Things are just about back to normal at La Antigua…well, my version of normal at least.  Upon my return from a business trip to Geneva, I was faced with one of those mixed emotions days - the birds that had been populating the courtyard were not present.  This was both good news and bad news.  It was really nice to have them around and watch the little chicks bopping around amongst the garden plants, but it was even nicer to know that once again I could leave my doors open and not have to worry that one or more of them would decide to hop in looking for a new place to defecate.  Besides, if they were still here, by the morning, I am sure they would have become stone deaf.

The festival season is upon us once again.  No, the other night didn’t quite compete with the extremely well known and usually quite muddy Glastonbury Music festival, but from the usual quiet inside the non-permeable walls of La Antigua, I felt as if I was on centre stage.  And because of the acoustics in my neighbourhood, I just about was. 

I have learnt to read the handbills that are posted around the village, and it was there that I saw that the evening of 23 June was going to be a live music party of sorts…and it would be held in Placa Son Bru.  As you probably remember from a previous letter or two, Placa Son Bru is virtually next to La Antigua.  The good news is that I can see what is going on from the roof terrace; the less-than-good news is that because it is so close to my house, the sound comes streaming in.  Windows open, windows closed; it really doesn’t make much difference.  Two hundred million decibels gets through anything.  (Okay, perhaps 200,000,000 decibels might be an exaggeration, but it can be rather loud.)

About 2200, I was sitting in front of the telly, watching a DVD and the music began seeping into the house.  Don’t get me wrong…the music was good, but I was trying to watch the DVD.  Shortly after 2300, I had put the next DVD of the box set into my player and turned the volume up.  By midnight, I was on disc three and had adjusted the volume several more times.  When I ran out of DVD’s in the set, I went up to the roof terrace and watched the entertainment for a bit.  Well, I watched it until I noticed that I was dead tired, so I came back in and went to bed.  I do remember looking at my watch at 0200 and the music was still floating around the neighbourhood.  I went to sleep.

Then today, things really returned to my version of Mallorquin ‘normal.’  I had decided a while ago to declare my residency here on the island, well, technically, this means residency in Spain.  The whole residency issue is quite interesting and does have some very specific implications.  The law says that you can only spend 180 days per year in any country without declaring residency, and as I have in the past taken this number as sort of advisory, life has been okay.  But as I had purchased a home here, and am very happy being here, (and want to avoid any legal problems); I decided that I might as well make the declaration.  That is some of the good news.  One element of the bad news is that, by declaring my residency, I will be liable for the collection of taxes in Spain.  Okay, not a pleasant thought, but as I do live here, I am quite prepared to do this – besides, this will mean that my tax status will be more clear, which is always a good thing.  This morning, I went into Palma to make the declaration. 

I had spoken to my new abogado (solicitor) here last week.  I was going to use the same abogado I had used last year to prepare an updated last will, but decided to switch my supplier of legal services when I discovered that my previous abogado was the subject of some very serious allegations of graft and corruption.  Nice to see his name on the front pages of the newspapers, but not exactly thrilling to find out he would probably be relocating to the Spanish version of Devil’s Island in the near future.  My new person told me that the process was quite simple (I always shudder when I hear this here – my idea of quite simple has proven to be quite different apparently that life-long Mallorquins).  All I had to do was go to one of the government buildings in Palma, making sure to bring with me my passport, two passport-type photos, and the original of my Empadramiento (a legal document that shows I own a home here).  So this morning, thinking that the earlier I was there, the faster the process would go, I left home at 0900 and drove into the city.  After a bit, I found the building and walked in the door, only to find that I was standing at the back of a pretty long queue.  Okay, I am used to queue’s and have developed a good sense of patience in waiting, so this wasn’t a big deal; especially because the queue seemed to be moving along smartly.  After about 30 minutes, I was in front of the line, and when the clerk motioned to me, I strolled up to the counter, quite pleased with myself for taking care of all this without experiencing much pain.  My expectation was that the clerk would not speak English, and my expectation was met.  I told him why I was there, and showed him all my papers, and then he said gave me a form to fill out and told me to go to the next office.   Buggers. 

