Friday and car insurance is the focus today. Dave and Fi (D&F) recommend that I go to Jennifer Cunningham Insurances in the old town. They specialise in expat services, all speak English because they are all from the UK and they are also an agent for private health insurance. We will need to have a health plan in place as part of the Residencia.
I talk to Debbie first about health insurance. The quote is higher than I want. D&F are only paying just over 1000 Euros a year and this is triple that. I come away with a glossy brochure.
We cross the road to their other office that deals with car insurance. Dave and I start sit down and start talking to a lady along with her trainee. 2 minutes later she passes us over to Pamela who deals with the car insurance, but had been on the phone. I am my usual quick witted self, but my comments seem to bi-pass Pam. She isn’t too sure whether I am joking or not. Sarah is always warning me about this. They don’t understand. I guess she is right.
Pam asks if Dave will be on the insurance? And then it hits me. Although the three of us, Dave, Fi and I start out each day, it is Dave that comes with me to talk to everyone while Fi parks the car and wanders around the shops. Dave has been like my wing man. We are a good partnership. I tend to be big picture glossing over the technical stuff while he is a detail person, asking critical questions. We have been going from place to place as a team. But, oh but, I realise when Pam asks that question that she thinks we are more than a team … partners in fact! Bugger. They think we are couple of old queens. And then it strikes me that the best laugh is when we laugh at ourselves. I have been doing a lot of that lately.
So I quickly put Pam straight (if you know what I mean) and we continue with answering all the questions that include mentioning my WIFE, Sarah, several times. All done I get the quote. In Spain the car is insured, not the person and with fully comprehensive it includes roadside recovery. As predicted it is much lower than the garage quote. We go for a coffee and return to seal the deal.
Behind Pam is a sign that says Jenny Cunningham. I ask if she actually exists and discover that she does indeed and at 77 years of age is still going strong. She came over to Spain from the UK in the 1990’s, but shortly after her husband passed away. She started the business and incorporated it. For some bizarre and unknown reason the business was incorporated as Jenny Cunningham. Jennifer hates to be called Jenny, but never changed the business name. All the branding and logos though are Jennifer Cunningham.
We return home and I do a search and make online enquiries on health insurance. They are nowhere near as competitive as what D&F are paying. Even the same company they use, Sanitas, with the same product is giving me a price more than twice what they are paying.
I go for my walk. On the return leg coming back from the Port, just as I get to El Arenal Beach, the phone rings. I take the call and its a guy with a Scottish accent calling from Barcelona. He works for Cigna. One of the companies I made went online to research for health insurance. I walk the length of the beach while he tries to sell me a product that is about 1000% more expensive than I want to pay. It is mainly because it is global coverage, not just Spain. The same old trick. We can get your monthly payment closer to your budget. Yep I’m sure … but in the process cut down so much of the benefit that I’m left paying 300 Euros per month for a health benefit resembling something akin to a band aid and aspirin.
I get home and TransferWise advise that the money for the car should now be with Valgauto Motor. I haven’t heard from them, but it is late Friday afternoon.
D&F confess to a mistake. They are paying 1000 Euros for health insurance, but that is every 6 months. Aghhhh! Head, Wall, Bang!
Saturday is full of promise. We are off to the Spectacular Spring Homes & Gardens Lifestyle Show at the Villa Gadea Hotel in Altea, just north of Benidorm. We are in the car only 10 minutes having reached Benitatxell when Daves phone rings and he asks Fi, who is driving, to pull over. The house alarm has gone off, they think due to a power cut. Fi doesn’t seem happy. Dave was meant to sort this out. He hasn’t. During my week here this has happened a few times. It is an issue between the electrics and the alarm. The power often trips setting it off. But the actual cause of the fault is unknown. Fi has been keeping on to Dave about getting Steve, who installed the alarm to come and fix it. But he hasn’t. Dave, who is in the back of the car, is trying to communicate with the security company and meanwhile Fi is making every best endeavour to remain calm. I sink into the passenger seat. Clearly the security man does not speak perfect English and Dave is attempting to establish if the alarm is actually ringing. I hear him make a ring, ring noise. Fi at the same time is relaying the correct Spanish phrases that Dave can use to establish this fact, but he is consumed by his imitations of an alarm bell and is now going beep, beep. I start to curl up in a ball and hope that I may slowly fade away.
But no. I am still here and the car is promptly turned around and we head back to the house to turn off the alarm. The frustrating thing is that even with the alarm not set a power cut triggers an alarm at the security base as it may indicate tampering.
I attempt to change the subject. I sympathise with them both. I have been there too, many a time. We men have a circuit in our brains that is deliberately designed to enrage the woman in our lives. ... It sets off an alarm... We are asked to perform a simple task and it hits a blind spot. Rather than just do it, we dance around it in the hope it will disappear. Sometimes it does, but only temporarily and when it comes back it is 5 times the size and problem. Its almost as though we men deliberately want to feel the pain of the scolding as though it is some spiritual rite. Or is it that we offer ourselves up to the goddesses in our life because they need to release the pent-up emotion on our poor male souls so that they can clear their own energy. Whatever … we men just make a dogs balls of it sometimes and thats that!
I take the opportunity as Fi is driving to write to Inma at Valgauto Motor and advise that they should have the money in their account and that I have opted for another insurance provider. I don’t hear back from her. Although the transfer notification is going directly to her, it may be that she doesn’t work on Saturday. looks like I’ll have too wait until Monday.
