Friday, December 31, 2010

Papeleo, papeleo

(Slide show generated by Flicker Slideshow Generator. If you have trouble viewing this show try:

From 450 pounds of luggage to pushing 450 pounds of paper, or at least that's how it feels. Never realized how much red tape is necessary to get set up in a new city. We are required to complete all kinds of paper forms and then, upon turning them in, the information is typed into a computer. Together we can think of all kinds of ways to streamline the process but for now, we'll just keep waiting in line.

The girls are being as patient as possible but it's pretty boring to hurry up and wait all the time. Unfortunately we all need to be present in most instances. So far we have set up a bank account but are still needing approval from the national police to get any sort of credit or debit card. We also need them to approve the extension on our visas. Monday we head to the police station in Bilbao with plans to take a ticket and wait in line. We'll arrive about 2 hours before they open and may still be sent away to return on a different day. We'll see...

With the daily help of MaLuz, one of my exchange sisters, we have cellphones, a landline and Internet among other things. We also took a walk to see the girls school but it doesn't open again until Jan. 10. We applied for library cards which will be ready at the end of next week. Perhaps the stereotypical impatient North American is a result of getting everything on the spot. Our expectations are pretty high at home but here, it is what it is and we just go with the flow. We are familiarizing ourselves with our new neighborhood. The slideshow above has a picture of the front of our building and a look down our street. Our flat is on a hill, just like in Madison only here it is due to the mountains.

We got our residency status and are now waiting for the paperwork to pass through the system so the girls are enrolled in their new school, Larrañazubi.  To do that we had to go into Bilbao to turn in some paperwork at what would be the equivalent of the Department of Education/Public Instruction. That gave the girls a chance to visit the park next to the Guggenheim museum. The funky silver building is the Guggenheim of Bilbao and the flower dog out in front is its mascot.

We have spent time getting to know the area in which we are living. Our location is great! We are only a couple blocks from the metro in the center of Algorta, lots of grocery and other stores in the area and about 50 meters from my exchange sister, Beatriz. Today with the help of MaLuz and friend Sara, we bought a TV and a few other items to fill our flat. The girls have settled in to their new home well and are very happy to have their own rooms.

We made one trip so far to Portugalete, where I lived in 1985, to see the rest of my exchange family. The night time pictures of the water in the slideshow were taken from inside the Puente Colgante as we crossed between Las Arenas and Portugalete. The bridge is a suspended car that serves to shuttle people and a small number of cars between the two cities across river Nervión. It was originally built in the end of the 19th century.

For lunch today we met friends and family to share a meal on the beach in Sopelana. It was a nice change from the running around we have been doing. The weather has been very pleasant, similar to spring in Wisconsin although it could turn at any time. The water was freezing but we saw several people surfing and paddle boarding.  The next couple of days will be quiet around here as everything is closed and the focus is on being with family and friends. We look forward to the break.

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year friends! 30 min. left for us.


  1. Love the pictures! Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  2. Good luck with all the paperwork and the "red tape" Lauren! Thank too for the pictures and all the details of your trip. Enjoy the time with your Spain family in Spain these next few days.

  3. Fascinating! Regardless of the details, you must be thrilled to be there. I recall that you've wanted to do this for a long time. Keep blogging - I can't wait to hear all of your adventures.

  4. For those of you who don't remember your high school Spanish, or never had any, "Papeleo" means paperwork or red tape.

  5. I remember the "papaleo" frustration from the first time I lived in Spain in 1971 . . . Lauren, you probably experienced how incredibly difficult it used to be just to call home when you were an exchange student in Spain. I think this is an example of cultural differences. Things take forever and seem really inefficient. It's just the way they do things here . . . I liked your "impatient American" perspective.