Off to buy a cave. You don’t say that every day!
Could have been worse…. we could have been buying a teapot so a cave is quite normal in comparison (apparently in China several families can, and do, live in a red teapot).
Travelling to Spain from Cyprus is not an easy task out of season. Usually you have at least one stop off in the UK, France or Bulgaria. However, Cobalt have added a new route from Larnaca to Madrid. Madrid itself is not perfect for us as it is at least a 5 -6 hour drive to the cave, near to Baza but, we felt it was worth while as we would only be in Spain for a few days before returning to our work in Cyprus.
The flight to Madrid landed ahead of schedule and the drive down to our rented accommodation in Zujar was an easy 5 hours (once we managed to negotiate the exit out of the airport!). It had been a long day and to bed we went.
Our first full day was to be the admin day. To buy anything of note in Spain you have to have a NIE number. Like most things when in a different country everything is easy if, you know what you are doing, where you need to go and can read the detailed forms that you have to complete. Honestly, we did not have a clue so we put our trust in Sean (our estate agent from Spanish Inland Properties) to guide us through the necessary process. It made the task of getting an NIE so much easier than it could have been. We began with a visit to the local bank to pay our fee and get the appropriate forms stamped and then off to the local police station where we produced our passports together with the relevant forms. Most spaniards are friendly smiling people but not Mr policeman. Don’t get me wrong, he was efficient and did his job but not once did he attempt to smile or appear pleasant. He was there to do a job ……full stop. The whole process took about 10 minutes, but that was because Sean had completed all the forms on our behalf and lead us to the correct desk at the correct office (this in itself saved lots of time and legwork). Thank you Sean, we will be back I am sure. Lots more questions coming up!
Our next task of the day was to complete the paperwork for our new Spanish bank account. This account had already been set up on our behalf by Sean which meant that half of the work had already been completed before our arrival. To have on line facilities and a debit card for our new account we needed to provide proof of who we were and sign our lives away as you do at any bank when setting up new accounts. The whole process took about 30 minutes but it was all very painless. Pedro, the bank manager, was one of the loveliest bank managers I have ever met. No English was spoken but again, we had Sean. Job done and time for a quick coffee before John and I gave the cave another inspection. Me being me, I wanted to measure the ‘rooms’ that were already there as I had convinced myself that the measurements on the plans were incorrect. But no, all measurement were as near as damn it. Everything looks smaller when in a raw state.
The following day was ‘the day we bought a cave’. Again, our trusted Sean lead us back to the bank to pick up the bankers drafts and off we went to the Notary’s office in Baza. As usual we were early but that was ok as coffee was at hand.
Things began to happen when our solicitor arrived and the ‘soon to be’ ex owners of the cave. It was time to go over the paperwork and ensure all was well and everyone agreed with the documents that had been produced for the sale/purchase. This was the point when our first major hiccup occurred. I say major as it was to us but in Spain perhaps just a blip!
The outline of land as drawn on the plans that surrounded the cave did not represent what we thought we were buying. There appeared to be a triangular piece of farming land ‘over the road’, from the cave but no land to the side. This land to the side (which is scrub land) stretched from the entrance of the cave and followed the top edge of a small hill and went up and over the top of the cave. This area was going to be quite important in our future plans as it was perfect for patios/seating areas and had a great view of the Jabalcon Mountain, that towers over the back of the cave . The owners (we had not yet signed) told us that when they originally purchased the land they had a verbal agreement with the original owner, the farmer, that they would own the hill to the left of the cave and not the field as was drawn on the plans. The farmer wanted to keep the field to grow crops. The farmer was quite happy to exchange the arable land for the hill full of scrub which was quite useless to anyone. This is all very well and good but…..nothing was done about this change of land on a legal footing i.e. altered on the plans or the deeds. It was all taken on a verbal agreement hence on paper we appeared to own something that we really did not want and really did not need. After an hour of discussions it was agreed by all parties that the unwanted farm land would be taken off our deeds and the hill added. At least, that is what we think was agreed anyway. Time will tell. It got very confusing and we were all getting very muddled as to what, where and when. Sometimes there has to be trust and that is what we did, trust in those that know the Spanish system far better than us.
Another couple of coffees later and we headed towards the Notary’s office for the final piece of legalities. Everything was read out to us in Spanish by the lady Notary and translated into English by our solicitor. Money was paid over, deeds were signed and we became the proud owners of a cave.
Hip hip hooray! We left Baza a little bewildered, very weary but a happy couple. We owned our dream cave.
We were tempted to go back to our rented accommodation for a rest but…..we could not resist another visit to our cave before returning to Cyprus early the following day. It may have been the last look for this trip but it was the first visit as the proud new owners. We stood on the ‘patio’ and asked ourselves whether we had done the right thing. Our answers where ‘Most certainly, unequivocally, definitely yes’. The job was done.
NEXT STEP – I need to meet face to face with an architect so that we can walk the area that we now own and arrange for the new plans to be legally produced and added to the deeds. This will then hopefully correct what should really have been done years ago by the previous owners. This meeting will also be the ideal time to discuss my ideas and plans for the cave reform. Hopefully we can then get the plans and drawings of the reform drawn up and put forward to the Baza planning office for approval. I think this may be quite an adventure so we may need tons of good luck and lots of crossed fingers especially with the ideas I have to put in front of them. We will see.
I also need to seriously consider our best options for electricity, water, Internet and waste and that is just the beginning. If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear from you. Please. X