Guess what? The 31st of July was my one-year anniversary living with Spain. Or maybe just living in Spain. Or actually IT IS living with Spain, because Spain is just so lively, colorful and in contact with its feelings, that you get sucked into it little by little.
I celebrated the anniversary with Jose, my first Spanish friend, his son and a new friend Ana and her friend Resu. We had wine and pizza from my favorite Italian pizza place that we ate at one of my favorite spots in Cádiz. A remote spot close to the industrial area by the harbor. A place where few people pas by but a place by the sea with beautiful sunsets. What a lovely night.
I can’t believe where the last year went. It has been such an amazing and challenging journey and I still just want more of Spain. Luckily, because I’m not going anywhere. On the contrary, I don’t feel like going anywhere. The last many years when living in Denmark, I was travelling out of Denmark 3-4 times a year because it was the only way I could really relax and disconnect. But now I feel at home in a different way, and here I don’t have to leave the country in order to relax, or maybe it’s because everything is still so new. But I can just travel in the province, into the mountains, visit other beaches and I am just as happy, and it relaxes me.
SINCE LAST TIME
An anniversary like this, makes me want to reflect a bit on the year that went by, but first a short update since my last blog post, it’s been a while. I love writing but for the last two months, there just hasn’t been any time to stop and write.…
May, June and July have been very intense in many ways. I have been running and running. Not literally but I was making and acting on to-do-lists as long as….. yearh, what can I say, from here to Rome and back. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it felt that way. So why are you running Alex? Why don’t you just slow down and take a siesta, you are in Spain? Siestas are just not my thing and when I have a goal, I don’t stop until it’s done. That’s so exhausting, but I just don’t know how to do it differently, how to let it go in my head and take a break. I guess I just have to keep practicing.
So, what have I been working on? Well, I am opening my own little tourist agency with day trips in Cádiz and the province. It is called “my Green Andalusia”. The focus is green, organic, nature and consciousness on the resources of Mother Earth. The tours will include visiting local organic farms to learn about organic farming (I have discovered that it is not just to grow vegetables, there is a lot of knowledge about what vegetables to grow together in order to avoid insects for example) and to create more awareness, visit some of the beautiful white villages of Andalusia with a local guide, doing yoga and/or horse riding in beautiful surroundings, surf lessons, beer tasting of local craft beer and a lot more. I am so excited and at the same time so scared…. Scared of that nobody wants to go on my tours. I know that it is perfectly normal to feel that way, but it doesn’t make the feeling go away. All I have to do, is to do it anyway…. It feels right.
So, I have been running to do all the tasks to make it happen. In May I was visiting different organic farms and manufactures in the provinceto see if there were anybody that would like to collaborate with me.
And when I realized that I had all the support I could get, that people love the idea (yay), I had to start organizing my business. For example, to register myself as an independent business, finding someone to manage my economy and taxes, applying for the official guide card, and to have that, I need to pass a Spanish exam in a level that I don’t have yet, at least not in the grammar. So, in six weeks I have studied, with a private teacher, grammar that is normally taught in six months. This is of course completely crazy (but crazy is my thing), so the exam was a bit overwhelming. I have no expectations to have passed, but I will know in a couple of months. I also have to apply to get my educational papers validated in Spain, and in order to do that I had to request seven different documents from seven different people in Denmark (I finally have it all now after two and a half months). I have to make a webpage and the first guy who was going to do it, passed. Then I had to find another, and they are sure taking their time. Find someone to make a logo, finding a bus company, arranging with a lot of people about the tours, making flyers, business cards, and so on and so on… And I am still working 30 hours a week at the restaurant and volunteering at Red Cross, helping refuges with different thing to integrate here, as well. Okay, I have finally stopped “crying” now, it was intense, but I think the worst is over now.
LIVING A SPANISH TELE-NOVELA
But what actually has been the most intense part and still is, is conflicts and challenges with communication. Suddenly in beginning of July, I started to have communication problems with almost everybody around me. At work, with my roomie (I got a roomie since end of June), the people making my webpage, Orange (my phone and internet company) and more people. For you who are interested in astrology would know that July has been with out mercy when it comes to looking at your self spiritually, and I have felt how people are tense and tired and without patience, myself included. That just makes the “cocktail” a lot stronger. I am not blaming my communication issues on something else or passing on my responsibility, but it explains that there is something I have to learn. I have to learn to be more communicative and overbearing instead of just going full on in my communication. I have to try to understand the other persons motive for their actions and way of communicating. It has been a challenge and still is, especially at work at the restaurant. Every time I go to work it is like entering a telenovela, or my life in general, at the moment actually, is a tele-novela.For you who don’t know what that is, then it is a soap opera originated from South America. It contains a lot of drama, family fights, unexpected situations, love and a lot of making up again. It is really tiresome in the long run, but at the same time, I learn a lot and I really feel that the restaurant is like a working family to me, so I had to try to deal with it. But lately it has been too intense, and I have lost faith in that things will change at work. It has not only been communications challenges, but challenges with a colleague that I had to work closely with. I have to “fight” every time I go to work, to be able to do my work, without him mingling in it all the time. Someone is having problems with letting go of control, even though my bosses have told him several times. After leaving work crying three times, I have decided to move on. There is something new to be learned and to adorn my CV. And within three days, I got a new job, as a receptionist in a hostel, in the center of the old town. Starting in September. How about that for being proactiveand sending my CV to ALL hotels and hostels in Cádiz. So, when I wrote in the beginning that I am living with Spain, a telenovela, I really meant it.
