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How NOT to get stopped at gunpoint by the Guardia in Spain

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 22th Oct 2010

To be fair, I must have been asking for it...

Ok, so I generally wear a similar expression to a bulldog chewing a wasp whilst walking over broken glass. I also have very short cropped hair and am quite stocky, and it has been said that I have a tendency to walk with a slightly aggressive strut accompanied with a glowering stare ( Napoleon complex ).

The other thing is even if i was wearing a sombrero and fake mostache and sunglasses I couldn't fail to pass for anything other than what I actually am - Raving English.

So when I nipped up the road the other week to do the Supermarket shopping I wasn't really expecting to run into any trouble, but as many of my friends in the UK will doubtlessly be able to confirm, I shouldn't really have been surprised how things panned out ...

Anyone who has lived in Spain for even the shortest period of time will know of the various things that you are supposed to do as a driver - like carrying the various documentation in the car with you, and having the required driving license on your person. The documentation issue I can understand (aside from why it needs to be 'original' - doesn't this just make it easier for car theives to pass off a stolen vehilce as their own ?), but the 'required license' issue has always rankled with me. As a citizen of the EU I hold a driving license that is issued and recognised by the EU, but certain authorities have decided that it is not valid. There have been reported instances where the Guardia have fined unsuspecting expat drivers for not holding a recognised licence and the advice given by the British Embassy is simply to pay the fine, then forward the receipt to them and they will claim back the fee on your behalf.

Why ? - Isn't the Guardia capeable of understanding EU law ?

Anyway, this is an issue that bothers me, so when I was driving back from the Supermarket the other Friday with my frozen peas starting to melt on the backseat of the car, you can imagine how belligerent I was feeling at being pulled over for a Guardia spot check. I wasn't exactly in the most helpful or submissive frame of mind as Sr Guardia motioned for me to turn off the car Engine, remove the keys and slowly get out of the vehicle.

It is perhaps 30 seconds before that point that I should have checked my rear view mirror to have seen that there were a further 5 Guardia officers in an arc around the car - three with weapons aimed at me.

It was at that point that I started to see the value in getting my British Issued / EU recognised driving licence validated in Spain.

I can laugh about it now, but it seems that only 15 minutes earlier a group of armed Brits had violently attacked the Bank in the Town Centre with sledgehammers and made off towards the motorway. Apparently they had done this to 6 other banks over the course of the summer and the Guardia were keen to act as quickly as possible in order to apprehend them.

I was fortunate that one of the gun-weilding Guardia guys's recognised me as being 'local' and so I was begrudgingly allowed to leave without receiving what I believe is called a 'good kicking' for having the temerity to be English.

The news came later in the day that 7 people were caught at the next motorway junction and arrested. It was little comfort that they were all scousers (insert stereotypical joke here...) of which some of them vaguely met with my description. What I want to know is Were the Guardia specifically looking for me and if so, HOW did they get my description ? - AND even if I HAD just participated in an armed robbery, why not credit me with a little intelligence instead of assuming that I would nip accross the street to do the weekly shop afterwards ?

The moral of the story ? - Take a Freezer bag with you next time you nip to the supermarket, 'cos you never know....

Comment on this Blog

Funny how the British Embassy in Spain never warn scousers of this when departing from John Lennon airport...
Mr Grumpy - Tue, 28th Feb 2012
Brilliant happens here all the time always have a back up car with a coooool box!
Chris M - Sat, 25th Feb 2012
Whilst I understand your point, presumably they didn't know you were a Brit when they stopped you - and from what you say your appearance would like meet the likely general description of the suspects (a lot of Liverpool crims go for the shaved head body builder look - along of course with non-criminals - and speaking a baldy myself a lot of bald white men do look the same).
Coe - Sat, 25th Feb 2012
Very scary! It´s a little like Billy Connolly says on a sketch on scuba-diving - we´re not supposed to be down there. Perhaps we´re not supposed to be here! I´ve never had any problem but then there´s like 5 of us guiris in Alcalá so we´re invisible. Must visit the costas to see what kind of stuff you put up with Mr. Grumpy. Part of the moral of the story has to be that people everywhere still mistrust foreigners. How sad is that?
Mo - Sat, 27th Aug 2011

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