Buying a car in Spain
It is a 20 minute drive down from the mountains to Arboleas (los arboles - trees). The Almanzora valley with its rich red-brown soil is very fertile, planted with patchworks of lemon, olive and almond trees. The mountains, still a velvety green, rise like giant waves from the valley below.
My black Nissan Note is a delight to drive: perfect for the winding mountain roads with its 1500 engine and neat steering. 'Everyone' told me, including the used car salesman in a bar, that it would be impossible to purchse a new car in Spain as I 'didn't exst', having no credit history! It was also generally agreed that second-hand cars are extremely expensive: the latter proved to be true; cars hold their value here. I didn't want to pay a fortune for a clapped-out banger: I needed a reliable vehicle, living up in the mountains.
Towards the end of my first week here, whilst I still had transport with a friend, I looked in the showroom at 'Carrillo Martos' in Albox. The shiny black Nissan Note looked far superior to all the used cars. It was 6 months' old, had only been a showroom car so was as good as new and cost 13,500 euros. Yes, I wanted it! A 250 euro deposit secured it
At this stage I had very little Spanish but it is amazing how one can get by with a few words and lots of hand gestures! Now, here we come to the quintissential Spanish bureaucratic system. In the UK we hardly ever visit our town halls any longer: in Spain the Ayuntamiento is central and they are legion; it is important to deal with the Ayuntamiento which is linked to your address. The very pleasant Spanish salesman handed me a scrap of paper upon which he had written 'Certificado de Empradonamiento'. This is the 'certificate of registration in municipality', essential for buying a car, he made me understand, which I needed to obtain from my Ayuntamiento. Of course, it goes without saying, that my passport was photocopied as necessary for the sale (one must ALWAYS carry a passport in Spain) and my NIE number (Numero de Identificacion de Extranjero) given.
This entailed a trip to Albanchez the next morning (ALWAYS a morning as many places close by midday). The journey to Albanchez from Los Utreras is breathtakingly beautiful: over the tops of the mountains, on a narrow, winding road....track.....with sharp hairpin bends and steep drops with no barriers; the valley below stunning but too much of a distraction! Yes, I held my breath all the way, arriving a nervous wreck and vowing never to drive that route again!
Fortunately, the young lady in the Ayuntamiento spoke some English, took a copy of my passport but couldn't issue the certificate without proof of ownership of El Castillo. Did I have proof, I wondered? At home I searched but couldnt find this 'proof' so emailed my gestora. As ever professional, she sent the necessary proof, pages and pages of it, the following day. I duly returned to Albanchez, enduring another terrifying journey, to find a different lady in the Ayuntamiento and with NO English. A waving of documents and hand gestures ensued but all I could understand was 'Manyana! Manyana!'.
Frustrated, I returned home again, none the wiser for the hold-up. Did i say I would NEVER do that journey again?? Next morning, feeling dispirited but getting slightly more confident on the drive, I returned for the third time to Albanchez ........YES! I was handed my precious Certificado!
The week-end: Automacanica closed. Monday morning early I presented my document, signed some forms and Hey Presto! the car was mine! How lovely to drive home in my shiny new car!
It didn't stay shiny and pristine for long. Spanish roads are extremely dusty: my car now looks more brownish-grey than black but, well, Who cares? This is Spain!