And when all this is said, I am doing great and I still love being here.I think the most challenging part is over (I hope so), the integration, getting to know a new language, understanding people and their culture, finding work and a path, finding friends, finding security, feeling safe and more. Spain is a safe country but finding the right place for me, where I can be myself, is where I feel secure. I feel that Cádiz is the right place for me, for now. So, I am ready for the next episode of my tele-novela.
REFLECTIONS ON THE LAST YEAR
This last year, whou…. What this last year has taught me? To let go of control and to listen to my heart and gut feeling, and most important, to trust that feeling,that everything will work out. Even when you have no idea where it will take you. It’s still a working progress, but I’m amazed of how many great things I receive in my life and also less worries. To follow my intuition and heart feeling without asking why. Without that, I would not be where I am today, and I am feeling pretty good and happy about where I am in my life right now.And let’s see where this new company of mine is taking me. A dream is to open a bed and breakfast in the future.
Living in Spain has also taught me to be even more open than I was before. People here in Cádiz are very friendly and welcoming. Cádiz is like a big village, in the sense that everybody knows each other, and everything is very local. Most things and information you get from mouth to mouth. I also feel that people are just so helpful and wants to chat even when they don’t know me.
Living in Spain also makes me live more in the now than I have done before. Spanish people don’t have that self-awareness that a lot of Danes have (sorry, but that’s true), so being just here and now is so much easier. To go with the flow and to enjoy the moments. Another thing is that I also feel that I want to be more feminine. The women here, even the grandmothers are so well and colorfully dressed that I get inspired. It’s funny, because I never saw myself as not feminine, but here it’s an upgrade. The women here are just braver with colors than many Danish women.
The last year has also made me understand my mother better. She is Polish and moved to Denmark more than 40 years ago. How it must have been for her to be different in a new country. I have also realized that I have the skills of adapting to new things and places from her. But the thing about being different is something that I am being reminded of almost every day. I actually don’t feel so different or secluded at all here. I feel very much at home, but a lot of guests at the restaurant and people that I meet are asking me “you are not from here?” and then the next question is “how did you find your way to Cádiz?”. My looks and my level of Spanish are revealing me, and I guess it will always be like that here. I just have to live with it and see the advantages of what I can bring to the country, besides that I look like a foreigner. Like creating more awareness about being sustainable and living organic, because that is a challenge here. Spanish people are still affected by the period with the dictator Franco and the suppression. People does not yet care so much about recycling, giving up plastic and other things that affect the planet in a negative way. Also eating healthier with less chemicals and so on. It is still very important for the people here to be able to buy new things and to show that you can, because of the suppression and bad economic situation for the people. There are really almost no second-hand shops here, there is just not a market for it. I understand why but at the same time hope that it will change soon. It makes me think about what it will take for it to turn around world-wide, in consideration for the climate change. Small steps. For example the last blog post I wrote was about the organic stores in Cádiz. The big local news paper“Diario Cádiz” wrote a similar article about the organic stores in Cádiz in July, and their article was definitely inspired by mine, because of how they wrote it. I felt very honored that they have read my blogpost and it is great that a big newspaper like them are giving organic food a voice.It gives me motivation to go on with what I do, with my company and to write more about a sustainable and organic lifestyle. In the hope that I can inspire others.
Some of the things that I still have to learn about Spain, is that things just take a lot longerthan it would do in Denmark (that is the only other place I can compare with). Everything. Bureaucracy, people, just in general everything. And the standard of service is really not very high. It is really challenging my patience and dynamism. It makes me get in contact with my inner drama queen that I had put to sleep many years ago. She is not pretty, but I am learning to accept her too. It is okay to have feelings and to express them. If you are scared of feelings and other people expressing their feelings, Spain is not the place to be then. It is actually very liberating, also when you realize that the Spanish people forget and forgive very fast. All the shame you might have about showing your feelings and inner drama will disappear. Ahhh…..
What I haven’t learned is what to do with siesta time. I just can’t nap in the afternoon. And when everything happens so late here, I am always one of the first to go home. I really need to work on that. But the “dinner at 21 or 22” is something that I am adapting to. There are not many other ways, if you want to socialize, which is one of the things I love so much about Spain, the going out and meeting friends and family all the time. Everything happens in the streets; it is just lovely. And the weather is just so lovely and always sunny and blue sky.
I am definitely ready for another year here, so let’s see what it will bring. Thank you for following my journey and please let me know if you are in Cádiz, so I can show you around in this amazing place.