Gas bottle has run empty, so we can't cook for ourselves. Leftovers for dinner, then a motorcycle guy delivers two new gas bottles (S40 each).
At 6, I want to watch the big football game. Dora said we'd watch it on the cable TV downstairs (cable came with the Wi-Fi). But now she says we'll drive to the beach and watch in a restaurant there. I'm reluctant, but go along. We drive to the beach, look at it, but then don't pick a restaurant, she wants to drive to a famous bridge ? We start to go there, get a little lost, I'm complaining that we're missing the game. Finally Tomas drops us off close to home, in the main govt plaza of our town, Surco. A huge crowd watching the game on a giant screen, but all the unobstructed viewing spots are taken, and I don't want to stand through the whole game. Into a nearby cheap Chinese restaurant, and we have coffees and pork-rice and watch minutes 31-93 of the game. Game was a bit lackluster, ended in a 1-1 tie. I thought Peru needed a win to continue, and the graphics say they're on the border of elimination, but some players from both teams are celebrating as if they won. Confusing. And the TV is not showing the new tournament standings, just replaying Peru's goal over and over again.
We walk around the plaza, watch a little dancing, then walk back to our home gated community. Into a store, and I wait as Dora talks and talks to the lady. Finally I abandon her and walk home by 10. She's home before 10:15.
Hang up laundry, shovel sandpile from sidewalk to buckets inside (Dora demands it so the sand doesn't get stolen). Bed by 11:45.
Power failure at 8:55 while I was backing up my laptop to the cloud, and I think it is the whole neighborhood, I don't see ANY Wi-Fi networks any more. But the power was back on a few minutes later.
Out at 11 or so. I thought Tomas, Dora and I were getting into car with a worker to go buy stuff, but the worker isn't here, so Dora and I went to a corner store and she took half ann hour to buy a tone of groceries. Home to stash them, then out in the worker's car, without Tomas.
To a building-supply place. Dora was frantic when I said I wanted to walk across the street and down the block to a fancy mall/megastore to look for an ATM. She said no, it's very dangerous here, wait and she'll go with me, the driver says there's no ATM in that mall, etc. I waited 5 minutes while they started at the building supply place, then slipped out and walked to the nearest traffic light. I guess Dora noticed I was gone, and sent the driver after me. I shook him off and kept going, across the street etc. Big street, broad daylight, lots of people out, it's not dangerous at all. Down to the mall, inside, there's an ATM. Later found out there's a whole bank in here somewhere, or at least a big sign for the bank on the outside. Used both my ATM cards and got cash. Out to street, no one following me or messing with me. Back across the big road, to the building supply place, and Dora and driver are waiting for me in the car. They only bought 2 items on the list, then other 10 items on the list have to be bought elsewhere.
Instead of doing that, we went to cousin Betty's house and had coffee and nibbles, while I groused that driver and Tomas are waiting, wasting their time. Finally out, then to a roast-chicken place to buy two roast chickens to take home for dinner.
Then to the local govt building so Dora can ask about hours. She just doesn't understand that food should be eaten as hot as possible.
Finally home before 2, and dinner with Tomas and the driver; I guess there are no other workers downstairs.
Dora saying she and Tomas would go to the center, but she dawdles over dinner until there's no chance of it.
I've been smelling gas, and our gas hoses and connectors are ancient, so we call the gas guy in. He takes one sniff and says something is very wrong. Replaces our hoses and connectors for S70.
Tia Teresa arrives around 6:30, I think. Soon we're all into the car and off to the Puente de los Suspiros bridge area. Stop at a ferreteria to buy a fluorescent bulb and a couple of other things. Then we do several loops trying to find the bridge, complicated by some roads blocked for a procession. Finally we get there, and Tomas drops us off and heads home. I didn't know that was going to happen. Now we're walking down lots of steps into a river gorge at night with an 80-year-old woman who doesn't walk well and forgot to bring her cane.
Down and up into a restaurant (Javiers), and have coffees and desserts and a nice time. Pics.
Out, and go up a bit, and sit and rest for a minute. Pics. Then have someone call a taxi for us. But it's a luxury taxi of some kind, and the guy doesn't want to go to our house, he says the area is dangerous. I think he just wants expensive fares into center-city, and doesn't know our area. We pay S5 and he lets us off at another taxi. Well worth it to avoid TT having to climb steps and hills. Into another taxi. S7 to home, right to the door. Home by 9:30.
Up at 8:15 to go to store with worker, but no worker by 10:30.
At 10:45, to ferreteria with Tomas. Bought paint, cement, sand, etc for S483 plus S20 for delivery. Loaded it onto a moto-car flatbed for delivery. Home. Helped unload, and I could handle the 25-KG bags of paint, but not the 42.5-KG bags of cement; left those to the workers.
Into car at noon, dropped off at ATMs, got cash, walked home.
Dora home at 5:45, announcing she wants to go see folk-dancing at a museum halfway back into the center at 6. That's impossible.
Locksmith comes, opens locked room door for S30.
Into car at 6:20. Dora says 15-20 minutes to museum. Actually takes 45-60 minutes. Fortunately the event starts not at 6, but at 7 or 7:15 or something. We're in just in time to hear the opening speeches.
Groups from about 8 countries: Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, maybe I'm forgetting one. Some of the dancing is better than I expected, but most is unimpressive. One group is terrific, monsters and fools running out into the audience to mess with people. The Argentian men are great, very athletic leg-motions. Two Peruvian couples are very good. The Peruvian group dance is nothing special, but gets big applause. Most of the group dances are uninteresting. Very hard to take pictures. Pics.
Afterwards, to McDonalds with Dora and her friend.
Getting ready to go home at 10:30, and every suggestion I make (bus, Metro) is shouted down by the two women: full of robbers, I'll get murdered, etc. I'm getting a bit tired of this refrain. We walk back to the big Metro/train station (some confusion about names, are Metro and train and LineaUno all the same thing ?), and find the station closed at 10:30 ! No wonder traffic in this city is a mess, the mass-transit is done poorly.
We take a taxi home, and it turns out to be very cheap (S12) and very fast at this hour in this direction. Home a bit after 11.
Finally admitting that I'm sick. Take 2 amoxicillin.
Put laundry out on the lines. Bed after 11:30. Pile of sand is left outside; no shoveling tonight.
I have bronchitis. Took 3 amoxicillin and a Neobrufen.
Dora into a taxi at 9. Workers arrived 9:10. Electricity out, apparently in the whole neighborhood (all the Wi-Fi networks disappeared). And the power stays off.
Went out at 2:15, but pharmacy closed. To small stores and bought newspaper and groceries.
Headachey; took a Zomig.
Electricity came back on at 5. Started laundry.
Dora calls at 7:30, says she'll be home in 30-60 minutes. I predict 90.
I take two amoxicillin.
Dora home at 9.
Dora gives me injection of Nolotil before bed, for pain and fever.
After 11, took ibuprofen and had a hot shower, felt a bit better.
Tried to glue a broken pot-lid handle, but the glue is very dangerous: quick-acting, runny, strong. Almost glue my fingers together. And later find that the torque on the part is too strong, so I give up on the glue and fix the handle a different way.
Workers need more materials. And suddenly want S1300 of payment, which we don't have in hand. So at 5:30, we took a combi to the banks, got cash, took a combi back, paid the workers.
Dora having her hair done for several hours, until about 9:15.
Took an amoxicillin and an augmentine.
Dora had planned for both of us to go out to dinner in the center with a friend of hers, then she was going to go alone (I'm in no shape for it), then she cancels it and stays home.
Before 11, took an ibuprofen and to bed.
Out before 11 with Tia Teresa and Dora. Walked to main road, taxi to ayuntamiento plaza (pics), looking for a religious procession. But the security guards there say no procession that they know of. Dora into a pharmacy for a while. Finally out, then it turns out the security guards are driving us to a procession. I find out later that the head of the security force has asked Dora to stand by the procession in case anyone needs medical attention.
We drive to a slightly-rough area (San Agustin) not far from our house. I've walked here before. Now I'm massively irritated that Dora does everything she can to keep me from getting out of the car, saying I'll be robbed. I get out anyway, and she sends the security guard to follow me everywhere. Irritating.
The first procession is small but nice, good band. Pics. Then we go to a smaller procession a few blocks over, which is going to end up about 5 blocks from our house. I get out again, over strenuous protests from Dora, and head down to a flower-market I saw. She sends the guard after me again. Turns out the flowers all are fake, and they're for people to put on graves of relatives. I go into the big cemetery and look around; it's nice.
Back to the procession, then to the street where it will end. Things drag on, Dora is schmoozing with some important people, wants me to be next to her all the time. I'm uncooperative, go find some shade to stand in. The very end of the procession is interesting, as some older guys take over the platform and do a fun dance with it, to lively music. I've never seen that before.
Finally we're driven home, by 2:15 or so. And a crowd of relatives is waiting outside our door. No rest.
They've brought food, and soon we're having dinner for 9. Pics. Then 3 more relatives show up, and we are 12. After dinner, I show Dora's family pictures on the laptop, to general acclaim.
I go lay down for a while, then realize my face is seriously red: I foolishly got sunburned today. We rushed out at 11, so I went without hat or sun-block, and I didn't expect to be out for 3 hours.
At 4:30, took 2 amoxicillin. At 6:20, took paracetamol and azitromicina.
Last guests left at 9.
Out at 11 or so, in the car with Tomas and Dora. To ferreteria for more sand and cement. To bank for cash.
To mercado to leave my laptop at a repair place. I'm 99% sure the power-connector on the motherboard is loose/cracked. Guy looks at the charger and says "this is not the original manufacturer's charger, that's the problem". I say no. He tests it with a voltmeter, and it's fine. Then he takes out the battery and says "this is not the original manufacturer's battery, that's the problem". I say no, the battery is 3 months old, it works fine when the charger will charge it. Finally he pokes at the power-connector and says "it's loose/cracked, it needs soldering". Okay. Cost will be S140. Fine.
Takes us another 45 minutes to get out of the mercado. Dora buys lingerie, cleaning products, meat, rice, etc. Taking 10x as long for each step as she should, chatting with everyone, etc. Workers are waiting for dinner at home, Tomas and I are irritated at the delay, but no matter.
Finally we get out and home by 1:20, and find the workers gave up on waiting for us to cook dinner, and bought their own.
Dora out in the car with Tomas at 3 or so, to the center to go to the judicial building. She's trying to get this property registered properly, so she can rent it etc, and things are going far too slowly, if at all.
I went out at 6, to the mercado. But the lady at the computer shop says the laptop is not done, come back tomorrow at 11. I go back home.
Almost immediately, Dora calls and says the computer guy just called, come pick up the laptop. But she wants to do 4 other things at that shop, so we'll go together later. And the guy still is pushing for me to buy a new charger and battery from him; not going to happen.
Dora home at 8 or so, and she's sick. GI distress and vomiting. But soon she and I and Tia Teresa are back into the car with Tomas. They drop us off at the mercado, and wait while Dora tries to get change to pay Tomas. The computer guy finds change for us, Dora pays Tomas, and the car leaves. We pay for the repairs to my laptop (S140, about US$40), I get laptop and charger back. Dora and I catch a combi to go about 300 yards, walk home by 9 or so.
Dora says the town might fine us for having a sandpile outside overnight (news to me), so I go out and shovel about 1/3 of it into buckets inside, and tidy up the rest and move it out of the road as much as possible. It's a full cubic meter, I think, so it's too much to get all of it inside.
Computer repair seems fine; battery is charging, computer works on AC.
Took 2 amoxicillin and an azitromicina.
Bring in the laundry, just as it's trying to rain a little. Dora into a taxi at 8:15.
Some guy appeared at 8:45 or so, knocked on the door. But I couldn't tell what he wanted, I haven't seen him before, all he did was make phone-call motions with the phone in his hand. I said Dora's name and he didn't react to that. He's not carrying any kind of work-materials or briefcase or anything. I didn't let him in. He hung around outside for 20 minutes making calls to someone, then left.
Took 2 amoxicillin. Put out laundry.
Workers arrived at 10:05.
Before 1, a worker asking about lunch, but I have nothing for them.
Put out more laundry. Rested. Took 2 amoxicillin and a paracetamol. I thought Dora was going to come home in midafternoon, but no sign of her by 4:30, I guess she decided to stay in center-city or wherever.
At 4:50, Dora rushes in with Esperanza, running about 2 hours late on the day's schedule, lashing out at me for a number of small things. It's my fault that the phone SIMs are messed up, but eventually she finds the papers for them and we get that fixed. Then it turns out today is the last day for registering for a medical congress in Vienna, so she dumps that onto me. I get it done, paying €330 on my credit card, and now I have to figure out plane tickets and an AirBNB or something. And I'll have only about 4 days to rest in Spain between this trip and that trip. Dora and friend back out before 6, into a waiting taxi.
Dora home a bit before 11:30, driven by yet another cousin, Marco ? Gave him a tour of the first floor, then he left at 11:40. Her sales-pitch of esthetic services to a bunch of ladies didn't end so well, no buyers for various reasons.
Took 2 amoxicillin and an azitromicina.
Took 2 amoxicillin.
Out with Dora at 6:40 or so. No chance we'll get to the mass, but Dora says we'll catch the second half of it. Ask neighbor across the road to let the workers in when they come later. Walk out to the main road and catch a combi. Up to a big intersection, out, over to a city bus. Turns out to be the Troncal route bus, something I've been meaning to try. We get seats, and have a nice ride. Bus soon fills and becomes standing-room.
As we near the center, it's clear we don't have a chance of getting to the mass. So off the bus just before 8, and taxi to the Justice building.
Dora barges in through the employee entrance, but the guards won't let me follow, so she has to come out and we go around the building and in the normal way. Long lines for the elevators, but Dora jumps into the "for old people" line. She's fairly seriously sick, no one objects, after 5 minutes we're into an elevator. Up to 15th floor and luckily she is able to sit down in front of a serious-looking bureaucrat and explain her case.
She's trying to register her house, apparently it was never done before or done properly or something. After a while, we're sent down to the 12th floor, where again she gets in to see someone without much delay. Consulatation, back up to 15th, to the counter for a while, then she grabs my last cash (S100) and applies a bribe. I don't think it's going to help. They're all telling her the registration will take 3-4 months. She needs it now so she can rent her house out.
Down to lobby and sit for a few minutes. I get cash from an ATM inside the building. Now the card that didn't work a day or two ago is working, and the one that worked is saying "insufficient funds" (not true). Out to the street, start looking for lunch. Into a pharmacy, I get more cash out of an ATM, Dora buys a bunch of pills.
Find a lunch place, have coffee and nice sandwiches. I'm starved and headachey, we're both sick (Dora much worse than me). I take a Neobrufen.
Out and further down the street to a "congress" building, which I guess houses members of parliament or city legislature or something ? One of them is a distant relative of Dora. We wait half an hour or more while he's in a meeting, but they have comfy seating and magazines and a too-loud TV, so it's not bad.
In to see the man, and a pleasant meeting. Then he calls in another guy, who's maybe a lawyer, and we start to make progress. Dora shows documents to him, he goes away and eventually comes back, and explains part of what's happening. If you don't register your property, scammers may zoom in and try to register it in their own name, and apparently first to register is the winner. Some 8 or 10 people show up as claiming to own Dora's property. Seems to me that this shouldn't be fatal; isn't there some way of proving you've actually occupied the property and paid utilities and taxes for 35 years, and they never tried to enforce their claim ? Dora says no. I wonder if also you could show that they've claimed ownership of 100 other properties.
After this is established, we somehow spend another hour or more in the office, mostly with me lounging outside while Dora and the guy talk. I take a paracetamol.
Out at 4:45 or so. Down the block, buy a roast chicken, Dora takes it back to the guy who helped her, he missed lunch. Then taxi to the "metropolitano" bus station at Grau, another transit I've wanted to try. Very confusing station, no route maps or hours of operation posted. Partly it's simple, your only choice is to go south or north. But for some reason there are buses 1 through 10 and A, B, C covering those two directions, with no explanation of the differences. We get the "B" bus, on with no waiting. A smooth trip, but I have to stand all the way. Apparently this transit only operates about 5 AM to 10 PM, like the Metro, which is too limited. These things should run until midnight or more, in such a traffic-clogged city.
Off the bus at Balta stop. Into Metro supermarket, which looks huge from the outside, but has surprisingly small selections when you get down to specific items.
Out of there, and into a moto-car, another form of transit I've wanted to try. It's motorscooter-guts with a three-wheeled cabin mounted onto it, sort of. We go through a lot of back roads I've never seen; this guy doesn't believe in using the main road. A fun ride, but a bit congested since the windows don't open, and Dora still is coughing like a TB patient.
Home at 5:45. Workers just leaving, and Tomas still here. Fresh concrete on the stairs we need to use to get up to our floor (2nd), but we just have to avoid stepping on the edge of each step, we can go up by putting feet sideways. I drink a big glass of water, and a cup of tea; I've been feeling dehydrated today. Eat a banana, which turns out to be some local variety I'm not used to.
At 6:30, visit from Jersey, who baby-sitted Dora's son when he was about 4 years old. I showed the family pictures on the computer to her. Nice visit, but I wish Dora was cooking dinner instead.
Finally I started cooking, then dragged Dora in to do it right.
Tomas and Jersey are sleeping here tonight.
Took 2 amoxicillin and a paracetamol.
Tomas taking Dora to the center at 10. She wanted me to go with her again, but I need a day or two of rest from that.
In midday, feeling terrible: cold and headache. Took a sumatriptan, had a hot shower, hot tea, lunch. Felt better.
At 8, phone call from Dora, she's still up in center-city, and has gotten separated from Tomas.
Out to a corner store, to buy some groceries and something chocolate.
Took 2 amoxicillin and a paracetamol. Headache.
Dora home around 9:45. I still have a headache; took another sumatriptan.
Dora talking on the phone for at least 3 hours, 10:30 until 2:30. Then suddenly into action to cook dinner for the workers. I dash out to store to buy rice and tomato sauce. Then it turns out 3 of 4 workers left to go eat because they thought she wasn't cooking.
Finally getting some clarity on the Vienna trip with Dora's sister, about how many people going, what dates, whether Dora can stay in sister's hotel room, etc.
Dinner with 3 workers, although I think they had eaten earlier.
Out in the worker's car around 6, to a huge home-supply store (Sodimac). Bought tile and cement and tools etc, to the tune of about $380 on my credit card. Pic. Had it delivered by truck for another $15 or so. Back home through slow traffic.
Out again in car, and they dropped us off at the mercado. It's mostly closed, but we went in anyway and Dora stopped at several shops. Out, took a combi, home by 8:40.
Took a paracetamol.
Put the new starter I just bought into the fluorescent fixture in the green bathroom, then found out that Dora threw away the (good) bulb. Oh, well.
Out again after 9. Into a nice taxi, and up somewhere near the Puente del los Suspiros. But when Dora said "we're meeting a friend for dinner", she meant "we're meeting my friend Esperanza in a tourist-folkdance-disco with a loud band and we're going to sit right in front and dance etc". Just what someone with a headache needs. I started feeling sick.
I survived about 30 minutes, drinking some sangria and dancing once, before I had to flee. Off to the men's room for a while, then stood in the back/side as far from the band as possible. But even that became intolerable, and I had to grab my coat and bag and go outside. Cold out, but my coat is warm. I huddled down and waited for the women to come out.
I guess they were in no hurry. Eventually Esperanza came out to see if I was okay, but didn't get the message that I wanted to go home now. She was out again later to get money to pay the bill. Finally they're out and we're into a taxi at 12:20. Home by 12:45. I feel like trash. Pills and tea to to bed.
Dora going out at 11:30, mad at me and everyone else for putting pressure on her about various things. Vienna trip still not settled. I just want to stay home and loaf. Workers are about to do the main stairs, so we can't go in or out for 3 or 4 hours, which is fine with me. I had been about to get up and shower etc, but I think I'll just stay in bed.
Online, grabbed the last cheap ticket available for Dora to fly Jerez - Vienna for the medical congress. I assume only she and her sister will be going. I've had enough of traveling for a while.
But then 3 hours later, 3 more tickets were available for only $20 more ($300 RT instead of $280), so I grabbed one for myself.
Dora home before 4, with Marco. He left around 4:30. Dora has bought lots of new drugs; confusing. I'm supposed to take 2 cefadroxilo per day for sinusitis, so I took one now.
Changed my mind again (or had it changed for me) on the Vienna trip. Cancelled tickets and made new ones, with Dora and I staying 10 days or so.
Dinner with 5 workers and Dora.
Confusion in Dora's family about who's going to Vienna. I'm not paying for more tickets. And I hope the free hotel room promised to us for 5 nights doesn't disappear.
