Iain Macdonald and Gayle Hartley, along with their 2 year old son Joshua arrived in North East Andalucia in August 2004. Living the dreamhad always been top of the list of priorities and for them, arriving at the cave house one early August morning made the dream a reality. Iain (30) and Gayle (27) had sold their house in the UK including most of their possessions and invested in a caravan and various equipment to aid them in taking on quite a unique task to say the least.
Caves in the Granada region of Andalucia have been having a revival over recent years, once stigmatised with gypsy culture and poverty these dwellings are now becoming increasingly popular with northern Europeans due to their awe inspiring locations and unique sense of security and tranquillity. Iain first discovered caves on the internet. “They were certainly unique and within our budget which, at the time was a major factor. We approached the idea with an open mind and decided to view some caves to discover what potential the properties and the areas around them had”
Gayle was just as enthused about the idea and after a brief trip to Spain their minds were made up, an offer was put in and accepted a few days later and their dream began. Gayle says “living on site in a caravan was tough but we saw it as a challenge, the project was huge and had to be implemented stage by stage, sometimes we thought that friends and family were right thinking we were crazy to take it on but now we realise its been the best thing we could have done” Gayle went on to say “for our son Joshua it has been one big adventure, he is now bi-lingual and couldn’t be happier, we remember him playing in huge piles of sand and helping mix plaster – for him it was a fantastic experience and he loved every minute.”
Two years on and with most of the renovations complete Joshua is in school and Iain and Gayle are relaxing on the new patio…well not exactly, Iain says “Spain is cheaper but its not free” and with the reserves all but gone it was time to start another plan of action. One product famous in Spain is the Serrano Ham. It is served in restaurants/ tapas bars and you will probably find one in every Spanish kitchen. So with broadband internet installed Iain and Gayle have set about exporting Serrano hams and other traditional cured meats throughout Europe. Iain says “The dream became a reality, but then it was time to make a living, we thought of so many ideas, Gayle teaches English in the village but it was evident we needed something more”
With the help of the local Mayor and obtaining a grant from the Andalucian government “Orce Serrano Hams” has been realised. However Iain and Gayle have not forgotten what made their venture possible and are now actively promoting their local village of Orce in brochures and media publications. Gayle says “it’s been slow progress but now we feel that things are coming together, our new life is here in Spain and we have no option but to succeed” So would they do it all again? Iain’s thoughts are that caves will become increasingly popular over the next few years and as a result will expose some real investment opportunities so perhaps that is a yes? Gayle is more reserved although agrees with the philosophy “renovating a cave is hard, starting a business is harder.. but would I do it again? Never say never”