First order of business: Spanish phones and wifi (in Europe, pronounced wee-fee) for the apartment. Based on several casual inquiries and an informal poll of wifi networks available in our wanderings, we chose Movistar. Like everything else here, it took several visits to get the job done. The first visit was our bad: we had just dropped in without passports. Note to self: you have to have your passport to be able to conduct any business. Try #2: We had to have a Spanish bank account number. Our supposedly international account with BBVA has an American account number, so it won’t work. This was late Friday afternoon; banks in Alicante close at 2:00 or 2:30 for the day, and they aren’t open at all on weekends.
First thing Monday morning (first thing being 9:30), we were at the BBVA bank down the street. We were told we couldn’t open an account without setting up medical insurance through BBVA. WHAT??? We went back to the apartment to get all of our paperwork – including the international insurance required for our visas – and regroup.
After lunch, we went to the Caixa bank across the corner from our apartment. It took an hour, but we now have a local bank account – no medical insurance required! And, though BBVA was reluctant (read: unwilling) to open an account with dollars, we were able to do so – no problema! – at Caixa. The process took a while, true, but Johanna knew what she was doing and we had all of the necessary paperwork in hand: passports, NIE numbers, proof of pension.
Back to Movistar – and we ended up with Anna, the girl we started with originally when we didn’t have passports with us. Using an online translator, we got through the process fairly smoothly. New sim cards for both phones, and she even searched for easy-to-remember phone numbers for both of us. There followed some pronoun confusion about who would notify whom for cable installation, but we were notified and cable was installed with no problem.