Monday 2nd April 2018 dawned. Moving day. And the soap opera began. Unsurprisingly we hadn’t slept much so we both chugged back the Berocca and hit the floor running.
First stop… pick up Alix from her casita next door at 9am… she was bang on time with a big old black suitcase, wheelie bag, small bag, plastic bag and handbag. The plastic bag was for the bin… everything else was for her new life. Her car was left parked by the casita and we were entrusted with its key… ready to hand over to the transporter company that would be taking it to Palma in a few days time.
She walked away and didn’t even want a private moment to say goodbye to her home of the last 30 odd years. Stoic.
We pulled out of the drive, turned right and headed into Orgiva… I think all of us with butterflies in our stomachs. We went straight to Galindos for a strong shot of coffee and we sat down outside for her last Alpujarra breakfast of a slab of toasted baguette with pureed tomato paste… except My Gorgeous Man had forgotten his phone and today was really not the day to be without a phone… so he went home again… and was reminded yet again that we really did need petrol… the light was well and truly on but the petrol station was the other way… so he just winged it on vapour and a prayer.
Considering it was pretty early in the morning, Alix and I surprisingly dove deep into girl chats and once again I wished with all my heart that she wasn’t going. MGM made it back, muttering about ‘must get petrol’ and with his phone safely in his back pocket. Time for breakfast, round two. We enjoyed ourselves so much that Alix had to rush back up the road and across the square to the Notary for the final sale transfer at 10.30am. And then the waiting game began… it’s Spain you see… and nobody really knew how long the sale would actually take. And we also became the custodians of Alix’s non essential bag.
At this point, we thought everything was going really well and would continue to go really well. But soap operas are boring when things go too well and our life out here in the Alpujarra is anything but boring.
So here we go….
My Gorgeous Man and I were tasked with changing Alix’s internet over into our names… so after the second round of coffees, we wandered through the narrow streets to the internet office and the infamous Molly. A wonderful colourful character, very much on the ball and… thank you God… English. Between the banter about the fullness and wavy luscious quality of Andrew Garfield’s hair in Spiderman… we pushed through the confusion of Casita and Cortijo and why the Cortijo internet (our dream rental home) was still in our friends name who had moved out 3 weeks ago, and we’d moved in… but we were now moving into Alix’s casita next door… still needing to pay the bill for our friend… and yes, we did want an upgrade from the 10gigs a month. I love living here… if this had happened in the UK there would have been red tape galore, call centres and ‘no can do’s ‘… but here, it was all sorted with a laugh and a smile and we took away the piece of paper that Alix needed to sign to give permission for it all to fall into place.
It was hysterical, light relief.
No news from Alix… so we decided to sit in the square and have a drink… it was practically lunchtime by then…. and we could fulfil our task of looking out for her friend who was to be entrusted with the post box key that was safely in my bag.
Time passed. And more time passed.
I received a WhatsApp from our friends that used to live in the Cortijo… her and hubby were on their way into town.
“Come and join the waiting game!” I said… and soon enough they were at our table. It was a sunny day, but they commiserated with us about the sale and we could see they felt pretty bad that they managed to dodge the ‘homeless’ bullet. “It’s ok… it’s life,” we said. And it is. The Universe moves in mysterious ways. Very mysterious ways.
We finally see the estate agent striding out of the Notary office looking a tad tense and grim to say the least. And then we see the new owner practically skipping out of the main doors with glee and heading straight to a table nearby where she plonked herself down next to a man we’d never seen before with 3 crazy, noisy, small dogs. A bottle of fizz was soon delivered to their table.
Then Alix comes out… looking rather drained and in need of a drink. We flag her down and over she comes with great big hugs for our friends and her previous tenants… then off she goes to get some photocopying done…or something like that… but…. “Alix… wait!” “Can you sign the internet transfer permission please!” She scrabbles around for her Spanish NIE number, squiggles her signature and we sigh with relief that something has been achieved towards our move.
But, we still don’t have a rental agreement to move that afternoon into the casita from the New Owner.
Suddenly New Owner bounces over to us all… and we introduce our friend to New Owner because Friend now has to sign the internet over to New Owner! Molly must have had a laugh that day. And off they go.
By now it’s very much past lunch time, but we don’t want to move because we don’t know where Alix is… and we have her bag… the postbox key to be handed over to her friend if we see her… and we don’t have a clue what’s happening.
But we eventually decided to go back to Molly with Alix’s internet transfer permission… only to find New Owner sitting at Molly’s desk trying to set up her own. New Owner is a wonderful wild card… who’s English is actually pretty good but when you’re talking about internet, phone lines and contracts it’s not that easy and there’s not much similarity to her native language of German.
We stood and waited our turn and when New Owner turns round to see us… there’s more great big happy hugs all round. She hugs tight. She’d had bubbles. And we bring up the subject of our rental agreement.
“Aaaah… yes… Paul the estate agent is going to sort it out… we need to go see him!” But it’s now getting very close to siesta closing time. Jeez!!
