The quest of the day was to obtain an ID card that placed me in Valencia, so it was early morning when my friend and I arrived at the station, or comisaría de policía. Guess what?
The next available appointment to make identification cards is set for November 25 at 7:00 PM. Not before. Not after. And even if I waited in line all day (my number in line was 77, and after 30 minutes, #5 had just been called), I was not going to be able to get my card.
After a little time to regroup, I realized that I could still order phone services online without the identification card… until I realized that I needed a bank account, not a credit card, like in the US. While disappointing, it was not shocking.
So, now for a bank account. On the way to dinner, Cristian suggested that we step into La Caixa, a major bank here in Spain. The lady that helped me was ridiculously fluent in Spanish, English, German, and French, but, more importantly, did not need the identification card to open an account, just my passport and the NIE number that had already been established for me. At least for that, I had scored a win on both counts, and was able to open an account.
Banks in Spain are interesting institutions, as I mentioned before, with all kinds of official functions. One of the requirements for holding a Spanish bank account is that you must also pay for insurance (life, health, accident, etc.) to open an account. That’s good in one way, because it means that your account holders are less of a financial risk, but bad for someone like me, who already has insurance (had to get that for my visa) and doesn’t need to pay for more. Oh, well. I got the cheapest accident insurance available and the deed is done.
Once back in my hotel after dinner, I was finally able to request phone service, so in a few days I will thankfully have texting, internet, and phone call availability, and I won’t feel so disconnected from my regular communication pathways. Whew!