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:
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.