We disentangle ourselves from the hugs and head back to the square to see if Alix has surfaced! She has! But we have to go to the bank first so she can give us our deposit back! So we trot back down the road and into the quiet sombreness of the bank… where I thought I heard the teller saying that she couldn’t take more cash out than the regular daily allowance. Oooops. Turns out it was my Spanish that was off… and we are unceremoniously handed an envelope with a wad of €100 notes and asked to sign the receipt. Job done. We felt rich… even though the abundance was just passing through to become another deposit.
We then crossed the road to the estate agent who’s been tasked with our rental agreement… only to find that there isn’t one. It’s not even drawn up. And he’s very late for a property viewing as the market has suddenly taken off…. AND we can see that the remnants of super high stress levels from the palaver at the Notary’s office over Spanish banks, transfers and systems that didn’t compute… are just about to pop. A call comes through saying that the viewers went ahead and didn’t like the track to the property, so the viewing is off. Cue, sigh of relief…. but bye bye commission. He takes our names… asks how long we want the contract for and anything else we want added in. Contract will be ready in a couple of days. And apparently it’s ok for us to move in that afternoon.
Being an ex-director and project manager extraordinaire… My Gorgeous Man isn’t comfortable that we don’t have the security of a rental contract. But hey… there was nothing we could do about it. Deep breath. Sigh.
So we stand up, shake hands, pick up Alix’s bag that we’ve still got… and find her outside at her friends shop, trying to convince her to come and take a couple of the feral cats she’s been feeding on the Casita terrace for the past few years. An agreement was struck, but the reality is, the cats fought back big time and there was no keeping them in the box. They were staying put.
We were going to have to deal with them ourselves.
This was our biggest dread.
Feral cats and Sir Maxelot.
The trained racer and hunter of all things small, fast and furry.
But also… reality check… we now had a roof over our head for the next 6 months, which just a few days before, we didn’t think we would have.
We head back to the square and the same cafe that we’d based ourselves in… and order beer. Then we see Alix’s friend and wave her over and admit that we are non the wiser as to where Alix has now gone… but here’s the postal box key… and she hands us back some cash that has been outstanding… as happens with friends who don’t expect their friend to suddenly be up and gone within 10 days!
It was all getting very surreal. That friend leaves… and Alix turns up and orders a huge glass of wine. She’s talking about giving us all her contacts names, numbers and secrets of everyone she can think of who might be able to find us or help us with finding a long term secure home. We were soooo over the adventure of moving… but right to the end she was trying to help us.
In between all of this, she’s discovered that her friend’s, daughter’s ex-husband is driving to Granada at 3pm and she’s trying to call him to blag a lift so she doesn’t have to get the bus… and can just hop on her flight to her new life in Palma the next morning. She literally caught him leaving the house and we had just a few minutes to get her to Baraka where he said he’d pick her up.
Glug go the drinks and we walk back to the car, which ironically is already parked at Baraka. Orgiva is really quite small. MGM gallantly pulls out her big suitcase, and then all offers of help are refused as she gives us great big heartfelt hugs and turns round to battle her suitcase, wheelie and the bag that we’d been charged with, across the road. There was a lump in my throat as she turned her back… but no sooner had she crossed the road than a black car pulled up, man jumps out, grabs her cases and puts them in the car… and off she goes. Gone. Goodbye Alix.
I do admire her courage and independence hugely.
MGM and I were left feeling a bit numb, exhausted and wrung out. And… stressed. And we still had to move out of the Cortijo that night as New Owner would be moving in the next morning.
Getting in the car we remembered to go and get petrol and it was there that I went on livestream in my Channelling Love Membership Group because I had been due to do their weekly Illumination Oracle card readings. The slim chance that that could have happened had long since disappeared… and instead of getting supportive inspirational insights, they got a bit of an in the moment apologetic torrent. Keeping it real.
Driving back we realised that there was still a huge amount of work.
Like… pack… clean… move.
MGM, my hero had commandeered the wheelbarrow from behind the Casita because weirdly… it was easier and closer to wheel our life across the garden and through the hedge rather than carry everything the length of the terrace and long front garden to the parking place to pack up the car and then drive the long way round the front… a few times… because we’d taken the storage box off the roof thinking we wouldn’t be moving again.
My job was to pack everything up and take it down to the kitchen… where we would then move the loads out on to the small terrace that was enclosed by the emergency baby gate we’d brought for all gaps that needed to be filled against Sir Maxelot’s lack of recall. MGM would then… load up the wheelbarrow and trundle across the garden and through the bushes to our latest residence. And I would then clean. Not that there was much of a clean needed as we’d only been there 3 weeks.
Perhaps I’ve mentioned that already.
Poor Sir Maxelot… he had been settling into his new home so well, but he now knew that shit was about to happen. He began to get agitated and stressed and wouldn’t go to his bed where he generally sleeps most of the day… he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time and continually at the kitchen terrace doors… where he knew he could spy on the enemy cats that slipped through the hedge to taunt him from the other side of the baby gate..
