|Miguel and Ricardo, first dinner|
I should mention here that sleep is already quite difficult in Spain, as I am not used to this whole Siesta business. Here most shops, offices, tourist locations etc are open from 9am to 1.30/2pm, and then again from 5pm until about 9pm, with a break in the middle for lunch and a nap. To me it seems a little inefficient, as everyone then has to pay for twice the amount of trips to work and endure twice the amount of traffic jams, open and close the buildings and computers twice, and so on, and then because you leave work at 9 its dark and you don´t have so much time to do things, although in saying that people go to bed much later, around 1 or 2am. I haven´t really tried to get used to napping in the afternoon, as I am leaving Spain again soon, so I am tired all of the time at the moment and it means I spend three hours sitting around in the afternoon with nothing to do while everything is closed.
The rest of Monday was pretty relaxed, I met Annabella, one of Miguel´s best friends and possibly New Zealand´s biggest fan, and we had tapas for dinner (I think I´ve eaten more tapas that actual meals since I got here!). On Tuesday Annabella took me shopping, it is the season of Rebajas, or sales here, and I was very happy to spend a lot of time in Zara, a chain I was addicted to in Costa Rica and missed in NZ, but I have been very prudent and keep reminding myself of how stupid I looked when I feel over in the train station because my backpack was already to heavy! We then had dinner with more friends of Miguel´s at a local chinese resturant. On Wednesday I ventured out alone for the first time, just walking around and window shopping some more. Madrid has an amazing underground Metro system, built back in 1910, and you pay 1euro to take as many connecting Metros as you need. I am glad I spent time in Berlin watching Hauke work out that metro system, otherwise I think I would´ve been pretty lost, but so far I´ve worked it all out fine. I brought a Spanish cellphone, but that
|Don Quixote's windmills|
The Spanish working holiday visa requires me to go to a Foreigners Office here and sort out something, no one really seems to know what, but it will see me recieve a national ID permitting me to work, within one month of arriving. I took a bit of a risk and am only here for three weeks before I go back to Germany to keep travelling, and I am beginning to think the risk won´t pay off. Bureacracy seems to be a bit of a well-practised national sport around here, and no one seems to know what the hell I am supposed to do, or which Foreigners Office I need to go to. I got no where on the phone, so on Thursday I took myself off to the closest one and explained the situation to the secretary, asking if this was the right office. She only answered that I should sit and wait. For the next hour about ten of us sat and waited, while we watched through the glass doors as the office staff gathered around someone´s baby and seemed to party. Finally, I got to see another woman, who tried to tell me that working holiday visas for Spain don´t exist, made some calls, and then told me to go to another office. Thank you for requiring me to wait for a hour and a half, rather than just telling me it wasn´t the right office in the first place! To go to this office, I need an appointment, but when I rang again the receptionist insisted that there was no working holiday programme. On Friday I got up early and went with Miguel to work, so that he could ring on my behalf, but we still ended up going around and around in circles with there being no process in place to handle working holiday visas. The different types of visas are assigned to the different Foreign Offices around Madrid, but there is no office that deals with this kind of thing. Finally, we were told to use the online appointment booking system, but to do that you need a National ID number, which I won´t get until my visa is resolved...I really don´t understand how a website designed for non-Spanish citizins can require a Spanish ID number! There is a really good montage in the movie ´The Spanish Apartment´ of a guy running around a million different offices at his university in France to organise his exchange to Spain, I feel like I am in the middle of that montage right now. Finally, as we searched for information tonight I found the ´Spain´ section of the Wikipedia ´Working Holiday Visas´ page:
Spain has signed an agreement with Canada. As of December 2010, the spanish authorities have failed to apply this agreement within Spain and most canadian citizens in Spain under this agreement have not been able to confirm their legal status nor been able to work. Canadian citizens wishing to apply for this visa should be aware of this current situation and should not plan their year upon receiving the visa because they might have to return to Canada after 90 days.
Spain also has an agreement with New Zealand.
Oh great. Now I get why I keep getting told that working holiday visas don´t exist and no one knows what to do. There simply don´t seem to be any procedures in place for dealing with this at all. Looking on the bright side of things, Google also tells me that getting a working holiday visa for Germany from either Spain or inside Germany itself will be straightforward, I was thinking of heading there after Spain but I could always bring that forward if the Spain thing really falls through. But positive thinking! I shall go to a Foreigners Office tomorrow and refuse to leave until I have some answers.
|Templo de Debod|
My training for the next Spanish National Bureaucracy Championships has left me with little time to do anything else. I visited El Templo de Debod, an Egyptian temple from the early second century BC, dedicated to the Gods Amun and Isis. After Egypt built the Great Dam of Aswan in the 1960s, a group of temples and other sites were threatened, and in return for Spain´s help in rescuing them Egypt gifted them this temple, and it was rebuilt in the middle of a park in Madrid. Its pretty bizarre to be wandering around an Egyptian temple with the Madrid skyline in the background! Today I went to see the memorial for the victims of the 2004 terror bombing in the Metro, it is inside the train station but still took me about half an hour to find as it isn´t signposted and no one I asked knew where it was, including a security guard! The memorial lists the names of the deceased, and inside a room there is a glass tower above with inscriptions of the messages of condolence left by people from around the world, it is a very pensive memorial but also displays a lot of hope and unity in these messages. I also popped into the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, or Queen Sofia´s Centre of Art, where Picasso´s most famous work, Guernica is displayed. This huge mural shows the tragedies and suffering of war, and was painted after German and Italian forces bombed the city of Guernica at the Spanish Nationalist´s request, and along with his other paintings and sculptures, is really impressive. It was also quite cool to see the posters painted by both sides as propaganda during the Spanish Civil War, as I´ve studied these for a couple of clases and been fascinted by them.
|Olga and I|
|Don Quixote's windmills|
On Saturday Miguel, Ricardo, Annabella and her boyfriend Jose and I headed to Ricardo´s hometown Cuidad Real, in the region of La Mancha, famous for nothing much except Don Quixote, on Saturday, in possibly the world´s smallest car. It definitely isn´t designed for five adults, and I don´t think I have ever had a more uncomfortable car journey, but it was worth it. While driving through the landscapes still amaze me, I can now see why European´s love coming to NZ, as here it is so flat and unchanging, with these boring, straight highways that have big walls on either side, so that you can´t actually see very much. It took us an hour and a half just to get out of Madrid, the highways are so huge and messy and badly signposted, we just couldn´t find our way, so the sun was setting as we stopped for lunch at the windmills of Don Quixote and it was really beautiful. We spend the night in Ricardo´s currently empty childhood home, drinking rum and (in my case) listening to drunk Latinos poor attempts at singing Marilyn Manson and Madonna in english until 8am. We got up pretty late and had an epic brunch of the dinner we failed to cook the night before, a whole lot of different chorizo and sausages, with grilled vegetables, cheese and egg, much better than baked beans on toast, before we headed back to Madrid.
|Breakfast in Ciudad Real|
So I end my first week in Madrid absolutely shattered, frustrated with the visa debacle, and a bit unsure about Madrid´s citizins - not the perfect start, but I am keeping positive and hopefully things will work out better this week!