With the benefit of hindsight, it was a tad out of order for me to moan endlessly about the prospect of returning to Spain just because I find the process a pain. And, yes, I admit to turning into a modern day “Mary Mary Quite Contrary” – how does your garden grow? Uh, I dunno! I understand why the long-suffering lady in the Poohaven Post Office gave me a filthy look when, shortly before swapping countries, I moaned loudly about the Pound/Euro exchange rate and the cost of groceries in Espana. Give or take domestic warfare, kiddie tantrums and Sky box teething problems, at least it is sunny here!
My van, however, clearly isn’t as fond of Espana as the rest of the family. After its bout of entering into “limp mode” on the autovia, it has now sustained a few paint chips on the bonnet (how did that happen?) and it is eating diesel much faster than ever before. Could it be a faulty turbo, the air con consuming fuel like a demon or is ‘mi caminonetta azul’ staging a protest at winding mountain roads and ‘unmade’ tracks (that means “sh*tty, bumpy tracks” to anyone who doesn’t have delicate sensibilities).
A friend of mine who lives in Granada gleefully informed me that her husband - who has recently moved here from Cuba - has passed his Spanish driving test at second attempt. I was bemused to hear about the content of the test, which doesn’t feature a three point turn (this explains why Spanish motorists just can’t do a ‘proper’ turning manoeuvre) but it’s ever so heavy on theory. The candidates must answer stringent questions on all manner of topics such as “what are the effects of heroin and cocaine on the driver” and – my particular favourite – “what are the dimensions of the L plate”, which the driver is expected to display for a year after passing the test. If the candidate doesn’t know the exact dimension of their L plate, they fail the test and must start again. Talk about Spanish bureaucracy. Argh!
To my mind, it seems probable that many Spanish motorists have conducted first-hand research into the effects of cocaine on the driver, and possibly also the effects of Costa (similar to home-brewed sherry) and carajillos (brandy coffee). Judging by the number of bashed-up vehicles in my neighbourhood, the motorists are p*ssed, stoned or haven’t really done a test. Plus they park in particularly selfish places – for example, directly opposite tight bends and bollards – where other vehicles struggle to pass with their wing mirrors and panels intact. Surely these widespread practises are in contravention of the rigorous Spanish driving test. Si?
I once bought a Spanish-plated, second hand Peugeot for 1,500 Euros. This old banger, which was favourable on fuel consumption but spent more time in the garage than on the road, would have cost £200 in England. On the day of purchase, it was parked briefly on the street outside my house, opposite other parked vehicles, for the purpose of unloading. A passing motorist probably assessed that the gap was too narrow to drive through but instead of waiting for us to move the car or sounding his horn, he chanced it anyway and crunched both my passenger side panels, causing two huge dents. Is antisocial motoring behaviour taught in the theory test? I think not! So why is it de rigueur here?
Mi gusta Espana but the driving habits, as well as the sloth-like customer service (we’ll save that for another blog entry – betcha can’t wait!) can drive you round the bend. And my van was certainly happier in England - even if it’s alone in its capacity for preferring the M23 and the A27 to the winding road between Lanjaron and Orgiva.