Supposed to go out shopping in the evening, but instead Dora talked on the phone. Took a cefadroxilo for sinusitis.
Turns out we are short one hotel night in Vienna, so I made a reservation for that.
I thought we were going out to 10 AM mass, and I was ready by then, but then we didn't get out the door until 11. And promptly ran into a census lady, who says they'll be at our house soon, so we had to go back home to wait for them. Today is the national census day.
Dora going nuts, straightening up the house, getting me to shovel the sandpile inside, etc. In a dither about whether the census people will search every corner of the house.
Finally the census person shows up after 1:30.
Census left after 4. They asked a ton of questions, surprised to find 3 separate owners on one lot, owners didn't match what they had in their records, etc. Lucky that Dora was here for the census; it could help in establishing title.
Quick dinner, then straightening up because apparently 10 relatives of Dora (from her father's side of the family) are showing up soon.
Relatives arrived around 6:45, and there were only 4 of them.
Small earthquake at 7:10.
I showed Dora's family pictures on laptop to the relatives, to great interest.
Took a cefadroxilo.
Relatives still here at midnight-15. I'm going to bed. They left around 12:45, but for some reason Dora stayed up all night. I found her dozing in front of the laptop, trying to transfer money to her son, around 3 or 4 AM.
Out at 8:45 in the worker's car. To banks, had to wait for them to open at 9, got a lot of cash out of the ATMs. To a building-supply place, and waited an hour as they bought stuff. Home by 10:30.
Dora has several big errands planned for today and all afternoon, then decides to stay and cook dinner for the workers instead. Soon I'm dashing out to the store to buy cooking oil, rice, soda, garlic, tomato sauce.
Fed the workers, then Dora and I had some dinner. Dora's eyes closing on their own, so she took a nap from 2 to 3.
The usual frantic seach as Dora can't find her mobile phone. Eventually it's found in a random drawer. Then Dora into taxi at 6:30, heading to the center. I don't know why she didn't go at 4; now she risks stores being closed.
I went out 15 or so minutes later. Longish walk up to the mercado, and it was a waste of time, no one recognized the word I was using to try to buy a mop-head, and I didn't see any mops like I wanted. Came back past Makro, into the gated community, and bought a bunch of groceries at one of the corner stores. Also no mop there, or I'm using the wrong word.
Took a cefadroxilo.
Dora home after 11. More drugs: took an azitromicina. And in the 5 hours she was gone, Dora made it to only one shop, the one for doing business cards and professional stamps. Plus a pharmacy, I guess.
After 9, no sign of the usual workers, but others showed up to deliver sand and take away broken concrete sidewalk pieces. Main workers showed up before 9:30.
Into taxi with Dora at 11. To medical association; waited half an hour while she did stuff for her sister's registration. Then to legal association, waiting an hour or more as she did stuff for her other sister's registration there. Had lunch there. Then to congress building. But SNAFU: Dora planned to do a medical treatment to her relative the congressman, but turns out he's out of town all this week. She talked to the secretary, gave medicines, sold something to her. Then called a nice taxi, waited 15 minutes or so for it (near a nice church: pic), and headed home.
Home before 9:30. Fresh concrete sidewalk in front of our door. Some vandal has written his name into it, but I smoothed out most of that with a trowel.
We're expecting another set of relatives to visit. So, 10 minutes later I'm out on the street, heading to the store to buy some cookies etc. But there they are in a car, and they've brought food ! So back to the house and have a much-needed roast chicken dinner with them. Just three women.
Took a cefadroxilo and an azitromicina.
Turns out the relatives are sleeping here tonight.
Two relatives left. I went out to store for an emergency run for toilet paper and paper towels.
Took a cefadroxilo.
At 2:15 or so, into a taxi with Dora and Esperanza, after Dora turned down the foreman's requests for more money. Up into the center, and to the public registry building. Where Dora was sent from department to department, getting more irritated as she went. Eventually Esperanza and I sat down and dozed as we waited for more than an hour.
Eventually the offices and building closed, and we were out. To a nearby restaurant for lots of food. Pic. Dora has about 75 pages of title documents (bought with my money) that she says shows dozens of people claiming her house. But I looked at them, and it looks like the original big property hasn't been subdivided properly or something, she has all the titles for all 50 neighboring properties, listed under the same number. And maybe her purchase of her lot was never registered. I'll have to look at the papers more carefully at home.
Out of the restaurant, said good-bye to Esperanza, and Dora and I into a taxi. Stopped at an ATM to take out lots of cash. Home by 7:30, supposedly to meet the foreman and give him money. But he's not here.
I looked through all 140 pages or so of legal stuff Dora bought today, and no mention of her lot or any of her family's names in any of it. It seems to be a list of changes in the whole community since 2000 or so, not a comprehensive list of ownerships and titles. Her family started buying this property in 1981 or so, and may never have paid off the full amount, and titles back then were wonky. So the whole situation is a mess. Her lot probably doesn't have a unique registry number, making everything harder.
Dora (and me, I'm sure) supposed to go right back out to center-city for a big reunion with her school friends, but she's sick and falling asleep, so I don't think we're going.
But with the aid of pills and a nap and a shower, Dora was able to get up and we caught a taxi at 10:30. Into the center, to a big dance hall. Dora's friends at a table. A mix of traditional dancing by very good dancers, and then the crowd getting a chance to dance for 10 or 15 minutes, then another professional dance number, etc. I think the show was 2/3 over by the time we arrived, probably started at 9, which was fine with me. But we drank a little and danced several times, had fun. Dora talked with her friends. Nice people.
Place started shutting down at 12:30, I think. Out onto the street, called a taxi, home before 1:30.
Dora said Belen was going to show up, but instead Esperanza arrived at noon. I guess Dora said the wrong name. But she also said Belen was going to cook for me but not the workers. Instead, Esperanza cooked, then Belen arrived, two workers and Belen and me ate lunch, then Esperanza left and Belen stayed. Confusing.
Napped. Marco arrived, had a nice chat with him in English. Dora home around 5:30, I think. Chatted some more with Marco while he waited for Dora; he's an interesting guy, was a paratrooper in the Israeli Defense Force, is a Raelian. Later, Dora did a medical treatment on him, until after midnight.
Took a cefadroxilo and an azitromicina.
I loafed all day, processing family pictures and such.
Dora and Belen home at 7. Sounds like they didn't accomplish much. Spent time looking for Dora's old profesors and bosses at a hospital. Went to pick up business and communion cards, and found there was a problem, decision needed, waiting for that. Waited for the lawyer, gave up, came home, and he called just as they were nearing home, saying finally he was back in the office. Too late.
Dora dealing with the workers until after 8.
Into a taxi before 9:30, with Dora and Belen. To Belen's daughter's apartment; she's just had her second child. The boy is only about 2 weeks old, I think. I avoided holding him; not my thing. Later, they woke up his 18-month-old sister and brought her out; I avoided holding her too. Just not in the mood.
Nice apartment, nice people. Admired the decorations; it's a pretty new place, and the best-decorated and furnished place I've seen here so far.
Dora nodding off occasionally as we sat and drank some coffee and chatted. But she can talk endlessly; I had to tug her a bit to get her to leave.
Out of their apartment, to the main street, hit an ATM, called a taxi. Longish wait for the taxi. Dora told me the workers need to be paid a lot tomorrow, so I stepped back to the ATM and used my other card to take out more money. Taxi came; Dora falling asleep in the taxi as we went.
Home just before midnight. In bed by 1.
Belen is going too. I say who's going to let the workers into the house, Dora says we'll be back by 10, I say she's crazy. She says she'll call the neighbor across the street to let the workers in.
Into taxi. Up into the center and out. Streets blocked off for pedestrians. Thousands of people congregating. Dora plunges into the heart of the crowd; I hang out at the fringes. Can't see anything; I got up at 0615 on a Saturday for this: pic. Long mass at some stand halfway down a long block, then a procession of Senor de la Milagros on a platform. A few mediocre fireworks. Takes more than an hour. The only thing that makes it bearable is that I'm listening to my MP3 player. Belen is standing nearby, also not seeing much.
The mass ends, the procession is moving away from us, the crowd starts dispersing. Dora comes out of the crowd in tears. I try to find out what the problem is, get the message that her sister's various financial and legal problems in Spain finally have blown up in their faces. [But in the afternoon I find out this is wrong, it's just that Dora is worried about them and their problems.]
No idea what happened to her relatives and breakfast with them. Later find out they cancelled, or weren't sure we were coming, or something.
Long wait for a taxi. As soon as we're in, Dora says no one is letting the workers in, they can't start work. I was right. But Belen has to go with us to the lawyer, then will go home to let the workers in.
We ride far up into the north of Lima (Comas district). Meet a lawyer/magistrate in a bank lobby, talk to her for a while. Then to big notary/asesoria/abogado office. Odd place, winding stairs going to to about 5 half-stories with open offices on each level.
I wait there in mostly-comfort for 3.5 hours while Dora does stuff, then leaves for a couple of hours (during which Belen heads home to let the workers in), then comes back for more. The process consumes all of my cash and we're short. [And I find out later it's mostly power-of-attorney stuff; they haven't yet gotten to the heart of the matter, filing complaints against people who are trying to claim her property.] I take a paracetamol; no breakfast or lunch is catching up with me. I do manage to eat some cookies and drink some Coke, trying to be discreet because I'm sitting right in one of the open offices. Place starts closing at 1:30, and we're kicked out by 2. Lawyer or someone will have to finish the paying next week. Out and hit an ATM.
Across the highway, into a taxi, and down to a Credisuis co-op or credit union. I wait 30+ minutes while Dora opens an account for her son, using my money. My headache is worse; I take a sumatriptan. I don't know whay she's opening an account in Peru for her son in Spain, but she used to live in this block and bank at this place, and she likes it.
To a nearby small cafe for food. Okay and very cheap. But I'm hammered; tired and headachey.
Back across the highway, catch a taxi back into town.
To a dress shop mall, to buy a communion dress for Dora's niece in Spain. Esperanza is supposed to be here, but no sign of her, and Dora's phone has stopped working again. I wait while Dora buys two dresses with the last of my cash (at a good price, although she suspects one dress might be lightly used). She disappears for a while to recharge her phone SIM and use a bathroom. My headache is starting to clear up, but I'm tired and anxious and achey.
Meet Esperanza on the street, take a taxi to a print shop. I hit an ATM for more cash. The cards are not ready, come back Monday (but we're flying out tomorrow, Sunday), and no you can't cancel the order and get your money back. Dora is livid, tries to find a policeman, gives up. S/500 (about $140) down the drain, on what was supposed to be a terrific bargain. Another semi-last-minute thing that has blown up in her face; she does too many things at the last minute.
To Sheraton, say good-bye to Esperanza, call a taxi, go into the Sheraton bar. Rest there for a while, using bathrooms and Dora having a coffee, watching sports highlights on TV. Finally the taxi service admits the taxi won't be coming, there is another procession and traffic is jammed.
Out, grab a taxi at the curb, fairly smooth trip home. Home at 7:55.
Dora dealing with the worker's foreman until well after 9. Just pay the guy and let him go for tonight.
Finally, at 9:30 she's paying him. All of my available cash, S/ 2500 worth (about $750).
Dora had talked about going out to a paint store etc with the foreman this evening, but by 10 fortunately that plan is dead.
By 10:40, I've packed my stuff into 1/2 of one suitcase, and am going to bed. Dora's going to stay up all night to pack her stuff into the other 5.5 or so suitcases.
She was up until 2, then slept until 4:30 and up again, but really didn't start packing until 6 or so.
Into taxi at 8:10.
To airport by 9. Dora to suitcase-wrapping station; I settled into a chair nearby to watch. She's in a foul mood, berating the poor guy about stuff that supposedly was stolen from her wrapped luggage on the trip from Jerez to Madrid to Lima four weeks ago. I'm sure nothing was stolen; she either left it in our apartment or left it in the trash pile at the airport.
To check-in by 10. Dora still in a foul mood, hanranguing the agents there about the supposedly stolen items.
Flight took off about on time, noon.
An hour later, Dora started feeling terrible, chills and headache and coughing. She took four different pills from my stash: antibiotics and painkillers. Really horrible coughing, bringing up a lot of sputum, sounding almost like vomiting. After a while, people nearby started complaining. I couldn't help her except to bring tissues. The flight attendants didn't have anything useful either, other than asking if she wanted the plane to return to Lima to let her off. [Later, Dora said her throat had swelled up and she'd had troubling breathing, but it didn't sound like that to me. She had plenty of air to cough with. And when people started telling her she shouldn't have gotten on the plane if she was so sick, she's going to infect them, she had plenty of air to berate them at length.
Eventually the coughing subsided and she sank into a pained stupor, headachey and achey. She didn't want anything to eat, and later complained of being hungry. Got tea to take a pill, but couldn't drink it because no cream and sweetener. Eventually I got her a tea with the right stuff, and she drank it.
By 3 AM, she had revived enough to demand complaint forms from the crew, and she happily spent the next few hours writing at length on them. I don't know what she expected the crew to do differently, and when I suggested that, or suggested she not file a complaint, she gave me a tongue-lashing. Fine.
I'm wondering if she's on the plane making a big stink about her complaint. 50/50 if she'll appear in a crew bus or a police car. But eventually an airport worker appears with her luggage, and she's in the nearby bathroom. Turns out the crew wanted her to wait for a doctor to come to the plane, then that didn't happen. She's weak but talking fine.
Through Immigration, get our baggage, then wait for medics. Eventually four of them appear, talk to her for a while, then they leave. We head to the "nothing to declare" part of Customs, but they run our baggage through the scanner and freak out at all of Dora's medical supplies. I figure we're in for an ordeal, but they search only one big suitcase, and Dora talks her way out of it, they don't even charge us Customs duty for stuff.
Out of there, to a bag-wrapping station to re-wrap the suitcase they opened. Then I figure we're heading for the bus to the other terminal, but no, we have to go to the medical station so Dora can be examined. I wait half an hour while that happens. She comes out happy; they gave her a corticosteroid shot to prevent further swelling.
Guy helps us put all our suitcases into the free shuttle bus, and we're off. Over to terminal T4 by 8 or so.
Check-in is an ordeal, since the web sites wouldn't let me check in yesterday, and so I couldn't buy baggage allowances. I expected to pay €30 for each big suitcase, but it turns out the first is €30 and each additional is €60. Ouch ! Then we point out there are two of us, so two €30's and two €60's. Still, €180 stings. And they make noises like they might not have room on the plane for all of it.
Flight took off at 9:30 or so. I'm feeling okay, but tired and jammed into a small seat in the last row next to a fairly wide guy. I doze as much as I can. Dora talks nonstop to the guy next to her.
Landed at Jerez airport by 10:30 or so. Plane emptied fairly quickly. To baggage claim, and one of the big heavy suitcases did not arrive.
Out of baggage claim. Looked for Dora's parents, who had said they would meet us, despite us (me) not wanting to be met. No sign of them. To missing luggage office, and figured out the tag number of the missing bag. Filed paperwork.
Out, still no sign of Dora's parents, can't get an answer through WhatsApp or phone. Into taxi before 11:30.
Home by 11:45. Apartment is okay, although where Dora did the packing it looks like a bomb went off.
Turns out the missing suitcase did not contain any of my stuff, so I have my clothes and toiletries etc.
First fully satisfying shower in 4 weeks: warm bathroom, plenty of hot water, plenty of room, bathroom lights work, etc.
[So, some lessons from our trip to Lima:
Caught 1700 bus to Sanlucar. Met by Dora's parents. Waited 5 minutes for niece's schoolbus to arrive, drove to house.
Usual situation in Sanlucar; niece wants to rest, not study. Dora and I hustled out to ATMs, where I got €700, then to Correos, where Dora sent it all to Peru to pay for work on the house. Got groceries, then to house.
Later a little studying, but we don't have the web password needed for her assignment. Then patients arrived for the sister, and we're all kicked upstairs or into the kitchen. Niece went to sleep, so I dozed too. Later Dora woke her up, a little studying, ate some food. Then some decent studying, of science and English, about forces and friction and such. I'm running out of energy. Later her mother took over the studying.
Niece models one of her Halloween costumes, Annabelle or something.
To bed at 11:30. We slept solidly. Badly needed sleep.
I'm up at 3 AM or so for a bathroom visit. Dora up at 4 AM, she's having trouble closing the bedroom door, I tell her just leave it open. Then a scream from her. I sit up, and her mother and niece and sister (the doctor) are in the hallway helping her. I figure she bashed a toe into one of the many cabinets in the hallway; this house is a minefield. I go back to sleep.
She comes back to bed later, and I find out it was much more serious. She was going down the stairs in the dark, maybe distracted by what I said, and fell 3 steps on her tailbone or lower back. She's hurting badly, and furious that I didn't come to see if she was okay.
We get out of the house at 8, walking to the bus station through fog. Stop at a cafe for coffees and toast, and then Dora is dawdling as it's time to go to the bus. I leave, go to bus station, final boarding of the 0830 bus, no Dora behind me. Bus starts to leave, I see Dora, I flag down the bus, and the driver stops and opens the door for us. I get a scowl from him, apologize, but really we've only delayed everyone 30 seconds. I've seen people hold this bus for 2 minutes until their friend arrives.
To Jerez, out of bus. Dora says she's hurting, and going to the health center. I say I'll go with her, and she changes her mind and instead goes into the Hiper Number One store to do some shopping. I wait 10-15 minutes outside, see she's dawdling and taking her time inside. I decide life's too short for this nonsense, and go home. Maybe she's going to shop until time for her 10:35 appointment at INEM.
Home by 9:40. Haircut, shower.
Missing suitcase delivered after 10:15.
Dora home at 11:15, with someone carrying packages for her. She hasn't been to INEM. And she's still mad at me.
Before noon, Dora still fuming. All she will say is that she feels bad, and any suggestion from me just draws vitriol. Take a long hot shower, eat something, drink something, lie down. No, she says she needs to go to the doctor to be examined. Well, [I don't say] then why did she spend the morning shopping instead of going to the health clinic 3 blocks away ? [Later, I realize they don't do exams there, she has to go to the central hospital.]
I'm out at noon. Nice walk into the center and around the Alcazar. Lovely weather, lots of people out, wonderful to be back in Spain. To Mercadona for groceries, and home by 12:45. Dora is out.
By 3:30, still no Dora. Her son (in Slovakia) has heard from her, she's being examined in the general hospital.
Dora home at 5:45. She's still mad, but now at least she's talking to me (and I get to tell my side of the stories). She has bad bruising (hematomas) on her lower back and sides, from falling down the stairs last night. She says she fell 6 steps instead of the 3 I had thought. She says she was sleeping, heard someone calling her name, got up thinking she still was in the Peru house, and walked straight off the top step of the stairs.
She's mad that at the hospital emergency room today, some doctor glanced at her and said she must be faking pain to get out of going to work, until she showed them the bruises (hematomas). Then they took it seriously. Nothing is broken.
She says that in the airplane yesterday, the attendants and pilot refused to let her have oxygen, saying she wasn't cyanotic (blue) or having breathing difficulty, saying the oxygen is only for heart attack cases. She said a passenger threatened to sue her if the plane turned around and went back to Lima, and that passenger and others said she was faking. I agree that she wasn't having breathing difficulties. But at the time, I didn't understand anything that was being said. I did hear the attendant ask her if she wanted the plane to return to Lima, and I did see a passenger yelling at her. But she yelled right back at all of them.
Anyway, now at least I manage to get a cup of tea into her, and then coax her to take a hot shower. She hasn't eaten or drunk anything all day, I think, adding to her stress and pain. Then another cup of tea, with Dolacatil, but instead of drinking she's searching through the latest suitcase and getting paranoid about things again.
Took lots of pictures of her hematomas, to document them. I think of saying it's Halloween, she should go out and show her bruises to scare people, but I don't say it.
By 9, she's taken a shower and eaten some decent food, and I'm watching Barca play on TV (a dull game). But Dora is ranting to someone over the phone, about her treatment on the plane and in the hospital and my faults etc.
Things starting to calm down by 10.
I go to bed before midnight, taking 5 mg of melatonin.
Dora wakes me up at 2 AM, she has some urgent bill to pay and her phone isn't working, I have to switch SIMs, log in to Vodafone and try to see what's wrong, etc. For some reason, her SIM is saying "permanently blocked". And today (11/1) is a national holiday, probably the phone store will be closed.
To bed. Up again at 3:30, to find Dora asleep over her computer and phones. Woke her and pointed her at bed. Took a sumatriptan.
Flying to Vienna tomorrow, so printing boarding passes and info for that. Dora's sister and niece and parents will stay here tonight, so Dora is cleaning and putting away the debris from our Peru trip.
