Unbelievable, but true! Exactly ten years ago to the day, on a stormy night on November 3rd, 2012, my husband and I arrived in the small town of Ronda in Andalucía with a couple of suitcases. Our few other earthly possessions that we hadn’t given away, donated, sold, recycled, or thrown away, sat in a container on a dock in Canada to be dealt with at a future date. We had spent a single night in the town before, and now we were suddenly here indefinitely. The plan was to stay in Ronda for a few months before we travelled to other towns in search of our slice of Andalusian paradise. But gradually we understood that we had more or less found our paradise right here!
What happened during the last ten years? How did we handle the transformation from living in a cosmopolitan city of millions to becoming adopted Andalusian village dwellers? Without pontificating too much, here is our last decade made in bullet form:
- We became intimately acquainted with Spanish bureaucracy when we searched for, found, purchased, and renovated a ruin after an archaeological excavation and a two-year wait for our building permit.
- I had to learn TWO new languages – Spanish and Andalu’ and subsequently forgot most of my French.
- We had to take our Spanish driving licence from scratch – classes and all – though we had driven for over 70 years combined. The first Spanish book that I read cover to cover was the 318-pages driving manual with the intricate Spanish traffic regulations.
- We became the proud renters of a community garden plot and immediately realized that we knew nada about gardening in the Spanish south.
- My 21. Century transatlantic immigration tale was published as a book in the USA.
- We became political activists, me as the co-founder of Ronda’s first official volunteer environmental clean-up group and later as vice president for the public trail association while my husband became a health specialist for local TV and lecturer for the town’s cancer association.
- The neighbourhood kids came to get help with their English homework, and then came their teachers …
- We became active members of the hiking association Pasos Largos and confirmed that the old Andalusians are tough as nails!
- I began to write freelance for five magazines and became the editor of one of them.
- We survived seven weeks closed in our tiny little home and two years of wearing masks during Covid-19.
- With much help from friends and acquaintances, my book (Casita 26) was translated into Spanish and will be released by a wonderful Spanish publisher at the same time as the second English edition. It is supposed to happen muy pronto (very soon).
- A genuine rondeña gave me a flamenco dress, but to her great disappointment, I never learned how to dance La Sevillana …
Our decade in Andalucía has been filled with joys and challenges. I still cannot stop pinching my arm to assure myself that it is true – that this mind-boggling place truly is our home! It is a privilege I hope I will never take for granted.
Your slice of paradise might be somewhere entirely different, but for those who have found your dream home and for those of you who might still be looking – enjoy the process and treasure every minute of the journey.
And as for the next decade – my only plan is to finally try to find the time to write that sequel to my book so you will know what happened to our Ronda ruin and our tailless lizard.