Island life! Sounds good, doesn’t it? Most of the time, but it’s been a week, I tell ya. Our car started losing power and then righting itself and then losing power again and so on. As it’s still under warranty, we contacted the car dealership to get it fixed. We were told to bring it in on Tuesday – a week from when we called.
We arrived at 9 am, which is when they said they opened. The place was all locked up, lights were off, nobody around. I re-checked the hours of operation – 9:00 am. We waited. Eventually at 9:40, a lady arrives and unlocks the door, all the while giving us very suspicious looks. I start to speak to her about the the car but, judging by the blank look I’m getting, I take she doesn’t understand a word I’m saying.
“Inglis?” I ask her. To which she shakes her head. No. Oh dear. I’m learning Spanish, but I am nowhere near the point where I can carry on a discussion about what’s wrong with my car. I point to it and mention David’s name. More blank stares and then something in Spanish. Eventually, I call David and he speaks to her. She tells him to ask us to park the car, give her the key, and she’ll get the mechanic to take a look. The man that David had been dealing with all along, had told us that the car would be fixed that day, but I seriously had my doubts, so we went home.
By 4:30 pm, there was no word. I messaged them and was told that when the mechanic was done, they would let us know. Not helpful.
David spoke to them this morning. They’re not sure what’s wrong with the car, so they’re trying different things and will let us know when it’s ready. Hopefully today or tomorrow. I’m not holding my breath.
In order to apply to residency, the requirements are that you have to have a Spanish bank account and you have to have private health insurance. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong!
We were given the name of a couple of banks to visit in order to open up an non-resident bank account. Last Wednesday, we took a trip into Maspalomas where Deutschbank, the top preference, was situated. Gran Canaria was in the grips of another Calima which sends the temperatures soaring, so it was very hot and very humid. As well, it was the Pride by Freedom Event and, therefore, there was absolutely NO parking to be found – anywhere. We eventually found a parking space a few blocks away and walked to bank, but the heat really took it’s toll on us.
The lady at Deutschbank told us that we couldn’t open a non-resident bank account. We had to have a residency card. We explained the requirements of residency application, but she just shrugged her shoulders in regret.
We tried three more banks in Maspalomas only to be told the same thing. Although the staff at all the banks spoke English, I got the feeling that they didn’t quite understand what it was we were after. They did, however, tell us that we could open an online bank account which would give us what we were after, but I didn’t see the difference.
The heat finally got the better of us and we stopped at a little restaurant for refreshments before going home.
That afternoon, we took the advice of one of the banks, BBVA, and opened up an online account. At the end of the process, we got a message to say that our account was almost open and that all we had to do was go into a branch and verify our identity. Sounds good.
The next day, we went into Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is much closer to where we live and, because of it’s high tourist population, 90% of the locals speak English. We went into BBVA and explained to the teller what we had done. We were met with a very stern look and were told in no uncertain terms, that we shouldn’t have done that because it wasn’t a non-resident account. He did not seem amused AT ALL, and I was given the impression that this happens to him a lot. Whilst we were being reprimanded, I couldn’t help but notice that he had the English accent of someone who had attended a very good school in England, with a hint of Spanish. I apologized profusely. He said we would have to make an appointment to rectify the situation and could we come in on Monday at 12 pm? Of course we could.
We arrived at the appointed time on Monday and were ushered into the office of the branch manager – the same man who was acting as a teller the week before. 😯 This time, he was a completely different person – friendly, personable and he spoke excellent English. He sat us down and began the process of opening up a non-resident bank account for us. After receiving so many ‘no’s,’ we were both relieved and elated.
We started chatting. We learned he was born in Spain, went to high school in Scotland and lived in Belgium before coming to the Canary Islands. He’s very well travelled and chatted to us happily about the various areas in Spain to visit, where all the best restaurants are in Gran Canaria to get authentic food – he even wrote out a list for us – and where the best places to visit are. He mentioned his wife and children many times and how he came to live in Gran Canaria.
After about an hour of socialization interspersed with business, not only was our account open, but we also had health insurance. He told us to go home and log in to the bank app online, and then come back again the next day to complete the process.
The next day we were back in his office. More chatting and socialization. More restaurants to add to the list he made yesterday. More about his life – and ours. He told us where to get the best phone, TV and internet plan and wrote down the name of the company. He explained the residency process and how life in general works in the Canary Islands.
Another hour and our account was open, our health insurance was in place and we’d made a new friend.