In mid-March, we approached the “expiration” of our initial visa.  Carlos had submitted whatever he needed to file for our extension, and had told us that since we’d filed everything, we would be “legal” to stay in the country.  According to him, if you’d filed all the necessary paperwork, and were simply waiting on the bureaucrats to do their work, you were fine.  We told him that this was all well and good, but that we wanted to actually be able to leave the island, whether to travel to other Canary Islands, other places in Europe, or the US, and the only thing we had in our passports was a visa that was due to expire.  He told us to check out Article 5 and Article 51 of the pertinent immigration law.  I read this as indicating we could get a “permission slip” of sorts to leave the country whilst our visa extension paperwork was being processed, and that to get this permission slip we simply had to show that we’d filed for our extensions.  It was all very confusing, and frustrating, but we weren’t too worried about anything.

None of this stopped us from enjoying our days.  On 14 March, we attempted to have something akin to our champagne brunches that we regularly enjoyed in San Diego.  There was a place in Los Realejos, just to the southwest of Puerto, that supposedly had great food and great views, plus champagne (Cava).  We did the walk that we’d done several times up to La Orotava, but then continued west from the area around El Trompo and Leroy Merlin for another 10-15 minutes, up to a small hill with a restaurant complex on it.  Mesón El Monasterio had about 4-5 different restaurants in the same spot, with different cuisines and price points.  We wanted to go to the one with the best view, but as it turned out, given COVID, only one of the restaurants was open, so that was the one we had to choose from.  At this one, we had good views of Teide and the Orotava valley, but not the coast.  This was a minor annoyance, definitely a First World problem (if that).

After ordering our food and our bottle of Cava, we enjoyed the wild chickens and roosters walking around, and the food and drink was good.  We concluded that it probably wasn’t worth the effort we’d made to walk all the way here, but it wasn’t like we regretted making the trip, either.  When we were done, we walked back into town, but from the west, through San Antonio.  I showed Crystal Poco Loco along the way, and told her there was no reason to stop to eat there (not that they were open anyway).  San Antonio was very sleepy this morning, and it was nice just casually walking through the neighborhood and seeing how everyone was relaxing on their Sunday mornings. Down near the coast, we walked around the La Ranilla area, west of Plaza de Charco.  We’d had a good brunch, but we were interested in getting lunch as well.  We were able to get a table at Vulk, an Argentine place that Oliver at Elements had told us about.  We’d already eaten there once, and the second time was just as good, with really good empanadas and chimichurri sauce – plus some Argentine wine.

We started Spanish class again on 15 March, with Crystal in an A2 class and me in a B1 class.  Some of the people were still the same, such as Marlene and Zhang, both from Paris, and Alex from Puerto.  Others were new to me, mostly German expats.  On 16 March, Crystal took care of some additional stuff related to our pending bank account.  We’d had a hell of a time trying to find a Spanish bank that wasn’t a pain to open.  Compared to the US, where seemingly anyone could open an account with minimal issues, opening a bank account in Spain was the opposite.  Best as we could tell, there were plenty of barriers in place to ensure that people weren’t opening accounts to launder money.  We were doing anything but, as we wanted a minimal amount of money in the account, and needed the account only for our visa paperwork.  After failing to get any sort of help at several banks in Puerto, we’d met a really friendly and helpful staff at Bankinter, in the Lago Martiánez area.  The person who helped us the most, Eva, spoke very little English, and we spoke very little Spanish, but she took the time to use Google Translate whenever we couldn’t understand each other.  It probably took 3-5x as long as it normally would, but it worked, eventually.  But on the 16th, one of the other employees, Fatima, reached out to Crystal for some additional questions they had.  Apparently they were very confused by us being “retired” but not having a “pension” for any income.  Their systems didn’t know how to process us, but Crystal and Fatima worked out that we should be referred to as “housewives” instead of “retired.”  Whatever, we didn’t care, so long as we could finally open an account. Crystal took the call from Fatima because I was out playing tennis with Manolo, the owner/proprietor of Apricot, a fubtol bar on Calle Aceviño. I played better against him than I did at lessons, perhaps because I was playing constantly for 45 minutes, rather than just 2-3 strokes followed by a 2 minute wait.

That Friday, 19 March, in Spanish class one of the subjects that came up was to just talk about what we thought other people thought of our countries and how they'd characterize our country. For example, one of the French students mentioned that everyone seemed to think people in Paris did nothing but hang out in cafes and eat cheese. When it came to me, I mentioned something about the President being a pendejo, no one taking care of poor people, healthcare and education costing too much, people shooting each other, and several other subjects that just bummed me out. I'd never really thought about, or articulated (in English, let alone Spanish) this issue, and I got a little more emotional than I expected, and I think I kind of shocked Sandra and the other people in class. So class wasn't the happiest that day.

By contrast, it was a pretty nice afternoon, so we decided to enjoy happy hour at Bar Alberto.  We’d walked past Bar Alberto back in December 2019, and it was evident that the restaurant had great views out to the west.  Given where our house was, however, Bar Alberto wasn’t the most convenient.  Bar Alberto is on the west side of the Parque Taoro area, due west of us as the crow files, but practically much more difficult, as we needed to walk downhill, then back uphill, then across the park.  On a Friday afternoon, however, we had nothing of substance planned, so we could make this work.  There were a couple of tables that were available, as we grabbed one before it filled up.  We enjoyed an hour or two in the sun, with the nice views.  We also enjoyed some free entertainment – a woman who lived in the area couldn’t find her dog, and was yelling constantly to get the dog to come home, which it eventually did.  From her actions, and everyone else’s reactions, we got the impression this was a common occurrence.

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