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Spanish Secrets: Here We Go Again

...As we stared through the toxic haze the familiar shape of a drilling-rig emerged. This giant tractor bounced and shook as the large drill slowly and rhythmically bored into the ground. Piles of grey dust, ground-up particles of rock, surrounded the drill head. The overgrown garden now looked more like a scene from the Somme during the Great War...

Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie visit their rundown Spanish farmhouse - and find themelves in the midst of a property developer's nightmare.

To read earlier episodes of Craig's account of the roller coaster experience of buying and restoring the farmhouse please click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

Accepting Manolo’s quote for the restoration of our ruined farmhouse lent a new impetus to our endeavours. Nagging doubts that we had seriously underestimated the building costs were now a distant memory. With renewed enthusiasm we headed off for the house to check on the progress of the new boundary wall. It had been a few days since we’d visited the site so we were hoping for a big improvement.

It was a bright, sunny morning as we entered the village. As we rounded the final bend our path was block by a large off-road vehicle. I pulled onto the grass verge at the side of the lane and parked. Sitting in the car listening to the local radio station, we hadn’t noticed anything different about this normally peaceful and tranquil village. As soon as I opened the car door, the peace was shattered by a deafening and instantly recognisable noise.

The throbbing hum of a large, diesel-powered generator filled the air. But even this couldn’t quite mask the mechanical drone of a large drilling-rig. Somebody somewhere was having a bore-hole drilled and it was close. Very close. A terrible thought exploded into my mind. Anxiously I rushed to the end of the drive. My fears were immediately realised.

Blocking the driveway was an enormous generator. Its once bright-orange paintwork was smeared with black oily-patches and covered in dirty finger prints. Grimy smears of contaminated diesel dripped from the filler-cap, overspill from careless hands. A sooty exhaust-pipe ejected plumes of black smoke into the atmosphere as the motor revved. Trailing from this mechanised monster, like giant tentacles, was a spaghetti-like mix of pipes and tubes.

As we stared through the toxic haze the familiar shape of a drilling-rig emerged. This giant tractor bounced and shook as the large drill slowly and rhythmically bored into the ground. Piles of grey dust, ground-up particles of rock, surrounded the drill head. The overgrown garden now looked more like a scene from the Somme during the Great War.

Through the greasy-grime on the side of the generator the word Chanquero was unmistakable. I couldn’t believe they’d started work without being instructed. They hadn’t even been the cheapest of our four quotes.

A gust of warm, diesel-scented air blew in my face as I squeezed through the narrow gap between the generator and the wall and headed off toward the rig. Seńor Chanquero was nowhere to be seen. Two men, wearing dirty-blue overalls and looking decidedly bored, were standing next to the revolving drill.

“Hola!” I shouted over the booming noise. “How long have you been working here?”

A series of throat-wrenching questions and answers followed before I wandered off to inform Melanie of my findings.

It transpired that they’d begun work on Monday - three days earlier. They’d started drilling on the other side of the garden. This was where all four drilling companies, who had quoted on the work, unanimously agreed they would find water. They’d given this categorical assurance based on four very different, yet equally theatrical, displays of dowsing.

Having drilled to a depth of 92 metres and found nothing but rock, they’d decided to try a different part of the garden. I was delighted that these charlatans had been exposed as the fraudsters they are. That however didn’t help our present predicament.

Firstly - we hadn’t asked Chanquero to start drilling. Secondly, as his was not the cheapest quote we had no intention of asking him. Thirdly, we were paying by the metre and they had already surpassed the depth of the first hole. And fourthly, if they couldn’t find water, the house was worthless, just one more Spanish ruin crumbling in the Galician countryside.

Once again we’d unwittingly taken a seat on the emotional roller coaster of Spanish property restoration. Whilst no-one was looking, it was time to exit left, return home, gather our thoughts and then come out fighting.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

Copyright © 2007 Craig Briggs

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