Monday is Residency day! We meet with Marcelo first thing to sign the house contract so that we have that to take with us. We triple check that we have everything we need even though we have already forwarded it to Emma, our attorney, electronically. We head off to Vilanova early as we still need to get cash out of the bank to pay Emma’s fee. As we are still waiting for our debit cards we figure we will just go into the bank branch and see the teller. Guess what…this branch does not have the ability for tellers to dispense money. Are you kidding me? We will need to use the ATM. Okay, so the fact that 2 out of the 3 ATMs are not working just means we have to wait in line. Here you can take your bank book and insert it into the ATM to withdraw cash. Unfortunately, we do not have the pin as we thought we would be talking to a teller. We have to drive back home to get the pin…we haven’t used the bank book before so do not know it. Thankfully we live close enough but we are both stressing out. Back to the bank and we try again. Now it is telling us this is the wrong pin. It is the only one we have! We could talk to a banker but the line is about 15 people deep. Time is running out. We decide to use our U.S. debit cards to withdraw money. We try our business account and our personal accounts and get the same message, your pin is incorrect. We definitely know these pin numbers! We try again changing the amount thinking it may be the daily withdrawal limit – why it would be that and tell us it is the wrong pin is beyond us. We try again…same message. ARGH! Stress is starting to escalate as we promised Emma that we would pay her when we meet her. She had asked for a deposit up front but since there were so few days until our appointment we said we would just pay her then. Now what?! Bob is finally able to get some money out of his business account but that is only half what we need. I call Wells Fargo Bank to find out what the issue is and guess what…it is not our pin. It is the daily withdrawal limit but of course it is taking into account the exchange rate so even though we think we are under we are still asking for too much. Wells Fargo Bank is awesome and raise our daily withdrawal limit. I do not hang up the phone with them until I actually succeed in withdrawing the money. Phew!
We meet Emma and find her absolutely delightful. Off to the police station we go for our appointment. The lobby is full of people waiting but we walk right in. Emma tells us that when Xavi first asked if she could assist us she thought of telling us the awful fact that people queue up at 6am every morning hoping to get in to get their residency. Xavi told her we were desperate to get this done so she has worked a small miracle to get this appointment. Besides telling us where to sign there isn’t any conversation between the Chief Inspector and us. She simply reviews the paperwork that Emma has discussed with her and completes the process. Because I do not have my Irish passport yet I am only able to get the NIE not my residency. One of the requirements to obtain this is proving that I have not been in country more than three months. Although we have provided my passport she will need a copy of the page that shows the Immigration stamp when I arrived on 3/31. See…another document. Evidently they do not have copy machines at the police station as she instructs Emma to where there is a store around the corner where we can make a copy. Copy made and we go back to to the police station. We are done. Bob receives his residency card and I receive a temporary copy of my NIE. I will have to go back in a couple of days to pick up the official NIE document. What a relief! As you will read the residency and NIE are extremely important in us getting our belongings through Customs.
To help you understand what the NIE is – “The NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) is a Spanish tax identification number assigned by the Spanish authorities to any foreigner. The number is unique and personal and is used as a way of tracking an individual’s financial and official activities in Spain.” This tracking does not include how much wine we buy…THANKFULLY!
We head back to the bank with Emma where thankfully there is no line. She and the teller discuss the pin issue with the bank book and the teller produces another pin for us. Evidently the one we had is only for our online access. A celebratory coffee and Emma departs for home in Majorca.
We receive an email that Bob’s U.S. passport is ready for us to pick up. 6 days! This day is turning out to be okay. Once home we email Roger at our bank and provide him with the NIE to add to our account and also for the auto and renter’s insurance we need. Yes, you get both of those at the bank also.
Tuesday morning we are back at the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona where they remember us. 🙂 One of the ladies that helped us the week before remembers that we need a Baja Consular. Incredible service. Bob receives his U.S. passport and I have a document notarized. We obtain the all important Baja Consular which we needed the NIE for and is one of the forms that Customs has been asking us for. There is a saga about us trying to obtain the Baja Consular (we started this process in December or January) that I will share with you in a separate blog.
While we are in the Consulate our friends from America, Steve & Roz, text to say that they are in Barcelona and are planning to take the train to Sitges for the day. We offer to go pick them up at their hotel (sure am glad Bob is driving because I am not ready to drive in Barcelona!). After picking them up we bring them up to Viladellops to show them our home. Then off to have lunch on the seafront. We have a lovely afternoon showing them around Sitges. Wish it could have been a longer visit but we have an appointment to pick up our new used car at 6pm and they are leaving tomorrow to continue their trip. Thank you for being our first visitors.
