Thursday, March 10, 2011

House Hunting in Huelva


This morning my roommate Amy and I woke up bright and early to meet Amy’s “friends” who invited us to join them for a day trip to Huelva.  I put ‘friends’ in quotations because technically Amy had never met them before today, but through a chain of people was put in contact with this couple, Emil and Clarabelle.  Amy’s grandmother in Colorado regularly attends church with another older woman whose grandson (Emil) has been living in Sevilla with his Spanish girlfriend for about a year and a half…so about 4 degrees of separation for me.   They were both extremely nice people and were excited to have us along and help us improve our Spanish.

After an hour drive we were in the beach town of Nuevo Portil and stopped to see the first house of the day.  It was small house in a private neighborhood with a community pool and tennis courts and about a mile from the beach.  Amy and I were shocked to find that the monthly rent for this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home was only €550 (which would be equivalent to $765/month) and if split between 3 people the rent per person would be €183, or $255.  Considering my house in Duluth this coming year will cost $2100/month ($350 per person), I am wondering why I shouldn’t just pack up and come live on the beach in Spain?  However, according to Emil and Clarabelle, the utilities in Spain are much more expensive than in the U.S. and would probably make up for the difference in the cost of rent.

Next we drove to Rompido to see another house and eat lunch.  Even though this second house was nearly right on the beach, the owner had not made any effort to clean the place up and as soon as he admitted that there had been cockroach problems in the past, Clarabelle was set against living there.  Another interesting aspect of the two houses (and most rental properties in Spain) was that they were completely furnish, including plates & silverware, cooking pots & pans, appliances, and even linens.  For lunch we ate at a small bar/restaurant on the beach whose menu was mostly seafood.  Unfortunately it was raining and we had to sit inside, but it was a still a delicious meal of gambas (shrimp), calamari, polpo (octopus), etc.  We learned a lot about endangered species and environmental practices in Spain since Clarabelle is a veterinarian, Emil is a field biologist, and both work in a rehabilitation center for wild animals.

On our way back to Sevilla, right before we started to head inland, the rain stopped and the sun came out so we decided to pull over and take a quick look at the beach.  We had also seen a couple Guardia Civil (similar to a national police force) cars ahead forming a ‘check-point,’ but thought nothing of it at the time.  However, before we could even get out of the car four officers asking for identification from Clarabelle and Emil had surrounded us.  Amy and I we so confused, sitting in the back seat and we were also asked to get out of the car and present identification.  Two officers returned to their cars with everyone’s IDs and the other two explained that they had seen our car stop, back up, and park and they were suspicious that we had something to hide or wanted to avoid their check-point for some reason.  In the end everything was fine and we were allowed to continue our walk along the beach, but it was definitely an exciting end to the day!

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