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Spanish Eyes, English Words

A blended blog - Spanish life and culture meets English freelancer who often gets mistaken for Spanish senora. It's the eyes that do it, rather than the command of the language. Anything can and probably will happen here.

I finally found my duende!
14 October 2016 @ 11:39

Did you miss me while I was away? I've been in England for 10 weeks, and on this trip, I think I finally got what people mean when they speak of ' el duende.' Loosely, duende is something undefined that comes from inside. It's an emotional response, often to music such as flamenco, art, or expressive writing. It's also something that's identified with Spain, since it refers to a mythological earth spirit, something like an elf or goblin.

If you're searching for a concrete meaning for duende, good luck with that. Linguists believe it is the most difficult word to translate literally, although it's usually translated as 'elf' or 'magic' in dictionary listings.

In a famous 1933 lecture, Spanish poet and theatre director Federico Garcia Lorca probably came closer than anyone before or since to defining the indefinable. He described duende as:

"A power, not a work. It is a struggle, not a thought... It is not a question of ability, but of true, living style, of blood, of the most ancient culture, of spontaneous creation."

Why do I think I've found my duende after 8 years in Spain? Regular readers will know that for some years now I've believed I am a Secret Senora, born in the wrong country. Almost as soon as we moved into our casa, I felt like I was home, despite having enjoyed the first 56 years of my life in England. Home is not just a place, it's a feeling of belonging, and not wanting to be anywhere else, despite the imperfections and irritations, and Spain is now my home. I miss my grandchildren, and those friends who haven't made it to Spain for one reason or another, but I would still be here rather than in England.

Friends and family ask what I'd do if I was left alone here, which all things being equal, is likely to happen at some point, since Tony is 18 years older than me. According to him, his demise is imminent, but then it has been for the last two years. He reckoned he was going back to England to die this time, and I said well give me at least 5 days notice, as Brittany Ferries charge for amendments to the tickets less than 5 days before sailing, and I need all the cash for the funeral. Seriously though, I still wouldn't want to be anywhere else, whether on my own or as part of a couple.

However, something was different this time. Whether it was because we spent longer than normal in England - other than the enforced 4 month stay in 2013 when Elizabeth had her stroke - or because we couldn't get on our chosen ferry as there was no kennel provision for Paddy I don't know, but this time I felt trapped in England, and my creativity suffered as a result. It was always going to be an 8 week trip, as we had my youngest grandson's christening and the renewal of my son and daughter-in-law's wedding vows to look forward to on their 10th wedding anniversary in mid September. I was ready for that, and looking forward to a lovely family occasion as the finale to our visit, but we had to stay almost 3 weeks past that date, and my writing suffered as a result. I did the 'bread and butter' stuff - editing and assessing articles for a website owner I work with, and turning out the blog posts and magazine articles I'm retained for, but my blog has stood neglected for almost 3 months, because although I've collected photos, situations and comments to use as material, I've hardly written anything, nor had the desire to do so.

How did this happen? In previous years, I've still been creative - even in the dark days of May 2013 when it looked like the unthinkable would happen and I would be attending my daughter's funeral instead of the other way around. In fact, I'd come back from the hospital and immerse myself in my writing, exhausted and anxious as I was, just to get back some semblance of normality, and think about something else for an hour or two. This time though, I had no inclination to be creative, and I really feel it was because I couldn't come home when I wanted to.

Like many of my writer friends here in Spain, I only got seriously into writing when we made the move to Spain, although I always wanted to be a writer. However, Mum and my teachers said I had to get a 'proper job,' so I ended up in catering. My late-flowering freelance career  came about because of all the conflicting advice and information about life in Spain, and I put in the research, found out what was what, and wrote about it. People seemed to like what I wrote and the rest, as they say, is history. Now I have to turn away writing work - something I never thought would happen to me.

I touched down on European soil again on Friday, 30th September, spent three days driving through France and Spain,  another three days unpacking, shopping and emptying and cleaning the van, and another three days catching up with friends. And guess what? Through all those 9 days, all I wanted to do was write - I have ideas teeming in my head, and I can't get them down quickly enough. Spain is my inspiration - for my writing and my life, and these last few weeks have proved it. Finally, I've found my duende - and it's a great feeling.

Like what you're reading? There's lots more at Sandra in Spain.com



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3 Comments


marcbernard said:
14 October 2016 @ 12:41

You are so right about Duende. I have been here full time since 1996 with 10 years earlier part timing. I have been fortunate in that all my kids and their families came to Spain in 2004 so I have longer any need to go back to that dreary aggravating damp and damned island in the north sea! Both my late wife and I have signed our bodies to science here in Spain. I will never leave here, dead or alive. Little Englanders do what you want. I won't care.


SandrainAlgorfa said:
15 October 2016 @ 09:35

@marcbernard: How lovely that you have all your family with you, and it sounds like you've really taken to life in Spain. That's a good idea about leaving your body to medical science - I might look into that. Like you, I'm happy to die in my new homeland.


jacquismith said:
19 October 2016 @ 19:10

I found a link that people may be interested in with regards to leaving ones body to medical science. It may be of use.
http://rtnnewsgroup.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=52989:donating-your-body-to-medical-science-in-spain&Itemid=330


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