This Better Be the Effing Low Point

This Better Be the Effing Low Point

At the end of last week the Burnetts were excited: everything we had ordered was on its way!  The engines had arrived!  The fiberglassing was almost done!  We had visions of Marvin splashing down by March 10, a significant date, as it represented exactly two months since The Disaster.

Oh, we should have known better.  Our first sign something was wrong came Saturday night, while Mel was doing the dishes.  As the sink in their rented apartment was running, her socks got wet.  She looked down, and water was seeping out of a floor tile.  Along with something else.  To prepare to interact with the handyman, she found herself typing this into Google translate:

The word for “worms” is not part of beginner Spanish.

 

She restrained herself.  She didn’t want to bring up the “efflourescence”, the fact that the plaster on one of their walls was turning to mildew, the fact that the scratching noise in Tommy’s wall was slowly weakening, meaning that a dead rat would probably soon be adding to the stink.  After all, they have made peace with the ants, they accepted the residual sewer smell in their bathroom, they killed six spiders yesterday, and most of the cockroaches disappeared after a killing spree in the first two weeks.

And today, while she and the kids did school on the boat so that the repairman could address the “worm problem,” Greg went through one frustrating experience after another.  The bottom paint that should’ve shipped on Friday hasn’t actually shipped yet.  The gelcoat has arrived, but Greg had to go to the airport and pay $30 to some random dudes at the cargo terminal for some unknown reason to get a piece of paper, which he has to fill out (he has never had to do this before) and give to Customs, tomorrow, of course, so he can then pay massive customs charges on the package, even though it is for a “Yacht in Transit”, which is supposed to get you out of customs fees.  Also, the guys who are supposed to install our engines, WHICH HAVE ARRIVED, have not returned our calls.  Finally, we ordered a necessary stern light via Amazon and had the ship’s steward (Greg’s mom) ship it to us, just like she did with a previous package that we received easily, but this time for some unknown reason Greg has to take his passport somewhere and get a “tax number” to claim it.  When he points out the discrepancy, and the fact that we are transients who don’t need a Spainish tax number, he always hears the same thing: “We will look into it, and contact you manana.”

The Burnetts are frustrated.  And, I’m sorry, but when we look around for someone to blame, all we see is Spain.  I’m sure this happens in the shipping business all over the world.  But all we see right now is Spain.  To be honest, when we want something to be done right, we have gotten in the habit of contacting Americans.  We are not delusional, my dears.  There are plenty of F-ups in America.  There are just fewer than there are in Spain.

And so we are not suffering from “Spain Rage” so much as “Utter Disappointment in the Efficacy of Spain, and for that, all of Europe.”  I’m sorry if that is not PC.  I mean, Global Nautic Services and Alisios Sails, located here in Spain, have been just phenomenal.  But travelers tend to judge a nation on how well it handles bureaucracy.  And so far Spain has received a C-.

To nerd it up for our nerd friends, work in Spain (and probably in the boating world in general) is quantum mechanical: nothing happens unless you observe it.  Standing there and watching people do their work is the best way to make sure things are done.  However, once in a while you are surprised by an efficient, knowledgeable, hardworking person — and your immediate reaction?  OMG!  You should come to America!  Another lesson, Spain is probably the geographic center of entropy of the entire world: everything tends to disorder, unless you expend a lot of energy to fix it.

There will not be an update of The Amazing Marvin’s adventures this time, either.  Before the release of Chapter Four, we tasked our 12-yr-old son with drawing a lobster, and he has not been able to do this yet, probably because he is 12.  If you want to hear about perfect, obedient, sailing 12-yr-old, go to just about any other sailing blog.  You won’t hear that bullcrap from us.

12 Responses

  1. Jamie Leavey
    | Reply

    We lived in Greece for 2 years and I can relate…though it wasn’t combined with boat life which echoes that same “everything is more complicated” sentiment. While I get that this situation is seriously challenging, your writing is hilarious!!

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Thanks, Jamie! Yes, the “fish out of water” feeling is usually fun, when you aren’t itching to be somewhere else!

  2. Brian Thompson
    | Reply

    Melinda, New fan here. I found you via KevinMD. I like sailing. I have been keeping an eye on healthcare, too. Sorry about your run-in with the floating trap. I hope things work out. Meanwhile, if you still have mental processing power for reflections on neurology, maybe you’ll enjoy pondering the content of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8gSEsrfK48&t=90s . About 10 minutes long, re neurofeedback for epilepsy patients. Hello to Spain. Brian

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Thanks, Brian. We should be back on our way soon! Neurofeedback is certainly interesting, but the lack of well-conducted, large clinical trials is really hampering acceptance by stodgy neuros like myself. And most of us are pretty stodgy.

  3. Carla Kelly
    | Reply

    I’m Jeremy Kelly’s mom, and I’ve been enjoying your blogs, Mel. Jeremy shared photos he took this summer in Greece, and we’re all envious. I’m hoping all will go really well soon, because I know you’re eager to be on your way. As for the Spanish, there is this old Spanish dicho: “Patience, and shuffle the cards.”

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Carla, I now have a new phrase to speak inside my head!

  4. Elana
    | Reply

    Here we go.. this is the part of your adventure we will find most familiar: living on an island. Spain sounds like Dominica, entropy and all. Buena suerte amigos.. buena suerte..

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Yes, it’s probably not very fair to judge an entire country by its island life…but we will take your good wishes of buena suerte anyway, as we need all of the help we can get!

  5. Edie Webber
    | Reply

    It looks like you may need to be less polite and more ” GET THIS DONE NOW”
    Be the loudest, squeakiest wheel these people have ever seen.
    Lots of energy to move people to action.
    Sounds like not doing anything is their normal.
    MASSIVE ACTION (noise)

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Our squeaking is starting to work! Thanks!

  6. Ken Nellis
    | Reply

    This sucks!!! How frustrating that must be. I will mark of Spain as one place not to hire work done!!! Surely they can get your apartment fixed to living standards. I had 2 boys who were 12 many years ago. Fortunate for them we don’t eat our young!! Positive thoughts your way.

    • Mel
      | Reply

      Ken, I will say that if you are willing to wait a bit longer than planned, the work does get done, and relatively cheaply! After a lot of construction noise around us (we suspect a cracked septic vent), I think the sewer smell is finally gone, and so I am celebrating and flushing that smelly memory down the drain!

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