Trying to get her out the door, but we're not out until 11:15 or so. Sunny, breezy day. To bank ATM so Dora can pay emergency bills. I go to ATM to get cash. Wanted to go to local health center, but it's closed, today is a national holiday. To another ATM so Dora can put money into another account. Walked to center. Vodafone store is closed. To a cafe for coffees and snacks. Home by 1:30.
Various craziness: now Dora is saying she absolutely has to see her family doctor tomorrow morning to get a "can't work because injured" paper. So she will miss the flight to Vienna tomorrow morning. She tried to convince the airline to change her ticket; no luck. I'm not going to find or buy a new ticket for her. I'm trying to get her to calm down and go forward, let go of what has happened so far, but she's mad at everyone (not just me) and not in a mood to be reasonable.
Out for a walk in the center in early evening; nice.
No sign of the relatives by 10. I try to get Dora to buy a new plane ticket now, instead of waiting until tomorrow when the prices will be higher and maybe the seats will be gone, and she blows up at me.
Finally they arrive after 10:15, with tons of luggage. I cook a sandwich and egg for the niece.
I went to bed at midnight, but I don't think I slept a wink. Dora stayed up all night, ironing and packing.
Trip to Vienna:
To the airport by 5:05. Slow line to check in, my check-in takes 2 minutes, the others take about 20 minutes. Then a 10-minute bathroom stop, then Security, through to gate by 5:55 for a 6:45 flight.
Onto the plane, and legroom is painfully limited. Fortunately, I have Dora's empty seat next to me, and can turn sideways. 75-minute flight to Madrid, with no food or drink service.
A little worried about our connection at Madrid, we have only 45 minutes between arrival and scheduled takeoff. But both flights are on same airline and in same terminal, so I think we'll be okay. And it turns out the plane we just arrived on is the one continuing to Vienna; we came out of the gate and looked back and now it said "Vienna". Bathroom stops, back into line, back onto the plane.
Worse this time: same knee-killing situation, and now no empty seat next to me, big guys on both sides of my middle seat. 3 hours to Vienna. No drink service, and only an expensive paid food offering. I eat a couple of powerbars I've brought.
Land, and a great relief to get out of that plane. Bathroom stop, gather everyone, down to baggage claim. Where none of our checked baggage (5 pieces) arrives. Over to ground services to fill out forms. Lady says the bags will arrive on the 6:50 flight and be delivered to us. Probably what happened in Madrid with the short connecting time was that they emptied all the luggage off the plane, and didn't have time to put ours back on.
Out of baggage claim and look for transport, stop at Tourist Info. I hadn't been sure if we were going in two taxis, if Dora's father was coming with me to my hotel room, etc. We're staying at two separate hotels. But now there's clarity: the other four need to go in a taxi, and have little baggage, so they'll fit. I'll take train and Metro.
They're entrusted to a taxi driver for €36, and I get directions to the train. The schedule is totally confusing, have to look at the board multiple times. Two types of tickets for two companies, OBB and CAT. I buy an OBB ticket for about €4, then back to the board to figure out which train I need to take. Up and down to the platform three times, back to the display board, totally confused. And the tickeet-validation machines take a much smaller ticket than the one I bought. Finally I pick a train and confirm with other passengers that it goes to the center.
Out at Praterstern station, into Metro, buy a 1-week pass for about €16. Onto U2 Metro, off at Kriauer station. Disoriented, walk 100 yards in wrong direction, see sign, come back and get to the hotel. No problem checking in.
Into hotel room at 1:45. Computer, phone, shower. No news about Dora. Out again at 2:15.
Metro, connect at Praterstern, out at VIC, walked to hotel where the others are staying. Thought we were going out to the center, but the niece has crashed hard, and the grandparents are tired too. We all got about 3 hours of sleep last night, and almost no food today, so we're dragging. They've bought some groceries, so I have some food, which really hits the spot.
After a while, Dora's sister and I go out. To the Metro, and into the center of town, Stephensplatz. Loads of people everywhere. Into the cathedral, but it's very dark in there, hard to take a decent picture. Pics. Out, and we walk down a major shopping street, Karntner Strasse. Dora's sister buys some things. Street art: pic.
Into Karlsplatz station, look to buy some dinner for the niece, give up and go to Praterstern station, no luck there, to VIC station and buy some food at a food stand. To the hotel room by 5:30 or so. Still no word from Dora about her travel plans. Eat some food.
Out of their hotel room, walk to Metro through cold wind, through the Metro station to a food stand and bought a felafel sandwich. Into the station, ate half of it, caught a train to Praterstern station, ate other half of the sandwich, caught a train to Kriauer station. Into my hotel room at 6:30.
Running out of energy while waiting for my luggage to be delivered. Ate yogurt. Trying to find BlaBlaCar for Dora in Spain. Headache; took a sumatripan. Ate a banana.
Dora says she's taking a bus to Madrid. But she doesn't have a plane ticket from there.
Suitcase arrived at 11.
Out of the room by 9:30 or so. Down to Reception, checked out, told them I'd be checking back in with someone in the afternoon, left my big heavy suitcase with them.
To Metro, to hotel (past some kind of church: pic) where the others are staying. Chaos there, with 3 women trying to use the bathroom and get organized. Extracted Dora's father and took him for a long walk in the neighborhood, to a spur of the Danube river, and then to a fairly big park, Donaupark. Pic.
Back to the hotel, everyone is dressed, but somehow we can't get going. Eat some food. Then Dora's son messages that he's on a bus 1 hour earlier than planned, so I dash out at 11. To Metro, to main train station, find the bus stop right on time, 11:25. The bus is late, and he's not on it. He starts messaging that he's in Vienna on a bus, which means he could arrive soon. I wait and wait, no sign of the bus. Eventually I go down into the Metro and buy a sandwich. Back up to the bus area. Five minutes later his bus arrives, around 12:25.
To Metro, to hotel where the others are staying, meet them coming out. Big family reunion. We three men go into the hotel, put suitcase in the room, which is being cleaned. Get into the room 10 minutes later, do some Wi-Fi, soon the ladies return.
Eat some food, say we're going out to the center, but it takes a solid hour to get them all moving and out of the hotel. Finally around 2:15 we're going.
Buy lots of one-week Metro passes at €16 a pop. Into Metro, connect, to my hotel, shepherding the five of them. Confusion at registration, somehow someone reserved a second night in my name, but I don't want it. We're registering now for a 4-night stay using a voucher from a pharma rep. Finally it's straight, we go up to the room, dump luggage.
Takes a solid 10 minutes to get every back to the Metro, with the niece delaying us every way possible. Finally into Metro and to the center, Stephansplatz. Crowded, as before.
By now, Dora's parents are dragging, and so is the niece. I want to get us all into a cafe. But the ones we see are full inside. Niece insists on McDonald's, so she and Dora's son go to order in there.
Sister and I take the parents to a sit-down cafe inside the Metro station. I go back up into McDonald's, where the Happy Meal is taking forever to come out. Finally get it, back into Metro to rejoin the others. Coffee and a croissant-type thing for me. Relax.
Then it's 4:15. Sister and niece go up to the shopping street, son and parents stay in cafe to rest, I head to airport to pick up Dora. Onto U1 Metro, out at Praterstern, a little trouble finding the train section, 10-minute wait for the train. To airport by 5:15 or so.
Up to Arrivals area, and it says Dora's plane landed at 5:14, about 15 minutes late. I wait and wait, and finally she comes out at about 5:47, too late to catch the 5:48 train back to the city. She has one huge heavy suitcase and two medium-sized ones. Together with her stuff in my suitcase, she's brought 50 kilos of stuff for a 10-day stay. But some of it is for her son to take to school when he goes back.
Into a cafe in the airport, coffee for Dora. She's still full of grudges against people who have done her wrong recently, but at least I don't seem to be a target any more.
I'm alarmed to hear that an ATM in Madrid airport ate her ATM card after she entered her PIN; she needs to contact her bank about that pronto. [Later, she says it was an old, non-working card that she used accidentally.]
Then down to the train, buy tickets, on. Dora bending the ear of some high-powered medical conference organizer guy, until he tells her he has to do work on his laptop. But he knows Vienna and answered a couple of questions for us.
Ride to Praterstern. Buy another one-week Metro pass, for Dora. Onto U2 Metro, out at Krieau station. Weather nice now, cool but no wind; the wind really makes it feel cold when it blows. Into our hotel room by 7. Dora having loads of fun unpacking everything into all the closets. Son arrived at 8.
Dora wants to go out, so at 10 we're out. Cold. To Metro, longish wait, onto warm train, connect, to Stephansplatz. We want food, and I want indoor and Austrian/German. But any semi-nice place has stopped serving food, it seems. Only pizza places and such are open, and bars. Eventually we wander up to Schwedenplatz, and find Frank's American Food. In and the kitchen is closing in 10 minutes, so we order in a hurry. Hamburgers, mainly. Good food, but not cheap; comes to about €20 apiece.
Out and Dora wants to go dancing, but her son and I say no. Into Metro, lucky to get the train right away, connect at Praterstern, same thing there, train arrives as we're stepping onto the platform. At this hour, trains may come 10 minutes apart; we were lucky. Home (hotel lobby: pic) a little before midnight, and Dora wants the alarm for 0630. Then she doesn't go to bed until 1:30 or so.
Her son and I out before 10. Metro to the hotel where the others are staying, and it takes 15 minutes or more to get them moving and out the door. But I'm told Dora's sister has the metro card for the niece, and it would be too much hassle to try to find her and retrieve the card. We'll risk Metro travel without a ticket for the niece.
To the Metro, down to center, hit an ATM, out at Stephansplatz. To Western Union office, where I give €1000 to Dora's son and he sends it to Peru, for work on the house there.
Back into Metro, two stops to Volkstheater, out. Disoriented, trying to find Natural History museum. Walk one block, ask a museum-guard type, turns out we're at the side of the Natural History museum. Around to the front, take pictures, in. Dora's sister had told us all museums in Vienna are free, Dora had heard that all museums are free this weekend (first weekend of the month). As I suspected, both were wrong, €10 admission to the museum (times 4 adults).
Bathroom stop, then we tour half of the first floor of the museum (although the floors are called something like Entrance, Mezzanine, and First). Fossils, dinosaurs, minerals. By now, the parents and niece are tired and hungry, so to the museum cafe for drinks and light lunch. Service is slow, but that's okay, we're resting.
Out, and tour the whole second floor. Much more interesting, stuffed animals of every type. Pics. But 3/4 of the way through, the parents have had enough. Out, to Metro, and home before 3. Views of buildings near the metro station; Vienna has a lot of tall buildings outside the center: pics.
Half an hour later, Dora and her sister arrive from the congress. Lots of family talk, seven of us crowded into one hotel room. I'm a little achey; took a paracetamol.
Finally it's after 5, and Dora wants to go to a free symphony concert at the medical congress at 6. People are moving slowly, so Dora reaches her limit and we leave without the rest of them, Dora and her father and I walking down to the Metro station. She says there's a restaurant nearby.
Well, of course that restaurant is closed. We go into a kebab shop next door, but the place seats only about 8 total, and only 4 seats are free. We grab them, I order food for 3, and as the food is almost ready the other 4 of our party arrive. So we give the food to them, and Dora and sister and I go to the congress, no food.
Into the big auditorium by 6:05, but no concert, instead a session is finishing up. That ends, and they announce the welcome session will start at 6:30. And that starts with a bunch of speeches, including one long political-history speech that is totally out of place. Dora ducks out to grab a coffee downstairs. Comes back and gives me a can that she thinks is a dessert I can eat, but no, it's a can of ethanol used to keep the food warm in the food-warming trays !
Finally by 7:20 that guy shuts up, and the orchestra comes out. Full symphony orchestra, lacking only piano and harp. First piece has an opera singer, nice music but I could have done without the singer. Second piece is wonderful. Then that's it, food downstairs, enjoy the congress !
We go downstairs, and the food is pretty terrific, roast beef medallions and ravioli and frankfurters and potatoes and cucumber salad etc. I have a beer. Dora snags an extra 6 or 8 frankfurters to give to her parents, as her sister and I tell each other she's crazy: pic.
Out, to Metro station. Dora and I catch a train, sister is walking through the station to walk home to her hotel.
Home before 9. I'm tired, and I'm convinced that Dora has been sleep-deprived and over-stressed for a while, and she's still in pain. Her son is in the center, looking for a disco or party or something. Housekeeping has ignored the note I left this morning, so now I get them to bring extra towels and shampoo, and they go looking for a non-leaking coffeemaker.
Dora's son home by 9:45.
I didn't sleep well; bad sinus headache. Took a paracetamol.
I'm out around 11:15. Dora says come to the congress, we'll get food. I get out of the Metro, and there is the rest of our crew walking toward the congress. We all go in, and it turns out Dora just met someone really interesting, so we havee to wait 20 minutes for her. We talk our way into the Executive Lounge so we can sit on comfy chairs.
Finally Dora comes out, she says go in, there is lots of food. But we have to talk our way past the guards. Finally in, and waiters are keeping everyone away from the sandwiches, shunting them towards the soup, which is very crowded. 5 minutes later, people are grabbing sandwiches, so we do the same. Then we all get separated; no idea where Dora and parents and son went. The sandwiches are simple but okay.
Then I'm together with Dora's sister and niece. The sister says she's going upstairs to attend a session, I should take the niece to Dora. She leaves, fortunately Dora's son appears. He guides us to Dora.
Dora gets diverted by a free photo-taking kiosk, while I'm impatient. This might be from an earlier time at same kiosk: pic. Eventually we're starting to head out, but then the niece throws a wobbler, insists on staying with her mother. Dora calls her sister, tells her to come down, asks the information desk to mind the niece for 5 minutes. Then Dora's mother refuses to leave with the niece in that situation. The girl is 9 years old, the desk will mind here, 4 security guards are standing 50 feet away. Dora gets mad at the delays, and she and I and her father head out, to Metro and museum.
We have a 5-minute wait for the Metro, but no one catches up to us, so we get on and go to Stephansplatz. Out of Metro, find a cafe, use bathrooms, send messages, have espressos. 15 minutes later, everyone else shows up, sister and niece and mother and son.
Down Graben street to Kohlmarkt street to the Sisi Museum / Hofburg. €90 to get the seven of us into it. Tons of silverware and pottery, then the royal apartments with lots of furnishings etc. Pics. Nice for a while, drags towards the end. Finally out, takes a while to hit bathrooms and recover lost members of the crew.
Up the street and to Il Tiempo cafe/restaurant, where we order up a storm. Pizzas and spaghetti, mostly. The spaghetti carbonara was such a hit that we ordered another dish of that. I took a paracetamol. With tip, total came to €85. Well worth it, everyone's feeling good.
Out, strolling toward Metro, doing a lot of window-shopping. Back to Stephansplatz, down to platform. Onto train, and we seem to have lost Dora on the way. To Praterstern, and she appears on the platform. I was going to stay with the others to make sure they got off at their right stop, but they said go, so I went with Dora and son.
Home at 7:15. Pills are keeping me together; still have a slight background headache.
Out with Dora at 8:30 or so. Metro to Schwedenplatz, and walked about 4 blocks to a bar where the medical congress was having a "gala event". Which turned out to be pretty poor. For €25 each ticket, you got a mediocre drink and a couple of frankfurters, and the privilege of paying €2 to check a coat. Recorded music. We did have some fun dancing. But I still have a pretty good cold, so I made sure we left at a reasonable hour, and home a little after 11.
Online, looking for an opera or symphony to go to. Picked a nice Verdi opera at the state opera house, but cheapest ticket is €134; no. Uninteresting modern opera at same place is only €13 per ticket. Ballet doesn't have 2 seats together.
Ended up buying tickets to the uninteresting opera, just to get into the building. Bought tickets for two more concerts in other venues.
Out at 12:30 or so. Metro to medical congress. Found the crew in the Executive Lounge, in the back where it was hard for me to find them. Free lunch, good food.
Finally got everyone moving around 2:30. I zipped back to our hotel to drop off books and papers and stuff. Then to Stephansplatz to meet the others. They were late; I thought they'd arrive before me. And I thought the plan was to leave the parents at their hotel and go walking, but here they are. Even though Dora's mother is slow, sick and cold, she insisted on coming along for this walk through the city. Oh, well.
I buy tickets for yet another concert from a ticket-seller in front of the cathedral. Somehow, these guys have cheaper prices than the web sites; I checked for a set of tickets I bought online this morning, and I could have got them €10 cheaper here.
Down Graben street. Dora and son and I go into a phone store. Turns out the son wants a €700 Samsung tablet for his birthday; I'm not paying for that. Into a jewelry-type store, partly to give us a chance to warm up. I buy a ring for Dora, she buys another 3 things, and it takes us half an hour to get out of there.
Down the street for a while, around a corner into an interesting minerals and fossils store, Dora buys something small, and it takes us 20+ minutes to get out of there.
Directions confused; two streets meeting at a right angle but they are parallel on my map. Dora and son disappear ahead, we try to catch up, can't find them until we call them on the phone. Eventually get assembled, get onto the street I want, Schotten Gasse.
Looking for a place to eat. Niece demands we go to same place as last night, she wants pasta Carbonara again. But I won't eat at the same place twice.
I luck onto a hidden gem, a cellar restaurant called Melker Stiftskeller. All the tables have Reserved signs, the maitre'd hesitates, but the place is empty, it just opened at 5 and we're here at 5:30 or so. He seats us.
We order one of each entree, and several pumpkin soups for starters. I have a tall beer. The pumpkin soup is fantastic. The veal, beef, pork, goulash, potatoes, etc all are fine. Pics. We're celebrating Dora's son's 21st birthday, too. We have a fine time. Except the niece won't eat hardly anything.
Finally out of there. Down the street, and son ducks into a Starbucks for a cup of coffee; there are no Starbucks where he goes to school, and he's been missing it. The others leave early, I hang back to guide him, and by the time we get to the Metro stop a block up the street, Dora and sister and niece have disappeared. Apparently they're looking for pasta Carbonara for the niece.
I go searching, and am very lucky to spot them in a booth in a restaurant; they're certainly not making it easy for us to find them. I fetch the others, and soon 7 of us are around 2 tables, and the waitstaff is bemused that we just want one spaghetti and two coffees. But there are plenty of empty tables, and one of the top waiters is from Barcelona, so all is well.
Sister and son leave early; she has to go to a session at the medical congress. When niece finishes, the rest of us are out and to Metro and to their hotel room. Sister arrives 15 minutes later; the session was not at the main location, so she's missing it.
Dora is tired and hurting, and sleeps. The others start packing; they're leaving early tomorrow morning. Eventually Dora is up, but I have to push to get us out of there. They keep arguing and handing stuff back and forth, and I'm tired and want to go home to our hotel. Finally we're out, to Metro, Dora napping at every chance.
Home at midnight, thinking it was 11. I guess Dora's phone clock is off by an hour. If we'd stayed another 15 minutes, the Metro wouldn't have been running any more.
Bummer; most of the pictures I took today didn't come out well. Lighting too low, generally.
Paracetamol and bed by 1.
I loafed, slept. Dora said she'd be back before noon, to shower and pack. But at 11:15, no sign of her, I'm up and showering and dressing. No Dora at 11:30, and she's not responding to messages.
No Dora at 11:45, and I'm packing 40 kilos of stuff into 30 kilos of luggage and bags, frantically grabbing stuff out of closets and off chairs and table and bathroom etc. I haul it all down to the lobby and check out at noon. Leave the two suitcases behind the front desk, and settle down with the rest to wait for Dora.
Finally around 12:30 she starts responding to messages. She's busy at the congress, doing an exam etc. I wait and wait. After 2, she says she's leaving the congress. 2:45 she's still not here. Finally she arrives after 3, says she got lost coming out of the Metro. I'm not happy that she's 3.5 hours later than she said, but there's no help for it.
We hit the bathrooms, collect the luggage, call a taxi, it arrives. Then Dora realizes I've probably left all of her most important stuff where she put in the unlocked safe in the room. She dashes upstairs, it's not there, back down and Housekeeping collected it all and the front desk has it in a bag.
Into taxi, fairly short ride, €13 and I give a tip for the guy having to wait for us. Drops us off in front of a Best Western, which can't be right. But our apartment entrance is just one door away, we're in the right place.
Tricky entrance: there are about 4 key-pads and lock-boxes, and only one is for us. Haul the luggage inside, then I walk up 4 or 5 flights to the apartment. Wrestle with the key lock-box there, finally get it open. Take elevator back down, fill it with our luggage, go up. Into our AirBNB apartment by 3:45.
