Day 2 began the house hunting process. We had a couple of leads, but we were having some trouble getting in touch with them. So we headed out to find a couple of realtors and have meetings with them and try to see some properties.
Lesson #1 - Driving in a foreign country is not so easy. The car is smaller. The roads are WAY smaller. The street signs are also foreign and don't make immediate sense to us (what is the difference in a blue circle with a red line and an arrow and the exact same sign in black?). Street directions and addresses are a mystery to us. Lots of one way streets.
Lesson #1.5 - Maybe driving around in a stressful situation is not the best idea when you are also going through the effects of jet lag. You're just not working on full power, you know?
After a few hours of driving around trying to find addresses, going the wrong way on one way streets, parallel parking, etc. we were a little ragged. Time for a snack break so we could regroup. We talked to a realtor on the phone and she gave us verbal directions to her office.
Lesson #2 - Clarify! When the person on the other end says, "we are in front of the police station" you might need to know if there is more than one police station. When they say "we are located at Veronica Park", you might need to know that there are a variety of locations with the name Veronica.
Lesson #3 - this is a re-learn of an old lesson... talking on the phone in your second language is tough! When the phone rings, you have no context. You have no idea who is on the other end, no voice recognition, no facial cues, and no clue what the topic is. Add to that the different vocabulary and different accent and you have a rough conversation punctuated by "Could you repeat that please?" and "I didn't understand. Could you speak more slowly please?" I especially love when they get frustrated with you and they give you the audible sigh of disgust and irritation.
We finally made it to the realtor's office only to find that she was not there. She was just talking to us on the phone and leading us to it, how could she not be there? Her secretary took down our info and promised that they would call. That was two days ago.
Lesson #4 - Spain is akin to Peru in their idea of holidays and festivals and such. Evidently, Wednesday was a big holiday - but no one could tell us what kind of holiday or why. In the afternoon, things began to shut down. The sign at the grocery store announced that they would be closed on Thursday. On Thursday, we asked someone about the holiday and the closures and he said, "It is the holiday of the virgins." On further questioning, he said it was for any and all virgins. He wasn't sure what day it started or when it would end. The woman in the tourist office in town said that it was a holiday, but she didn't know why. She didn't know the days or the times of closures. She said it might also have something to do with the fair, which runs all next week. The lady in the restaurant told us that it was only for today and everything would be open tomorrow, but that proved to be incorrect. So, who knows??? Nevertheless, the realty office said they can't see us until at least Monday.
Lesson #5 - there are lots of people who take their yearly vacation during these couple of weeks. Lots of stores are closed and have a sign that says they won't open again until the 26th. One realtor told us that the person in charge of his internet and postings and appointments is on holiday until the end of the month and we were just lucky that he happened to catch our email.
We did finally get to see five places for rent. Two were definitely out... really tiny and really dark. One had an outhouse, no lie. Billy also had to bend over in half to walk up the stairs in that one. I'm afraid if anyone had the urge to do a jumping jack, the place would have imploded. For us to say no to any house is saying a lot, since we once bought a hundred-year old house that had no plumbing and no back wall, and our latest home was a donkey barn when we decided to move in and 'renovate'. Extreme Home Makeover has NOTHING on The Drum Family! Anyway, back to the story - One house that we saw was GREAT - just so happens that it is the same house that our friends had already viewed for us prior to our coming. Two houses were STUPENDOUS and I wish I hadn't ever seen them. But they were out in the country and would be too difficult to deal with Sarah's school and with ministry. Poo poo! They were awesome! But just not what we need.
Lesson #6 - Who knew that Paco and Francisco were the same person?! I had been calling "two" realtors to see a couple of different things and finally the poor guy clues me in to the fact that I'm talking to the same guy each time! Poor Paco... he had a great sense of humor about it, thank goodness!
So, now we wait on Monday and the other realtor (we hope). They have a few things to show us. Might be that the one that our friends already picked out is the right one. There is a lot to be said for wise counsel and trusting the local folks to steer you right.
I'm assuming that Paco/Francisco doesn't also have the third nickname of Jose! Maybe we have already met this guy and we have already seen the right house! :)
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!