Off to Terracar we go to pick up our car. We provide the NIE to Pedro, pay for the car and out the door we go. Pedro explains and we try to understand that there is one more part of the car purchase. Within 30 days we must take a document that he will email to us to the local city hall to transfer the car into our name. We think this is what he tells us but we will find out that this is not quite the case. I am following Bob home in the rental car and it is my first time driving in Spain. Not a big deal as I don’t have to drive in Sitges or try to park it yet. Driving home Bob notices that the temperature gauge goes into the red but then back to normal again. Weird but the car drives fine.
Wednesday we start back to the airport to return the rental car. Again the temperature gauge on our new car goes into the red and then back to normal again. As we get close to Sitges the gauge goes into the red and stays there. The warning light comes on and then the engine light comes on. Bob is able to park it near El Tros. We check the oil and there isn’t any showing on the dipstick. Drove back to Terracar and tell Pedro what happened. He is mortified! He gets the mechanic who serviced the car and there a very animated conversation takes place. The mechanic seems as perplexed and upset as Pedro is. Pedro tells us that when he closes for lunch they will come and pick up the car at 3pm. Off we go with a revised plan for our day which we now decide will include lunch at El Tros so that we can check on Pedro and the car pickup. Later we meet them at the car and again he is extremely apologetic. He will fix and call us. We head off to Mail Boxes Etc. to scan and print more documents including the proof of auto and home insurance.
We receive a much anticipated FedEx from our UPS Store in North Carolina where our PO box is. Unfortunately, the package from the Irish Consulate is not my passport. It is my original paperwork along with them requesting more documentation! I had included my current marriage certificate and my former marriage divorce decree (as I did with my citizenship application) but they also need the more formal marriage certificate for my current marriage and the one for my former marriage. Seriously? I didn’t need these two pieces of paper for citizenship but I need them for my passport? So disappointed. Now I need to get documents from South Australia and California. The California request form needs to be notarized…so another trip to the U.S. Consulate. Not to mention that the total fees for getting these documents and the notary will cost about $175 and take more time. I try to get online to order these straightaway but we still do not have internet at the house except for the very very slow borrowed WiFi from Marcelo. It being Easter weekend everything is closed so taking my laptop somewhere with WiFi is not an option. It will have to wait until next week.
We go off to stock up on a very nice red wine from Priorat – two cases as it is a long weekend. We go to the electrical store and buy a washing machine which means we can now get caught up on laundry; a small TV which we will need when Movistar come to install home internet and cable next Tuesday, and a home phone. They will deliver everything tomorrow. Wonderful!
As I mentioned in an earlier post one of the things I thought I would miss is Amazon Prime. Wednesday night I sign up for a 30 day free trial of Amazon Premium Spain. It will cost 19.99€ per year! Sweet! I order a mobile phone case at 8:30pm with one-day free shipping.
Thursday morning Amazon delivers the phone case at 9:30am. 13 hours. Hmmmm maybe I won’t miss Amazon Prime US as much as I thought.
Customs came back with a new list of documents that they do not have. Now that they have the NIE they tell us that we have to have it “activated” and that we can do this at any tax office. Our attorney, Emma, has never heard of a NIE having to be activated. She attempts to call Customs but it being Holy Week their office is now closed for 5 day days. We ask Xavi where the tax office is in Sitges. Everything will be closed here for Easter weekend so we rush off to the tax office…where they have no idea what we are talking about. Thankfully they are extremely helpful and research it enough to tell us that we have to go to the Hacienda or the national tax office as this is a Customs issue. They are nice enough to print out the form and give us the address in Vilanova. No way we will make it there today before they close so we must do this on Tuesday. The ship is due in Barcelona Port on Weds. 19th April so time is running out to get them all of the documentation they are requesting. If they do not receive all of the documentation before then we will be fined per day for our belongings being stuck in Customs.
The washing machine and TV are delivered and our car is fixed. Back to Vilanova to pick up the car. Turns out that it was not the oil. It was the thermostat which was clogged as the car sat in the showroom for a while. A new one installed and the air conditioning re-gassed and all is good.
Friday (Good Friday) morning we head off to the airport to return the rental car. Success this time. Traffic from Barcelona heading into Sitges is backed up for miles all the way past the airport so we take the back way home on the other side of the mountain to Vilafranca. Still a lot of traffic but moving. Barcelona must be empty and we are definitely staying home this weekend.
Back home we spend a couple of hours cleaning the used dryer. We must have been the first ones to ever clean it. What a mess but worth the effort as we saw the price of a new Bosch dryer…we got a deal.
We end the day with a long walk in the vineyards. They have grown so much since we arrived two weeks ago. It will be exciting to watch the progress throughout the year. The photo at the top of this blog really sums up how we cope with the frustrations we are experiencing. We walk the vines. And we stop. And we say, “We live here.” And it is all worth it.