Luxury vacation for an unemployed family
By Susana Vera
Rafael Guerrero and his wife Luisa Diaz have been playing the lottery every Saturday ever since they got together. Three euros each week, same numbers every time, but no wins in more than fifteen years. This summer, however, Lady Luck finally smiled on them in the most unexpected way, and most importantly, for free.
While watching TV one day this past August, the Guerreros came across news of a contest from the Merchants Association of los Alcazares, a coastal town by the Mar Menor sea in southeastern Spain. The association promised a free week-long vacation at four-star hotels to three Spanish families with under-aged children who could prove that both parents had been unemployed for more than a year. Sadly, or luckily this time, the Guerrero-Diaz family met those requirements.
Rafael, 37, has been unemployed since June 2011, when the pipe coating factory where he had been working for five years closed down. His wife Luisa, 38, a former housekeeper, has been jobless since November 2010. The couple live with their two sons, Adrian, 4, and Rafael, 2, in a two-story home they purchased right before the start of the Spanish housing bubble in Hellin, in the Spanish region of Castilla la Mancha. “Had we waited another year to buy the house we would be far worse these days trying to make the monthly mortgage payments,” says Guerrero as he further explains that as of this month the family will have to get by with only the 800 euros he gets in unemployment benefits because his wife’s ran out in August.
Under those circumstances the thought of a family vacation had not even crossed their minds. The contest from the Los Alcazares Merchants Association sounded too good to be true, but they trusted that it wouldn’t be a hoax. Thus, they decided to try their luck. They gathered the paperwork that proved they had been out of work for over a year and sent it with a letter describing their current situation as well as a photo of the four of them. It was Luisa who got the call saying that they were one of the three chosen families. Rafael was about to enter the supermarket to buy some groceries when his wife phoned with the news. He turned around and went back home to celebrate.
The family was given the chance to go on vacation together for the first time ever, all expenses paid. From September 3rd until September 9th they enjoyed first-class treatment, staying at a four-star hotel suite, dining at some of the best restaurants in town, going for boat rides, getting golf lessons…
As Guerrero says; “It was more than what we could have ever expected. Even if we both were currently employed we would have never been able to afford something like this”.
With Spanish unemployment hitting its highest level this year since the Franco dictatorship ended in the mid-1970s, many Spaniards this summer have not been able to have a vacation, especially from the 1.7 million Spanish households where all members are out of work.
Rafael Guerrero and his family were some of the lucky ones this time. “Who knows. Maybe our luck has finally turned,” Guerrero says as he hopes for better news in the job seeking department.
In the meantime, he and his wife plan to continue playing the lottery every Saturday. Same numbers, same three euros.