Un masters en la pobreza
We found a flat!!!! We officially have our own place! Hooray!!! It’s a cute, little, old-timey Sevillian apartment on the ground floor with funny miniature furniture, a tiny patio, a mini-doorway for the bathroom, and an arch for a bathtub (I’ll post photos later). After exactly 3 weeks and 6 days, we finally signed the contract and will be moving our stuff in this week. YAY!! Hooray for a place to live!!
Last week we called to set up an appointment to see the place. The guy in charge of renting it for the owner is a lawyer named Juan. He’s a quirky old man, very jovial and gregarious. The day he showed us the flat, he was 30 minutes late, was wearing a coat that resembled something that a used cars salesman would wear (an old houndstooth plaid blazer), pretty petite, with glasses and smiley eyes. The minute he walked up I knew he would be kind and helpful to us- refreshing! A couple days after seeing this apartment, we went to his office to drop off our papers and documents to make the contract. When he looked at what we make per month, he said,
“This isn’t enough to pay for the flat… are you sure you can pay?” Luckily, he was only looking at one of our checks, between us both and with our private classes, we definitely can. But I’ll be honest; our salary leaves much to be desired!
Then he began to tell us how it’s good to be frugal, and that it’s conducive to earning a “masters en la pobreza” or a masters in being “poor.” There’s a saying here: Para apreciar el paraiso, hay que conocer el infierno (To appreciate paradise, one must pass through hell). While we’re definitely not in “hell”, and we’re definitely not poor either, our light pockets have helped us learn to budget more and be a bit more conscious of our spending habits. I loved that he was talking to us like this and being honest.. so many of the people we had met searching for the flats had been shady and seemed like they were trying to take advantage of us.
After this lecture, we started talking about the economy and how it’s been getting better over the past 15 years in Spain. He said that right now, during this crisis, it’s the time of the “vacas flacas”, or the skinny cows, or the “cinturones apretados”, tightened belts. He then began to recount the story from the Bible of Joseph in Egypt and how he interpreted the dreams for Pharaoh. The “7 vacas gordas” meant that there would be 7 years of prosperity in Egypt back in the day. And the “7 vacas flacas” signified 7 years of shortage. It was so interesting that this big time lawyer was telling us a bible story in his office as we were making a deal to rent an apartment. Coincidence? I think not. We left very sure that we were making the right decision, and Beth and I both had a little bounce in our step.