So it would seem that I now have an active crèche running here. Firstly I am inundated at the weekend with the usual selection of kids that accumulate in the three adjacent properties, and then I look across the terraces to find John and Pedro playing together with the (dis)tractor. An interesting sight – John speaks barely a word of Spanish and Pedro is equally well-endowed where the English language is concerned.
Nonetheless, in the time-honoured fashion of children thrown together with a common cause, they were managing very well – and it is gratifying, it must be said, to see them sharing toys so nicely.
This morning I was obliged to take my leg (with its spider bite) to see a doctor, since it is refusing to heal. It hasn’t deteriorated, but still it looks less like I have the puncture wounds inflicted by a creature several hundred times smaller than me but more as if I’ve had a close encounter of the Jaws kind.
I therefore bit the bullet and took a trip to the urgencias section of our local clinic.
This is a huge clinic – there are twenty-odd consulting rooms surrounding a large waiting area racked out with chairs in the manner of an airport, and, just like an airport, the atmosphere is noisy and anticipatory (despite the abundance of signs saying QUIET!)
I have been assigned (but never yet met) a Doctor who lurks behind door number two. So I dutifully sat behind the handful of patients already waiting to see him, and waited.
After about half an hour of absolute streams of no traffic whatsoever through his door, he emerged and announced that he was leaving (for lunch? for good? his wife? the country?), and that we were all to go back to the desk to be redistributed amongst other doctors.
This does not inspire in me the confidence I need to share the intimacies of my leg with this man.
Fortunately, I had been talking to a Spanish friend Ana who was waiting to collect a prescription; she, indignant on my behalf, pounced on a passing male nurse and demanded that he attend to me, which he did, rapidly and efficiently.
As always, it’s not what you know, it’s whom you know!
I am now on a course of oral antibiotics to combat the infection. I also have to return daily for the nurse to change the dressing and apply this paste, which feels like Nitromors and I am convinced is merely there to burn its way through my leg to save them the trouble of amputation.
Talking of waiting, I’d just like to mention the Spanish practice, alive and well here in Bullas, of queue-jumping by frail little old ladies with short-distance sprint records and six elbows apiece, fashioned of wrought iron.
I have waited patiently in line any number of times now for my turn to see the shop assistant / bank teller / ayuntamiento (Town Hall) receptionist etc., only to reach the front of the line and have some four-foot tall blur move past and in front of me to grab my spot. I have thus far reacted to this sort of behaviour in a typically British fashion; I merely mutter under my breath and attempt a withering stare, to both of which they are utterly impervious.
This has been winding me up as time passes, until I finally decided recently, after a spot of blatant queue-jumping in the local supermarket, that it would be worth taking a stand.
So when a little old lady shoved in front of me a whole four places, leaving me at the back of a queue six people long at the solitary open till, I stated, quite firmly, “Estoy la última” (this literally translates as “I am the last”, but in reality it means “get behind me”).
She glared at me. I repeated myself, and the person in front of me shrank a little. The offender shook her head at me and pointed triumphantly at the hitherto unnoticed full basket of groceries on the floor at her feet – this apparently had been guarding her place jealously while she blithely continued shopping with another overflowing basket of groceries on her arm.
I ground my teeth, but did not feel capable of a long argument in Spanish about the morals of this method of shopping, so I resorted to the flamboyant Spanish open-hand flick accompanied by a disgusted, “Pah!”
She maintained her place, finally paid and left with a small over-the-shoulder smirk, while I was sending up prayers to the god of retribution that the handles of all her shopping bags would break simultaneously on her way out.
This is an excerpt from Bitten by Spain (The Murcian Countryside – A Baptism by Fire). Republished with the permission of author Deborah Fletcher.