And so we hurtle down the Autopista del Mediterraneo towards Altea. The car pings … petrol is running low. It seems that it is observed, but not dealt with at this time. Finally we arrive at the venue. It is free to enter and there must be 50 or so exhibitors ranging from garden furniture to financial services, including a psychic. He must have been foretold a worthy outcome here today, but he doesn’t seem very busy.
We wonder in and are soon armed with various leaflets and a plastic bag to put them in courtesy of a local private hospital. I stop at a stand that sells insurance, PoliFani, …no this is not a female parrot… They also sell health insurance, but the girl, Sophie, doesn’t seem keen to give much away. I have a business card and a leaflet with warnings about Brexit. She writes some figures on the leaflet, but I don’t know what they include. I promise to call.
I move on and surprisingly recognise a familiar face. It is the English Rose from the Car Outlet garage where I test drove the Vitara. They have a stand here. I confess that I have purchased a car elsewhere and her colleague asks if they gave me a sunshade for the car? No. You can have one of ours if you let me take a picture of you with it. I allow him this rare honour … smile … and take the shimmering silver object. The English Rose asks if I would like to enter their competition to win a holiday? Yes. I enter my details whilst holding bags, phone and sunshade. Name, email etc. What car do I have, model etc. The small form also asks “Age” and I write down my age. It is not often I write that down particularly as it seems such a high number … then realise they want the age of the car! Based on my age they may have thought I was driving a car that you start by cranking the engine up at the front. Embarrassed, I cross out my age and replace it with the age of the car I have just purchased. I bid farewell to the English Rose and her colleague and quickly move on.
As I move through the exhibition I collect more leaflets. They attach to me like Velcro. Hands reach out, faces gleaming, bodies jostling. I enter another room, collecting an Ikea catalogue on the way and am accosted by a lady in a bright pink polo shirt and fake tan. The other 3 ladies on her team are wearing the same. I think they are selling gym memberships when in fact they are from Avalon selling funeral insurance. I tell her I am more interested in investing in living rather than dieing. I move on but can’t get the pink shirts and fake tans out of my mind. They are like flamingos fluttering around a defenceless prey … I hear their wicked hum in the distance … you will die some day, come with us now, ha, ha, he hee!
I am distracted. I register with another health insurance company, Ibex, for a quote. They will call me and hand me yet another bag. On the side it says “Relax, we’ve got you covered“. But I am not relaxed. Armed with 2 bags, brochures, the sunshade under my arm and my bumbag I am delicately holding my iphone so as not to drop it. I am in Spain but there is a constant drone of north England accents. they have taken over. I want to get outside and sort all this stuff out and take stock of where Dave and Fi are. I squeeze past some people and as I manoeuvre away a female arm stretches out and hands me a white card with pink writing on it and a small bright pink bubblegum sachet. Trying not to drop anything I hold the card and bubblegum in front of me awkwardly as I wave it around. I head for the door and outside where they are displaying outdoor furniture and find a wall to put everything down and have a sort.
I look at the card and it is from “The Sexual Health Adviser”. I immediately look at the bubblegum and realise to my horror that it isn’t gum. In fact it is a condom in a bright pink wrapper. I don’t know whether to be embarrassed at that or the fact it has “Regular” on it. Is that the only size she had, or did she size me up. I settle on that fact that like shoes sizing is different in Spain and that Regular is Spanish for extra large!
I think it’s time to go.
We find a cafe on the Calle San Pedro opposite the beach for a coffee and sandwich. I attempt to order the sandwich filling, but only order tomato and onion. The waitress is looking at me in anticipation … the main ingredient … oh, cheese!
On the way back the car beeps, once, twice, maybe three times. The car is dieing of thirst and Fi is getting worried. Off the motorway, just outside Benissa we stop at Masoil. I pay attention to what Dave is doing. I take note that Sin Plomo is unleaded. Diesel is marked diesel, but there is also Gasoleo “A”. This is a cheaper lower quality diesel for older engines. I volunteer to pay as D&F have been running me around all week plus collecting me from the airport. I wait in the shop for Dave to finish, but the dials keep going round and round. I wonder if he has accidentally placed the nozzle in an open car window. Clearly the size of the petrol tank is disproportionate to the size of the car. If we have an accident we will explode like a nuclear bomb. Eventually the dials grind to a halt and I pay, proud that I am now a small shareholder in Masoil!
Tonight is Fiesta night and the bulls are set free to run around the main church square in the old town. It is part of the Jesus of Nazarene celebration. This is very exciting and so we plan to leave at 8:00pm have a bite to eat and see the bulls run in Javea.
We arrive and all is quiet. A quick walk around the town and apart from children playing not much else is going on. Clearly no bulls tonight. The cafes and restaurants are just about to open. Lights are coming on and the alleyways are looking very pretty. Only one small tapas bar is bustling. Many Europeans still eat at normal times, but the Spanish don’t surface until after 10:00 pm. The restaurant we are going to is dark and there is a sign on the board. We try the door. Locked. We peer through the window. All of a sudden the door swings open and we are told they are closed tonight for personal reasons … with many apologies.
We walk on and stop at Mi Lola in the Carrer Major. Fi is not hungry. Her strategy, because we were due to see the bulls and possibly eat much later, was to eat that afternoon. And so she succumbed to biscuits and some chilli she found in the fridge. So Dave and I decided to choose 2 tapas each and Fi could share. Dave also ordered some bread and aioli and then the duck confit! Basically it all arrived and it was a veritable feast. Fi nibbled around the edges while Dave and I gorged ourselves. We almost ate it all and it was sensational, but honestly, yes, a bit too much!
A Spanglish conversation with the waiter revealed that it is Fiesta week, but the bulls are running on Thursday.
Until next time 🌏