How do you know you are back in Spain?
1: Three course lunch costs five euros with booze
2: The world stops between one and five in the afternoon
3: Everything happens "Mañana".
We have had cause to both laugh and (almost) cry over these wee foibles this week.
We have been meaning to get our Hepatitis A second dose vaccines for a while now, as they are due before we enter Morocco. We got to a reasonable sized town in Spain and decided to camp up and make it a priority. At the risk of boring you to tears, what follows is a recital of the comedy of errors which then ensued. I suggest you pour yourself a large glass of something stiff and settle in with great patience. It is not a quick tale.
Our campsite is about three kilometres out of town. We walked in and went straight to the office of tourism where the woman pointed us to the public medical centre. Unfortunately, it had moved buildings without advising the tourist office, so it took us about an hour wandering back streets and following various directions to eventually find it. By this stage it was late morning, so obviously the medical centre was packed with screaming toddlers and miserable looking sick people. After a lengthy discussion in interesting sign language with the guy at the desk, a woman who spoke French was summonsed from the back room. I explained what it was that we needed, and she nodded and disappeared again, to make enquiries.
Gary and I sat quietly and waited for about half an hour. When she returned she informed us that we would have to go to the pharmacy and order the vaccination, pay for it there, and then go to a private clinic to have it administered; she gave us the name and address of a clinic and sent us on our way.
We duly headed off to the pharmacy, only to discover they did not have any Hep A stuff in stock, so we trundled around a few until finally we found a lovely bloke who spoke English. He also had none in stock, but told us he could order it and have it in that afternoon. Unfortunately, he was not sure what quantity was required for the second dose. We said we would go to the internet and look it up. He also laughed when we showed him the address of the clinic we had been recommended to attend by the medical centre; apparently, it closed down over a year ago. But, he said, he knew someone who was authorised to give us the vaccines, and would call to get us an appointment. But first we must let him know what dosage we needed.
We headed off to the internet cafe marked on our office of tourism map. But of course, by this stage it was one o'clock - the Spanish witching hour. We arrived in time to see a regretful smile from the proprietor as she closed up and headed off for a long lunch and siesta. We decided resistence was futile, and headed for the nearest restaurant to make like the locals.
An enormous four courses and a litre of wine later, we emerged into the glorious sunshine at peace with our little universe and entirely unfussed about vaccinations, internet, or any such trifling, insignificant matters, and suffused with a distinct feeling of goodwill toward Spain, the Spanish, and the blessed wine makers of the North in particular. We wandered aimlessly about until we found our internet cafe again. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the system, so that one was out.
No bother, we thought, and headed for the other internet cafe on the other side of town - about two kilometres away. By the time we reached it the wine had worn off a little, although we remained in fairly congenial spirits. Until the owner of this cafe informed us that due to the building work going on next door, he had temporarily lost power to his computers; but if we were happy to have a coffee or drink next door in the cafe, he was sure it would be functioning again soon. We sat down outside with the rest of the locals and drank some more, refraining from joining in as they lambasted the electrician for his inefficiency and called advice and encouragement from their chairs. Scarily, the electrician seemed actually to be heeding some of their tips.
About an hour later we had lift off. In we went and spent a long hour searching site after site to find the specific dose of vaccine required for a second shot of Hep A. Eventually, armed with our newfound knowledge, we returned triumphantly to the Pharmacy to place our order. But by then, they had closed for the day.
We walked the three kilometres back to the tent. Luckily we are camped by a rather lush beach, which we proceeded to sit on and regain a little perspective over yet more wine and some decent olives. Tomorrow, we promised each other, tomorrow we will sort it all out.
So. Mañana arrived and we walked back into town. We went to the Pharmacy and placed our order. The very helpful bloke, curse him, then told us that if we were really smart, we would go back to the medical centre and get a prescription; then we could save fifty euros on the cost.
Now, for those of you who know Gary, you will see what is coming here. For those of you who don't - let me just say that this is a man who makes Scrooge look like a spendthrift and goes into actual spasms of ecstasy at the mere hint of the Holy Grail commonly known as a "bargain".
I saw all the warning signs. His eyes lit up, he began to get that highly interested fidgety thing going on, prodding me occasionally in the side to prompt me to ask more. I was doing my level best to ignore every hint and in desperation tried to communicate to the lovely bloody pharmacist that he was about to cause me extreme mental agony if he insisted on giving details; but to no avail. He merely took my pained expression as confirmation to carry on merrily, and before I knew it, we were heading back to the medical centre to gain a prescription.
Of course, it was now late morning again, and the place was swarming again, we had to wait again, and we had to indulge in copious communication via sign language again. But if you think any of these obstacles would deter my sweet beloved from getting his DISCOUNT, then you would be sorely underestimating the addiction to a bargain that runs in his bloodlines.
We emerged some years later and - miracle of miracles - managed to catch the pharmacy before it shut. As I write this, we are now waiting until the dose arrives - hopefully before sodding mañana - at which stage we will embark upon the adventure of making an appointment to have the dose administered.
Fortunately, it will be lunchtime soon.
And I wonder why it is that we always seem to stop for longer than I anticipated...
And later that same evening...
I had to add a little something in light of following events.
When we went back to the pharmacy, it turned out that - would you believe it - the paper the doctor had given us in fact was not an actual prescription. Of course, by this time the health centre was closed, so we just forked out the full sum. The absolutely wonderful pharmacist insisted on driving us to the place where we were to get the vaccinations, which was an extraordinarily kind gesture - and very fortunate as there is no way in hell we would have found it, being as it was an entirely innocuous brown door with nothing to suggest it was a clinic.
Gary, however, is highly incensed at not getting his discount, and so rather than leaving tomorrow as planned we shall now stay yet another day so that he can go down there and raise merry hell until he gets the required paper.
I do believe that if the place is closed tomorrow we will be here until Monday. Hell hath no fury like a Gazza ripped off...
Personally, I'm heading back to wine and Tapas. No point in both of us getting all upset now, is there?