I went to pay the (Spanish) bills yesterday. At the moment I pick up any bills when I go back to Spain at weekends and then pay them during the week across the border in La Linea.
Naturally I can’t pay them when I arrive home as it is Saturday and the banks are closed.
So I decided to walk to La Linea yesterday – it’s about 35/40 minutes down Main Street, across the airfield, through the border and into the town centre of La Linea.
I’ve found out the same bank as the one in my village has different hours for bill paying. In the village you can only pay bills on Tuesday and Thursday between 8.30 and 10.30am. But there in La Linea you can only pay them between the 10th and the 20th of the month. I have no idea what happens if the bill comes on the 21st. You go to another bank I suppose. Or the post office. I would have thought all branches of the same company would have the same hours but clearly not.
First I walked into the wrong bank, forgetting this silly difference in payment days. Then I made it to the other bank which lets you pay bills on Tuesday and Thursday – up to 10 o’clock. So of course we all stand there waiting for people who are not paying bills messing around and asking a million questions about their account. Once it gets to ten to ten everyone starts looking at their watch. And tutting, and fidgeting.
Anyway I made it by five to, and paid the ‘phone bill. I asked the bank clerk if he knew whether there was a Unicaja bank in La Linea, as that is the only bank where you can pay the water bill.
“I don’t know,” he said unhelpfully but with a nice smile.
“No, I haven’t seen one,” I said equally mindlessly.
I decided to go on a Unicaja hunt. Fortunately things like banks are usually located in the same street, so I just kept walking down the street, and passed a load – but no Unicaja.
Then, nearly at the end of the street, there it was. Unicaja. And it wasn’t ten o’clock yet either. Perhaps they operated the bills-only-payable-the day-following-a-full-moon system. There were no signs. This was promising. The queue was short.
I asked the friendly woman if I could pay.
“No,” she smiled back, unhelpfully.
“Well, it says I can at the top of the bill. Look.”
“Do you have an account with us?”
“Oh, dear. If you had you could have used the automatic machine. But you don’t so you can’t.” Another smile. “You need to go to the post office.”
I went to the post office. There was a queue of about 10 or 12 people. Then I realised they all had delivery slips in their hands and were waiting to collect something.
So I went to another counter, with only two people queuing. Things were looking up.
“Can I pay this bill?” I said with a nice smile to the grumpy man.
He took one look at it, and the stupid foreigner, and snarled “NO.”
But helpfully added “Ki-ee-ki-on-air-a.”
I repeated it. He looked at me as though I was stupid and waved me off imperiously with a vague gesture in the direction of Calle Calloneras.
I decided it was unlikely to be Calle Banco (don’t know it’s real name) so opted for the next one along. Spot on. It turned out to be Calle Carboneras.
First en route I found the town museum. It has a lot of exhibits by Spanish painter José Cruz Herrera who was born in La Linea. I thought I would have a look at that on the way back if I couldn’t find whatever it was I was looking for. Presumably a water office. Perhaps they had inter-company arrangements for payments.
I got to a crossroads – literally. This was a particularly naff-looking street. I had visions of the grumpy man in post office rolling around laughing having sent the silly foreign woman off down a back street looking for a non-existent water office.
Sometimes the street names change at crossroads but I crossed over and gave it a go anyway. And there it was. A few yards further down. The water office – and it was exactly the same company as mine. My luck was in. Wow. It had been worth all the effort.
There were only two people in front of me.
“Hola,” I said. “Can I pay this?”
“No.” Nice smile.
“No?” repeated the parrot. I was getting good at repeating people yesterday morning. “Why not? It’s the same company.”
“Yes,” another nice smile. “But we are not linked,” gesturing at the computer. “This is just for La Linea.”
“So, what do I do? I only go back there on weekends and the water office is closed then.” In fact the water office – and the telephone hours for the public – are only open from 9am – 1pm.
“You have to go back there,” she said. Nicely of course, and looked very apologetic.
I went to the museum. It was closed. “For ever?” I asked. The guy shrugged his shoulders.
I am by no means a shopaholic. I do not fill my abundant spare time with wandering aimlessly round boring shops looking at things I neither want nor need.
But I did need two bras. I tried BHS. They were very large (I am not). I didn’t like them, even if they had been smaller.
I found one of those awful high street lingerie shops. I decided to go in. It wasn’t quite as bad as I expected. I was mildly entertained listening to a woman talking to the shop assistant about buying a sexy basque. I bought two bras. Very nice. I recommend La Senza.