Well, I guess it’s about time to write about the new folks. On the whole they’re nice people…it’s just when you try to help them that it all goes haywire. We had them over for dinner a week or so ago and we all had a good time…but anytime you try to tell Gonzo the way things have to be he refuses to hear you. It’s funny…he talks a lot. I know that’s the pot calling the kettle black, but so many times he’ll ask a question, and as you start to answer he changes the subject and just keeps on talking. It’s taking some getting used to.
I didn’t realize that it all started the first day. We told them that we’d pick them up from the airport; we made that explicitly clear. But when Gonzo finally collected his luggage, instead of leaving the security area to find us he spent 20 minutes at the rental car counter trying to get a car. Not only was that stupid in my opinion (why rent a car when someone is at the airport waiting to bring you to an apartment you’ve never seen in a city you’ve never been to), but it’s also rude (if he didn’t want us to pick him up he should have said so before we all got to the airport…I’d have rather been at home doing my own thing than waiting for someone who didn’t want me to be there in the first place). But Tj and I just thought it was a fluke.
Everything went pretty smoothly the first weekend they were here…and then it was time to go to Rota. We told them we’d be at their house about 10am. Gonzo called us a little before 10 and said he’d come to our house. Tj told him it’d be better if we met them because the gas station is half a block from their apartment and we both needed to get gas, so that was that. Well, when Tj got there a little after 10 they said that they were ready, they would just go to the cafe and get some breakfast. I guess I should give them the benefit of the doubt…they still think they’re in America…you don’t get any food quickly from a restaurant in Spain. So we all waited about 20 minutes while Grace tried to convince the woman behind the counter to wrap up some pastries, and then we were off.
The trip out wasn’t bad at all…Tj was in front, Gonzo in the middle and I was last. Tj and I had walkie-talkies, and Gonzo and Tj had cell phones. Tj would tell me when he wanted to pass and I would pull out and clear the way for them. It was a bit of a pain, as following can be, but not bad really. It’s a little harder driving three cars than one, but we made it fine. We only made one stop in six hours…I was completely surprised that Gonzo’s girls could go that long w/o stopping. Once we got to the base we all had to stop at the gate…Tj and Gonzo needed passes, and I needed to renew mine. We drove to the Navy Lodge and got Gonzo checked in, and then I went to the Video Mart (Subway and a movie) and Tj checked us into Billeting. We’d said we’d get an early start the next morning so I called them at 8am and caught them sleeping, oops! I said I’d call back at 10. About half an hour or so later Gonzo asked if Grace needed to be there as we made our rounds at the Security office that morning…she wanted to do some home schooling with the girls. We thought that would be fine, so we said we’d be at Gonzo’s at 10. He called at a quarter till with another question, and then said he was ready to go…Tj said we’d be there in five minutes, Gonzo said he’d be outside in two. We drove over there and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally Tj went to his apartment…10 minutes later he was back with Gonzo. We’d told Gonzo that we were going straight to the Security office to check in there…the first thing Gonzo said when he came out to the car was ‘Are we going to get breakfast now?’ I just don’t get him…I’m the first to admit that I can eat at any time, at any place; I’m always hungry. But when someone tells me that they’re coming by to pick me up for work I make sure I’ve eaten before I tell them I’m ready to go.
Anyway, we drove to the office and got down to business. Not surprisingly everything was chaos. When we came here two years ago we were required to make a stop in Madrid. The only thing we really did was hear the “You’re my babies” speech by Titi Fernandez, get introduced to a bunch of people we’ve never seen since, try not to pass out from the heat in the very nice hotel we stayed in (apparently the a/c isn’t turned on until June or later…fine this year…horrid two years ago), and wonder why such a lavish hotel should have a strong sewer smell in 2002. Apparently this is the same thing that the Gonzos did. However, when we got to Raphael Seba’s office and tried to get Gonzo a driver’s license Seba said Gonzo hadn’t checked in with ODC in Madrid and filled out paperwork like he should’ve. Background Story: When we came to Spain this wasn’t an issue…we did have to jump through a lot of hoops, but we did the same thing that our predecessors did. Also, since our car wasn’t in we didn’t need our license right away. The problem this time is that Gonzo’s car is sitting at Rota and they won’t let him take it. All the paperwork will probably be finished by next Wednesday or Thursday, but he can’t just sit around waiting. During all of this we got pulled into Seba’s office and chewed out by him for not doing what needed to be done. I’d called Seba a few days before we got there, so he was telling us that we were laying down on the job…the fact of the matter is that new people report to Madrid, and Titi is supposed to take care of them. Seba went on and on about us not doing whatever…we all just kept quiet because everytime we pointed out a fact he just started over at the beginning. The long and the short of it is that Gonzo’ll have to do some running around, but in the end it’ll all work out. And just like we’ve done for two years, I heard him say that day “Well, I’ll get this straightened out so that when the next people come…”.
I guess that’s the funnest thing about this whole situation to me. We’ve spent two years doing stuff the hard way and fixing things for ‘the next people’, and now they’re here and they don’t want to hear what we have to say. Joe and Dawn fought every time they drove us out to Rota…they could never remember how they drove through Jerez de la Frontera. It was a 30-minute argument with Tj and me sitting mute in the backseat vowing to ourselves never to fight in public every time. So every time Tj and I drove out to Rota I wrote and checked my directions…I was so proud that the new people would never have that trouble. Now Gonzo wants to find his own way out to Rota. Another thing…the US Government gives us a discount on our gas out here…it’s about 90 cents per liter which translates to about $3.40 per gallon…with the coupon we pay about $2.08 per gallon. But you can only get gas coupons after you have your car registered in Spain. Tj’s told Gonzo that a couple of times. It’s just a fact…it’s just one of the things that you have to deal with when you move here. But when Tj went to pick up our gas coupons the woman behind the counter told him that Gonzo had tried to get the coupons! I don’t know why we drove them out to Rota and went with him to all of those appointments if he was just gonna ignore everything we said and do it on his own. It’s just so annoying and rude.
One thing, though, Gonzo may be extremely lucky in the housing department; he says he’s found a brand new house that was for sale, but the owner is willing to rent. People often thought that Tj and I had trouble finding a place to live because we’re not fluent in Spanish. However, Mike and Pilar got here only a few months after us, she’s a native of Zaragoza (a city near Madrid) so obviously her Spanish is perfect. They looked even harder than we did; they talked to people in every house in our neighborhood, stopped at each rental/for sale house…they just had no luck here. The house that Gonzo found is newly on the market; Grace says that the butano tank is filled up yearly!! (Our house uses 5-gallon butano tanks, and our water heater and stove run off of those tanks. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in the shower and the butano has run out without warning…if Tj’s here he changes the tank, if not I have to get out of the shower and do it. Suffice it to say it’s a major pain in the butt.) Another great thing about the new house is that it has central a/c and heat!!! I’m so jealous. It sounds great…it’s got to be a much better house than ours…but Grace says that she wants ours! She likes the fact that our house has a large yard; the new house has a typical Spanish yard: it’s all tile. We’ll just have to see how this turns out.
Well, if this isn’t the longest entry I’ve written it’s mighty close. I’ve got to get moving, though. Fran and Teresa have invited us and the Gonzos over for lunch at 1pm. I still have so much to blog, but it’ll just have to wait.