el albir

life in albir

English? Live in Albir? Need to go to Spain? Read on. We have you covered.

Don't worry. As you're walking along and you see me coming, there's no need to slow down, hold onto each other tightly, stop talking and stare at me as I walk by. You are not going to have your handbag stolen yet again. I am not going to say anything to you in Spanish. It may be 4 pm and you ate lunch 4 hours ago, but I work for a living. In Spain. So I haven't. And yes, I know. All I'm going to be able to get at this time of day is Spanish muck, wreaking of garlic and swimming in olive oil at that dirty place on the back streets where the plumber and car mechanic types go. Not a word of bloody English in that place. Filthy it is. All fish heads on the floor. And they all smoke in that outside bit.

Why am I wearing a tie? Because I work for a living. Remember that? In fact, I've just got back from the dole office in Benidorm. I took an English couple who live in Albir there and translated for them. They'd been the day before. It was horrendous, they told me:

There must have been thirty Spaniards all pushing in and being loud. No respect. Wreaked of garlic, the lot of em. All smiling and joking they were. Not a word of English between them. And so rude. They kept pushing in all the time and shouting. One of them poured water over a tramp. Filth they were. And it was so hot. We had to queue and they all started pushing in. Couldn't understand a word they were saying. So rude they were. Loud. Disgusting. We were scared.

Second time they'd been. First time they went, there was a big queue and there must have been all of thirty Spaniards all pushing in and being loud, they told me. All the signs in Spanish. Couldn't understand a thing. They asked me the day before and I told them what to do when they got there. They told me that they wouldn't need me to go with them. But they couldn't do what I said because all the Spaniards were pushing in and eating garlic. One of them poured olive oil over a tramp. They left empty handed and had an argument.

Anyway, this next day it was really hot, so they waited for me to pick them up, standing looking nervous wearing inappropriate clothes in full sun complaining how they'd had a sleepless night worrying about the dole office. And how hot it was in July. And it was so much easier in England.

Then we went to the dole office. They started arguing about not taking me with them yesterday. She said that he'd said he wouldn't pay and they started arguing. They said it was much easier with me there and they wish they'd have decided to take me along yesterday so that they wouldn't have to come again today. It would have been well worth the fee, she said. He agreed with her this time. She was doing all the talking, but it wasn't her that needed to be there, it was him. Then they started talking about getting flights back because she needed to go to the hairdressers.

Anyway, turned out I could see what their problem was. There's a new computer system, see. Instead of getting a ticket and waiting in a queue with all rude Spaniards pushing in and then being called to see a person when it was your number, you now stood in a queue with all Spaniards and a tramp with olive oil pushing in and then you go to what looks like one of them fruit machines you have in bars. Only it's not. It's a computer and where it usually has three cherries and a melon, it has a keyboard and you have to press the screen. All in Spanish it is. That's why they left yesterday. They told me I'd told them wrong and suggested it was my fault. I said it was, but anyway we're here again now. I told them I wouldn't charge for the advice yesterday. I usually work for peanuts anyway. They kept asking me how much I charged.

So anyway, we get to the front and when I do it, it seems to work fine. They gave me the passport and stuff and I put in the numbers. They say it's really complicated and it's so loud with all the Spaniards laughing and joking as if they were old mates and pushing in and spraying garlic oil over each other. We're going great. Everything is fine. They start smiling and thanking me.

Then you get to the bit where you have to prove it's you and they send a code to your phone. You then have to touch another bit of the screen and put in the code. They looked very nervous as I was doing it. And it was very loud and everyone was pushing in. So I pushed the screen and asked him to check his phone.

But he hadn't brought his phone.