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Adiós to Mañana! PDF
Thursday, 28 January 2010 00:00

 altWhat’s all this talk about the culture of mañana in Spain?  Who said bureaucracy was slow? In the last few months I’ve found the exact opposite to be true.  

When I decided to become a Spanish resident last year, I expected a long and protracted bureaucratic process.  Not so.  

Getting registered on the padrón, or electoral roll, was also supposed to take ages.  Also not so.

When an absent friend’s house was flooded, as her representative here, I was anticipating a load of bureaucratic hassle.  Not the case.

When we asked the electricity company for a quote for a new heating system, we thought we’d have to wait ages.  The técnico came the next day. 

And when a British friend died recently in our village, we expected a nightmare of bureaucracy and form-filling.  It never happened.

These are just five examples which, to me, prove that the myth of mañana is just that – a myth.


For residency I went to the policía local to find out what I needed to do.  I was given a form to fill and told to take it to my bank, pay the fee of 20€, get it stamped and return to the policía local office.

The next morning I paid the fee at my bank, went back to the policía with my stamped form and emerged five minutes later as a fully-fledged resident of Spain, certificate in hand!


Getting empadronado at my village town hall was equally as quick.  I showed up with proof of ID, my NIE and my residencia and left within minutes, entitled to vote in future local and European elections.  What’s more, my village will benefit to the tune of 2,000€.  This is roughly how much a town hall receives from the Junta de Andalucía for each person on the padrón.  So, if you’re reading this, live in Spain and aren’t empadronado, I urge you to see about it without delay.

Insurance Claim

When the house I look after for a UK-based friend flooded after an old lead pipe burst, I expected the insurance company to claim they weren’t liable.  However, the following day a plumber arrived, hacked out the wall in the lounge, where the broken pipe was, and fixed it.  The day after a plasterer came and made good the wall and within a couple of days a painter had repainted the whole wall! The rug damaged by the flood was replaced with no argument.  And I didn’t have to fill in a single form!


We asked the electricity company for a quote for a new heating system.  The técnico came the next day, did his survey and the quotation was ready the day after.  Unbelievable!


The death of our good friend, Bill, in the early hours of one Tuesday morning towards the end of November, was a nightmare.  None of us had a clue about what needed to be done.  As the only available Spanish-speaker around, I was heavily involved in the aftermath of this unexpected tragedy.  As it turned out, it couldn’t have gone more smoothly or straightforwardly.  Bill’s body was prepared and on display within a couple of hours and he was buried within 24. The paperwork was dealt with by the town hall and the whole process was underway.

These are just five examples of the utmost efficiency, all of which happened to me within the space of two months last year.  That can’t be unique, surely?  So, is the myth of the mañana culture dead? I think – and hope – so!

©  Paul Whitelock




Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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