First Day in Martos (and a surprise apartment)

Since Martos has only a couple hotels and they were full we stayed in an Airbnb. This is a safe way to stay with people for much less money than a hotel. Our Airbnb host, Lee, to our surprise, is British. We thought we would be living with a Spaniard, but nope. It’s incredible to have Lee’s Martos knowledge at our disposal. We got up at 10 and had breakfast. He asked about the game plan. He has Fridays off so he offered to show us around the city. We didn’t get far before we came across the old real estate agency he had used to get his apartment. Chris had actually emailed this same agency a few weeks ago and they said “just come on in when you get here.” Small world that we all were using the same person. Lee marched us into the real estate office where Rosa was. In seconds we found out that there were three properties we would be looking at that day. “That’s incredibly rare for Martos” Lee said. “Usually it’s ‘we’ll get a property in a couple weeks and call you then.'” So we had to go tour all three.

We had barely been awake (or even in Martos) for 3 hours and we were suddenly off to go “piso hunting” apartment = piso.

#1 – Wood Paneling

This was an apartment right on the main road (so it’s a little loud) but with the main master bedroom in the back of the apartment where it’s quieter. It was pretty dark inside on account of all the wood paneling and wood everything. Even the refrigerator had wood patterned linoleum on it so it was super wood-y. Rosa explained every nook and cranny and poor Lee did his best to translate.

But holy mother of everything! We couldn’t believe there was an oven and a dishwasher. These are super rare for Spain. There was also a built in microwave, washing machine, dining table, and 2 couches.

There are 2 bathrooms – one with a bathtub and one with a shower. As well as 3 bedrooms – 2 with twin beds and tons of built-in shelving, one with a double bed (biggest we’ve seen so far).

Looks like an American kitchen!

The view is just more apartments and of the mountain which we learned was called Peña even though that just means crag or rock. I’m sure it’s  Peña Something.

Behind the sitting area is a balcony to look at the Peña.

This apartment is 450 Euros a month and is K’s favorite because of all the space, quieter bedroom, and mecha kitchen.

Downsides are the wood paneling and it uses a bombona to heat the water. This is a propane tank which we’ll have to replace manually when it runs out. Lee has been warming us up to the idea of a bombona because you can keep track of how much you’re using rather than getting a crazy bill every month.

#2 “Look at that Peña!”

Rosa was really nice but we needed her assistant to show us the next couple apartments. Lee accompanied us for the first apartment because Rosa (and us) were scared of the language barrier we were facing. Lee encouraged her to speak slower and we were warmed up a bit. So we lost our translator and gained this new feisty fabulous woman in a red t-shirt dress. We caught her name as “Balena” but I’m not sure. She and Rosa had a shouting match about traffic which we’re learning is common for Andalucians. They’re hot blooded and love to shout. It was over before it started (and wasn’t a proper fight either) and we were led into our first solo apartment showing.

They scurried around hoisting all the curtains and storm shutters “luz! luz! luz! Mira luz” (Look at all this light!) They chanted. “Estufa, microonda, refrigerator” they said gesturing at the stove, microwave and opening the fridge. They said something to us happily and their smiles faded a little as they realized we didn’t get it. “something something something gasos”

“Something about the gas” I told Chris

They tried again slower.

“BOMBONA NO” shouted Balena suddenly. “BOM.BON.A. NO!!!!” she shouted again happily gesturing at where it wasn’t. So we were on the city gas line and wouldn’t be tethered to the propane tank. We shared her enthusiasm.

We toured some more, interrupted sometimes by Balena’s fantastic shout-y enthusiasm.

“Es muy bonita” Rosa said gesturing at all the natural light.

“Es … BEAUTIFUL!!!! … NO?!” Red dress shouted, practicing her English.

“Si, si.” We answered.

The curtains were thrown open and we went out to the balcony.

“Something something something Peña. CAMINATA…. PENA…. something something…. BONITA

She gestured hiking and how wonderful it is to hike the Peña.

The view from the balcony. The Peña is to the right out of frame.
The lounge and the wonderful red dressed Balena.

I honestly spent the whole time touring this apartment mentally freaking out with the Spanish. Between Rosa and Balena shouting it was a crazy whirlwind.

Luz! Microonda! Sala! Balcon! Luz! Bonita! Luz! Bombona No! Horno No! Luz! Bonita! Si!