We shuffled our life backwards and forwards for almost 3 hours. Yup 3 hours.
But it was towards the end of the epic transfer that I came downstairs from cleaning to meet a very red in the face and very sweaty MGM with a very bright eyed Sir Maxelot by his side being held by his flimsy anti-tic collar.
“Didn’t you hear me?” MGM demands…
“Er no… what’s the matter?” I ask
“How could you not hear me… I’ve been shouting my head off for help!”
“I’m sorry… I was upstairs cleaning the bedroom… these old walls are so thick…”
Turned out the impossible had happened. Max had spied the baby gate was open and our old, grey, lazy, beloved couch potato of a dog had suddenly and miraculously turned into Sputnik and headed literally for the hills behind us. In the 2 years that we’ve been his human parents… he has never shown any interest in walks, exercise or let alone running… but apparently despite his kronky arthritis he was up on the second terrace before MGM had even computed that he was on the run.
The second miracle was that the “Stop my dog!” angels were on the ball and MGM somehow caught him. He still doesn’t remember exactly how. But he does remember the walk of shame home. We still can’t believe that happened. It rocked us to the core and it became very apparent that with the stress of feral cats living on his doorstep, Sir Maxelot was now going to be hugely triggered every time he went outside.
It was very sad to realise that after making such leaps and bounds into his new found calm and confidence, he was going to have to remain on the lead to even be walked around his new garden… which didn’t have a fence… it was a no brainer, especially after his Houdini escapade. And let’s face it, it would be essential for his safety…. and also for the lives of the resident the feral cats.
Finally, by early evening, our life was on the other side of the hedge and it was time to walk across with Sir Maxelot to our new beginnings.
Well, we got the welcome we didn’t want. A parade of cats. And Sir Maxelot went absolutely mental and it was heartbreaking and scary to see his genes and training kick in so hard. He was prancing all over the place, pulling, barking, panting, straining, stressing and there was nothing for it but to take him straight inside and set up his bed and try and calm him down.
Except he didn’t calm down. He became more and more stressed and agitated. Heavy breathing… panting… pacing the casita… we could see his heart pounding and the confusion in his eyes as to why this was all happening. We knew his arthritis was flaring after his sprint and that he was in pain… but his DNA was overpowering and all he wanted was to chase those furry ferals that he could sense on the other side of the door. When he eventually lay down, it was like he was in a trance… eyes, glazed and slightly bulging, hard panting, tongue hanging out and we felt utterly helpless.
He became so distressed that he shat in the kitchen and took a huge dive and we thought we were going to lose him.
So for the first night in our latest home, I went to bed alone and MGM slept on the sofa next to Sir Maxelot’s bed, to keep him company and to try to help him feel more secure and calm.
It was not a good first night.
And we resolved there and then, that we absolutely HAD to find OUR home as soon as possible.
Sir Maxelot made it through the night.
We were frazzled, but our little family had made it and now we were hoping for a bit of clear blue water to settle in. I had almost 2 weeks to properly recharge my batteries and get my health back on track before my next Channelling Love Retreat started.
But our first week in the casita was hugely stressful and anything but restful. It turned into the ‘cats and Sir Maxelot management programme.’ Not helped at all by 5 little furry f*cks… aka… small noisy dogs moving into the Cortijo with New Owner… who charged en masse towards us every time we came out of our front door. We put up some plastic temporary fencing in an attempt to create safe space for Sir Maxelot but these little guys just went under it. There was just no respite for any of us if we wanted to go outside… and we began to feel like prisoners in our own home.
So when I received a phone call just a few days before my retreat was about to begin, that my mother had been taken into hospital with heart irregularities, there was a tiny part of me that was secretly relieved that I would have to go home within the week… and the rest of me just felt guilty. My mother rallied by the way… she’s a superstar.
Surely there would be a breakthrough and something ‘good’ would happen for us soon!
As it turned out… there was a glimmer on the horizon! More of that next time
It turned out the transporter company couldn’t come down the narrow windy road to the casita to pick up Alix’s car… so we received some rather fraught messages asking us to drive her car to an abandoned garage factory area on the outskirts of Orgiva where the massive transporter would be able to pull in to pick it up.
By then it was dark, I drove our car and MGM drove her car with no paperwork, no insurance and no real idea of where we were going and just hoping that we would realise that ‘THIS’ was the spot. We tried out a couple of spots but eventually pulled in… to what was the obvious one… Doh… and hoped to God the police didn’t come and ask why we were loitering in a English car and a Spanish one that wasn’t ours and was filled to the brim with lifelong possessions that wouldn’t fit in a suitcase.
When the transporter arrived… we almost pooped our pants.
It was Mahoosive.
Much manouvering was done by the jolly driver and he then drove Alix’s car up onto the ramps of the totally empty double layered monster of a truck thing.
We took photos… handed over the key… took bit of paper and prayed that it would get there. A few days later we heard from Alix that the car had arrived… minus her laptop and folding bicycle that had been stolen from inside. And there was nothing that anyone could prove or do about it. Bugger.