Finally moving into our house in Ronda, at 43°C through a wobbly ladder

We had lost count on how long the construction process had lasted. The spring had flown away and we were still paying rent two years on. We decided to move in on July 01, as long as we had a roof, a loo and a front door. All we cared for was living in our own house. The rest was in the details and could be done until Kingdom Come.

After far too many trans-Atlantic moves, this one seemed like a breeze. For one, we were only going a few blocks. Secondly, we had decided not to bring any of our book and art boxes, stored at a local convent, until we had shelves to put them onto. All we had to do was pack our clothes, toiletries and a few kitchen odds and ends. That’s all. Our earthly goods looked rather modest as they were spread about in our rental flat, but once we emptied closets and filled bag after bag, things started swelling out of hand. Without being aware of it, we had managed to acquire so much stuff that it would probably take a dozen carloads. Well, well, so much for my alleged zen-ness

Thankfully, we had a couple of days of grace period as our rental home was ours until July 3. We planned to move everything into our new house first and then return to clean up, leaving the flat spic and span for the owners. This was also a good thing because we still didn’t have a bed (details, details…). The frame and mattress, together with bathroom furniture and closets were to be delivered on July 01. Such tight timing can be very risky in Spain, but it was summer and we decided that we could always sleep on the terrace.

June 30th. The most yearned-after day finally arrived with not a cloud in the sky. Perfect moving weather, we thought. Sweat was already pouring down our faces as we brought the very first load to our vehicle. By 11 am, the temperature gage in our car showed 43 degrees and it was still creeping upwards, heading scarily close to the fifty degree mark. I was always told back in the old country (aka Norway) that southerners were lazy and hardly worked at all. Of course, compared to us Scandinavian workaholics with an innate protestant work ethic, congenital angst for sitting still, and seeing idleness as the root to all evil, most Spaniards will seem a little happy-go-lucky. But living in southern Spain, I have come to realize that blasting sun and plus-forty temperatures are not conducive to fast-paced physical work. A little to late, it occurred to us that moving is probably not advisable at the height of the Andalucían summer. However, sunstroke or not, we were hell-bent on getting there. With numerous water breaks we got done before nightfall, ending the day with a most deserved cerveza at the local bodega.

July 1st. After crashing back at the ‘old’ flat, we were up at the crack of dawn heading for our new house. If all went to plan, this would be our first night in our very own Ronda home. Of course we had no kitchen and the stairs to the second floor was still at the drawing stage, so everything had to be moved upstairs through a wobbly old stepladder that we found in the basement of the house. (We had somehow forgotten to tell this fact to the IKEA delivery company…) We had actually already given away the ladder to our neighbour for their olive trees, but the construction team kept needing it, so we kept delaying bringing it to them, which turned out rather timely, since this was now our only means of getting upstairs.

The house was a jumble of activities, as an installer was fitting the German windows and sliding doors at the back of the house and the kitchen counter was to be measured, though the kitchen was not yet built. (My husband and I had rather bravely decided that we would put together the kitchen ourselves, and somehow survive without either killing the other…) The construction team had cleared out, but the painters were still working on the outside of the house. The more the merrier, they say…

We expected the IKEA delivery guys at the earliest in the later afternoon (nothing ever happens on schedule here), but lord and behold, we got a call about 11 am telling us that they were at the top of our street with their giant truck. We hoped that they would oversee the small fact of the missing stairs. Of course they didn’t, but after a small pow wow outside they came and told us that they would do the job all the same.

The delivery and installation trio turned out to be the perfect team. The most senior, and by far the heaviest, huffed up the ladder and barely managed to squeeze though the opening, starting installing our bathroom cabinets with fierce speed and efficiency. Meanwhile, a long skinny lad remained downstairs, handing box after box hand over fist to the youngest and most acrobatically inclined lad straddled between the wall and the last rung of the ladder on the second floor. Once they had gotten all the boxes upstairs, it was discovered that our mattress would not fit through the opening and had to be roped from the lower to the upper terrace. No problem. The lads were onto it. I went at steady intervals to buy them cooling drinks to make amends and to stave off the overwhelming heat. Particularly our heavier fellow was drenched when the work was done and heaven knows how, but he did manage to get down the ladder in on piece. We could not thank them enough before they drove off, no extra charge.

The evening came sure enough, though not the long awaited cooling of the air.  Alberto the painter and his team had finished the exterior walls and packed up. The window fitter had long left and all the empty IKEA boxes had been dragged up to the recycling bin on the corner. We were exhausted and only wanted to fall into the newly installed bed. We had managed to dig out a sheet from the bags. In this heat thankfully all one needs is a single sheet as cover, or not even that. Lying in our very own bed, looking out at the starry sky and the silhouette of Ronda’s historic quarter with ancient church towers that once were minarets, we could hardly believe we were here. Home at last!

We knew fully well that had this been Canada or Norway or in almost any other country, the furniture installers would have refused blankly to proceed, insisting that moving into a house without a proper set of stairs was against their union rules, too unsafe, too wobbly or simply not in their work description. But this is Spain and things work differently here. And sometimes that is a blessing!

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