Out at 6:30. Walked about 5 blocks to Praterstern metro station, train to Karlsplatz. Out and there's the State Opera house, but we have to walk a U through a major intersection to get there. Inside, and takes 5 seconds to pick up the tickets, easy. Start taking pictures of the interior of the place, while gradually working our way up to our seats.
We're in the cheap seats, only a partial view of the stage, nosebleed territory. And I don't expect the opera to be good. The main point was to get into this building and hear some nice music without spending a fortune (the tickets were only €13 apiece).
And that's exactly what we get. The opera ("Katja Kabanova") is dull and the singing mainly loud, the sets and costumes extremely plain. The orchestra is nice and at times the music is very nice. The interior of the auditorium is surprisingly plain compared to halls in Budapest and Barcelona. Pics.
Halfway through, Dora is feeling achey and falling asleep repeatedly, and I've had enough of the opera. So at probably the 2/3 mark, when the curtain comes down for a moment, we slip out. Bathroom, retrieve our coats from the checkroom, elevator, and soon we're on the street. Where the cool air revives us.
We walk up Kartner to Stephansplatz, window-shopping. I expected to go home, but Dora is hungry, and we find a Greek/Turkish grill place that is nice. Moussaka and Doner Kebap. Pic.
And now Dora is telling me she doesn't like southern Spain, where we're living, and wants to move back to Barcelona. Nothing definite yet, and there are lots of moving parts: status of sister's apartment in Barcelona, niece's schooling, Dora's parents maybe going to Peru for 6 months to stay in the house there so no one else can claim it, Dora finding a job in Barcelona, getting out of our lease in Jerez, sister and niece moving to Barcelona in future, etc. I have mixed feelings; I like Barcelona but think Dora should be near her family, niece might have trouble learning Catalan, Barcelona has gotten noisy and crowded and more expensive. But she seems pretty set on it.
Out of restaurant, light rain coming down, into Metro. To Praterstern, walk home with only one slight wrong turn. In apartment at 11.
I'm in bed after 11:30, but it felt like Dora stayed up all night. She was sick for a while, then I went out a couple of times and found her working on the computer, told her to go to bed.
I'm out after 11. Cold and rainy. 5-block walk to a small supermarket, Billa. Bought 7 or 8 items, back to apartment. Dora doesn't like half the things I bought; I did it all wrong. Started laundry. Then we had to drape it over all the radiators to start drying.
Out with Dora at 12:30 or so. Metro to Stephansplaz. Hit ATM in Metro station for cash. Go to Western Union, realize I haven't brought my passport, and they won't take my Spanish ID card. Dora berates me and parks in a cafe. I go back into Metro, to apartment, get passport, back into Metro, back to cafe. She's dawdling, doing tons of messaging on her phone, bought a coffee but didn't drink it before it got cold, so ordered another.
Finally we get out of the cafe, to Western Union, she keeps interrupting as I try to send the money, finally the guy tells her to step aside, who is sending the money ? Get all the way through and the computer gives some error, I can't do the transfer.
We do the longish walk to the main Western Union location, and the lady there is helpful. I send €1162 to Peru to pay for work on Dora's house, and don't get even a thank-you from her. Now it's 3:40, and I want to get to an art museum, but Dora wants to talk to the lady for a while about Western Union limits.
Finally out of there, I'm heading for the museum, Dora is walking at a snail's pace, typing on her phone.
We get to the Albertina museum, she disappears into the bathroom, I buy tickets. When she finally re-appears, I've had it with waiting for her, I give her a ticket and go into the museum without her.
Nice museum. Picasso and Monet and Renoir etc on the top floor, royal apartments and Raphael on the middle floor, bad contemporary art on the basement floor. Pics.
I see it in about an hour and a quarter, find Dora, and she's been on her phone the whole time, hasn't seen any of the museum. We look at the contemporary art, then I take her to the royal apartments, which she absolutely adores. Pics. But then we're running out of time, and she wants to take a picture of every single thing in there, then another picture of her standing in front of the thing, etc. I'm nagging her, we have to go. Finally get her out and into the museum entranceway, then she disappears to the lockers for 5 minutes.
Out at 6:40, and now we need to have a quick dinner. Look into one cafe, but it's fancy and looks slow to me. I move on, with Dora castigating me, she wanted to eat there (even though she said wasn't going to eat, she wasn't hungry). Around the block to a vegetarian place ("Veggiezz"), and now Dora is berating me that 3 other tables here are ahead of us, the other place would have been quicker.
The food comes very quickly and is good; Dora has a quinoa dish that she really enjoys. Again she's on her phone most of the time.
Out at 7:40 or so, a little trouble finding the Metro, ride to Volkstheater, have to ask someone the way to Palais Auersperg. Pic. In, pick up tickets, forced to check our coats for €1 each.
Dora dawdling all the way up the steps, taking pictures; the music is about to start. Finally we get inside and get great seats, on one end of a row with 4 seats for us, so I have plenty of room. And I put the bags between me and Dora; I need some space. Pics.
No photography allowed, so of course Dora starts recording video and audio, and continues through much of the concert, even though I repeatedly tell her to stop. More GB of video that she'll never watch.
The concert is wonderful. About 250 people in the audience. The orchestra is a piano, four violins, a flute, a bass, a cello (I think). Two operatic singers at various times, and two dancers. They played lots of old standard classical pieces, and it all was very nice. Some humor, good dancing and singing, all very nice.
Finished by 10 or so, and we agree it was wonderful. Then Dora dawdles, filling out business cards to give to the staff, I think. I wait 5 minutes for her downstairs, then she comes down, taking her time taking more pictures. Wants €10 from me to buy a CD, but I say no. She's into the bathroom for 10 minutes. I get the coats from the checkroom; ours are the last out, the place is empty now. I wait in the lobby as the place is closing.
Finally Dora is out. We're partway to the Metro when she realizes they didn't give her hat back. Some other customer must have gotten it. Somehow it's my fault.
Into Metro, longish ride to Praterstern. Up and out an unfamiliar exit, and takes a minute to figure out what changed (we came on U2 instead of the usual U1). We argue about how the exits are named. We can't seem to stop arguing today, the money keeps pouring out, and I seem to spend 1/4 of my life waiting for her. I'm unhappy. This has to change. Part of it is because she's sick right now, but some of it is not.
Home by 10:30. In bed by midnight.
I think Dora slept from maybe 2 to 8.
Out with Dora at 10 or so. Looked for a local cafe for breakfast, found a nice one (Restaurant Konditorei Pepino). Slightly expensive, and you had to look hard to find the ham that came with my ham-and-eggs, but we enjoyed it. Great seating, great decor, not crowded. Pic.
To Metro, to Museumquartier stop. Out and to the two big museums, Natural History and Kunsthistorisches Museum, that face each other across Theresien-Platz. Walked over to Natural History to take a couple of pictures. Pics. Then turned around and went into Kunsthistorisches.
Lovely building. Pics. Started at top floor, which was just coins, and boring. Down to middle floor, and it's amazing. Stuffed full of paintings, masterpieces by Rubens, Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, dozens of other. We spent about an hour in just the Rubens etc half of the floor. Photography not allowed, we sneaked a few pictures, but most of them didn't turn out well. Pic.
To the cafe at 1, running out of time, Dora needs to meet someone at 2 for lunch. We're confused about how to order, have to wait for a waiter, but Dora goes into the adjoining museum shop / jewelry store, and by the time she comes out, it's time for her to go, no coffee.
I'm not ready to leave, so I send her out with directions in the Metro. I go into the second half of the middle floor (Titian, Raphael, etc) and it's wonderful. Pics.
Eventually down to the lower floor, which is full of precious statues and clocks and models and such collected by the emperor or duke or whoever. Very nice. Pics.
Out of the museum after 3. Started walking up one of the ring roads. Felafel sandwich for lunch. Parliament building looks nice: pics. Headed to what I thought was Votivkirche, but can't get into it, and it seems to be under renovation, and there are a lot of businesses in the bottom. Pic. Confusing. Everywhere I look, they're setting up Christmas fairs; this place must be fun (but colder) at Christmas.
Walked to the university, found a wonderful church, and later realized this is Votivkirche, I was mistaken earlier. Pics.
To Schottentor Universitat Metro. Busy. Got cash at an ATM. Bought a new weekly pass for the Metro. Onto crowded U2 train, out at Praterstern. Home by 4:15. No messages from Dora. I just realized she has very little cash with her.
Dora home just before 6. And almost immediately she's coughing up a lung in the bathroom. We're supposed to go to an opera, we have to go now, but she's sick and wanting tea etc. I suggest several times that I go and she stay here, but she insists on going. Finally by 6:20 or so we're out. She's still coughing.
To Metro, do two connections, eventually out at Volksoper. We're 5 or 10 minutes late, but the ushers slide us into a box that we have all to ourselves. Great view, a little obstructed down and to the right. Nice music, good singing.
Dora keeps falling asleep, and she's very hungry; apparently her "lunch" consisted of mainly tea. And she admits she hasn't been going to bed until 2 AM or 3 AM recently.
At intermission, a guy charges into our box and chews us out for taking photos and video. Dora was pretty blatant about it, but I took a dozen photos too. Pics. Dora goes out to buy some food. I'm willing to skip the rest of the opera and go to a cafe, but she wants to stay.
Second half is okay, nice music and singing and dancing. Dora still falling asleep, waking up.
Out at 10:15 or so. Down the block to a nice cafe/restaurant. Hit the bathroom, have coffees and hot apple strudle with vanilla sauce.
To Metro, and I see a line on the map that isn't clear on my tourist map. So we take a different, shorter route home, still two connections. Home by 11:15.
Somewhere tonight, I lost my nice Barcelona baseball cap. Bummer.
Online in one of Dora's bank accounts, pay her son's rent that Dora forgot to pay a week ago.
Couldn't get Dora to go to bed at 11:35 or midnight; she was doing something on the computer. I think she went to bed at 1 or so. Later she had another bad coughing fit.
I thought she was going to do her hair, then we'd go to Bratislava. Instead she starts laundry, says we're going now. So the laundry will sit wet in the machine for 2 days ?
But then we don't get out until almost 11:30, so the laundry finishes and we hang it on the radiators to dry.
To Metro, to main train station, get to announcement board at 11:45, and a train to Bratislava is leaving right now. I fear that the next one will be an hour later, but it turns out to be half an hour later, perfect. Tickets total €32 for two round-trips.
Onto 12:16 train, and it's nice, but no AC or Wi-Fi. Smooth trip, arrive about 1:20. But Dora's friend has sent a message that she has to work until 4:15, which is a pain, we've been trying to find out her schedule, we hoped earlier.
Train station is crowded, but has lots of facilities. We put our small suitcase and grey bag into left-luggage for €4. Find Tourist Info, get map, get instructions for going into town. Out, find that our tram is in an area below, back into station, down. Use the ticket-machine and find someone has stuffed paper into the change-return to steal our change. By the time we've defeated that, our tram has left. But wait only 4 minutes for next one. Tram 1 to Nemestie SNP stop, €0.70 each.
Get oriented, walk a block toward the center looking for lunch, and Dora spots a "used clothing everything only €2" shop, and she's into it. I follow, and soon she's buying 6 huge winter coats ! I try to stop her, how's she going to carry all this stuff, but she's adamant, they're terrific bargains and she'll send them to her mother. Eventually she comes out with 4 big bags and carrying another coat. I refuse to help her; this is madness. She can barely walk now. Pic.
Into a cafe, settle down, choose food on menus, then they tell us they have no food at all, only drinks. Out, back up the street, into a Japanese-vegetarian place. Have soup and tea and nice fried things and Wi-Fi. Message from friend says she's busy until 5.
Done, and I want to see some of the city. But Dora is sick and immobile and wants to stay right here. So I go out. Down to nearby square, they're setting up a band and wine-festival. Past it to a church, which turns out to be an old mansion, not a church. In and it's now the Museum of City History. €5 admission, I go in.
Turns out to be pretty large and moderately interesting. Climb a tower and look across the rooftops of town. Pics. Torture exhibits in the basement that I walk past quickly.
Out, to restaurant to check on Dora, back out again. Walk through some of town, and it's quite hip, lots of interesting boutiques and bars and restaurants and such. To Michael's Gate and back. Weather getting cold. Pics.
To Dora, leave restaurant. Check on wine-festival in square for 10 minutes, but the band finishes and packs up. To Nem SNP, buy tram tickets, back onto crowded tram.
Back to train station by 5:45 or so. Into a restaurant, Dora has a coffee. Get Wi-Fi, message says her friend will come about 6:20 to pick us up.
We go down at 6:20, I retrieve the luggage, soon friend and husband (Barbara and Paolo) are there. Load into a big black SUV, and we're off.
Short ride to a house. Meet their children and their parents. I settle down and have a long conversation with friend's father, a fascinating 79-year-old Slovak who has traveled the world selling ball-bearings. He's been to all of Europe, Asia, Americas, not much of Africa, I think. Has seen India from top to bottom. We talked about politics, countries, etc. Drank unfiltered beer with grape flavoring, nibbled some canapes.
Downstairs to play some ping-pong. Up again, and World Cup football on TV, Italy vs Sweden. This is serious business, Paolo is Italian and Italy needs to win. But the game is a slog, not too exciting. At halftime, some wine and a little talk with Barbara and Dora. Then back to the game, and Italy is down 1-0.
Around 10, I'm falling asleep and hungry and have a migraine and my stomach is queasy from the alcohol. Use the bathroom, take a Migrapak pill, drink water. Feel worse. Finally I say sorry I need to go to bed now. I expect someone will guide me to a bedroom upstairs.
But instead we start loading into the SUV again. Turns out we're at the parent's house, not the friend's house. I feel bad about pulling Paolo away from the Italy-Sweden game, but Italy is losing with only 7 minutes to go, he doesn't seem too upset about leaving.
About a 15-minute drive circling around town outside, and I'm feeling worse and worse. Turns out they're putting us in a hotel, because a hot-water pipe in their house failed yesterday, no hot water there. Just as we arrive at the hotel, my stomach rebels and they quickly let me out and I vomit on a curb. Embarrassing, but a relief.
Into hotel, check-in seems to take forever as I hope my stomach and bowels stay under control. Finally elevator and long walk to the room, in and use bathroom, into bed, sleep.
Picked up by her friends after 11. Longish drive to a modern art museum built at the edge of the Danube, the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum. Lovely museum, we spend several hours there. Pics. Coffee and snacks in the cafe.
Out of the museum around 3:15. Longish drive into town. To the main train station, and then Dora is riffling through all the luggage trying to give gifts to her friend. Trying to give her creams and medicines, and her friend runs a medical clinic, she has all of this stuff, she keeps saying no ! Finally we drag Dora to the station and let her friend and husband leave, the friend has to go to work.
Now Dora says she wants to go east to Kosice to take the coats to her parents. And probably to celebrate her son's birthday closer to the actual date, I'm guessing. I've had it. I give her cash and her ticket to Vienna, we divide up the luggage, and I hustle to the train to Vienna, making it with 4 minutes to spare. She has another 8-10 minutes to the train to Kosice, but has to buy a ticket, we'll see if she makes it. And I wonder if she'll be back to Vienna in time for our flight out on Monday. She may stay in Kosice until the 18th when her parents leave. I'm not buying another plane ticket for her, I've already spent $600 or more on her plane tickets for this trip.
Uneventful trip to Vienna. I doze a bit, wake up confused. We stop at a station, I realize too late that I could get out here and cut 10 minutes off my trip. We're coming into Vienna from the east, and circling around a little, I could have gotten out at a smaller station. But to the main station, to U1 Metro, to Praterstern. Carrying a bunch of heavy luggage, no fun.
Into apartment at 5:10. Nice and quiet. Send messages to Dora and her son.
Out before 6, to small supermarket for groceries: soda, sandwich, muesli, cake.
After 10, heard that Dora made it to her son's place in Kosice.
Got to where I thought the Fine Arts museum would be, but it's not there. Checked with Tourist Info, it's in a different place than I thought. Went there, getting cold and rained on, and couldn't get into the building, it looks like it's being renovated or something.
Around corner and into Metro station. Looking for somewhere to grab lunch, but only McDonald's and Burger King are open, with long lines. Rode the Metro to near home, explored, only place open is a cake-place. Bought a slice of sachertorte and took it home. Bleah.
Eat, internet, loaf, lie down.
In the evening, we're supposed to go to a concert at 8:15, but no messages from Dora on her way back from Kosice, except that she's coming and will go to the concert. I told her to tell me what train she was taking from Bratislava so I knew when she'd arrive, but the only message she sent was that she was in first class. I'm chewing my nails watching the time tick away. I can't leave the apartment because I have the only key, and also I need the Wi-Fi here to receive any messages from her.
Finally at 7:50 I receive messages, she's arrived at the Vienna train station. I tell her to meet me at Stephansplatz Metro station, and I dash out.
We meet perfectly at the station, good timing. But she's hauling two suitcases; she's brought back just as much stuff as she went with. I thought she was going to dump a lot of stuff there. We get on the Metro, out at Herrengasse, and we're lost. Ask directions a couple of times, finally get to the place (Schonborn Palace) 20+ minutes late. In, coats and suitcases into the cloakroom, and an usher takes us into the auditorium during applause after a piece finishes.
And it's an awkward situation for me. We're put right in the front row, about 8 feet from the piano and 8 feet from the MC-and-first-violin. I hate being stuck up front like this. Pics.
The music is lovely. I could do without the two operatic singers who sing on about half of the pieces. Dora has her phone out and and is recording, after I specifically told her not to.
Intermission, and Dora buys a music-box at the concession, instead of buying a drink as she'd said she was thirsty. I take a Neobrufen.
Concert ends at 10. We're out last, Dora spends a lot of time in the bathroom, then we're out into the cold. I head for the Metro, get a little confused. Turns out I was on the right track, it just was further than I thought. But I'm irritated at being confused again.
We try to find somewhere to eat, most places are closed, finally we're into a McCafe. I have a hamburger, Dora has coffee and a cookie. I finally get through to her how unhappy I am with her behavior and my life with her recently. Now she's mad and I'm still unhappy. Great.
She spends 5 minutes going through all the luggage looking for pills. I want to go home, she wants to sit here for another half hour. She tells me to go, I haul the big suitcase to the Metro and go home.
Home before 11:30. Online, pay for more luggage on the plane flight. I take a Migrapac.
12:10 and Dora still not home. Metro is closing soon.
12:45, still no Dora ! Finally a message saying she's in the Metro station only a few blocks away. But then she doesn't show up until 1:30. No apologies, no explanation. I think she just was wasting time to keep me from going to bed. [The next day, she says she assumed I was sleeping.]
To airport, find check-in, no line. But the two big suitcases are well overweight, Dora has to dump everything and throw away lots of papers and re-pack. Finally I'm able to step up with the two big suitcases and check in, with Dora across the hall in a heap of papers and smaller suitcases. But they don't blink, they take the suitcases and give me boarding passes.
Essentially no line at Security. Dora told me her laptop etc were in the other bag, but they're in the bag I have, so Security gives me grief and I have to unpack and they get sent through again.
To gate with 20+ minutes to spare. Onto flight, and it's the usual knee-killing seat-spacing; if they gave 1 more inch, it would be so much more comfortable. I doze as much as possible.
Land at Madrid, into buses, into terminal. We have 5-6 hours to next flight, so of course we're right where we need to be, no need to change terminals. Bathroom, water fountain, take a Neobrufen. Through Security for connecting flights, find a cafe, have some food and do some computing. Take a Migrapac. Online, make appointments for Dora at Spanish govt offices.
Onto flight to Jerez, dozed as much as possible, landed 15 minutes early somehow. Got luggage, no line at taxis, home before 11:30.
Niece sleeping until noon. Then some food, then some math (fractions), then some English spelling. Niece hopping around on a badly sprained ankle, which is why she's home from school.
Dinner, then niece refuses to study any more. Went to copy pictures from Dora's camera, found it had been in "automatic mode" for a while, so 20 copies of each picture. Copied about 10 GB of this to my laptop, and extracted 40 or so keepers from it.
Some more studying in the evening, then a big screaming fight when Dora tells the niece to go to bed. But they were in bed at a reasonable hour.
I put together a rough draft of a Powerpoint show-and-tell for the niece to give at school on Friday, about the trip to Vienna.
Taxi arrived at 8, niece and I soon got in, took her to bus station, put her on the schoolbus to her school in Jerez. Went past Tourist Info to see what hours they're open, hit an ATM, no supermarkets open yet, home.
I just want to stay home and go back to bed for a while, but Dora is heading out to the hospital and I have to go along. So into a taxi after 9 or so, and to the hospital. Meet her sister there, the doctor Dora needs to see was called into surgery, we have to wait. We have breakfast, meet some pharma rep for a while, then Dora and sister go to doctor and I go out and wait and wait, sleeping and listening to my MP3 player.
