Power naps. For some reason I started flagging mid morning and needed a power nap for most of last week. Half an hour or forty minutes later and then I was skipping, well, skip/limping, about again.
Meantime, while I’d been blissfully dreaming about something or other, the rain had started. Can’t remember when it last rained. More than six months ago.
I got up and we sat in the kitchen with the door open watching the rain. Partner had helpfully taken photos while I was doing the Sleeping Beauty routine. It’s soothing to watch the rain. It also means I don’t need to water the garden.
The rain eased off so he took the dogs out for the lunchtime run. Five minutes in, it chucked it down again. On return, it was towel off two dogs and Partner (not pleased to be handed a dog towel!) and give him a change of clothes.
More rain at night. It absolutely belted down. Bounced off the rooves, the patio, everything. We couldn’t go back to sleep.
‘How do people sleep in this?’
‘They probably don’t.’
‘You mean half of Andalucía is awake listening to the rain, drinking cups of tea?’
An odd thought.
Then we heard it.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Regular readers may remember the roof leak earlier this year in our dining room.
Except, when I looked it up, it wasn’t this year at all. It was last year. In fact, it was around the same time. The first of the heavy autumn rains, usually around a full moon.
But … where was the drip? Partner had already checked the previously leaking area but he plodded round the house yet again in the middle of the night/early morning, ie he looked in the other three rooms.
‘The roof,’ I said. ‘It’s coming through the roof and dripping on the up side of the ceiling.’
I think that meant yes.
We considered decamping into casa chica (the little house) but decided to take our chances of the ceiling falling in on us. It was hardly as though he could climb on the roof in the pitch dark in torrential rain to do anything useful.
It didn’t. Fall in. In the morning, we searched for water stains. None.
The next night we lay awake again waiting for the rain that never started.
Rinse and repeat. For the third night in a row we repeated our insomnia listening for drips and rain.
On our first night back in Gib, I slept like a log. Gib is normally noisy on a Sat night but three nights listening for water entering the house had taken it out of us.
But that wasn’t the only thing.
A British couple in our pueblo suddenly disappeared. They didn’t live in our street, but in new houses a few minutes walk away.
We knew them to speak to and had visited them occasionally for a cup of tea and a chat. Or a glass of wine and a beer if we were lucky.
They were the sort who would wave merrily as they drove past us at the bus stop without bothering to offer us a lift, unlike some of our Spanish neighbours, who would slow down and ask if we were going into town.
B and B were brother and sister, in their seventies. They came in their sixties, complete with pensions, but decided to run a pension to supplement their income. They got fed up with that and wanted somewhere they could park their car outside, so moved to our village a year after us.
A few years ago, we noticed the house was locked up and the car was gone. It was the same every time we came back to our finca. No sign of life. We best guessed one, or the other, or both, had died and left it at that. Not much point in asking around, who wants to know about death? And display a morbid curiosity? Like slowing down to sticky-beak at car crashes.
Last week their neighbour and his friend came to our gate and asked if we had a contact for the family. The friend was interested in renting or buying the house. Apparently the sister had died, and the brother, who couldn’t manage on his own, had gone back to the UK.
Well, we didn’t have a contact so that was a non-starter.
The next day on dog walk duty, Partner wandered past, and saw the neighbour’s friend – in the house and clearing it out! They acknowledged each other and the friend said the house had electricity but no water. Who has been paying the electricity for three or four years?
‘Maybe the neighbour had a key?’ I suggested.
‘No. B didn’t like them at all.’
‘So,’ I said, ‘they weren’t asking for a contact for permission, they were making sure we didn’t have one so we didn’t dob them in?’
Breaking and entering, and getting rid of the mouldy rotten furniture ie theft, must constitute burglary at the least.
The following day on early morning dog duty in the dark, Partner saw a light was on in the house. The friend must have already moved in. Amazing. I don’t know what Spanish laws are on squatting but in the UK, if you could get in without breaking and entering, then it used to be difficult to evict people. This house was fully secured though, including grilles on ground floor windows and doors, and shutters upstairs.
They can’t get the water connected without some sort of contract, so they must be planning on a dodgy pipework connection to the mains (not difficult according to Partner), and the leccy must still be being paid by whoever.
We spent most of the week shaking our heads at the brazen audacity of it.
Without internet in Spain we listen to the radio for news. Talk Radio Europe.
Coincidentally there was an article about people moving into empty houses.
‘They need somewhere to live,’ said one person.
Fine. We all do. Especially the ones whose homes have been snatched from under them.
If people need homes, maybe that should be a government priority, rather than that of a private individual who may well have worked for xx years, paid or still be paying a mortgage, and suddenly finds themselves homeless?
A lawyer said it can cost €15–20,000 and take years to sort it through the courts. Although there is a firm that employs large people who suggest – legally – that the temporary residents move out. Guess which would be my option?
This illegal occupation is happening in Murcia and Barcelona, added the lawyer, but not Andalucía.
Oh. Yes. It. Is.
Austerity measures. Bale out banks. Fleece the people. Turn a blind eye to the most important investment most people ever make – their home.
What a crock of shit.