Moving to Spain for a year means that we have to rent out our house in the UK, and to get the house ready we’re right in the middle of decorating our bedrooms, re-doing the entire bathroom and painting the stairs, hall and landing. And then we visit our house in Spain for a couple of weeks rest & relaxation, and end up ….. decorating! Much of our woodwork needs sanding down and repainting, and a lot of walls – internal and external – need a healthy dose of Andalucian whitewash.
Painting whitewash on walls is something we do a lot of in Spain. It’s quite unbelievable how much wall there is, and how much whitewash we need in a year! Ideally, we’d use Sandtex, as it lasts longer because the paint ‘breathes’, as opposed to plastic-based paints that trap the moisture in the walls and therefore peel off much more quickly. But Sandtex is not available locally, so instead we re-paint all the walls every three years. And to get our decorating supplies, we have discovered the most fabulous local ferreteria (hardware shop), with an amazing array of tools, equipment, paints and cleaning products. The only time that my husband Hilary actually likes going shopping is when we visit the ‘ferrets’ on the way!
And it’s not a hardship to be painting walls in glorious sunshine. Last week, Hilary was happily painting the wall by the external stairs and enjoying the warmth of the sun. He found it easy at the top, but as the steps got lower he was reaching up higher and higher, to the point that the only way to reach the top was with a small wooden container balanced on one of the steps. Not such a good idea really, and it wasn’t balanced very well. Stretching to reach the last little piece, Hilary came crashing down the stairs to the bottom!
Dial 112 for a medical emergency
A scary moment, with Hilary lying on the courtyard, not moving, and it looked like this really was a 112 moment (112 is the Spanish equivalent of 999). But actually, thankfully, he did move, sat up, got up and walked, though he wasn’t able to move his left arm. And that was our introduction to the Spanish health system – firstly to the drop-in health centre in Iznajar, 20 minutes away. But they had no x-ray facility. And so a further 40 minute drive to the hospital in Cabra. Something to be aware of – hospitals can be a long drive away if you live in el campo.
But what a hospital! If you are used to the usual 4-hour A&E wait in the UK, then this was an eye-opener. The Hospital Infanta Margarita in Cabra was easy to access, with parking (free of charge!), clear signage and friendly staff. And most noticeable was the lack of bustle, because there were simply no patients. The hospital was calm, tranquil, and hospital staff were waiting around to help any patients who might appear. We quickly registered, then to triage, then the consultant, onto x-ray, back to the consultant….and a diagnosis of three broken ribs! A prescription and a sling, and we were out within an hour of arrival. I’ve no idea how the Spanish state pays for a health service of this quality (we only waved Hilary’s EHIC and that was enough). Maybe we were just lucky, helped by it being a Sunday night, but it was hugely impressive.
Decorating once more
When you have a car accident, the best thing you can do is to go straight back into a car and drive. And so it was with me, going straight back after the accident to finish painting the walls. Hilary will need to take it easy for the next 6 weeks, and is trying to be helpful by commenting on the quality of my painting from a comfy chair … And even though we were most impressed by the Spanish health service, here’s hoping that we won’t need to use it very much in the coming year!