When I made the decision to go to Spain, I also decided that I wanted to organise my accommodation in advance, because, being the chronic worrier that I am, I was petrified of ending up on the street, homeless and unhappy (yes, I know that there are such things as hotels and hostels, but my illogical mind prefers to focus on the worst possible scenario).
So I resolved to rent an apartment online.
When I arrived yesterday, I gave the landlord a call, to arrange a time to meet. He said he was incredibly busy, and was currently 40 minutes away at his workplace, but would do his best to get there at 5:30p.m.
OK, fine. No problem. He was probably working hard to pay the mortgage on the apartment.
At 5:30p.m., I found myself waiting outside the apartment, like a proverbial shag on a rock, when a taxi pulled up, and out jumped a middle-aged man, wearing mirror sunglasses, torn jeans, and with his shirt unbuttoned too far. Yes, this was the landlord.
After showing me the apartment (every sentence punctuated by loud sniffing, which I hope was from a cold or allergies, rather than habitual cocaine use) and the neighbouring shops, he gave me the keys, and said I could collect the contract from his office tomorrow (i.e. today).
As he had told me he worked 40 minutes away, I imagined this would be quite a trip. But no. He meant 40 minutes’ walk. And it turned out his office was actually his apartment located on one of the best streets in Madrid. And what an apartment it was! It had a huge terrace, antique furniture, and a pet python, Francesca, sitting there in a cage.
It was about then that I started to realise that despite his outward appearance and unusual mannerisms, the landlord was not “doing it tough”, so to speak. And this was confirmed when I asked him whether he only owned one apartment. “No, not one,” he answered. “A few, then?” I continued. “Sixteen,” he replied. “Oh. That must, umm, keep you busy,” I said lamely.
I don’t know why, but this discovery really made me feel unhappy. Call me naive, but I don’t want to be sitting here, furthering my landlord’s extensive property empire and opulent lifestyle, paying him rent in cash so he doesn’t have to declare his income, with 15 other tenants doing the same.
But perhaps my views are a little too innocent.