A very happy New Year to all my friends who read my blog! (and those that don't!)
It is about mid-day on 1st January and I have lots of ideas for the New Year. I know it's just one more day in the calendar but there is a strong feeling to make plans for the new year! I saw a super house yesterday which Nini and Alexander showed me, near to their house. It was 120 million pesos which is about €40k, rather above my budget. Area, 70 m2. But if I sold my flat in Spain, I could buy three of them!! But, as I said, I would be better advised to rent out my flat at €600 a month but that would leave me income rich. It would not be possible to convert that into a loan here, I think. That would be the ideal: convert the €600 into a 4 year loan of 28k. Anyway, this is just thinking aloud. My age counts against me but, logically, the lender has to build in the possibility of death whatever the age, so I don't see that it makes much difference.
Yesterday, we had a party at Nini's home which I left at 1am as I was very tired. Nini and Alexander went to bed at 4am. I went with Nini and Alexander during the afternoon and bought most of the drinks and lots of other things such as salad. Nini made a wonderful salad! In a way, I was one of the hosts. Maybe you are wondering what happened to the pig? Well, I was confused too because the plastic bags with bits of pig were for neighbours in the long term. And there was an enormous amount of preparation before the event, huge pots of vegetables and sausages and I will ask this morning what happened to that. I was expecting a large number of people but in fact, we were about 12. I cooked the lomo from the pig (the boneless meat from the chops) in two large chunks. It was my suggestion to cook it in the oven, they were going to chop it up and fry it. I bought the oven about 4 months ago. I guess the meat was about 3 or 4 kilos. I had bought two roasting dishes previously and the smaller of the two was perfect for that. I cut a line down each of the chunks to spread the heat but apart from that, they were roasted completely which made for lovely succulent pork for our guests. I set the temperature at 170c which was the minimum (gas oven) and it took about 1.5 hours. We served up the meals with a small mound of moulded rice, and salad. I was drinking wine but everyone else was drinking fruit juice but they caught up later when we danced to lots of different rhythms, Mererngue, Salsa and on other which I can't remember. Many houses put their hifi by an open window and play these rhythms to their neighbours, so I am hearing an incessant Latin rhythm all the time. Don't they ever chill out with a bit of Handel, which I am listening to? My neighbours seem to be on a constant high of music but maybe it will subside when the festive season ends.
I took loads of photos at the party with my Nikon camera but unfortunately I can't put up any photos here at the moment. Anyway, evening is approaching in Europe, so they will be there first thing tomorrow morning. I know I've said it before but the time difference is 6 hours which meant that I went to bed at about the time I am normally getting up in Spain. But obviously, each day, I am adjusting to the difference. It is raining a lot but when the sun comes out, it is very hot and the temperature soars. I don't think they have a rainy season. I don't think they have any seasons!!
So I will add more to this later, plus some photos!
By the way, I am having an annoying and frustrating argument with Airbnb through whom I booked this apartment. I booked and paid for the first month back in October and the owners gave me the option to rent it to 1st March after I had seen it. As I said before, it is superb, so I didn't hesitate. Obviously I was always going to respect the conditions of Airbnb and pay for the booking through their website. Alba stood by me and unblocked the period which they had kept back for me and I clicked on it in the Airbnb website to book it. When it came to pay, it didn't show me the amount due, it gave me a choice. I paid €500 through PayPal, knowing that would still leave a small amount outstanding later, about €100. Airbnb insist on pre-authorisation so, as soon as I entered the amount, it was taken instantly from my PayPal account. I feel very uncomfortable about this, OK with a company that I trust.....
A day later, I had a shock. An additional amount of €37 had been taken at about the same time as I paid the €500. Worse, the account was showing an outstanding balance of over €600 euros, with a pending payment of €500 on 28th January. And there was nothing I could do to stop that going through. I wrote to Airbnb. The reply was that I had no booking so therefore I had no money outstanding!! I patiently sent back the reference and pointed out that I was actually living in the apartment in question.
The reply was more astonishing. It claimed that I had not made it clear that I had made a payment to the owners directly and therefore I still owed the €500 despite it obviously being on their leger. As it is on my PayPal account. What planet are they on? I then went on the offensive and claimed in my PayPal account that the €37 had been taken illegally and that I wanted it back. That will get them going!
So I have two separate disputes, the €500 and the €37. Obviously I am not too concerned about the €37 because it will just reduce my pending payment. I am doing it to wake them up out of their stupid dream. And all this in Spanish, I can argue very well in Spanish.
Am I going crazy? Just one glance on their ledger will show them clearly what I have paid. And do they imagine that I would make a direct payment to the owner and still show the extended booking on Airbnb? Clearly they are paranoid about people making direct payments and I am sure it goes on a lot of the time. But their paranoia has taken them into the realms of corporate fantasy. I guess, next time they reply, I will send them a screenshot of my PayPal account. And in future, I will be extremely cautious about using this company. But the apartment is brilliant, I am very happy here. And I keep thinking back about that house!