There are seven houses in my little street. Possibly six. Maybe even eight. It’s a bit hard to tell with Spanish families living next door to each other ….. or just in a different part of the same house. Anyway, I’ve always reckoned there are seven. I think.
So it always seemed slightly odd that mine was number 21. It’s not even as though I’m on the corner of the bigger road. I’m half way up one side of a cul-de-sac. Still, the escritura (deeds to the property) and the catastral (similar to the land registry) and the bills from the ayuntamiento (town hall) all say 21 so it must be right. Who am I to argue?
Except that nobody else in the street has a high number. In fact, out of the six remaining properties (or thereabouts), three of them are number five. When I was expecting a parcel, I left a note on the front door asking the delivery people to put it in to number 5 (opposite) or number 5 (adjacent)! They actually put it in to number 3 (further up the hill) but never mind.
I have tried asking the neighbours about the numbering. They mostly just laugh. They don’t seem bothered, so why should I be?
Then I bought a car from a proper car salesroom. No problem, they put down my address as number 21. That’s what’s on my NIE (foreigner’s identification document). Then they wanted to see my Padrón (registration at the town hall). No problem, I’ve got that, I got it when I moved in, back in July. No, they need one issued within the last three months. Fine, I can get an up-to-date one from the town hall. I took the old one in. Salvi explained that the one I had was the one to confirm my water supply to that address, not the one that confirms that I live there. That should have been issued at the same time by his colleague Antonia, but wasn’t. No problem, the file (amazingly) still had the full set of paperwork that needed to be supplied, so I took it to the next desk and gave it to Antonia.
“Yes that’s all fine”, she said, “but there isn’t a number 21 in your street.” I showed her that the town hall sent all my bills and correspondence to number 21, and that the water Padrón issued by the town hall was for number 21. “Yes that’s all fine”, she said, “but there isn’t a number 21 in your street.” I showed her that the escritura and the catastral were for number 21. “Yes that’s all fine”, she said, “but there isn’t a number 21 in your street.”
There was a danger of this beginning to become repetitive. I asked her what number she thought I was. She said she’d go and look and make a decision. Next day, Antonia said that I was number 1. She was also going to explain to number 5 next door that they are actually number 3 (good luck with that!).
So she then proceeded to issue me with a Padrón certificate at number 1. All other documents relating to my house call it number 21. Fortunately the car salesroom either didn’t notice or didn’t care that my Padrón had a different house number from that which I had given them. I’m hoping that any other Spanish officials that look at my documentation will be so used to mis-matching house numbers that they won’t care either.
The postman doesn’t look at the numbers, he knows where everyone lives. The number 21 over my front door is staying. I might write number 1 on my letter-box though, just for Antonia.
© Tamara Essex 2013