Eventually Dora re-appears, the verdict is a hematoma in her lower back, no fracture. Unable to see throat doctor today, because HIS wife just fell down stairs.
Wait more for sister to appear, eventually find out she didn't see us, and she went home. We get a ride home with a friend of Dora's, home after 2.
Out at 5 with Dora and sister, into a taxi. I got out near Tourist Info; they went on to some medical association. I bought groceries at Dia, stopped in Tourist Info to ask about classes for the niece, then to bus station. She arrived on schoolbus at 5:40. No sign of Dora and sister. We waited 5 minutes or so to see if they'd show up, then took a taxi home.
Heated or cooked various foods for the niece; she tends to order things and then not eat most of them.
Patients arrived at 7. Sent message to sister. She didn't arrive until 8.
Worked on Powerpoint presentation with niece, for her Show-and-Tell about her trip to Vienna. She took what I roughed out last night and removed most of the good stuff, put it in her own words, etc.
Dora home at 9:30, with bad back pain, tired, walked home from somewhere after her sister left her there.
Sister finally gets done with patients etc, sees presentation we've made for niece in school. We've done a "my trip to Vienna" talk; she informs us teacher wants a generic "facts about Vienna" talk. So I paste a couple of generic climate and festivals slides onto the end of it.
Shave and shower; feel better.
Dora said all morning that we were going out to do errands, but we didn't go out until 2, when most shops are closed. To Correos to buy stamps. To the center to hit a couple of ATMs. Vodafone store is open, so we went there and they put a new SIM in Dora's expensive phone, and now her main phone number works again. To a cafe for drinks and sandwich.
At 5:30, I headed to bus station to pick up the niece, and Dora headed off to do errands. Niece arrived, into taxi, home.
Made cup-of-soup for her, then fiddled with the Powerpoint presentation she has to give tomorrow. She wants music, but the software wants to record absolute filenames, which won't work. Converted the slides to three different file formats, and none of them work well on my laptop, worried that my software is not truly compatible with what the teacher will use tomorrow. Copied the files to her mother's laptop, and first file runs fine there. Niece in a snit that I won't remove one last slide from the show, but I've had enough, I don't want to have to do file conversions again.
Sister supposed to be home at 8, but no sign of her, and a patient showed up at 8:15. Sister and Dora home at 8:30.
Then she calls before 8:30, says let's go on the 9 AM bus. Tells me to pack a dozen things, but the big suitcase already is half-full. I pack, head out at 8:40 with big suitcase, smaller suitcase, grey bag, my computer bag. Haul it to bus station. Put it on bus, get on bus, bus leaves at 9 AM, no Dora. Not surprised to see her 5 blocks later, flagging down the bus, even though it's not a bus stop. She gets on, accompanied by grumbling from the driver.
Arrive at Jerez, want to stop at a cafe, but they're all full. Home by 10:10.
Did laundry. After noon, Dora out to INEM, I went out to Mercadona.
Cooked dinner, but Dora not home, I ate without her. Finally heard from Dora around 3:30. Her new phone SIM has stopped working.
I went to the center, met Dora in a cafe. She spent an hour waiting in INEM, then an hour talking to them. And she's a bit sick again. After a while, I took most of her bags and luggage, went to Correos to pick up a letter, then home. She went to pick up the niece at school here in Jerez. I went out to Mercadona again for more groceries.
Dora and niece home at 5:10 or so. Niece says her presentation about Vienna went fine.
I went out to recharge my phone SIM, and to buy a calling-card for Dora.
Printer color ink cartridge ran out; put in a new one.
Dora out at 8 or so, to Vodafone store to see why her phone SIM keeps dying.
Niece slept like a rock on the sofa.
Dora home at 10:15, far later than I expected. She had a long wait, then no joy at the phone store. They say wait for a technician on Monday. I say, demand money back and then buy a much cheaper phone.
Out at 12:45, to train station, train to airport to pick up Dora's parents arriving back from Vienna and Kosice. I guess I was 10 minutes late, went to Arrivals, no one there. Flight arrival is on the board. I waited 5-10 minutes, asked around, found out people had already come out. Found her parents had walked down to the opposite end, outside Departures, and were waiting there. Got them into a taxi and took them home. No Dora; I guess she and the niece went to Correos.
Headache; took a Migripac. Started cooking. Heard from Dora at 2:30; she's on her way home. Niece arrived first, Dora went to a church for 5 or 10 minutes. Then dinner.
At 4:20, SNAFU. Dora tells me her parents want to go to Sanlucar now, on the 5 PM bus. I thought they were going to stay here overnight. They pack, then the niece wants to stay here with us tonight. Finally it's decided they'll all go, but Dora needs to give her mother an injection at the last minute. I get the father and niece out the door early, because the niece is on crutches and will be slow. I'm towing the two big suitcases, the father has a knapsack and smaller suitcase.
We make good time to the bus station, arrive 5-8 minutes early. Bus appears, but mother and Dora don't. Her mother has all the keys to the Sanlucar house; father and niece can't go without her. I go back into the street to see if they're approaching, but no sign of them. Back to the bus, to find that father and niece have loaded everything on the bus and gotten aboard. I try to communicate the problem with the keys, but the bus is ready to go. I step off and it goes.
I go home, Dora and mother are not here, maybe they're chasing the bus in a taxi ? Sent message to her sister in Sanlucar, she will send someone with car and keys to pick up father and niece at the bus station.
Dora home before 6, says her mother is at the bus station waiting for 7 PM bus to Sanlucar.
Dora has found there's a symphony concert tonight, at the opera house down the street, and tickets are available. So at 6:15 we go out and buy tickets. Dora goes on to the phone store yet again.
Took a paracetamol and out at 7:45, and met Dora at the opera house. In, and upstairs to the middle tier. But it's empty except for us and two other people. A minute before the conductor came out, an usher came up and told all of us we're in the wrong place, this area is closed. Downstairs, and we got decent seats at end of next-to-last row, 30 seconds before the music started.
The music was nice but uninspiring, very string-heavy compositions. First half featured a violin soloist who was a valkyrie. Dora slept about 50% of the time. Out and home shortly after 10. We're both tired. I'm still headachey.
Peru has qualified (barely) for the World Cup in Russia next year. Dora wants to go. I looked at the ticketing process, and it's very complicated. Have to wait until Dec 1 to find out where they're going to play.
Took a sumatriptan.
Dora wanted to catch 1 PM bus to Sanlucar (I said I was staying here), but despite me warning her at the 90, 30, 15 and 5-minute marks, she ran out of time and was too late to go to it. Then blamed me for not being dressed so I could run to the bus station with two suitcases for her.
At 2:45, hauled Dora's suitcases to the bus station, she showed up behind me, bus arrived, put her on it. Went for a walk in the center. Big flea-market closing down outside the Alcazar. Home by 3:30. Spaghetti for dinner.
In the evening, headache, took a Migrapac, later an ibuprofen. Dora staying in Sanlucar tonight.
After noon, out for a walk in the center. Later, gave up waiting for Dora, ate dinner by myself. Out again, to Mercadona for groceries. Lots of stores closed today, maybe it's some kind of holiday, but Mercadona is open.
Dora home after 7. At 7:45, we went out, and hustled to Correos to send a burofax (to renters of sister's apartment in Barcelona) before they closed at 8. To Vodafone store, but guy she needed wasn't there. To worker's association. Home after 9. Late dinner.
Then we went out, and to INEM. Dora spent about 20 minutes there. Out and into a taxi, around the corner, and someone called Dora. It was a sacristry (word ?) from the local church, he saw Dora going past and wanted to talk to her. So we stopped the taxi, Dora went and fetched him, and we continued together on to Juzgados. Where his time was wasted: Dora went in to drop off papers, and stayed in for about an hour. He gave up waiting and left. Dora and I didn't get out until almost 1:30. Taxi to bus station area, quick coffees and nibbles in a cafe, and onto the 2 PM bus to Sanlucar. Arrived after 2:30.
Walking to her sister's house, Dora was doing the usual slow walk while texting on her phone, and I went ahead. But then I couldn't see her at all behind me. I kept going to the house, and found her relatives from the north (sister, husband, twin 3-year-olds) with Dora's parents. A loud scene. Dora didn't arrive for a long time, maybe another 15 minutes.
Around 4 or so, Dora is going out the door with her sister who lives in Sanlucar. They're gone too fast for me to ask where she's going. Found out later they were going to the sister's hospital for Dora to see an ENT doctor. Who turned out to be not working today.
I played with the twins, watched TV, loafed. Soon after Dora left, one of the twins waved around a bottle of yogurt-drink, getting it all over my pants as well as the floor and some of the sister's medical brochures.
Out in a taxi at 5:35 with Dora's mother to pick up the niece at the bus station, returning from school. Soon after she got home, the twins were all over her.
Dora not responding to messages, or giving cryptic responses that tell me little. She's still at the hospital. We're not going to make the 1815 bus back to Jerez.
More play with the twins. They're pretty exhausting.
Time approaches for the last bus to Jerez, at 2110. Dora sent messages an hour ago that she was at some shoe-repair shop near the post office, not far away. At 8:40, I go out to try to find her, but no luck. Hustle back to the house by 2055, and find Dora coming out with sister's husband, heading to the car and wondering where I am. We get in the car and get to the bus station with 5 minutes to spare.
Now Dora tells me, after finding the ENT was not at the hospital, she said to her sister "I haven't had any feeling in the toes of my right foot for 4 days now" (news to me). She thinks it's a result of the fall she had and the damage to her back, maybe the hematoma is pressing on spinal nerves. Her sister says don't wait for a referral to a traumatology doctor, go to the ER. Where they do another X-ray, but don't even probe her foot to determine the extent of the problem. They say the way to get an MRI soon is to be admitted to the hospital, but then find they don't have a bed for her. So they say come back first thing tomorrow morning. (I found this out on the way to the bus station, and suggested she sleep in Sanlucar tonight, but she insisted on staying with me, and I don't want to stay in Sanlucar tonight.)
We arrive in Jerez, and she doesn't have any trouble walking, she's slower than me but not by much. But she has no feeling in those toes, and can't move them as well as the toes on the other foot.
Home at 10:20.
I just want a sandwich and ice-cream, but Dora makes a huge dinner, rice and eggs and fried bananas and Peruvian corn with cheese.
To bed around midnight-thirty. But I don't think I slept a wink all night.
I thought she was going straight to the hospital, but she went to a bank. Hospital by 10, her message says. But then she just waited there, no action.
Middle of the day, Dora still not getting any action at the hospital. And it seems all the children at the Sanlucar house are sick.
Early evening, out for a walk in the center, then to bazaar for several items. Home, then to computer shop for printer cartridges, then another shop, then Mercadona for groceries.
At 7 PM, heard that Dora finally got admitted into the hospital in Sanlucar. She needed that to happen so they can do an MRI, which I assume will happen tomorrow.
Before 8, had a phone call from Dora. Around 9, out for a walk in the center.
Around 12:15, put chicken on to cook. But then a flurry of messages and phone calls from Dora's sisters: she's in pain and upset in the hospital, she wants me there with her, and her mother is going to her. So I turned off the heat on the stove, took a shower, put chicken back in the freezer, gathered some things for Dora, and out at 12:45. Caught 1:00 bus to Sanlucar, got out at 2nd stop, walked to hospital.
Found Dora's room. Her mother is there, Dora is glad to see me. Gave her the things, unlocked her phone for her, asked her what was going on.
She says the traumatologist took one look at the way she walks and said "spinal damage, you need an MRI". So now she's waiting for that to happen. She says she was taking corticosteroids after the injury, and that masked the damage, but she stopped taking them 4 or 5 days ago, and thus felt worse.
Also, she was seen by an ENT for her throat problems, and the breathing problem she had on the plane back from Peru. His diagnosis is that it was an infection plus some swelling. She had a scope down into her throat and her tonsils are a bit adnormal, but nothing else found.
She seems normal, a bit tired and aching, she's on about 3 drugs plus taking 2 or 3 more on her own. I tried to make sure she tells the staff about the extra medicines she's taking.
Her mother is tired and hungry; sister's house is full of semi-sick children. After 80 minutes or so I've had enough, I'm hungry and doing nothing useful here. Dora is mad that we're looking to leave; she seems to want me to stay with her day and night until this is over. What's the purpose ? And she wants me to do a banking errand, which I can't do here.
We're saved by a phone call from one sister: her husband is in the car outside the hospital, here to pick us up. So we go, pursued by scowls from Dora.
To sister's house. Say hi to the kids and play with them a little. Niece scowls at any suggestion that she do some studying, although she has a bunch of exams this week.
Eat a little food, then have to leave. To bus station, carrying a jar of homemade peach preserves from sister's in-laws in the north. Onto 1610 bus (late) to Jerez.
Out in Jerez. To ATM for cash. Home at 5:10. Headache; took a Migrapac. Started cooking the chicken again.
Out 15 minutes later, and to Correos. Send money to Dora's son at medical school. Back home.
Tried to do some mass-editing of my web site, and the editor munched half a dozen files. I think I recovered them all okay.
Dora's sister from Sanlucar supposed to come here this morning to search for her belongings, but she didn't show up. Later found out she's sick, ended up in the same hospital as Dora.
As yesterday, out at 12:45, caught 1:00 bus to Sanlucar, walked to hospital, with Dora until before 4, caught the 4:10 bus to Jerez, home by 5:10. Met Dora's youngest sister coming out from visiting Dora; most people at the Sanlucar house are sick.
Dora still in pain, waiting for MRI. But she's starting to enjoy some peace and quiet, she has her phones, I brought her a lot of goodies such as her creams and various pieces of clothing etc. Also bought her a TV card, so she can watch TV in her room.
Around 3:45, car arrives and father and leave, and go to sister's house. I talk to the youngest sister and Dora's mother, and they think Dora never gave them the papers. We're all thinking she has an emotional problem or something, preceding but aggravated by her spinal injury.
Eat some food, play with the kids. But the niece refuses to do any studying with me, either English or French. I mention to the father that I'm discouraged that the 3.5-year-old twins already speak much better Spanish than I do, and he says "they speak Euskara (the Basque language) too". Great.
Finally I leave to catch the 6:15 bus back to Jerez, which is late.
Dora needs internet access in the hospital, and they don't have Wi-Fi. So I need to look for some USB device she can plug in to get internet, maybe using the SIM from her telephone ?
Off bus in Jerez a little after 7. To home, used bathroom, grabbed Vodafone papers, hustled to Vodafone store to see if we can get mobile-data internet access on Dora's laptop. Store is closed. Hit an ATM. Tried a phone store, the bazaar, and the locutorio. No one knew what I was talking about, and the locutorio guy understaood but said it doesn't exist.
To Mercadona for groceries. Home by 8:15.
Later, it occurs to me that we could turn her phone into a Wi-Fi hot-spot so her laptop can do internet through the phone. I've never done that, but I think it's possible.
Out at 10:45, trundling a medium-sized suitcase, caught 11:00 bus to Sanlucar, walked to hospital. Dora sobbing heavily as she talks non-stop to someone on the phone, and refuses to be comforted by me. I think it's a doctor-friend in Barcelona. Dora is afraid she has spinal damage, she'll end up in a wheelchair. But when I ask, she says she's started taking corticosteroids again to counter the swelling. Eventually she's off the phone, eventually she calms down. I give her all the stuff I brought from the apartment, then set up her laptop and the hot-spot on her phone, and it all works.
Talking about lots of stuff, her sister and family maybe moving to our apartment in Jerez, later to Barcelona. Dora and I moving soon to Barcelona, maybe her first and me later. Not sure where everyone is today, will we get a chance to teach the niece (I find out she's failed her recent tests), etc.
Caught the 4:10 bus to Jerez, home by 5:10. Headache; took a sumatriptan. Spaghetti for dinner.
I was thinking of going at 1, but Dora needs me, so I hustle and get out at 10:45. Buy a calling-card at the locutorio. Catch the 11 AM bus to Sanlucar. Walk to hospital.
Dora is on the phone, mostly ignores me. I lay out the documents and food I've brought, and settle down to listen to my MP3 player. We chat a bit. She hasn't done anything I asked her to do this morning, and refuses any sugestion I make now. After a while, a couple of nuns and someone else (maybe a social worker ?) come in and she talks at them for a while.
Dora's parents arrive. Dora on phone and with lots of documents laid out. Senior nurse comes in with paperwork for Dora to sign for transport to her MRI tomorrow, and Dora says she's busy, come back later. The two of them get into a shouting match. She's done everything she can to antagonize the staff here, and now she's going to end up delaying her MRI. She says she's going to Barcelona anyway to have an MRI. Her mother and I can't get her to go sign the d*mn paper. I decide I'm wasting my time here, and I leave.
Catch the 1 PM bus to Jerez. Home by 1:50. Chicken-rice-zucchini for dinner.
Call from Dora at 7:30, she wants me to sleep at the hospital with her tonight, so I can go in the ambulance with her at 0700 tomorrow morning, so I can hand a piece of paper and some money to a secretary at the MRI place to get an early copy of the results. She refuses to consider any other way of doing it. Maybe she's right, maybe she's wrong. But I'm not going.
Around 9:30, Dora begging to go to Barcelona ASAP. She's convinced she needs spinal surgery, and the best is in Barcelona, and she knows people there who will expedite things. So I look for flight and AirBNB starting on Wed 29th. Gather some information, tell Dora some specifics, ask if I should book, and she says wait, she needs to call some people in Barcelona.
Start laundry, take a shower. Then Dora is saying, we have to go to Barcelona ASAP. Online, flights are disappearing as I search, and suddenly the price of tomorrow's decent flight has jumped from $100 to $350 per-person one-way. Browser fighting me, web sites fighting me, but finally I get good flights for Thursday afternoon for about $80 per-person one-way.
On AirBNB, looking at rooms and apartments, but I'm running out of time. Finally pick a room right next to the hospital, seems not available for 2 weeks, so I get it for only 1 week. Can move to another place after a week.
Out at 12:45, caught 1 PM bus to Sanlucar, to the hospital. Saw Dora's parents in the hospital, but I guess they left, because they never came to the room.
Went to the room and met Dora. the MRI results are somewhat good. No lesion on the spinal cord, no hemmorhage. She calls it a "hernia", but it sounds to me like a "slipped disc": a disc (or vertebra, I'm not clear) has been pushed out of position and is pressing against the cord, or pressing against things that press against the cord. [Well, now I'm confused: Wikipedia says a "slipped disc" is same as a ruptured disc. Maybe what she has is Lumbar Disc Displacement ? ] Dora is scared and tearful when she thinks about back surgery, but at least now the way forward is clear, and the news could have been much worse.
I thought we would check her out of the hospital now, but she wants the record to show no gap in her hospitalization. So I'll come to get her out first thing tomorrow morning, she'll do errands in Jerez tomorrow, then we fly to Barcelona the afternoon of the next day.
She's on the phone constantly, we only talk a little, and after a while I've had enough. We pack a suitcase and I take it to the 3:10 bus, which is 10 or 15 minutes late. Home by 4:15.
Started cooking pesto-spaghetti for dinner. Out to Mercadona for groceries. Finished cooking and ate.
Up at 7, and internet access is down. It's working by 8.
I was going to go to the hospital early and bring Dora home, but now they're saying they'll do an "echodoppler" today, so I don't know what the schedule is. If she stays here and the Barcelona arrangements are wasted, I'm going to be a little irritated. I'd rather stay here, but I'd rather not waste the money too.
After 9:30, Dora is saying the "echodoppler" will be done this afternoon, and then she'll leave the hospital and we will go to Barcelona tomorrow.
Cold, damp, grey morning. And fairly heavy rain starting at 10. Glad I'm not out there, on my way to or from the hospital.
Around noon, talking and messaging with Dora. I thought she was going to be admitted right away in Barcelona, but she says she's going to walk into the Emergency dept and present her case and see what happens.
Out at 12:45, trundling a mostly-empty suitcase, and carrying an umbrella. Caught the 1 PM bus to Sanlucar. Weather getting sunny.
To hospital after 1:30, and Dora's parents are in the room with her, and she's all packed-up to leave. But we have to wait an hour or more as she needs a document signed and then stamped. Dora seems to be walking okay, and has managed to get her feet into her boots (she had some edema/swelling of the legs and feet). Finally we're out and into the car and to the sister's house.
Gather some of Dora's things that were left here, and her mother gives her more. Great, now we have several bags to carry as well as the two suitcases.
