This week, I feel like I have been all over the world, and I guess quite literally I have been. I’m glad I know a lick of Spanish because I don’t know how I would get by without it. My first revelation; no one here speaks English. Those who do have more of a Spanglish approach (like me). My past experiences in Madrid and Barcelona led me to believe that English was widely spoken in Spain. I was mistaken. I try my best to speak with locals in Spanish out of respect…I’m on their turf now. I want to become fluent in the language, so I guess diving right in is the best approach. Three university classes taken my freshman year and two years of tutoring basic Spanish have prepared me enough, but I’ve got a ways to go.
This brings me to my second revelation; people are really freaking nice and willing to help. I don’t know if it is because I am a young wide-eyed girl very far from home who looks like she needs some help (I’ve used this card a lot) or if it is the nature of the people here, but I am very thankful for the kindness I’ve received.
Here’s a short story:
While I was searching for a place to stay in Fuerteventura, I mentioned to one of the flat owners (Maximo) that I can not use my phone without WIFI. After showing me the flat, Maximo told me to follow him and walked with me a few blocks to a Locutorio (phone store). He proceeded to look up the best/most reasonably priced phone plan for EU roaming and llamadas nacionales (calling in-country) and explained to the woman behind the counter what I needed. If that wasn’t enough, he also put me in contact with his son who is fluent in English and lives on the island. Even after I decided not to rent Maximo’s flat, he told me his family was still there to help with anything I needed. *Cue the tears* This is only one example of the generosity I’ve experienced.
While I have been lucky with my encounters, I also have done more work than necessary trying to obtain my TIE (kinda like a green card). I still do not have it, and the process has been a massive headache, but I am taking things step by step.
For any auxiliaries reading this, here is what I wish I had known:
Step 1: Find a place to stay. This will be important because you need to put your address on all your documents.
Step 2: Make an appointment with your Ayuntamiento (town hall) to empadrar (register) in the country. You may have to make this appointment online or through the phone due to COVID. I made the mistake of going to the Comisario first before registering because I thought I had all of the paperwork I needed. Nope. I did not.
Step 3: After registering, you will have to come back to pick up your contracto de empadramiento.
Step 4: When you have your contract of empadramiento, make an appointment with the comisario. You will need to bring:
- Contract of empadramiento
- Tasa and receipt for the Tasa (I had no idea what this was, but the police officers pointed me in the direction of a local print shop, and I found out a tasa is like a money order. After obtaining my tasa, I had to go to the local bank and use an ATM machine to pay for the tasa and receive my receipt).
- 3 passport sized photos
- Copies of your passport and visa (black & white)
- Contract of employment
I hope these steps prove helpful. I wish I had known to go to the Ayuntamiento right away because their appointments are all booked up for the coming days. Spanish bureaucracy is sloooow moving especially with COVID, but I am making moves poco a poco and trying my best to find my way here with a little help from some friendly Spaniards.