It being Ramadan, the local Roccy (Moroccan) workers seem to be doing even less than normal. According to Partner who is ensconced with them on an office refurb job.
So it’s no smoking, no drinking, no eating, and apparently not much working either.
They often get their prayer mats out during the day to face Mecca and do the usual incantations. During Ramadan, they just seem to fall asleep on them, as you would if you don’t eat during the day. Extremely silly idea at the best of times, even more so working in the construction industry. They would probably prefer a total shutdown, like Lottie wrote about in Indonesia. But Gib isn’t an Islamic country, so don’t work during Ramadan = lose job.
These Roccies aren’t exactly spring chickens either, with a few being in their 60s. Anyone in their 50s (like my youthful partner) is a ‘joven’.
Most of them have a place in Morocco. And families there. Or they have two places in Morocco, who knows? All their money earned in Gib basically goes back to Morocco. It’s a bit like Asians working in the UK and sending money back to families in India and Pakistan. Or cross-border workers taking their money out to Spain.
One of them isn’t planning to return to Morocco when he retires, the others are. The non-returner is viewed with a disapproving eye for wanting to remain in Gib. I’m not planning on returning to the UK, but there again I don’t send my non-existent wages home to family over there. But the culture, ideals and aspirations are to work for as much money as you can get and then go back home.
It’s a bizarre life, many of these men (they’re all men because Moroccan women stay at home or do cleaning jobs like the one I met at the bus station on the last post) have spent 40 or more years here.
They might go back for holidays, or over the weekend as we have a weekend ferry from Gib to Tanger. I’ve worked away from my partner for periods of time and we still have separate commitments, eg me doing the bus run back to the finca. But 40 years away from home until they retire?? Let’s hope they don’t drop dead just before they reach pension age. Unless they have life insurance I guess.
And speaking of work, and eating or not eating, here is a quick update on the latest breakfast/lunches. Usually a carb-based pot, pasta/rice/potatoes, and a fresh salady pot. This one has tomatoes, olives, avocado, shallot, cucumber, gherkin and sweetcorn. ‘Mmmm,’ said Partner as he walked back in with Pippa at approx 7am, ‘that looks yummy.’ Then he dived into the previous night’s left over veg stir-fry and said that was delicious too. Shit! I must have done something right.
The sweetcorn is tinned, Maiz Bonduelle, probably not available outside Spain/Gib. It only has sweetcorn, water and salt. Very good. No sugar added. Why would anyone add sugar to sweetcorn? It’s probably genetically modified too for all I know, but you can’t win all the ethical arguments.
I arrived late at the GibJobCentre. By which I mean a week late not a few minutes. I explained this, and the employment officer assured me no I wasn’t late, they were still open. Obviously, or I wouldn’t have got in. (They close at 12.30, and that’s not just summer hours, that’s all year round). Eventually she got the fact I was a week late.
I asked if she wanted to hear my excuses for not turning up on the right day. She didn’t. We looked up some jobs that I won’t get, so may not apply for. The job centre has changed yet again, with the adverts now being just outside the employment officer section, having been moved from a dedicated room. Apparently they are moving the adverts (what few there are) elsewhere at some point. The changes leave me shaking my head – for what value is all this?
The call centre that was meant to have stopped is still operating. For some jobs. I asked about construction for Partner (idle curiosity seeing as he has a job). No painters/decorators, and that’s call centre work? Ah, that will explain why in 12 months the call centre hasn’t called him despite more than 40 years experience and trade papers?
I wandered off bemused and called at a garage where one of our Land Rovers is currently residing.
‘I need you to get the part numbers for me,’ said the mechanic (in Spanish as he ain’t too hot in English apparently and nearly freaked when he realised he had to speak to a guiri).
‘I need to get underneath and look for the problem,’ he added.
Puzzled. This is a garage with mechanics. You have had this vehicle for two weeks and haven’t looked underneath or diagnosed the problem. You expect me to work out which parts you need to fix the brakes? Brake tubes? Cylinders? Well? Do you want me to give you a list of every single brake part for a Land Rover? (There are a lot). We could do it ourselves if the Idiot Partner hadn’t gone and got a job.
I went to the shop and bought olives, gherkin and sweetcorn (as above). At least that was a successful mission.
The next day I bit the bullet and tackled the bills for the block which are every six months. I’d had a nag that the crap management agency that was previously employed hadn’t done them right. They’d hiked the original figures by 40%, which they needed to cover their management costs to send a lot of paper around internally and reminders out to us naughty non-paying residents every month. Good use of money that. For them. I went back to the original figures and added 40%. This is not a difficult sum to do. The company allegedly had qualified accountants although adding 40% to something doesn’t really need a chartered accountant. Out of 15 flats all the figures were wrong.
They were only slightly wrong, and I do understand the concept of rounding up and down and all the rest of it. I can even do NPV, so I have a basic grasp of sums.
So why bother for small beer? Well, because rates, property taxes, and in this case community charges are all based on square footage/metreage. I don’t want it to be unfair because some idiot can’t work out how to increase the charges by a whopping 40%, and in fact it was doing the block out of £30. I know, picky, anal, call it what you will, but it was driving me up the wall.
Most of the bills were hand delivered by me to the mailboxes in the block. Two people had already paid up front before the bills were even due. Thank you nice people.
I emailed three absentee landlords and one who flits between here and Spain. In less than 24 hours I heard from three out of four. The flitter will pay at the end of the month. Fine. The notorious long-term non-payer about whom I have written before whinged on about his long-standing complaint and said nothing about paying. Another has asked for bank details to transfer money. Nope. Just put the cheque in the post. And I haven’t heard from the other continual non-payer.
And you know what, the good thing about having a house overflowing with paperwork is? Sometimes, you can use that old paperwork. Five years ago, this block had exactly the same non-payers, overdue by 16 months, 27 months and 30 months in arrears. When, or if, we take legal action, I shall be using my old pieces of paper.
Ironically, my largest most unfavourite non-payer (the one who cleared off to Colombia on holiday with his £4K Grand National winnings) owes virtually the same now as he did back then. A hundred pounds more now, but more or less it’s the same in the scheme of things – £1126.
The payers seem happy. And looking back over the years, some people just don’t intend to pay. They didn’t pay then and they aren’t paying now.
To finish with a dog link, for those of you who like dogs. (If you don’t then why are you here? but anyway). My friend Vicky has written about Jasper on her latest post. Vicky, like me and other friends, homes rescue dogs. Vicky often has photos of her dogs on her blog, so I do recommend a visit.
As Andrew/Lulu moaned about Pippa not posting of late, here is Pippa. He’s also over on Everypic, as are all my other dogs. In fact Pippa’s on more of my blogs than he is on his own. Sorry Pipps. Salad pots, Land Rovers, bills, shopping seem to get in the way.