Eat a quick dinner. Dora's eye closing at the table; she didn't get much sleep in the hospital. Now Dora is saying she expects in Barcelona she won't be admitted into the hospital, they won't do surgery, they'll prescribe rest and maybe some manipulation and later some physiotherapy. She just wants to move back to Barcelona ASAP.
We want her sister and niece and parents to move to Barcelona too, for a number of financial reasons, but her sister keeps changing her mind, probably won't move until June, if ever. By then her financial troubles will be so bad that courts probably will make the decisions for her. If she moves now into the apartment she owns in Barcelona, it will be her primary residence, and almost certainly the court wouldn't kick her out of it. And she needs to put the niece into a cheaper school. But sister and niece both are dragging their heels, and sister has been denying financial reality for about a year now.
Both sisters have some fantasy of moving to Vienna, now that we've visited it. I think it's madness, no one in the family speaks German, few of them speak any English.
Tearful parting with her mother. Her father drives us to the bus station for the 4:10 bus. I talk to Dora, and decide we should give notice tomorrow on our nice apartment in Jerez, which means we'll be out at end of January. I'll miss this apartment.
Onto the bus, Dora dozes most of the way. Out at Jerez, she's walking slowly but okay. She stops in a store as I go home with the luggage. Home at about 5:15.
I thought we'd have a quiet evening, doing some chores before getting ready to pack for tomorrow's trip, and Dora getting to bed early. But as she was going out the door to a couple of stores at 6:45, she mentioned that her family is coming over from Sanlucar !
I started cooking. Chicken. Salad. Later rice.
After 8:30, Dora's mother and niece arrived. I settled the niece down with watercolors and music, in the kitchen. Around 9, Dora. Cooked broccoli, served dinner.
Later, I tried my hand at the watercoloring: pic.
I'm out at 8:40 with the niece (on crutches). Two-block walk to the taxi rank through a somewhat-cold morning. Taxi to her school, walk her to the entrance through streams of students and parents, say good-bye. Back into the taxi and home by 9:20 or so. Dora still not dressed.
Dora and mother finally out at 9:55 to go to her doctor a few blocks away. I tell her to be calm and pleasant, but I doubt it will be a fun encounter. She's trying to get him to change her paperwork from "chronic illness" to "accident", which apparently affects the amount of unemployment benefit she can collect. But she's already had a big argument with him, and the situation is complicated by the fact that we went to Vienna after she had her accident.
We have to go around 12:30, and Dora hasn't packed anything yet.
Finally they're home at 11:10.
Mother left at 11:30, to stop at store and then catch 1200 bus to Sanlucar. So one complication removed.
Out at 12:30. Into taxi, and immediately a crisis: Dora is crying, has upper-back and abdominal pain. We go, and she cries and tells her tale of woe to the taxi driver all the way to the airport.
We check in okay at the airport, a little last-minute shifting of weight from one suitcase to another to stay under the limits. Dora still having a lot of pain. Bathroom stop, through Security, to a cafe. She's talking to her sister on the phone, ignoring the coffee I bought her and the pills I gave her, alternately crying at her sister and yelling at her.
Plane starts boarding, and we jump the huge line and get on. Dora asks for two empty seats together so she can sit a bit sideways. I get to our normal seats and she's up front, so I think she's succeeded. But after everyone's on, she comes back, then the attendant leads her to a seat further back. So I get two seats for myself, hers and mine.
Land and into the airport a bit after 4. Slow, slow walk down to baggage claim, with a stop for bathrooms. Dora talking and messaging on the phone as usual, but her foot making her walk much more slowly and carefully than usual.
Get the luggage, out, to the taxi area. Into a van-taxi, where Dora can sit leaning forward. And again she cry-talks all the way, telling the taxi driver all her problems.
To the building for our AirBNB room, and we can't find the apartment, no one answers the buzzer, the numbers don't quite match the apartment number we were given. Building has an elevator, which is wrong, so I think we're in the wrong building. Eventually establish contact with the guy waiting for us, and he confirms we were given the wrong address. He comes and gets us, right building is only a block away.
Haul heavy suitcases up two floors of stairs, with the guy doing half of the carrying, very nice of him.
Into the apartment by 5:50. Unpacking a bit, connecting to Wi-Fi, etc.
After a while, Dora is making phone calls. Lawyer she planned to go to for eviction from her sister's apartment says he doesn't do that kind of work.
Out at 7:45 or so. Cold. Down the street, across, to a small supermarket. Dora grabbing more and more stuff to buy, until I had to stop her. Out with a full bag. Down a few doors and into a restaurant, the only restaurant within several blocks. Turned out to be okay, a lot of food and two drinks for €14 total. We lingered for a while. Dora is planning to go to the nearby Emergency Room. She had been saying it will be crowded in the evening, we need to go at 1 AM or 4 AM ! Now she's saying 7 AM, which is a lot more acceptable to me.
Out of the restaurant and a cold walk home. Into room by 9:15.
Later, Dora says lawyer first tomorrow, which means we can sleep later.
Slept well. Apartment is extremely quiet. A little cold, so we were running an electic-oil heater all night.
I thought we'd be going out at 8:30 or so, but Dora isn't moving much, then she's sorting papers to take to a lawyer, then she's making phone calls and talking about going to a medical association. At 10:15, she's heading into the shower.
Out at 10:45 or so. Down to the hospital front entrance, and into a taxi. To the medical association building. Spent 1.5 hours in there, going among 3 or 4 different floors, and Dora came out in tears because no one will do anything for her, despite years of paying large dues. They say if she has complaints about treatment in Andalucia, she has to go back to Andalucia and file papers there.
To a cafe for coffees and pastries. Into a taxi, and down to the CGT offices on Via Laietana. Dora bent the ear of the reception guy for half an hour or more, but the lawyer won't be in until Thursday, so this stop was a waste.
Down a block or two to a vegetarian restaurant, "The Street". Quite nice Middle Eastern food.
We're both pretty happy to be back in Barcelona, despite the cold weather. Nice restaurants, good people-watching, a nice city with lots of stuff going on.
Into a taxi, up to Fabra i Puig, and into a law office. Dora went in for an hour or so. Out and into a cafe, and I think she did everything wrong with the lawyer. I thought getting the renters evicted from her sister's apartment here was priority 1, but she left it to the end and the lawyer said "I'm out of time, send me papers by email". She didn't ask how much the eviction, or anything, will cost. She says her health was priority 1 with the lawyer, but her health will be dealt with at the hospital, she spent most of the time with the lawyer crying to him about how badly people in Andalucia treated her (and she did receive bad care; no one even tested her numb foot, for example). I think she hopes she can win a judgement against her family doctor and hospital there.
I hope the eviction will go okay, because the renters have said they will leave Dec 31, but they've violated the contract by refusing to pay rent for the last 2 months. So the eviction really shouldn't be contested, except that apparently the contract contains big penalties for stopping the rent payments.
Then she starts furiously handwriting a couple of legal documents, to give notice that we're leaving our rented apartment in Jerez, and her sister is leaving her rented townhouse in Sanlucar. I've been pushing her for a week to write these on the computer, and now she's scribbling them at the last minute (really should have sent them yesterday), filling pages to the edges, writing up the sides. And why does it take 2 pages of writing to say "per the contract, we're giving 2 months notice, we'll be out on Jan 30" ? But it's progress; her sister has been dithering for months about this decision, and apparently finally has agreed to move to Barcelona.
I also find out that her parents and niece have been staying in our apartment since we left, since it's far safer for the parents (no stairs) and much closer to niece's school (saving all of them a lot of hassle and time each day).
Out of the cafe, and a cold walk up and across Meridiana and to El Corte Ingles. Down to the Correos counter, and Dora takes about an hour to send the burofaxes (legal notices) to the two landlords and the two rental agencies. At first, the counter lady says "the burofax system is down, all over Spain", but then says "we can send burofaxes but not print receipts until tomorrow", but in the end the whole system is working, no problem. The counter lady knows Dora, and straightens her out a bit on the rental-termination process and who to send to. I fork over €120 to pay for it.
Out of El Corte Ingles, and we end up making a long, cold walk almost completely around Heron City Center to find a taxi. Finally into one, and off to the hospital near our AirBNB room.
Into the emergency room / traumatology section around 9 PM. Fortunately no waiting. A no-nonsense triage nurse interrogates Dora, and barks at her when she starts crying. Talk with nurse and doctor, eventually into X-ray, wait, examination room, wait, some examining, wait more. Eventually I go back in and find Dora in pain; I help her take some pills.
More and more waiting. [Later, Dora says she guesses they were calling Andalucia to check her records.] I'm using the time to draw up a to-do list and timetable for the apartment moves. Lots of moving pieces and people, and we all want to go to the North for Christmas. Niece has to start in a new school, Dora's parents are starting to falter and have to be supervised through the big changes, etc.
Finally around midnight, a traumatology doctor shows up to give the verdict, they're not going to admit Dora into the hospital, she'll be out-patient and see family doctor. Then more waiting, then a sort-of prescription, some more questions, then we're out at 12:45. The place still is mostly empty and quiet, a bit strange on a Friday night after midnight in a big hospital.
We walk home, about 5-6 cold blocks. Dora tells me they gave her no joy in terms of the paperwork, terming her problems chronic, which seems strange since they were precipitated by a fall down stairs. And everything is complicated by her records and registration being in transit from Andalucia to Barcelona, and us not officially living here yet (not on the padron). The traumatology doctor wrote up a list of medications she should/could get, but it's not a formal prescription, and she'd have to pay full price for them. And none of them are as strong as the pain medicine she's already taking.
Home by 1 AM. I figure I spent about €70 on taxis today. But at least we got the apartment-moving in motion, and clarified some legal and medical issues.
Later, I want to sleep, but she annnounces she has a 9 AM appointment at the beauty parlor, then wants to go grocery-shopping in the big supermarket next to it. But I refuse to go. And I think she told me right about at 9 AM anyway; not a chance of making the appointment.
She cooks breakfast and I'm forced to drag out of bed at 9:45 or so to eat it.
She's spread my clothes all around the room, despite me telling her 5 times to leave all of my stuff in one place. Same with my computer and phone stuff. Living in one room with her is driving me nuts, as it did in Peru. There's a chance she might go on disability and stop working, and I don't know if I can tolerate the resulting "togetherness".
Finally she's out a bit before 11, to the beauty parlor and who knows where else. But 5 minutes later she's calling from 1 block away, she can't walk while carrying her (heavy) purse and also a bag of other stuff I told her not to take. She wants me to come out and go with her, but I'm not showered and I'm going back to bed soon. I told her to come home, and she's going to stop in the pharmacy and then come home. But she got a little lost and didn't get home until 12:30 or so.
Online, I'm messaging the sister in Sanlucar and doing research for the moves from the southwest to Barcelona. Trying to find dates for school start/stop, look for AirBNB and apartment, etc.
Out before 1 with Dora. Cold out. To local restaurant, where the Barca - Celta game is on the TV. Had lunch, but I ordered badly and the food was not so good anyway. A good game, but I got a headache (took a Dolocatil) and ran out of energy at minute 7 with score 2-2. Out and home by 3.
Napped, still headache, took a Migrapac. Looking at plane flights for everyone involved in the moving. Got a key piece of info: niece's last day of school in Jerez. Now looking at plane or bus tickets to get everyone to Bilbao for Christmas.
Online, bought plane tickets for parents and niece to fly Jerez to Bilbao on 18th. €324 total.
Before 8, out to local small supermarket to buy groceries. Cold out.
Online, bought bus tickets for Dora and I to go Bilbao on 17th and back on 1st. €200 total.
Online, bought plane tickets for parents and niece to fly Bilbao to Barcelona on Jan 4. €294 total.
Took melatonin and to bed.
I'm up at 10:20. Headache; took sumatriptan.
Out at 12:30, bickering about why Dora always is late, and which church to go to. Catch Metro, to church at Diagonal, and Dora was right. We get there halfway through Mass, and it's the right thing to do, we see all the holy bits and 20 minutes of Mass is enough. Altar boy (about 16 years old) is wearing a grey hoodie with some kind of lettering on it, probably a high school or college name.
Out and to Tourist Info, where we perch for a while. Down Passeig de Gracia, turn on a side street, and into an Italian restaurant. Nice place, but the food is just good, not great, and slightly pricey for what we get.
Out, down to P-d-G Metro, onto L4, up to Llumajor. Walk to a friend's apartment by 5:30 or so. Dora says we'll stay just half an hour, but the friend brings out lots of food and drink, and we stay until 9:15 or so.
Out, and it's cold and windy. Dora insists on bus instead of Metro, we miss our bus by about 30 seconds. We wait 10-15 minutes for next one, but it's having some problem, instead of showing bus in 5 minutes, it's saying 55 minutes. At the last minute, we figure out we can take another bus, which turns out to be even better, lets us out right at our street. Home after 10.
Up at 9 or so. Took an ibuprofen-plus.
Out at 11 or so. Bus a short distance to school that Dora's son used to go to. In and she found out the priest who promised her a place for her niece is not there any more, there are no places available starting in mid-year, and a waiting list of 50 or more for the normal annual start.
This is a big setback. We want to keep the niece in an "American" school (as she has in Jerez), but we can't afford / won't pay for a private school (€1000 per month). The religious school would cost more like €200 per month. Public schools are free, but don't teach a curriculum that would lead to a university in USA.
Lawyer won't see her today, send documents and come in next week.
Bus another short distance to another religious school, no space there.
Walked half a mile to another religious school, have to come back later for the secretary.
Went to a restaurant for lunch.
Out, and decided to go to the central education office, instead of school by school. Metro at Horta, connect at La Sagrera, out at Urquinaona, into the office. Where Dora is upset that they make her get a cita for tomorrow morning, they won't see her now.
Out and into a cafe.
Out and into a copy-shop, where Dora makes a thorough pain of herself with the lady, making more than 200 copies, arguing about whether the right things were done, moaning every time another customer came in and she had to wait 2 minutes for a photo to be taken. When we left, I gave the lady a couple of extra euros for putting up with Dora.
Out, and Dora's furious at me and in pain, and insists on taking a taxi home instead of the Metro. Home before 7:30.
Booked another AirBNB room, near Sagrada Familia, to start when this one ends. They have a cat, which Dora really doesn't like, but I talked her into it.
I'm out at 8:45 to get a few groceries; cold out.
Up at 6:30. Dora had said we should be at the health center by 8. Then she says after 8, and at 8:40 we're still not out of the apartment.
Out at 9 or so. Dora mad at me and wants a taxi, but there are none and we're standing in the cold. Then the H4 bus comes, we get on, soon we're at the health center on Rio de Janeiro.
In, and Dora's friend puts her on the registration, then we're in to a waiting room. She sees a doctor, and comes out made again, the doctor wouldn't really examine her, just dismissed her problems as chronic. Gave her a shot of painkiller but refused to give her a shot of corticosteroids or a prescription.
Now we're late for the next appointment. Into a taxi, to Urquinaona, arrived to Consorci Education at 11 for 10:40 cita. But they took her, and looked at the list of school vacancies. But the first step is to get the niece onto the padron here.
Into another taxi, and to Placa Miguel. But first we have to do photocopies, and it takes a while to find a place, then a while to make the copies. Then into the govt office to try to get on the padron, and Dora manages to jump a slow line. Soon we're talking to a clerk, but we're missing a couple of key pieces. Eventually they concede that they don't need a death certificate for the niece's father, but we don't have a copy of the front of the niece's DNI, the sister didn't give us that (probably deliberately). Dora and I get onto the padron at sister's apartment address, but that's the easy part, we need to get the niece onto it so she can register for school.
Out, back to copy shop briefly, then found a kebab-shop and had lunch.
Out, and Dora stopped in a store, I went a block away, then couldn't find her. Later found she went somewhere to find a bathroom. Eventually we connected again.
Over to La Rambla, into Liceu Metro station, and a disaster. Train at the platform as we come out of the lift, Dora yells at me to come on and dashes for the ticket gate. I'm slower, since I'm towing a suitcase and bag, and I have to wait for the gate to close behind her before I can put my ticket in. I get through, and there's Dora holding the train doors open, with security guards yelling at her. And the train is full; I don't think I could get in. I don't run, and they're yelling back and forth at each other, and finally Dora gets back onto the platform and the train goes. Next train in 1.5 minutes.
But the guards are mad, and they're going to write a ticket. Dora is arguing with them, then calling the police. I'm sitting there wishing she would say sorry and shut up and somehow get out of it.
But we wait for the police, Dora presents her case, they tell her to calm down, most of the security guards go away. She ends up with a Metro fine of €500 (!). She says the guards wanted to hit her with 3 fines of €500 each, and they were telling lies such as she didn't have identification, etc. Later she may try to go before a judge and contest the fine. Great.
Onto a train, out at Vall d'Hebron, home at 4:15.
Out briefly to supermarket, then dinner cooked by Dora, then loafed all evening. Dora bought socks for us today: pic. Wi-Fi down in the late evening, bummer. Then up again.
Today is a holiday. and I just wanted to sleep in. But at 7:30 we're out, and walking several blocks to the emergency room. Where we wait from 7:45 to 10 or so, being seen by some clerks and triage, but mostly waiting, Dora often in tears from pain and frustration. Then Dora disappears, and later I find her in an examining room. She's still in tears, the doctors here won't do anything for her, she hasn't even had a pain shot. I go into the hall and start flagging down attendants, and soon one of them comes in and gives Dora a painkiller shot. A doctor comes in and gives Dora a paper and says he can't do anything else, she has to go to her family doctor for a prescription. Dora and I both are frustrated.
Out, walk home, I go to the apartment, she goes to a nearby pharmacy to see if she can get some stuff without a prescription. I'm home after 11.
Wi-Fi still having problems, mostly on Dora's laptop.
At 12:45 or so, Dora calls and I go pick her up from the pharmacy, carrying her stuff because she can't. She succeeded in buying IV equipment, syringes, corticosteroids, painkillers, by promising to come back later with prescriptions.
Home, and she gets a call back from a doctor friend who will do prescriptions for her tomorrow. So things are looking up.
Out at 5:30 or so. Hit an ATM. Metro to Passeig de Gracia. Wandered a bit, eventually went to the restaurants in El Nacional (pics), but didn't see anything we liked (either too expensive, or seats not good for Dora). Out, down towards Placa Catalunya, but then onto side street and down. Pic. Settled for an Italian place. Nice food (pics), a little pricey, but everything down here is pricey.
Out, down to Placa Catalunya, wandered down La Rambla. Into a church for a while. Dora wants to keep going down to the harbor, but I'm cold and tired. Into Metro.
Home at 9:20.
Out of the apartment by 11:15. Out the front door of the building, Dora announces we'll go by taxi not Metro, then she goes off to a farmacia to see if they have the syringes she ordered. Back in 20 minutes or so.
We head down to the main road and find a taxi. Slow ride to the new apartment. There by 12:20 or so, too early, and no answer to the buzzer. We walk 100 feet to a cafe and have food and coffees. Dora has been on the phone with her sister since we got out of the taxi, and the whole time in the cafe.
By 1:05, I pay the bill and go to the apartment, leaving Dora and suitcases in the cafe. Buzzer is answered, I go up and meet the landlady and another guest, get keys, etc. Back to cafe to fetch Dora and suitcases. Get everything into the building, but Dora stays downstairs continuing her phone call. I get everything upstairs by 1:30. Finally Dora comes up by 1:40.
New apartment is nice (pics), but new room is small, not much closet space, smallish double bed, nowhere for laptop. Much better internet than the last place. A cat, and Dora is scared of cats.
We're out at 5 or so. Dora is excited, saying the current renters are moving out in February and would rent this apartment to us furnished for €900 per month. First, that's more than we hoped to spend. Second, I think this place would rent furnished for more like €1300 per month. The only downsides are that there's only one bathroom [later found I'm wrong, there are 2.5 bathrooms], and the stove is gas. But the apartment is big, kitchen and bathroom are big, location is pretty good. The furnishings and decorations are terrific. Dora is enchanted with it. [But later she found that the owners are selling the place, so no opportunity to rent it.]
To Metro, and a long, slow walk in the station. It's a long way to our platform, and Dora is walking very slowly as she types on the phone, and stopping at a vending machine (which steals her money, I think). Eventually there, onto a train, ride to Virrei Amat, our old stomping ground. To the building where Dora used to own an apartment and we used to live, and we meet the first-floor lady, her friend. Get Dora's mail from the lady, and Dora gets the latest news. Only 10 minutes with that lady, but then Dora meets another lady coming in, and bends her ear for another 10 minutes.
Out, down toward Meridiana, and Dora needs to take pills, which means food and drink too. Into a cafe, and soon I'm having her open the mail. Good thing, too, because the urgent package that was the whole point of this stop is wrong: 3 photocopies of a document when she needs the original, and no copies of ID cards of niece and others. Dora is livid. She feels her sister is sabotaging the move to Barcelona, deliberately obstructing attempts to move the niece to a new school. She calls her sister and yells at her. Loafs for a while, fuming.
