Bureaucracy, bangers, bulls and a birthday

So, I haven’t really said too much so far about all the hoops I’ve been trying to jump through to get my residency status sorted out, mainly because it’s been stressful enough going through it all without writing about it as well.

To be honest, I’m not sure I can even remember everything that’s happened and if I’m certain of one thing, it’s that you don’t really want to know. Suffice to say that I have been backwards and forwards to various tax, census and Social Security offices numerous times over the last few weeks, always between 10 and 2 (because that’s when they’re open to the public) and therefore always on a Tuesday or a Thursday (because on the other weekdays I’m at my course).

Nothing works like you expect it to. Nobody seems to be able to give you a straight answer about anything. Any advice you get on the internet is likely to be useless when you actually get there because they seem to change the rules every five minutes (or maybe even make them up on the spot). In fact, you can speak to one person, go home to collect whatever they’ve said you need, then go back and speak to another person and be told something completely different.

In short, it’s a nightmare.

But the good news is that I have now got myself registered on the Padrón (the local census), signed up with the tax office and registered myself as self-employed as of 16thMarch. I probably need to let HMRC know as well but frankly, that’s bound to be a piece of cake in comparison.

So, I think I’ve now pretty much got everything in place to go for my residency appointment on Wednesday. I am not entirely convinced that they’ll grant it given that I’m not actually working yet and don’t have 15,000 euros in the bank (although again I’ve been quoted different figures ranging from 5,500 to 15,000!) but we shall see. I’ve been assured that if they do say no, it’s usually a ‘no, but…’ with a set period of time in which to appeal. And the Spanish delegate at the meeting with the British Consulate said that the key word is for Brits in Spain at the moment is ‘tranquilidad’. They’re trying to sort it out so we can all stay, he assured us. Let’s just hope the message has got through to the people on the ground.

On the other hand, if Brexit is delayed, that gives me a bit longer before I absolutely have to have all this sorted. Yeah, sure, you’re legally required to register after 90 days in the country, but at the moment if I leave and come back I’m scuppered. If we get an extension, that option is back on the table.

Anyway, I’m trying not to think too much about it. I’ve done what I can. I’ve got enough else to think about with my final CELTA teaching practice coming up, and worrying isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference.

It’s crazy to think that in a week, CELTA will all be over. I’m not quite sure where the time’s gone, but I can tell it is passing because not only has the workload been steadily mounting, but so has the number of firecrackers going off in the streets. 

Yes, Fallas is well and truly underway now. There’s a mascletà in the main square every day at 2pm and for the last two Saturdays there have also been mascletàs nocturnas at midnight. So, what’s a mascletà? Well, it’s basically a very noisy firework display. Generally, they seem to last around 6 minutes and get louder and more frenetic as they go on. Apparently, it’s all about feeling the rhythm… though personally, I’ve been a bit preoccupied by the sheer number of people crammed into the side streets around the square, and the possibility of the buildings collapsing! I’m sure they won’t, but one of the key elements of a mascletà is the terremoto or earthquake, when it really does feel like the ground is moving.

Yesterday’s Mascletà Nocturna

But it’s not just during the mascletàs that you have to worry about loud bangs. Oh no. Here, fireworks are for everyone, and especially for children, who are encouraged by their parents to set off firecrackers in the streets. And when I say firecrackers, I don’t just mean little tiny bangs like a Christmas cracker, oh no! The louder ones (which aren’t allowed to be used at night, apparently) are called ‘bombas’ and yes, they really do live up to their name!

Another thing I’ve had to get used to with Fallas being upon us is that there is a series of bullfights programmed at the Plaza de Toros, right near my flat. I can’t hear much of anything when I’m in my room (which is a good job, as I live next door to the station) but go outside when there’s a bullfight on and I can definitely hear the crowd clapping and cheering. It’s obviously a difficult subject and one I don’t want to get into too much, but I won’t be going. That doesn’t stop me having to hear about it though – just now one of my flatmates came back with a friend and they’ve been regaling my other flatmates with tales of how one of this afternoon’s bulls stabbed the matador in the leg.

But on a happier note, it was also my birthday this week and I had a fabulous night out. Only three of us ended up going but it was great fun. We ended up in an English bar (the first one I’ve ever been to in Valencia, I think) so that I could relive the karaoke days of my youth. We then had a long conversation in the street in Spanish (even though the two of us doing most of the talking are both English and the other is Dutch), proving once again that my fluency (or should that be my confidence?) increases with my alcohol intake. I eventually got home at 3.30am, but there were still queues of people waiting to get into some of the nightclubs. I’m not a proper Spaniard yet. 

Me and my birthday cava

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m constantly on the booze or anything, but I suspect I might be having another big night out at the end of this week.

And then? Watch this space.

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