I used to daydream about living abroad – of having sunglasses permanently fixed on top of my head and eating fresh watermelon for breakfast. But even when that daydream became a reality, it still never felt “real”.
Because it’s only when you start to call somewhere home and erm, get yourself a mortgage (!) that you know you’ve taken more than a fanciful leap of faith.
As first-time buyers in any country, the process was never going to be easy. But taking the toro by the horns in a different language, well it has been an experience for sure.
We celebrated our 3-year Spainversary surrounded by boxes in 37°C, arms heavy from the booster vaccine. (Note to self: never again move house during a heatwave).
Gathering up the last rogue sheets of plástico de burbujas (that’s bubble-wrap to you and me), which were blowing uncontrollably under the air-con, I took one last look around at our first Spanish home.
The one where the smells of delicious lunches and sounds of siesta snores mixing in the courtyard gave us our first feel of local Spanish life. The one where we would greet our elderly neighbours on the stairs as they sauntered for an evening paseo in the park. And of course, the one where we spent an intense few months indoors under one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns…
In other words, the one we’ll never forget.
Then, with the help of several sweaty friends, we loaded a van of our worldly treasures, stopping for frequent cold beer breaks. Driving across a city that we love, to a home that we own, with a bunch of super amigos, my smile was as wide as the sol.
Only 20 minutes away, our new piso is close to the airport, which gives me the feeling of being closer to HOME, as loco as that sounds.
But of course, being your own landlord comes with new responsibilities. No sooner had we walked through the door did I fire up a YouTube tutorial about “How to maintain your air con”.
And as is always the case, teething problems presented themselves purposefully – just to test us. “Completely normal”, I was reassured by the more experienced veterans of moving-home.
But I am happy to report that any out-dated stereotypes of the “mañana, mañana” attitude that Spaniards are unfairly labelled with were instantly broken, and any problems reported were fixed rápido.
I go around, picking out perfect places to showcase my collection of ceramics, which have been chosen with love from our travels across the country; an olive oil jug from a market in Sevilla, tile coasters from a rural Andalusian farmhouse selling the wares of local craftsmen, some outdoor pieces from the ceramic shops in the backstreets of Valencia. I go outside to our little balcony and measure up.
Then I turn my attention to potting my lemon tree. I’ve waited a long time for this moment.
Blessed with the morning sun, she is going to thrive. I read up on how to care for her and my olive tree, planted with elation the same day, whilst appreciating how much better that first coffee of the day tastes with the sun on my skin.
And so, broken pleasantries with the neighbours exchanged and obligatory ‘new home’ announcement posted on the socials, we finally settle down to toast the next chapter with a chilled cava.
The next chapter, which will see us (and our little citrussy shrub) continue to live and thrive in the Mediterranean sun. How could we be ready for the adventure to be over when it is only just beginning?
And to those family and friends planning a visit, well…
“Mi casa es tu casa”.
So, this is how it feels to lay down those roots.