Eventually, Dora finds she already has copies of the ID cards, so we could go to one office and do more padrons tonight. And she wants to forge the other document she needs. Out, and up to a shop on Arnau D'Oms to buy White-Out. I wait and wait outside, maybe 20-25 minutes. Eventually Dora comes out, and I find she's bought about 15 items. More stuff to lug around.
Down F-i-P, slowly as Dora is texting and walking very slowly. And she's saying that the sister swears she sent the right documents, and Dora is saying someone must have intercepted her mail and altered it. I think that's extremely unlikely.
Down to Meridiana without finding a copy shop, around and back up a couple of blocks, find a locutorio. I wait while Dora copies and prints documents. It's getting toward 7:15 and she's not quite finished. I say give up for tonight, little chance of getting to the govt office in the center before it closes at 8 for the 3-day holiday weekend. But she wants a taxi instead of Metro, now that she's wasted time. I refuse, and I head home by myself, leaving her to dash around if she wishes. I go to Virrei Amat Metro, L5 to Sagrada Familia, home before 8.
Right out again, to a supermarket next door for groceries.
Later, message from Dora saying she arrived at the office in time, but had left a key document in the suitcase I trundled home, so she couldn't do anything. So taxi money wasted, I'm sure.
Dora still not home by 11:40.
She messages me at 12:10. She's in a cafe not far from the govt office she went to before 8. I guess she's been sitting there for 4 hours. She's in pain, says she can't walk, she's been crying, she's out of money. She wants me to bring medicine and syringe to her. Probably means a taxi each way. I've had enough, I tell her to take the Metro to get home.
She does, and I meet her at Sagrada Familia metro station. I found medicine to bring to her, but couldn't find the syringes. She seems to be walking reasonably, not crying, etc. But she is in pain. And she's still mad about the missing documents. We go home fairly easily.
She injects pain medicine into herself. I'm into bed by 12:45 or so, but she wants to eat, watch TV, etc. I think we finally turn out the light at 1:30 or so. Can't figure out how to turn off the TV, so I unplug it.
I breakfast, shower, do computer. Still can't figure out how to turn off the TV; still unplug it. By 1, Dora not answering messages, I don't know where she is. I go out at 1:30 and bump into her around the corner, coming home. We stop for groceries, go home.
Soon out again, and we walk down Valencia looking at shops etc. Eventually to Sagrada Familia park, where they're having a big Christmas fair. We get separated, I wait for her, look for her, finally give up and go home by 3:15. And she's home already.
Online, tried to US-notarize a document, and ran into roadblocks.
Dora cooked a nice beef-and-gnocchi dinner.
Out at 6:45 or so, late for Dora to meet someone about doing esthetic medicine. Into Metro, connect at Verdaguer, and as Dora is getting onto the train, she manages to spill all of the credit cards and business cards and whatever out of her wallet onto the platform. We let the train go, people help her pick up everything, and then we spot her Visa card on the trackbed down below. Dora goes off to fetch official help, and within 15 minutes a guy has gone down and retrieved it, very efficient. I was afraid they'd have to call a maintenance crew or wait until the trains stopped running on Sunday night or something.
To Jaume I metro station, through Placa Jaume trundling two most-empty suitcases, one small and one huge. To a shop, and Dora goes in, and I kill some time walking around.
Half an hour later, she's out. We stop for bathroom and coffees and then salad in a coffee-shop. Then wander around La Rambla and old town for a while. Street art: pics. Finally into Drassanes metro and head home. Outside Sagrada Familia, into a cafe for tapas and a coffee. Home by 11:30 or so.
Finally out after noon. The critical package of documents (2nd try) hasn't been delivered to her old naighbor, the delivery service says they couldn't find the address. Metro to Virrei Amat and to see the neighbor. By then Dora has found address of delivery service office, and we grab the neighbor (an old lady) and into a taxi. Get a KM away and find the lady has forgotten to bring her ID. We keep going anyway. Office is way down near Marina metro. Get there a couple of minutes before 1, when they close.
Dora plows in and gets the new envelope, and then gives them a 30-minute tirade about how someone stole documents from the previous envelope. Nothing anyone can say will stop her. Old lady ducks out after 10 minutes or so, into Metro and back home.
Finally we're out at 1:30 or so. Search for a bathroom for Dora, then to Metro, then she needs another bathroom. Then into Metro and to Jaume I.
Find a nice restaurant "Wok Bao" and have a good, long lunch. Dora sorting through lots of documents. Then another 10-minute bathroom stop.
Out, over to govt building in Placa Sant Miguel. She gets all the padrons done, but not her digital certificate. That makes her furious, and she scrawls a big angry complaint and stamps the form 6 times with her doctor's stamp.
Out, and through crowded streets. Find "Travelers Bar", and have coffees and tapas.
Out, and through VERY crowded streets, a bit lost. Into Pi church, and Dora wants holy water but there is none. Up jammed streets, and she disappears into a store. I wait and wait, no sign of her. Eventually I call, she says she's in the church, I go there, no sign of her. Call again, she meant a different church half a mile away on La Rambla. Go to La Rambla, takes us 10 minutes to find each other. Now I'm furious. I'm not going to spend all my life waiting for her and trundling her suitcases full of documents.
Into Metro, we're both furious, she won't sit near me. Same walking home on the streets. Home by 8:45.
Before 10, I'm out for a walk, and I stop in a store to buy one grocery item. Home later, things a bit better between Dora and me. pics. Home by 3. Out briefly before 4 to grocery store for a few items.
Dora is at some all-day church thing, trying to get in good with the priest so they'll pull some strings about the niece's school. I cooked chicken and pasta for my dinner. Dora home at 8:10, and I'm irritated that she took a taxi instead of the Metro.
Out at 8:55 or so, a little late to see the Barca game starting at 8:45. But within a couple of blocks we found a bar where we could sit at a table just below the huge TV screen. I had to look up a little awkwardly, but otherwise it was fine. Beer for me, coffee for Dora, two plates of tapas, and it was a fun game. Barca won 2-0. Out, hit an ATM, home by 10:50, tired.
Raining. I'm out to supermarket for groceries, then home, then to Metro. To office to try to pay the fine she incurred last week, but they say it's been filed as a civil offense, can't pay it at the Metro office. I don't know if that means go to a police station or a court, and the notice is going to an address where we can no longer retrieve the mail, so that's a problem. Home after 11.
Finally out before 11:45. Rainy. Metro, and when we connect at Verdaguer, something interesting happens. A ticket-checking stop, and Dora smartly takes the opportunity to show the fine-form to one of the inspectors. He says it's not a fine, it's just something (a complaint, maybe) that the security guard wrote on a Metro form. We shouldn't hear anything more about it. That would be nice; I'll have to double-check this.
To Jaume I, and along the way Dora discovers her cita is for 12:15, not 12:30 as she told me. So we arrive at the govt office about 8 minutes late, but soon we're in. And then Dora has to scramble for her papers; you'd think she'd have them ready after lounging all morning. The clerk gives her some well-deserved grief for not following procedures; she should have applied online before coming here. But she gets her digital certificate application in; should get notified in a week or so.
Out, and we should be on time to her family-doctor appointment at 1:30. But then she takes a 15-20 minute bathroom break, then dawdles outside the building talking on the phone. Eventually to the Metro, to Llucmajor, and longish walk down to the health center.
Where it's SNAFU. Up to her family doctor, no luck there, back downstairs, they say her cita was for this morning, not now. To another doctor, who can't or won't do anything. Back down to reception, then up to see the director. Up to her family doctor again, she gets in to him, but no luck, he won't do anything. Down to reception, then to some administrator, who is helpful but says the paperwork might take a month. So she comes out mad and in pain and with no new prescriptions. It's late and we're tired and hungry.
Up the street to a kebab shop for lunch/dinner. Food is good but my Chicken Tikka Massala is about 1/3 as big as shown on the menu.
Out, and in search of a copy shop. Down to mail counter in El Corte Ingles, but their copier is giving terrible results. Out and along Piferrer, and stumble upon a new shop, part machine-shop and part copy-shop.
Where Dora goes nuts, making 3-4 copies of every document she has, every ID card she has, half of the files on her pen-drive. Takes well over an hour, and costs me €101. And the suitcase and bag I've been lugging are 50% heavier now.
Two doors down to a farmacia, and Dora has good luck, coming away with a big haul of medicines and stuff for €53 of my money.
Down the street a block, and into a nice coffee shop. Coffees and pastries and cookies and relaxation.
Eventually out, longish walk up to Virrei Amat metro, take it to Sagrada Familia. Home after 9:45.
Online, I get a cita for Dora's family doctor in Jerez, for her sister to go and get an important paper. Then Dora tells me the paper has to go to INEM afterward, and miraculously I get a cita for INEM 40 minutes after the doctor cita.
Late dinner of chicken and pasta.
To bed around 1 AM.
Out by 9:45, late for our 10 AM cita at Consorci. Got there by 10:10, had to wait 15+ minutes, then Dora talked about schools with the lady. No spots left at the good private-religious schools, so she didn't make any decision about the niece.
Out, and stopped in a nice cafe for a while. Then walked quite a ways, including into a law office for a while, to find a notary which was close to where we started. [Along the way, Dora dropped her €750 phone, and it landed on the face, but the €15 protector she bought a week ago took the force and cracked badly, saving the phone.] In there for a while, and they said the power-of-attorney usually takes 3 days, but they'll have it for us by 3 this afternoon.
Out, and after some wandering found a nice Indian restaurant, Surfa. Nice lunch/dinner there.
To the notary, and had to wait 30+ minutes. Paid €60 and got the document.
Back to the placa, and into a copy shop for a while.
Into Metro, and to Marina stop, and to MRW shipping store, same one where Dora complained bitterly a couple of days ago. We're in a little after 5, and I figure we'll make it to our 6 PM lawyer appointment comfortably.
But Dora has a meltdown, standing at the counter and writing about 15 pages of complaints, I think [later, she told me I was wrong, she was writing cover-letters to various officials in Jerez about the medical documents]. A solid 90 minutes and she still hasn't sent the documents which have to be in Sanlucar tomorrow. Any time I ask what she's doing or ask her to finish, she bites my head off. Eventually she sends the package of documents. She's into the bathroom, then comes out to announce she forgot to send a couple of documents, which she has to fill out first. So another 45 minutes or so. We're in there for 2 hours and 45 minutes ! Out before 9. I've had enough of this. I'm stuck with her for the next 6 weeks or so as we go to the north for Christmas and then back to Barcelona to get her sister's apartment then to Jerez to move out there, but then something has to change.
Now that she wasted time, she wants to take a taxi to the lawyer, but I insist on the Metro. To F-i-P, walk to lawyer's office, and in. By the time we get there, she's furious again, from talking to her mother on the phone, they're flip-flopping again about moving to Barcelona, complaining about everything Dora has done. She wants to chuck it all out the window, but we have only one more cita to go to for the move, picking a school for the niece.
Lawyer is busy with another client, but Dora starts laying out all the photocopies she made last night, they all have to be sorted. She 3/4-fills his waiting room with papers all over the floor.
Eventually the other client leaves, and Dora starts handing documents to the lawyer. Although she berated me for asking her to do the eviction papers first, the lawyer asks for them first, so that's good.
But he ends up taking only 1/20th or so of all the copies we made. Some others are for hospital, some for Dora. Finally he's done for the day, we have to get out. Remaining papers back into suitcase, and out.
Dora wants a cafe and a farmacia, but in the end gets just a bathroom stop and buys an apple in a cafe. Home after 10:30.
Online, reserved a cheap hotel room for Dora's son for one night as he comes through Barcelona on the 21st.
Up after 9:45. Online, hotel reservation I made got cancelled for some reason. Made another reservation with different hotel. Out to Consum for groceries.
Long list of errands we could do today, but somehow Dora is not moving. Eventually we're out around 3 to get more groceries, but instead we go to a kebab shop for dinner. Dora falling asleep at the table. To supermarket and home before 4.
And the laundry, which I told Dora not to overload, has failed to spin and dry, and the landlady is mad at us for doing lauindry twice in one week. A big mop-up job to get it onto the lines.
Dora going out at 5:30, to look at an apartment, and to go to a pharmacy. Didn't get to the school or the hospital today.
I went out after Dora, to try to catch up with her at the apartment. But missed her, she went back home, I went back home too. Then we went out. Stopped at a longerie shop for Dora, and I went into the locutorio next door and printed a document. To Metro, and to Vall d'Hebron. To a farmacia, and I parked in the bar next door and had a beer and watched the last 30+ minutes of a Real Madrid game, while Dora did her pharmacy business. She came to fetch me and I gave her another €30 to go with the €70 I gave her earlier.
Out of there, and the pharmacy closed as we left. To ATM for more cash. To other pharmacy, where Dora got more stuff [but later found out it was wrong]. To restaurant for coffees and tapas.
Eventually out, long Metro ride home with Dora sleeping. Home by 10:40.
Dora on late-night call to Sanitas private insurance company, and scheduled tests for tomorrow.
Dora finally ready to go at 10:50, and now we're ina hurry, she wants to take a taxi instead of Metro, and she's mad at me for wanting 2 minutes to shut down my computer. She goes out, and I barely catch up to her on the street. Taxi to Sanitas medical clinic. In and wait about 40 minutes to see a doctor.
She told me she had another medical appointment today at 1:15, but now she says that's for tomorrow.
Dora sorting through a heap of documents, wanting to give things to the doctor, not finding what she wants, he doesn't want most of it. I leave the room while she's examined. Then she's out, and soon to X-ray.
We're out at 12:55. Up the street to a radiology clinic to see about getting an MRI, €500 and they can't do it today. Dora has a friend in another radiology place that might be able to do it today and for cheaper.
To a shop for stationery, then to a Peruvian restaurant for lunch. Out after 3, and Metro to home. Home by 3:30.
Out after 4:30. Long Metro ride to Vall d'Hebron, then I got us off at wrong stop for the school. Back on, off, school is letting out, loads of students and parents. To the front reception desk, and they won't let Dora see the director, they say he's not there and they don't know if he'll be in tomorrow, but she doesn't believe it.
Back to Metro station cafe, and Dora is messaging about getting an MRI tonight. Her friend say there's a discount available through a web site, but it takes us 3 or 4 credit cards before one will work. MRI scheduled for midnight (!). [Later, Dora said really scheduled for midnight-20.]
Out of cafe, need an emergecy bathroom stop, eventually find another cafe with a bathroom. Coffee and a sandwich there.
Into Metro, 2 stops to Vall d'Hebron. First to one farmacia, then to another where they won't take back the wrong thing they gave us yesterday (some back tomorrow morning when the owner is here !), back to first farmacia, buy another €70 of stuff.
Into Metro, long ride home, home by 9. Tired.
Out around 11:40. To Metro, L5 to Sants Estacio. Connected to L3, and we might have gotten the last train before the line closed for the night. To Maria Cristina, and longish walk up to the Sanitas clinic. In, downstairs, eventually found Reception.
Dora into the imaging area at 12:50. I lounged and listened to MP3s and felt tired. Dora out again at 1:55. She had a dorsal MRI and a lumbar MRI for €300 total.
Somewhere in here, I find out that not only did Dora reactivate her old private (Sanitas) insurance that had been lapsed for 2 years, but she has put me and her son on it too. For a total of €280 per month. Would have been nice for her to ask me first. If I stay in the NHS too, I'll be paying another €60 per month for that. Seems like a lot of money to me, but I guess by USA standards it's not.
Walked back down to Avinguda Diagonal. Debated taking a taxi, but the N12 bus came in 5 minutes and we took it. Reasonable ride to Placa Catalunya, then a tough time finding the stop for the N9 bus, and we got unlucky and had to wait 15+ minutes for it.
Home by 3:30 AM. To bed by 4.
Out at 9:30 or so, but then Dora stopped in the Metro station for a coffee and a long conversation with someone on the phone. So we were 10 minutes late for our cita at Consorci, and had to wait half an hour to be seen. Then it took an hour at the counter, surprising to me. Somehow we found out a new rule on our 3rd or 4th visit to here: you have to live or work near the school to enroll children in it, so the fancy school Dora wanted in Sarria is out of bounds. She signed up the niece for a school pretty close to the sister's apartment here. Now we have to go there and put down a deposit and do paperwork and hope everything is okay. They probably won't like it that we didn't talk to them first.
We take the Metro to F-i-P, and I thought medical paperwork and then medical blood test for Dora were the key items. But she goes into a bank and spends almost 2.5 hours there. Okay, her ATM card PIN needed to be reset or something. But then she found out the guy would change her pension/insurance funds, which she'd been trying to do for years, so she did that and just spent hours doing it, wrecking the plans for the day.
Out, and to lunch in Heron City Center. We're starved and cold and falling asleep. First course is good, second course just okay, desserts are terrific. Dora's eyes keep closing, and I'm tired. I start taking pictures when she falls asleep in mid-writing. Pics. To be fair, her sleepiness is aided by medicines. But when I try to get her out and to the medical clinic, she wants to sit and write Christmas cards ! This is our last weekday here before Christmas, we have lot of important errands to do.
Finally we get out, and next door to the mailing counter. Slow line, I want to skip it, but Dora jumps it and tries to hand in 6 or 8 stamped Christmas cards. She finds out all the stamps are wrong. We leave.
To medical clinic, and we spend about 2.5 hours there. Dora gets her whole family registered on the health system, and my paperwork to transfer my registration is started, apparently. Eventually Dora gets seen by a family doctor, and gets a bunch of prescriptions that will let her get money back on stuff she already bought. But a key piece of paper that will qualify her for unemployment payments is stuck in limbo between Andalucia and Catalunya, maybe sabotaged by her doctor back in Andalucia.
Out, and it's a struggle to get home. To mailing counter in El Corte Ingles, send a bunch of cards, with me correcting addresses and gluing flaps and the lady correcting postage and Dora trying to write more cards on the spot. Out, and heading for Metro, but Dora stops twice to talk with friends, stops in a phone shop for new case and protector for her phone, wants to stop in a cafe, wants to go into stores. Sole falls off her right shoe, but she says she can walk fine without it. I keep pushing her along; we need to get home. Finally into the Metro at Virrei Amat.
Home before 9:30. Took a Migrapac. Dora starts cooking up a storm, when all she should do is heat up the big pot of quinoa and meat she cooked yeaterday.
Dora is pleased with our progress today, but we failed to: get to the school to register, get to the pharmacy, get her MRI report, get her blood test done.
Dora out before 11:30, mad at me for not going with her. Seems she's mainly going to the beauty parlor, although for some reason she's trundling a whole suitcase of documents with her. And then I think she's going to some religious meeting/dinner, which certainly I do not want to go to.
I loafed, did internet, napped, enjoyed the peace and quiet. Dora back before 2:30.
Big dinner of quinoa, rice, chicken, kiwi fruit.
Out with Dora at 5:40 or so. Metro, connect, out at Liceu on La Rambla. Up 3 or 4 blocks to church, she's going to some dinner nearby associated with the church. Dinner with some couple and nuns and priests. She wants me to go, but no thanks.
I wander down La Rambla to the harbor, but it's too cold to really enjoy. Up past Museu Maritim and towards Rambla Raval, and then there are lots of police and fire trucks etc. Something burned at upper end of Rambla Raval. More trucks arriving as I got back to Liceu. Into metro and home.
Right back out, and looking for a place to print tomorrow's bus tickets. Took a while to find a place. Home by 8:05.
Found a bunch of malware on the USB drive I took to the printing place.
Dora still not home by midnight-thirty. She finally arrived at 1:45. She had a good time at the church-thing, lots of interesting people she could relate to. She chatters away and we don't get to sleep until about 2:30.
And she's gone all morning. We're supposed to be out by noon at the latest; the landlady would like us out sooner, but we have to kill 10+ hours until our bus to the north, so we want to stay here as long as possible.
I get antsy as the time gets to 11, then 11:30. Dora not responding to messages. And I've been warning her for days that our stuff will not fit into our suitcases; she's been buying coats and other stuff here in Barcelona, and our already-too-much stuff has grown by 50%.
Before noon, I start piling stuff into suitcases and bags, and move it out into the entranceway. Surrender the keys to the landlady's husband. Out of the room by 12:10 or so. Still no Dora.
No Dora until 1:10. And instantly she's mad at me for not packing properly or something, and maybe because some other stuff didn't go well this morning, I don't know. She packs, while fuming at me, and she's packing some stuff I would just abandon here, food and shampoo and such.