And then trying to learn like a baby, with a cause and effect. Someone would say (or shout) a new word while gesturing to a door or something. Okay, I don’t know that word. The door is opened, oh it’s a walk-in pantry. Okay, so that word is pantry. Wait I’m not trying to learn Spanish right now, I’m trying to tour. Okay, good, noted, pantry. Good for my things. “Cosas”, things. Good, that’s some good Spanish right now. 

The bedroom seemed loud and there were some straight up exposed wires coming out of the wall where the TV goes. I’ve been informed this is very common so you can install your own lamps.

Chris loves this apartment mostly for the view. I think it’s missing some great things like an oven and a bigger bed and better storage. But we both like it for the price.

“Cuatrocientos cincuenta” Rosa told us the price. Thinking… uno, dos, tres, cuatro. Cuatro. 4, Four. Okay, four hundred and what? By now I had my notebook out and was writing things down, I wrote 450 on a paper. Rosa nodded in approval.

“CON GARAJE!”  we were informed of another feature suddenly by Balena. A garage.

“No tenemos un coche” Chris said.

“OH!” Balena snagged my pen and wrote “400 piso” she even pushed the pen down super hard, writing forcefully like how she shouts. The enthusiasm of this woman was fantastic.

At the door there was a big to do. “Medio cinco something something something”

Wait it’s 500 now?

“Medio cinco something something una mujere something something (gestures at eyeball) una something something (gestures at eye frantically, pulling eyelid down) primero something something”

Another woman was going to look at this same apartment wait, wait, no, she had already looked at this apartment, and was going to decide if she was going to rent it before one pm. If she didn’t pick it we could have it.

Also we were to go to Rosa’s office at medio cinco. The heck is that? Someone got an iphone out and made the clock show 17:30. Oh my god, high school Spanish. Five thirty. Middle of five, medio cinco. Duh.

At medio cinco we would see another apartment.

“No” we gestured a big X with our hands the way Koreans do. Old habits die hard. “Esta piso esta uh favorito.”

TODOS NUEVO something something something PISCINA!!!!!!!!” (But the other apartment is completely new and has a pool!)

We would be seeing this third apartment. No wouldn’t be taken for an answer. This was a 500 euro brand new (BRAND. NEW. TODOS NUEVOS!!!!!) apartment with a freaking pool. Piscina! Piscina! Have you any sense, it has a pool! See you at 5:30!

We walked back to Lee’s house. The second we walked in he texed us “Rosa called. Go to her office at 1 to see the new apartment” Ha!

We turned right around and went back to her office.

#3 Todo Nuevo! Todo Nuevo!

The whole walk to the new apartment she gave us a really great tour.

“Biblioteca” library

“Este restaurante…. muy bueno” “Oh a good restaurant”

“Su escuela” Points at me, “alli” then points in a direction. “Su esquela” points at Chris “aqui” points at another direction. Your school is there, his school is there.  “Muy cerca. Biblioteca, Mercador, muy cerca” Very close, (central) a library, a store, very central.

We gathered that this was a very central location. Not to be missed.

Another new fantastic woman joined us. A short woman in a pretty floral dress who couldn’t stop smiling at us. It was so strange after being in Korea where people talked about us in front of us (maliciously and curiously) Or people wouldn’t even make an effort with us. Here all these women were so kind, smiling, enthusiastic, patient and fun loving. We laughed over language barriers rather than getting frustrated with each other. It was fun for us, to be accepted by a country after so long in Korea.

The smiling woman was fantastic, she tried some English which gave us the confidence to really start talking with them all in Spanish. This new woman genuinely wanted to communicate with us so we all put our best feet forward. We weren’t talking about apartments but actually talking. “We no have a car, we are married, we are teachers, we’re from Colorado, it’s very far. We flew on Monday, we arrive Thursday. Martos for only one day. Only in Spain two day. We had lived in Korea.”

Except we didn’t know “Korea.” We kept saying “Sud Korea” which is German, “Corea Sur” is Spanish. German is becoming an incredible problem for my brain.

“Qorea?” they guessed. “Qoorea?” they looked at each other. The smiling woman finally got it. “Oh Corea!!!”

Red dressed and fiesty Balena arrived like the hero she is. Fabulously she pointed out the Peña mountain by shouting at both it and us with a huge smile.

