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Showing posts from August, 2009

Missing saints

The train station Saint Pancras may be named for one of two Italian saints. So you'd think that a street called Santa Cilia de Jaca would also have a link to some martyr or vision seer or similar. But no: not in any of the lists of Catholic Saints on the Internet (there are a lot of saints and a lot of lists) and the only recurring Google reference is to an Aragonese city in the province of Huesca.

Anyway, that's the name of the street where we rent our flat in Cartagena. As of today we have keys and very much lighter wallets.

What did Esther Williams say about the Mar Menor?

Esther Williams, was a woman who made her Hollywood Career in a bathing suit. She made films that were a cross between those Busby Berkeley dance movies and a synchronized swimming event. Esther said that the Mar Menor was "The largest swimming pool in the World." Not exactly Voltaire or Churchill or even Marx (Groucho that is) but a useful, working hypothesis nonetheless.
The Mar Menor is a coastal lake seperated from the Med by a sandbar called La Manga. We went to have a look at La Manga yesterday. The sandbar is 22kms long and varies in width between 100 metres and 1200 metres but it isn't quite complete so that, having driven up it from the Cartagena side at Cabo de Palos, we turned around by the hump backed bridge near La Veneziola and drove all the way back again. The strip is a bit messy to be honest, lots and lots of very piecemeal development and some very tacky shops and bars. But, on the other hand, you can often being see crystal blue and green water on eit…

Urban myths

Over at Life in Culebrón I was annoyed about having to use my ID number for something trivial and so I wrote a little piece about ID cards in Spain.
In order to write the piece I checked my facts and I came across a popular Spanish myth; that the lone number that appears on the back of the ID card indicates how many people in Spain have the same name as you. A few days ago, when we commented on the unusual first name of an Estate Agent in Cartagena he took out his ID card, showed us the control number and said "Look, only six people in Spain have the same name as me!" It's not true, the lone number is simply a control letter for those OCR machine readers.

Flat hunting

We saw nine flats today. Alright, as two were on the same landing maybe we "really" saw eight but the range was incredible. From modern, double glazed, furnished at Ikea to a place where the louvred grill in the kitchen gave a good view into the tiny bathroom. Most were a bit seedy with Oxfam furniture and a vaguely unpleasant odour. Only one had aircon and none had any form of fixed heating.
Just as in the UK flat hunting is a tedious process. There are basically two ways. Wander the streets and look for signs attached to the balcony and ring the owner direct. Or go to an Estate Agent and ask what they have. There are classified ads in papers too but usually the number of properties listed is small. We started with the Estate Agent route. It's an expensive option because as well as the month's deposit and the month's rent that everyone asks for in Spain the agent also charges a month's worth of rent for matching you and the property. Most of the properties we …

Looking around

We went to have another look around our new city on Tuesday. The idea was that I'd push a few more CVs through a few more doors and that we'd find a Locutorio (places, usually linked with foreigners, for making phone calls "home" and using the Internet) where we could check some places for rent and go and scope out the districts, or barrios, of the city and nearby towns and villages.

By the way if any of you practice any powerful religions offering curses, hexes and what not I'd be pleased for any help you could give us with Telefonica. They still haven't installed the phone line. Not having the Internet is blighting our lives and the trips to the Locutorios don't really compensate.

Surprisingly whilst I was driving around Cartagena a language school called me to see if I was available for interview. I was a bit sweaty, a bit unshaven and a bit under dressed but I went anyway. It sounded like a decent place - fingers crossed - though I suspect I may be a li…