Finally we're out of the apartment by 1:45 or so. We have so much stuff that it has to be moved in relays, once person guarding the keys bags holding our money and documents and such while the other person shuttles the big suitcases and bags.
Down through the elevator and out to the sidewalk. Hail a taxi pretty easily. Load it up and off to her church association near Liceu on La Rambla. Takes 5 or 10 minutes to get someone to come out and open up, but we're able to move our stuff into their entranceway and leave it there for the afternoon.
Down a block or two, and into "365" restaurant. Settle into comfy chairs and start buying food. Plug in the chargers, start using the Wi-Fi, use the bathrooms. We're in no hurry to go anywhere.
But Dora has an appointment to meet a priest at 4, so she's off to that. I sit in the restaurant, guarding a couple of bags of our stuff, using the Wi-Fi, dozing a bit.
Around 5:30, she calls, and I go to meet her at the church association. She has our stuff out in the street already. But it takes us a good 45 minutes to get a taxi, especially because we need a big one. Finally off to the bus station.
Taxi dumps us out across the street from the station, and we have to relay the stuff across and down an elevator and into a cafe inside the station. I'm not hungry, but Dora is.
We sit in there until the place closes at 9. More waiting, until bus arrives and starts loading at 10:30. Dora furious at me again; I'm not loading the luggage the way she wants, but she can't tell me how she wants it, etc. Finally onto the bus and it departs at about 10:50.
Free Wi-Fi on board, but the lighting and charging systems aren't working, so can't use the Wi-Fi much. Through the city to Sants Estacio, then out of the city. Brief stop at Lleida. Pretty comfortable trip, except the people in front of us recline their systems as far as possible, forcing us to do the same. Half-hour stop at Zaragoza; Dora orders a bunch of drinks, too much.
Change of driver, and the new one gets the AV system working. Now we have USB power for charging phones, and I can use the Wi-Fi.
Onto a bus to Ampuero, and it drops us off 15-20 minutes later. We're about 4-5 blocks from our destination, it turns out, but half of it is uphill, and we have to relay all this heavy stuff. No taxis available. So I do most of the relaying, and we get there and a neighbor lets us into the house.
Everything into the house by 9:25.
Nice house, but Dora says there is no internet here (major bummer). And can't get the heat turned on; have to send a message to Dora's sister to find out how. Fiddled with a thermostat and got the radiators heating up, but the house is dead cold, so it will take a while to warm up.
Dora made an egg-toast-hotdog breakfast.
Now I'm told there IS internet. Found a Jazztel box, powered it on, got connected.
Out around 1:30. Long walk into town of Ampuero. We're between towns here, and really need a car for most things, especially in this cold, damp, slightly windy weather. Apparently bull-fighting is big here: pics. To Correos, and stuck behind one woman whose operation took a long time. Mailed Christmas cards.
To a shop to buy more cards, then a cafe for bathrooms and coffees and sandwiches. Dora falling asleep as she writes cards, and I'm having trouble keeping my eyes open too.
To Dia for groceries. Out, and decided to wait for a bus instead of walking. Waited 10+ minutes for the bus, got on, and found it took us only about 1/2 of the way before dumping us off. There's a govt stop right at our turnoff, but apparently this bus doesn't stop there. Home by 3:45, hauling the groceries, Dora home before 4, talking on the phone.
She's on the phone to the niece's new school in Barcelona, and the news is good. We're getting a bunch of questions answered, the school is cooperative, tuition is low, etc.
I take a shower and crash for a nap.
Up at 6:30, to find bad news: Dora's parents and niece are traveling from Sanlucar to here today, and missed their connection in Barcelona because her father wandered off and got lost in the airport. They're arriving only a couple of hours later, but that blows up the arrangements to meet them at Bilbao airport and get them to here in Ampuero, because they have to go Bilbao-Laredo-Ampuero, and buses stop running after a certain time, and people have to work tomorrow morning, etc. I bought the airline tickets for them, and marked everything as "they need assistance in the airport", but maybe I should have said that forcefully to Dora's sister, or maybe the airline dropped the ball, or maybe they refused help, I don't know.
And Dora is wiped out, falling asleep, unable to monitor the situation very well. Her sister and brother-in-law in Bilbao will have to fix it.
Then suddenly everything is fine: brother-in-law arrives at 8:55 with car full of people and luggage. He has sacrificed his sleeping time before working a shift early tomorrow.
Greetings, food, talk, food, talk.
Suddenly the four other people (Dora, parents, niece) are in the kitchen as I'm getting my cereal, and they're talking loudly. I'm grumpy in the morning; I like a quiet munch while I do computer and slowly wake up. Here we have a whole house, but in Barcelona we're (all plus sister) planning to stay in sister's apartment together for at least a month or two. I don't know if I can survive that.
Out at 1 or so, Dora and her father and niece and I. Long walk down to Ampuero. To a bank, to open an account for Dora's father, and I used the ATM. To Correos, where Dora kept us waiting almost 45 minutes as she filled out Christmas cards and mailed them. Pic. To a cafe, where the niece consumed a huge amount of sweets and drinks. To Dia for groceries. Hauled them home by 4:40. Dora stayed in town, in a beauty parlor.
Headachey again; took an ibuprofen-codeine packet.
Dora not home until 8:40. Now she has straight straight straight hair.
Took a sumatriptan. Before bed, took a Nolotil and a vitamin C.
Much more serious: renters in Barcelona are saying they might not get out on Dec 31. We're arriving Jan 2 and 4, niece starts school Jan 8, so this would be a major problem. Dora trying to call the lawyer, furious that he isn't answering. The renters also are threatening to terminate the utilities, and it might take us weeks to get them turned on again. I half-expected this to happen. AirBNB for a month would cost us $1700 or more.
Dora gave me some anti-flu pill. Then she and I and her father walked to town. To bank, to Correos, to sewing shop, father bought groceries. Pics. I hauled everything home, while they stayed in town (probably to hit a cafe).
Headachey again; took an ibuprofen-codeine packet.
Ribs and rice for dinner. Then Dora out in car to visit someone in a psychiatric hospital. I took paracetamol-plus, and laid down for a nap. Still have headache later; took Nolotil.
Dora home after 8:30. I'm feeling lousy; she gives me a bunch of pills and a hot drink, I go to bed, and eventually start feeling a little better.
Then a mess. Heat is not working, and as I get up to ask Dora about it again, she's cooking in the kitchen and has managed to fill the kitchen with choking smoke, and the smoke-alarms go off. She thinks it's funny, but no one else does. Open doors to clear the smoke, house is colder than ever, and eventually the alarms stop.
Finally figure out the lack of heat. The water-heater in the kitchen provides hot water for both sinks/showers and the radiators, and it's stopped working. Fiddle around, and find that the electric wall-switch near it is bizarre: flipped one way, the stove fan works; flipped the other way, the water-heater works. We flipped it to "fan" during dinner today, and never flipped it back. Why in the world the switch is wired this way, shared between the two, is a mystery. House starts heating up, and I start feeling a bit better with the heat.
Still have a headache later. I take a sumatriptan, and 6 more pills that Dora gives me.
Finally got Dora to call the lawyer in Barcelona repeatedly until she got through. We need the renters out of the apartment there by Jan 2 when we arrive, less than 2 weeks from now. And apparently the lawyer hasn't been doing anything. Now he says, send €1500 today and he'll do the eviction. So we have to scramble to get the money and send it. Lovely.
Out before noon, Dora and I and father and niece. I'm amazed that Dora plans to walk to Ampuero, do stuff there, then catch a bus to Bilbao. We're starting way too late in the day to do all of that.
We walk into Ampuero, I get cash at ATM, we send €1000 to the lawyer (turns out Dora said the amount wrong because her mother was listening; don't ask). To sewing shop, then to Dia to pick up the turkey we ordered, and her father headed home with it. To sewing shop again, then to bus stop, and it's clear the bus to Laredo runs every 90 minutes or so, not every 30 as Dora said, and we missed one 12-20 minutes ago. Into bank and the cafe, get Wi-Fi, find out many buses to/from Bilbao today are full. We decide to go tomorrow, not today. Lounge in the cafe, then hurry to Correos to mail several Christmas cards (the last, I hope). Home just after 3.
Around 3:30, a total power failure in the house. I'm pretty sure the guys working on the power on the house next door have caused it. None of our breakers have tripped. One of the guys comes in to look. Later I find out he said the humidity did it, he just turned the breakers off and back on and everything worked. But Dora said she was running washing machine, microwave and oven at the same time. So maybe that did it, without tripping breakers ? Weird. Or maybe there's another breaker-box somewhere that I don't know about ?
Headache and feeling bad in the evening. Various pills, capped with Nolotil late in the night.
Arrived there, 20 minutes in coffee shop and bathrooms, then bus to Bilbao. Arrived around 9:15. Soon hooked up with Dora's son (who flew in from Barcelona) and her middle sister (who came by bus from Jerez). We weren't sure if they were going to head to Ampuero, but they decided to put their luggage in storage and spend the day with us in Bilbao.
So, after food and bathrooms, to the Metro. Two stops, and up and into El Corte Ingles. Then about 2 hours of mostly-waiting while we ordered school uniforms for the niece, to be picked up at their store near our apartment in a week or more. I paid €290; hope they are good for a couple of years.
Out and down the street to another half of the Corte Ingles, this time to order books for the niece for school. Long wait, lots of delay getting the book-list from the school. Most of our group bailed and went to the Starbucks on the ground floor. Dora and I stayed until it was confirmed that most of the books are not available, we'll have to try bookstores in Barcelona. Down to Starbucks.
Eventually the third/youngest sister showed up, from work nearby. Out onto the street, and it's like herding cats. I expected son and youngest sister to head off to Ampuero in the car, but instead we're going into shops, looking for a restaurant, no one sure what we're doing. And all the restaurants are full at this hour. Finally Dora and I peel off and go our own way.
Several blocks down toward the old town, looking into 6 or 8 restaurants. Eventually find one with a basement area that is mostly empty. Decent food, not too pricey, and we can relax a little.
Out before 5, and into a nearby arts/cultural center (Azkuna Zentroa) that's pretty interesting-looking, but all concrete and quite cold. Bathroom stop, some pictures, then it's time to head for the Metro. I'm tired and falling asleep.
To Metro, two stops to bus station, find niece and middle sister right away. Soon onto the bus. I try to sleep most of the way to Laredo. Quick connect, onto bus to Ampuero. Off that bus near home, leave the sisters with the heavy luggage to be picked up by car, and niece and I walk home, getting there before the car. Home before 7:30. Tired.
And the house is a bit of a madhouse, with the two 3.5-year-old twins in residence now, with their parents too. Now 11 of us here. And two enormous turkeys in the fridge.
Still slightly headachey; took a paracetamol-plus. To bed early, partly to get some peace.
3/4 of the way through my breakfast, and suddenly Dora says they're waiting for us outside in the car. Head out, into car, off to a big mall near Santander. Do some Christmas shopping, home by 1:15 or so.
Watched first half of El Clasico football game (Barca vs Real Madrid) on a laptop, with various pauses and freezes.
I crashed for a nap, missed the second half of the game. Just as well; sister's husband here is a serious Madrid fan, I'm a Barca fan, and Barca scored 3 goals to win 3-0, he's not happy.
Dinner, and various frictions. We ate the bread the sister's husband wanted, niece arguing with Dora about something, people getting on each other's nerves. Finally things quieted down, niece went out, sister agreed to turn on the heat in the house, twins went to sleep.
Out after 6 with Dora. Walked into Ampuero, through grey and wet and foggy and still streets. To sewing shop and picked up a couple of coats that had new buttons sewn onto them. To a supermercado; eye-catching advertisement there: pic. To a panderia for bread. Tried to find anywhere to buy Christmas cards and/or a charger for a laptop, failed. Sat in a bus stop until I got tired of waiting for Dora to move, and started walking home. Intercepted by sister and husband in car, declined a ride, then they picked up Dora, then intercepted again and got in and we went home before 7:30. I stayed, Dora and other sister went out with them in the car again.
At home, watching TV with the twins, dancing with the twins, etc. They say I talk funny, because my Spanish is pathetic.
Online, reserved hotel room in Barcelona for 2 days. Not sure what situation we're going to find when we arrive there, in terms of occupying the sister's apartment. So we'd better have somewhere to stash the luggage and sleep, while we're trying to sort out the apartment.
Some dinner at 5 or so.
Pic. Dinner starting around 11:30. Many people eating different things: Dora and I each got a huge turkey drumstick, and most of the southern crew eating some turkey, but the northerners seem to go for pork or something else. A couple of plates of big grilled shrimp; delicious. We drank a couple of bottles of sparkling wine.
To bed by 2 or so. Pics.
Out around noon with Dora and niece and sister. Walked to Ampuero. Into Santander bank. Then to a cafe. Took another paracetamol. Then to sewing shop. Then Dia for groceries. I hauled them home while Dora went to Correos. Dora home an hour later; everything was closed.
Gas repairman came, and found something wrong with the heater. Needs a new part, maybe fixed in 2 days.
Middle sister left around 5, taking buses back to Sanlucar.
Out at 10 to meet Dora coming home in the rain from Ampuero.
Windy outside before midnight.
Before 11, Dora comes out of shower and suddenly announces she's late to meet someone in town. If she'd told me earlier, I could have showered first and gone with her to carry her bags.
Before noon, raining and a pretty good clap of thunder.
Before 2, Dora finally answers my messages, says she's in town and forgot to take the important legal documents she needs to send. So I suit up and head out. No rain for first 1/2 KM, then some rain. Cold.
To Correos, Dora is there, I wait while she sends things, we pay €82. Out after closing, to cafe in center. Dora wants to dawdle, but I want to head home before it starts raining again. We go fairly soon, but get caught in hail and heavy rain. I'm soaked to the knees by the time I get home, at 3:30 or so.
Dora and I forgot about an appointment she had in Laredo at 5. She had to do it by phone instead, I think.
Horsing around and helping the niece to do some gymnastics, she manages to fall on my chest and I think I may have a small crack in a rib or two.
Dora finally got through to the lawyer in Barcelona, he has filed some eviction papers, but I doubt the renters will be out when we arrive on Jan 2. We have a hotel for 2 nights, but then niece and Dora's parents arrive on Jan 4. Might have to scramble to find somewhere to stay.
Then Dora announces she has a nail appointment at 10, and by 10:10 she's still not out the door. She has to be in Laredo by 12 or 12:30, which means catching the 11 AM bus.
Weather grey, cold and raining.
Dora out around 10:20. I shave with hot water from the stove, skip the shower. Shoes still fairly wet from yesterday. Out around 10:50. Down to bus stop at car workshop, through rain. Bus arrives after 11, fortunately Dora is on it, we're off to Laredo.
Sit in Laredo bus station and have coffees and nibbles while Dora does some paperwork. Then to doctor's office around 12:20, and she's out at 1.
To Correos next door, and I fork over €160 to pay off a six-year-old debt that Dora has on her record. [But later she shows me another one for €322 that she can't even find out who she owes it to.] To a nail salon, they're busy, come back later. To farmacia through rain and wind.
Look for restaurant, most are closed, find one, go upstairs. Menu del dia comes with an entire bottle of red wine for the two of us. Good food, and I drink well more than half the bottle of wine, which is a lot for me. Pics. We wobble out after 2:45, and to nail salon.
I wait and snooze while Dora has her nails done, and pay €20 for it. Hustle to bus station through wind and rain, and get the 4 PM bus with 4-5 minutes to spare. Not raining in Ampuero; home by 4:30.
I get online and find buses to Bilbao are sold out until 11:40. Dora says okay, do that. I buy tickets for them on the 11:40 bus, Dora into shower, I guess they're going to take the 9:30 bus out of Ampuero. Also buy connector tickets for Dora and I to leave on Monday. Also do bank-transfer of €200 to pay for niece's schoolbooks.
Gas repairman showed up at 8:15 as promised. Heater seems to be working by 8:35.
At last minute, Dora has me buy more bus tickets, back from Bilbao tonight. Then at VERY last minute at 9:25, Dora and son dash out to the 9:30 bus to Laredo, they might miss it. But by 10 they weren't back, so I guess they caught it.
I go back to bed at 10:30, up at noon. Some hot water for the shower, but it's still not working well, lots of cold water too.
Walked into Ampuero around 1, to hit ATM and then get groceries at Dia. Nice day.
Playing with the twins in the street and yard. Exhausting, and they like to pick up the most dangerous things they can find and bash them into other things.
Heat not working at all by evening. Need the repairman again. And later I found windows open in both bathrooms; no wonder we're cold.
Out at 9:15, met bus from Laredo at 9:20. Dora and Bryan got off, with not much lugagge. Her sister stayed late in Bilbao; not sure if or how she's going to get home tonight. And their day in Laredo and Bilbao was a fiasco, like many of my days with Dora: stayed late in beauty parlor, so missed bus to Bilbao, got tickets changed for little money, but the government office that was their main reason for going was closed by the time they got there. More time wasted as they went back and forth in Bilbao, and Dora spending more money and time in a pharmacy buying stuff. Her son is exasperated, waste of his day. Welcome to my life.
And despite my messages to Dora, son and sister at 6:30, no one called the gas repairman, the sister will call tomorrow. Argh !
Dora cooked food for us, and between cooking and hair-dryers upstairs, the breakers tripped again.
Sister arrived home around 10:15. I think she didn't call the gas repair earlier because she assumed we weren't operating the heater properly. But soon she realized it's faulty. Called the company.
Then she's calling me to breakfast at 5:30 ! I get up at 5:45, eat the breakfast, find out she expects me and her and sister and son to catch 7:45 bus to Laredo and then a train to Santander to do shopping for the New Year's Holiday ! No, I'm not going, and I'll be amazed if the son goes. I do the dishes and go back to bed.
Dora comes in every hour or so to try to get me up, and to announce that plans have slipped, plans have changed. And she says the gas repairman won't come until Tuesday; if he came earlier, we'd have to pay another €45 for an emergency call. Eventually Dora is going out by herself at 9 or so, to the center of Ampuero.
Ribs still protesting a bit if I lie on my stomach in bed. Have to haul a lot of heavy luggage on Monday and Tuesday; hope it's not a problem.
I get up at 9:30. Somehow the heat is working, and there's a bucket of warm water in the shower. I shave and sponge-shower.
I find out that a gas repairman came this morning, replaced something, didn't charge for the service call.
In the afternoon, low batteries in the thermostat, heat not working again because of that.
Around 1:45, played with the twins, then went for a walk down to Limpias. As I got back at 2:30, Dora was getting into a taxi to Laredo; the afternoon buses don't run today because it's Saturday.
Dora coming back around 7:20, but it took me 3 trips to the bus stop area and lots of waiting before we finally connected and got home by 8:30 or so. She missed her stop on the way in, then took the next bus back out, but stood in the shadows so I didn't find her.
Played videogames with the niece, then she wanted some yoga/gymnastics, and the muscles on my hurt ribs went "ping" when I lifted her, she's too heavy and I'm too old for that. Took an ibuprofen; I had a headache anyway.
Online, bought plane tickets for Dora and I to go back to Jerez in second half of January, to close out our apartment there.
Out after noon with Dora, walked into Ampuero. I thought we were going to just two places, but she kept adding to the list as we went. Stopped at Caixa ATM, picked up coats at sewing shop, Dia is closed, groceries at Lupa, hauled them home by 1:45.
Very good news from the lawyer in Barcelona: the renters there have surrendered the keys to him. So the 5 of us arriving there this week (in two stages) will have an apartment to live in. Now to arrange the utilities and furniture.
Headache, and ribs aching: took an ibuprofen. Dinner. Nap.
Long wait for the big dinner at 11 or so. Finally we cheated and several of us started filling plates and eating. Five minutes later the rest came down from upstairs and we all had dinner. Mostly chicken and pork and a potato salad and deviled eggs.
At midnight, watched a countdown on TV, hugs all around, sparkling wine, wishes for a good new year. Lots of loud bangs outside, none right in our street, but certainly lots within a mile or two.
Then gathering suitcases and going outside for a walk, in a wish for traveling in the coming year. I've had enough of traveling for a while (Peru, Vienna, Jerez, Barcelona, Ampuero, soon Barcelona, Jerez, back to Barcelona). So as a joke I carried the smallest bag I could find, my little toiletries kit, in hopes of "not much traveling this year". Dora and sister and niece and me. Cold outside. Some nice aerial fireworks in the direction of Ampuero as we neared the top of the street. To the main street corner and back.
Then Dora wants to walk into the center of Ampuero to join some festivities, but I'm getting into bed. I thought she went out with her sister, but an hour later she comes into the room and says she didn't go anywhere, no one was willing to go with her.