Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Friday, September 11, 2015

In the city

Pinoso doesn't have traffic lights and parking is free. In Culebrón we don't have much tarmac let alone street names.

Yesterday I went for a job interview in Murcia. I hadn't been looking for a new job it's just that a job website I'm signed up to sends me offers matched against keywords. From time to time I apply for something that looks interesting. Like being a tourist guide. But jobs are in short supply in Spain at the moment and I never get any sort of response. There's no effort to applying though, just push a button and my CV wings its way to wherever. I never bother with a covering letter. I'm not expecting to get an interview so I don't put any effort into the process. There was effort in writing the original CV of course and every now and then I update it but it's low maintenance.

So the surprise was that the firm came straight back to me after one of these occasional button pushes. It was for English teaching of course. The only job where my faltering Spanish is not a handicap. The advantage to me in changing jobs is mainly financial. I am, technically, self employed and taking advantage of a reduced rate, for startup businesses, of Seguridad Social which is a lot like the UK's National Insurance. Even then, by UK standards, this reduced rate is startlingly high. It's a fixed minimum and I'm paying 153€ per month at the moment which will go up to around 210€ in November and six months later it will reach its final level of 263€. Quite a whack out of my part time earnings; 30% of my gross and if I add in my tax the total in stoppages is something like 38%. The new job offered a simple, straightforward contract. I would become an employee again.

The interview was fine. They offered me a job. After a lot of indecision and a lot of sums about diesel costs, hours worked and stoppages paid I said yes. The job wasn't actually in Murcia as I expected but in a much smaller town called Cieza. I think I will be working principally as a language assistant to youngsters doing vocational courses which sounds both interesting and organised.

So, back to the point.  I had to go to Murcia. I don't mind driving anywhere but one of the joys of rural Spain, and lots of it is rural, is the roads. They are not busy. But Murcia City isn't rural - it's a real city. The centre is encircled by a giggle gaggle of intersecting motorways and out of town shopping centres. Once onto the ordinary streets it's roundabouts, traffic lights, five lanes of traffic, cars jockeying for position, bus lanes etc. Normal town stuff but always a bit of a change after Pinoso.

The interview was in the centre of town and I parked in an underground car park. When I drove out to come home it was lunchtime. I had the SatNav thingy on which tells me how many metres it is to the next rounadout or junction. It took me 20 minutes to cover the 700 metres that got me onto a relatively free flowing road heading out of town. I have a similar story about Victoria Station to the Wellington Arch but that story involves a Routemaster bus and over an hour.

Anyway, I drove over to Cieza just to have a look. I parked in the main street without any problem and without any payment. The town seemed nicer than I remebered, a bit prettier. The drive home along the N344, bits of the almost deserted A33 motorway and the RM427/CV83 was a pleasure. Not a traffic light or a bus lane in sight.

It was nice in town, the hustle and bustle, all those shops and people. I went to see a temporary Goya exhibition. We don't get a lot of Goya in Pinoso but, on balance, I quite like small town life. And I'm not far from plenty of 200,000 plus cities should the need for a bit of traffic overcome me.

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