One year ago, on 14 September 2011, to be exact, I boarded a plane at London City airport on a one-way flight to Madrid. From there, I took the AVE, a high speed train, and 33 minutes later, I got off in Toledo, an ancient city south of Madrid, which was once the capital of Spain.
When people ask me WHY I decided to move to Spain, I tell them that I’ve always wanted to learn to speak Spanish properly. More often than not, this is met by a puzzled stare, and I very quickly add that the weather is nice in Spain. People find this rationale much more acceptable. This goes especially for my friends in the UK, where spent the past 20 years.
To rile them, I sometimes attach the local 7-day forecast to my emails, which, invariably, looks like this:
Only the ºC numbers next to the little sun symbols change.
Besides the weather factor and Toledo being a beautiful town, I can finally afford to live on my own, rather than fighting over fridge shelf space in a flat share. I have a spacious flat all to myself, right in the heart of the old town.
Sometimes, however, I’m reminded that my idea of domestic bliss is not universally shared.
A few months ago, on my way back home after coffee with a friend, I popped into my teensy local corner shop to get a bottle of water (they also have good cakes there). It is run by a friendly, smiley woman in her 50s. I like her. She’s usually chatting with a customer.
This time, she is talking to an elderly couple in their 70s. The man is standing, with his arm around his wife, who’s sitting on a chair. She has a slightly manic, spaced-out expression on her face, like somebody who’s recovering from a stroke.
She stares at me. “Where are you from?”
I look back at her, a bit frightened. I answer her.
She tells me she is Dutch, from Amsterdam. She wants to know my home town. The brief exchange switches between Spanish/German/English.
Then she asks, “Who do you live with”?
“Erm… I live… with myself…?” I answer.
“You live alone?”
“Yes, I do.”
And, without a moment’s hesitation, she says ” I feel sorry for you” .
LOL. I know the Dutch are direct…! I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that, so I just smiled, paid for my water and left. And I’m still laughing about it months later 😉