Okay, so the process wasn’t over, but I moved outside to find the next office, which was only about 10 metres away.  As I moved into the line (government offices are well-known for having massive queue’s), a guard asked me what I thought I was doing.  I told him that I had been told to go to this line, apparently dazzling him with my command of the language.  Right.  He told me that I needed to take a number to get into the queue.  I asked him where I would find the number dispenser.  He said that he had them, showing me a huge roll of tear-off paper numbers.  And then he asked me if I had paid the fee yet.  The fee?  What fee, I asked.   He gave me (another) piece of paper that had to be filled out before I could dish out 6.70 euros.  Not an outrageous fee, so as I reached into my pocket for the money, I asked him where to pay.  He said at a bank.  At a bank?  I didn’t see any bank on the premises and was wondering if I had misunderstood him (which is always a definite possibility).  I could see his frustration increasing a bit as he told me that there were plenty of banks in the area and I needed to go find one.  Geeez. 

Okay.  I went off to search out a bank.  My first thought was to find a branch of the institution I use in Spain, but after walking several blocks, I decided that I would waltz into the first bank I saw.  After standing in another queue at a bank, I paid the money and walked back to the government office to complete the process of declaring my residency in Spain. 

The man with the tear-off numbers was quite pleased to see me again (and I thought I actually saw some pigs flying past) and he did give me a number and motioned for me to go into the door.  Finally, I was on the veritable edge of the residency process.  I walked through the door only to find myself at the back of yet another queue.  As I stood there with the other 30 or 40 people, I looked at my number – it was B38.  The time was just about 1000.  By 1030, I was at the head of this queue and able to see inside the interior door, expecting to see another clerk, just waiting for me to hand over my paperwork.  Well, surprise, surprise.  Inside the door was a waiting room, chocker-block with another 50 or so people.  On one wall of the less-than-comfortable-looking room, was one of those electronic number signs that banks and other businesses use to call people forward.  The sign said A67.  Hmmmm.  Luckily, I overheard someone ask a security person the question that was in my mind; ‘was is the significance of the letter ‘A?’’  His response made all the sense in the world.  The counter would tick off numbers from 0 – 100, and then reset to 0 again; with the current sequence being the first one (A).  When the counter would reset,  the letter would be changed to B.  Of course, it didn’t take me long to realise that, as the counter was currently on 67, and I had number 38, I was 71 numbers away from being served.  Madre de Dios!

I found an empty chair and sat down, wishing I had brought a book with me, or maybe an entire set of encyclopaedias to memorise.  I (foolishly) began to calculate how long it would take for my number to be called.  For a while, it appeared that numbers were ticking over at the rate of about one per minute, but then there would be lulls of several minutes before it would change.  So what did I do?  I attempted to re-calculate (yes, this was the point where I realised that had I brought my computer with me, I could have put together a floating algorithm that could have anticipated and predicted how much of my life would pass by me as I sat there).  1100 came and went.  1130.  1200.  1230.  Finally, just before 1300, the number counter ticked over and little red lights showed 38.  I stumbled through the archway and sat down at the desk of a clerk, who, in less than five minutes, printed out my certificate of residency.  Done.  Dusted.  So let’s do a little recap on my day:  I went to a government office (always a mistake); stood in a queue (boring); was moved to another queue (additional boring); received a proper bollocking from a security person (bad JBR, bad JBR); walked to a bank and stood in another queue (growing older by the minute); stood and sat in the mother-of-all-queues (B – O –R – I – N - G).  Residency paper firm in hand, I drove home, firm in the knowledge that ‘normalcy’ on the island means a serious dose of patience will be required.  Can't wait to find out how complex the Spanish tax forms are.


gone, but not forgotten



ooooh, food and entertainment




rock n'roll returns to the neighbourhood






one of the windows of the master bedroom






a courtyard Agapantha





Feel Flows (what I do when not standing in queue's)






Feel Flows 3 (100 cm x 210cm, acrylic)

click here to enlarge







Iglesia de Andorra





Bahia de Palma

back to the top

copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, James B. Rieley