A Giant Circle Of Impossibility

“This would be funny if it weren’t so horrible; maybe in 6 months it will be funny.”  Seeing this message from 25 January over six months later, I can confirm it is still not humorous.  Most of today was a shit show, but all’s well that ends well.

The day started with me up in the middle of the night, texting Crystal, Heidi, and Tom “I feel like I’m going to go Jack Torrance here….The dogs have not let me sleep in 2 weeks…No matter what I do, Lola is unhappy.  If I let her be comfortable with no diaper, she shits everywhere, eats it, and gets sick.  If I put on her diaper, she just paws relentlessly at her bed trying to make it ‘better’ somehow.  Every new bed I put down she pees and shits on.  Pig won’t stop licking his fucking feet, and has started peeing in the house to act out.  I can’t leave because Lola has balance issues.  I can’t stay because they’re driving me insane.  I can’t get angry with them because they (well, Lola) don’t entirely know what’s going on.  It’s exhausting, and I’m exhausted.  Good night to y’all.”  So, um, probably a good idea I knew better than to have children – it would have gone pretty much exactly like I thought it would.

After getting about 30-60 minutes more sleep at some point in the night, the morning was not any better.  It related to what I referred to as “a giant circle of impossibility.”  I was looking into getting internet for the bungalow that I was supposed to close on later in the day.  There were plenty of options, and high speed fiber options at that, at pretty good prices.  The problem was signing up.  Nobody had options to pay with a credit card; everyone wanted a direct debit from a (local) Spanish bank account.  Without a Spanish IBAN number (basically a bank ID number), I could not get high speed internet.  After going round and round with a friend of a friend on what was necessary, I summarized things as follows: “So I 100% have to sign up for a Spanish bank if I want internet.  But for a Spanish bank I need a phone number.  Which I would get via the internet provider.  It’s all a giant circle of impossibility.”  He responded “I know.  It’s insane.”

“Now that I’m fully awake, Lola is out.”  While I was losing my mind with the cell phone crap, she had finally gotten comfortable and gone into a deep sleep.  This bugged me, but I couldn’t be angry at her, as she was very clearly having physical health issues that were very clearly impacting her mental health.  Today, for example, she got worse seemingly out of nowhere, with a more pronounced head tilt. She alternated between being totally out of it and being with it but being angry at the world.  This put me in a delicate position as it related to communicating with Crystal.  I didn’t want to freak Crystal out about how bad it was, but didn’t want to lie and have Crystal show up and see what a bad state she was in.  So I wasn’t 100% candid, but did let her know that Lola wasn’t really doing any better, and was perhaps a little worse, than when she left the US.

My mind was working at about 30% of capacity because of the lack of sleep, but I finally came up with a potential solution to the bank-internet-phone issue, which was to get a pre-paid phone number that I could then use to get the bank account and then the internet.  We were really trying to avoid opening a Spanish bank account, but between the internet providers requiring one and the rent requiring one, I didn’t see any other option.

Around 11:00, piling on to what was already a shit-tastic day, I found out that the rental agent, Rachid, was at the hospital as his wife was in labor, and that they were scrambling to find another agent to handle the closing.  [I wasn't mad at Rachid, just the situation, and I can report his wife safely gave birth later that day.] I had my own agent, but he didn’t speak any English, and so all our conversations were over WhatsApp, which I then translated to/from Spanish with Google Translate.

Crystal, to her eternal credit, woke up and helped out at 03:00 her time, apparently catching on that I was having a rough go of it today.  Even at 3 in the morning she was more lucid and creative with potential solutions than I was at 11.  We were independently looking at eSIMs, which was something neither of us was previously familiar with.  An eSIM is effectively a second SIM card on the same physical phone, but without a second physical SIM.  Our iPhones were new enough to allow for this feature, and it seemed like – in theory – this might work well in terms of getting a prepaid local phone number without screwing up my US phone number in the process.  We went back and forth with some questions, and both came to the conclusion that it should work.  So I looked around town for the cell phone providers, then walked down into town.

As all this was going on, I was waiting to get the “final” rental contract.  It had been screwed up multiple times already, and wasn’t fully correct yet.  I had provided some edits, but the “revised” contract had literally none of them incorporated.  There was also some extra bureaucratic crap to deal with since the owner of the unit was a company and not a person.  I told Crystal “I’m sure something is going to go wrong with the house today.  I just feel like I’m losing my mind, which sucks, because it’s super nice here.  This should be zero stress.”

As I was walking around El Centro, looking for Orange, Vodafone, and Movistar, I was unfortunately proven correct.  The owner, for the first time, objected to our request for a six month (versus one year) lease.  Between everything else that was going on, and my lack of sleep, I wasn’t having it.  I told my agent to call their bluff, and tell them we’d just put off the closing until we resolved the term of the lease.  The agent thought that was ballsy, but I told him that unit had been vacant for eleven months and I didn’t think anyone was going to snap it up in the next day or two.  At Orange, they told me they didn’t do eSIMs for pre-paid plans, just for long-term plans, so I thanked them and walked over to Movistar.  The person there had no clue what an eSIM was.  So that left Vodafone, which actually could do an eSIM for a pre-paid plan, but their system was down, so they told me to come back.  As I told Crystal “I wish I was making this up.”

During lunch I found out the owners accepted the six month term, so at least one thing had finally gone right.  After lunch I went back over to Vodafone, and thankfully the system was working again and I was able to get the eSIM working.  For 15 Euros (about $18) a month, I got a ton of minutes, unlimited calling in Spain, 20 gigs of data, and free data roaming in the EU and the US.  Compared to US cell plans, this was absolutely incredible.  I walked straight back to the Airbnb to get online and hopefully get a bank account so that I could then sign up for fibre internet.

But things went sideways again.  The online signup for the bank account would not accept my NIE number without me uploading a card showing my NIE number.  But I didn’t have such a card, since I had a visa where the NIE number was on the visa in the passport - only people from other EU countries got a card with a NIE number.  So I had to find another bank that wasn’t so picky.  Thankfully I was able to find one, an online-only bank called N26.  As I told Crystal “All of this to get a fucking internet connection...I can log onto any fucking wi-fi all over the country, but God forbid I have my own router.”  She’s a good sport for putting up with me all these years.

Once the bank account was set up, Crystal wired a small amount into the new bank account to see if it worked – success.  And so finally – finally – I was able to schedule the fiber installation for two days later.  The closing was no problem, which was kind of shocking but, in my mind, well-earned.  After the closing was done, I asked the owner representative (who was named Manolo) what if anything I would need to do when the internet person showed up in a few days.  Manolo told me that was unnecessary, as they had a central internet closet for the whole complex and he’d just turn on our unit and have one of the employees install a router for us in a day or two.

Okay, six months later, at least that part is now funny.

I walked down to the Airbnb, and decided to move the dogs over immediately, so as to not have to worry about Lola falling down the stairs.  I walked Pig over on his leash, where we encountered no less than four other Frenchies, getting him constantly amped up.  We were walking uphill, and I didn’t want him overheating before he even got to his new home.  I got him in the house and immediately went back for Lola.  I knew she couldn’t walk the whole way, so I picked her up and carried her for a good chunk of the walk, which drew some curious views from others out walking their dogs. By around 22:00 the dogs and I were in the new place, finally.  I mentally exhaled and slumped down on the couch.  I opened my email, which I hadn’t seen in hours.  I had one new message, from the realtor of a unit I really wanted to check out on Calle Belgica, not far from Parque Taoro.  They wanted to know when I could come by to check out the unit.

Over six months later, I suppose that’s now funny as well.

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