Our Thirty Years In Spain

Published on 11/11/2011 in Real Life Stories

It was the face of my seven-year-old little girl Lisa, covered in angry mosquito bites, as she returned from a school sports class in the 40-degree heat that gave me my only wobble about having uprooted the family to Spain. In 1981 Los Boliches was still separated from Fuengirola by farmland.

Lisa and our nine-year-old son Marcus had been enrolled in the local English school. St Anthony’s College was at that time a ramshackle, whitewashed house next to the Shell petrol station.

On occasion pupils had to chase the rats from the classroom before lessons started. Being tiny, ‘Spanish tummy’ was a real issue and the tap water was not drinkable.

The coast was thriving but issues with administration and laws meant life could be a challenging mix of job hunting, queuing in the Town Hall with a mountain of confusing paperwork and waiting for the power and water to be restored. Jennifer and I watched with trepidation as the family adjusted to the new life abroad.

The children looked happy enough, after all the rat-catching before class was something of a novelty, and they soon loved days by the pool and on the beach. At night we all enjoyed late night walks along the busy Paseo. Jobs were secured, friends were soon made and life for all of us became one long happy Spanish summer of beaches, mountains, picnics, ferias and ventas.

Before Spain

At the age of 21, after becoming champion boxer of Fiji I had travelled to Merseyside and found work as a bus driver and later in Vauxhall’s. I met Jennifer and we married at her local church in the small village of Brombrough.

Being a mixed marriage my father-in-law refused to attend the wedding. Fortunately, her mum and brother came and the wedding went ahead. Marcus was born in 1971 and in 1974 Lisa completed the family.

Through hard work and determination we managed to buy a nice detached house in a prestigious area of the Wirral and had a new car every year. But strikes were rife and it wasn’t all smooth running.

I began to miss the warm weather of my South Seas upbringing and wanted more freedom for the children. I answered a job advert in property sales on the Costa del Sol and came to check out schools and find an apartment.

In those days in Spain it was difficult to find work and become a legal resident. Officially foreigners had to leave the country every three months. Fortunately a loophole in the Spanish law, exploited by all ex-pats, meant a return daytrip to Morocco secured that all-important passport stamp. Eventually, I leased a bar in Fuengirola and my wife found employment in real estate.

Returned to Devils IslandOur residencia and work permit were permanently granted.

Despite the early days of rat-catching, the children had a great education on the Coast with smaller classes, excellent teachers and a free and relaxed lifestyle. Marcus, now a music producer in Los Angeles, and Lisa who is a journalist in London wax lyrical about their idyllic upbringing on the Costa.

After 30 years Jennifer and I are now pensioners and still love everything this magnificent country has to offer. We would not even trade it for the paradise island of Fiji.

Written by: Chris Nand

About the author:

Chris Nand’s first novel: RETURNED TO DEVIL'S ISLAND is now out on Amazon.com / Barnsandnoble.com and as an e-book on Kindle. The books is also available from Book World España, Davids Book Shop and Hemingway's in Los Boliches.

A film director from Bollywood and one from Hollywood have short-listed the story to be made into a feature film. Chris is currently seeking an executive producer to read the screenplay and help fund the project.

About the book:  It tells a story of inter-racial childhood love that survives the brutal regime of a remote convent school in Fiji during the 1940s. Two young lives betrayed and doomed but destined for life beyond the grave. Krishna (later baptized and named James) a Hindu youth escapes; the less fortunate Susan is confined and brutalized by a sect-like Order to follow its path. The diverging lives set James’s feet on a journey through paradise islands. Before him lies a sharp learning curve of love, lust and triumph in the boxing ring. Driven ever onwards by a consuming passion to reach the mother country, England


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tteedd said:
26 November 2016 @ 23:20

Hi Chris
I served with Fijians in the R Signals in the 60s.
Work hard, play hard (rugby) and read the Telegraph (rugby results). Classical education, wanted to talk about Shakespeare and Milton.
Not with me from a secondry modern!
Hope the father in law came round when the Grandchildren arrived (they are the same age and sex as my two).
How about an update?

Patricia (Campana) said:
20 November 2011 @ 22:43


Spain is a magnificent country. After more than three decades there I still think so too. But then, positive people make for positive experiences. "Wherever you go, there you are."

Good luck with everything

mike said:
12 November 2011 @ 07:54

If you want a great yarn, South Sea islands colourful lifestyle; romance that will keep its hold on you longer after you have returned it to its bookcase, or allowed a friend to borrow it buy this book.

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