Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Meanwhile, in Spain... (Part I)

Okay, I know some of you (Yvonne) have been complaining that this blog is Jake and Susie in Spain, and I would point out that you are correct. At some point, Susie went kinda AWOL on the project, and my life here is boring/routine enough that things in America have grabbed my attention and, thus, the attention of this blog.

But not today! It's been such a crazy 36 hours here in the BCN that I can relate goings-on that are worth reading. Let's start with yesterday, when I woke at the crack of 8:00 to go to the bank and change our bank accounts. Before you scoff, 8:00 is early by Spanish standards, so it's more than the fact that I hate getting out of bed.

Why change bank accounts? La Caixa (conveniently "The Bank" in Catalan) has been doing an excellent job. Well, it turns out that once you're a resident, you need a resident's account, rather than the weird tourist/illegal alien account we must have had. If we hadn't switched, they could have frozen our funds, which would make it difficult to pay our rent on Friday.

Once I was done with that, it was back to the apartment to wait for the handyman. Our pipes in the kitchen were backing up where the flexible dishwasher line went into the larger, inflexable sink pipe. Also, the light in the spare bedroom, which is now in use since we have someone living with us, didn't work.

So the handyman shows up at 10:30 or so and asks to see the light. We have ten foot ceilings and I had stood on a dresser to get to the light. Not happening with this guy - he's like fifty. Of course he wants to know how to get up there, and he asks if he should fly. So, back to the shop for him (fortunately right across the street), and back with a ladder. Of course he thinks that we're idiots and we just need to change the bulb, since that's probably fifty percent of his business. If I could charge 32.50€/hr, I'd change lightbulbs all day long. But, the contacts for the bulb are broken and needed to be repaired. That was the simple part.

Next, onto the pipes.* Turns out there's a fundamental design flaw with our kitchen. The drainpipe is designed for one thing to drain into it. We have three (two sink bowls and a dishwasher), so this is apparently going to be a big problem for the rest of time. Since we're not going to live here for the rest of time, I just want to be able to wash dishes without my feet getting wet. Solution? First, clear out the pipes. The previous tenants had shoved food down the drain and it was causing much of the backflow. (We don't have a disposal.) Second, attach an adapter to the dishwasher pipe so that it locks firmly into the drainpipe.

It turns out there's a different way to clear pipes here in Spain. Rather than breaking out the pipe snake, they use air pressure to force the blockage down the pipe using an air gun. Imagine if God had a Super Soaker. That's about all I can say.

I don't think I can describe the physics of the whole situation to you unless it were in person, but the handyman unexpectedly caused a seven foot geyser of water/decomposed food to fly out of our sink. Yes, I had just cleaned the kitchen less than a week previous, including scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees. Yes, it smelled awful. Yes, it got everywhere, including walls, the ceiling, and dishes that had been washed less than twelve hours earlier. Yes, I spent the next two hours cleaning the kitchen.

Then I ate sushi. Everything is better after sushi.


*Pipes in Spanish is tubas. That's right, that giant instrument that every polka band leans on is just called The Pipe. It's the worst named instrument this side of the shakuhachi, which is Japanese for "fifty two centimeters". At least if you play the tuba you play THE pipe. Take that, trombone.

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