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Puntos de vista - a personal Spain blog

Musings about Spain and Spanish life by Paul Whitelock, hispanophile of 40 years and now resident of Ronda in Andalucía .

Bar International
Tuesday, January 16, 2024 @ 11:17 PM

My local is the Ronda Valley Hotel just outside Ronda. It sits in a valley. Hence the name, I guess.

Named for decades Hotel Don Benito, it is still called that by the locals.

It’s a bit of a landmark.

Delivery drivers from DHL, MRW, Boyaca, Correos Express usually ring up to check where you live.

“Do you know the Ronda Valley Hotel on the Seville road?”

“Never ‘eard of it, mate!” is the usual response.

“What about the Don Benito?”

“Yeah, I know that …”


Hotel Ronda Valley

I digress.

I like the Don Benito (sorry, Ronda Valley). It’s near my house. It’s open every day. The staff are delightful. And the prices are OK, albeit slightly dearer than in the villages or in Ronda.

But, if you drink there, you don’t burn lots of expensive fuel getting to Ronda nor have to pay exorbitant car parking charges.

It’s a short walk or an even shorter car trip and the car park is huge and free.



A good handful of foreign local residents use the bar in the evenings for a pre-prandial drink or three.

Since Covid-19 lockdown rules were relaxed and the explosion in tourism in Andalucia since 2022, the number of foreigners who stay at the hotel has rocketed.

Added to that many of the staff are from overseas, most from Latin America, and most on the WorkAway programme.


Foreign locals

I’m there for an early morning coffee when I can. As a result I am known by and also know lots of neighbours and local workers. No foreigners at this ungodly hour!

I am also there four or five evenings a week when the neighbours have switched from their breakfast coffee and a chaser (anis, Miura, Patxaran or coñac seem to be the alcoholic tipples of choice) to something more substantial like a whisky and coke, or a vodka and lemonade (not for me I’m afraid, at 6€ a pop!)

This is when the foreign locals also come. Most, by far, are beer drinkers: Nick (English), Julia (Hungarian), Oliver (English/Spanish); Jim (Irish), Helen (English); Vic and Si (English); David (Scottish) and Dagmar (German); Ian, Elaine (both English) and their daughters Robin, Carly and Megan (English/Spanish).

Occasional visitors are Peter (English); Paul (Yorkshire) and Synnove (Danish).


Foreign guests

Over the years I’ve got chatting to travellers from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Holland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, USA.



Foreign workers

The hotel has benefited from the use of Workaway volunteers. Since Covid, most seem to be from Latin America. Currently there are three argentin@s, una uruguaya and dos chilen@s.

In the past there have been workaway@s from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Russia, Slovenia and USA. 

Some have stayed for months; others for less time. To a man/woman they have all been pleasant, polite and intelligent.



Last week

One night last week I popped into the RV for a drink, as is my wont. I hadn’t arranged to meet anyone, so I used the time to catch up on my mobile phone messages.

That went well for about half an hour, until suddenly I found myself in a fascinating conversation with two Chileans and two Argentinians.

Felipe, just arrived, is 34 and from Chile. He is a physiotherapist, and now a Workaway.

He has lived in Ireland, the UK, and Portugal, and is now in Spain for a period. He speaks good English, so most of our conversation was in my mother tongue. Felipe sees his future here in Spain.

His “missus” Andrea is also Chilean, aged 33.

The two argentinos, who arrived a month or so ago are tall and handsome Lucas (26) and beautifully-formed Victoria (25).

Another argentino, on the full-time staff, is Gaston. His wife, also called Andrea (incidentally the name of my first ever proper English girlfriend when I was a teenager) is from Uruguay.

On Friday I came across a couple of Danish pastries, I mean ladies, mum and daughter, who were guests at the hotel.

Lotte, 50, and her daughter Mie, 21, were making a short tour of Andalucia. They’d “done” Cadiz, Sevilla and Ronda, and were planning on visiting Setenil de las Bodegas (Cadiz) before heading to Fuengirola for the last five days of their holiday before flying home.

As you would expect they spoke excellent English.

We ranged through several topics of mutual interest, before Lotte revealed that they had recently bought a holiday home on the Baltic coast. We are invited.

OK, bar talk, but we exchanged business cards and promised to keep in touch. I’ve since viewed their property on the internet. It looks fantastic, just off the beach. Brilliant. I think me and the missus might head off there later in the year.


This week

It’s Tuesday. I haven’t met anybody foreign yet this week (except my missus, she is Deutsch) . I’m off down to the Bar Internacional now for an aperitif or three. I wonder who’ll be there …..


Stop press

I met an English couple, birdwatchers, who know the area and were here for five days.

I also met a delightful Polish couple, Kamilla and Woytek, who came on the spur of the moment from their home in Lodz, Poland.

We spent a couple of hours putting the world to rights. Good stuff.


Further information the site for cultural exchange. Gap year volunteer for food and accommodation whilst travelling abroad.

Working for free? Why? Er… why not? Part 2. (


Note: Some names have been changed by request.


© Pablo de Ronda


Tagsanis, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Boyaca, Canada, Colombia, coñac, Correos Express, Danish, Denmark, DHL, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lodz, Miura, MRW, Netherlands, New Zealand, Patxaran, Peru, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Workaway 

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