“Peña!” we agreed enthusiastically.

We went up to the brand new apartment we knew we wouldn’t get because it was so expensive.

We know “todo nuevo” “completely new” but heard it probably three hundred times.

In the foyer “todo nuevo”

The staircase and the elevator were “TODO NUEVO” Balena informed us.

The door was nice (I guess?) flower dress told us the door was “todo nuevo”

We went inside to see the furniture. The couch, TV, ceiling fan were all identified individually as being “todo nuevo.” To the point it was getting actually silly, to everyone.

We went to a twin bed “prueba” we were instructed. Try it. We pushed on it. “Todo. Nuevo” she informed us.

The main bedroom was todo nuevo. Balena pointed at a wardrobe across the room “ABRIR” she instructed. Open. They were getting increasingly good at using baby Spanish with us. I obeyed and opened it. It was clean and “todo nuevo”

The inside of the new apartment. All new everything. Luz! Todo nuevo

To the cocina. Kitchen. Horno = todo nuevo. Refrigerator and microwave, todo nuevo. At this point they realized this word was overused so we went back to the Luz chant about how bright and light everything was. Just kidding check out this washing machine, Todo. Freaking. Nuevo.

Oh. My. Goodness. La piscina! La piscina! PISCINA! The pool!

They gave us the specks

“Mayo, Junio, Julio, Agosto. Abierto. Cinco meses. Abierto. Calor abierto. Invierno, cerrado.”

It’s open in the summer months. 5 whole months! Can you believe this deal! 5 months! May! June! July! August! It’s open!

The promised piscina to the right.

As they all figured out the level of Spanish we could work with we started getting spiels like this. It was awesome. Like an infomercial but with baby talk.

I won’t put it into Spanish but this is what we got on our way out “Gas and garbage are billed like every three months, and it’s not even expensive. Very cheap. So cheap. Gas and garbage! It’s unreal! Only 40 euros every three or so months. That’s crazy cheap. You might be thinking 500 is a lot per month but it’s really not because gas and garbage are gonna be so cheap you won’t even care anymore. 40! 40 euros! I can’t tell you (no se) how much electricity (luz) is gonna be for you since I don’t know how much you use (gestures at lights) but it’s totally okay because everything else is cheap. Did I mention the pool? Holy goodness that pool is certainly great. And I think the biggest feature of this apartment is that it is TODO. NUEVO.”

On the way out we were informed to go to her office (to make a decision?) at medio cinco. Oh but wait there was a mystical 4th apartment we would tour. What!?

#4 Loud Mansion

We met with the previous owner of the apartment. This poor lady was a saint, she had hand built, painted and arranged the apartment to perfection because it just wouldn’t sell (er, rent). She had seriously renovated the whole thing herself and kept promising we could have it professionally cleaned before we moved in. She was desperate to rent it out but couldn’t get anyone. Why? Because it’s louder than any human being could ever handle. About thirteen bars are downstairs which are open until 3 am and a ton of loud teenagers congregate from 3-10 until the bars open and they go home. In the mornings there are aggressive and loud exercise classes at the gym. It’s non-stop noise. If it wasn’t for that it would be the perfect apartment.

It had beautiful polished floors, chandeliers, a beautiful bedroom, more storage space than you could shake a stick at. A huge dining room. An actual library (seriously a whole bedroom was floor to ceiling bookshelves). Every room had huge windows (the round kind that jut out. I know there is a word for this but I’m at a loss here). The kitchen was huge and perfect, it was on the city gas line (bombona no!), with counter space around the whole room so we could cook together. There was even a dryer.

A dryer! Guys! A dryer. These are never ever used outside of the US. It’s so rare! We didn’t have one in Germany or Korea.

There was only a handful of people talking at a normal volume outside but you could already hear them. It was never going to work.


Wood Paneling was miraculously bumped down to 425 a month.

The Look at that Pena apartment ended up getting snatched by that other lady.

Todos Nuevos was 500 and was right out of the question. Plus who even wants a pool?

Loud mansion was perfect inside but that wouldn’t make up for the lack of sleep.

We picked Wood Paneling. That’s right!!! We already have an apartment on day freaking one. They go so fast we had no choice. When she bumped the price down it was sold.

We move in on Tuesday.

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