One of my least favourite summer-in-the-city rituals is the ITV – that is, the yearly Inspección Técnica de Vehículos. Mine is always due in late July, when Barcelona is at its stickiest and most irritable. Last year, despite having hora (an appointment), I sat for hours (with air-con bust) in a queue that stretched a couple of blocks, to get into the basement testing station. At least the car passed. This time, it failed (well, it is pretty ancient).
Every year the whole shebang has become more streamlined, less oily and dirty and stuffy and noisy, and they look at more things. The first time I took my previous ancient car, about 15 years ago or more, I found it totally nervewracking because I couldn’t hear the shouted instructions over the noise of all those engines (for those who have never done an ITV, you have to drive the car yourself through a sort of obstacle course including what I idiotically call the bouncy castle.) At one stage the guy started yelling: ‘Pulmó! Pulmó!’ Lung? Lung? I sat there, sweating and dopey – and then he yanked the passenger door open, leaned in and grabbed the gear lever, glaring at me and muttering as if I was a total imbecile. I honestly didn’t get till years later, and a quieter, more courteous ITV, that he’d been shouting: ‘Punt mort! Punt mort!’ ie. Put it in neutral!
You can read about the ITV and hora, amongst other fun and useful stuff, in the book.