Something really annoyed me the other day. I can’t remember what it was exactly but it probably had something to do with either poor customer service or some form of bureaucracy. I recall that sinking feeling in the stomach and the dread of more hassle that lay ahead. In fact, I could have cried but I told myself that I might as well laugh or else I’ll cry.
Suddenly I thought, if I’m not careful and don’t learn to handle this frustration, then this country could end up being the death of me. Then another quote came to a mind, this time a more reassuring one of “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. Then I realised that the entire duration of my stay in Spain could be summed up with all kinds of quotes from the minute we put our deposit down on an off plan property “Small print leads to large risk” to the eternal quest for a phone line to run our internet business, “There’s no such thing as problems, only opportunities to find solutions!” I suppose one could say that it was all ‘character building’, especially when our off plan was late to complete “All good things come to those who wait” or “better late than never”.
The identification with famous quotations could have begun during the build up to our move whilst we were still in the UK. When I was having doubts about embarking on such a major life change it would have been comforting to hear something along the lines of “Better do it than wish it done”. They say that people make a place and I was moving far from friends, as they say “Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget”. And this is true as I still keep in touch with a handful of friends. Surprisingly, none of them have come out to visit me yet which I suppose proves that they have kept in touch for genuine fondness of me and not just for a cheap holiday in the sun. Nevertheless, I witness the experiences that others have with guests and I am of the opinion that “Fish and guests smell in three days”.
I found it difficult to settle at first in both of the houses that we rented perhaps because “a house is not a home” . In the area that I lived, there weren’t any other families with small children around so I often felt very lonely however as they say “Loneliness is one of the best things in the world for you. You do something about it: read, for instance, all kind of things, make friends.” Some of the people I met are still friends but I have moved on from some especially the bitter ones that despised the UK as “A wise traveller never despises his own country”.
Although, I was experiencing my own difficulties settling in some of my fellow expats would be quite needy of my attention and support. During this phase I learnt another useful lesson in life. The best advice is “ Don't take advice and don't give advice”.
My early experiences of attempting to make friends was aggravated by homesickness that Roald Dahl describes as a bit like seasickness. “You don't know how awful it is until you get it, and when you do, it hits you right in the top of the stomach and you want to die” .
Every time I thought I had the hang of the Spanish language and culture, someone would say or do something that would put me back further than I had started out as they say “Every path to a new understanding begins in confusion.”
We brought to Spain a new business idea which for ages seemed doomed to fail but if it hadn’t been for my partner’s determination it would be written off as an impossible failure but as they say “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person's determination”. When I look at how much we have achieved it is hard to believe how at one point we were completely broke and didn’t know how we were going to pay our rent but as they say “There is no success without hardship.”
One thing is for sure we have learnt many lessons from our experience in Spain but travel doesn’t necessarily broaden the minds of every expat that you come across as they say “You can travel on for ten thousand miles, and still stay where you are”.