If I had to move away from Seville, or even Spain, maybe for Brexit reasons (but from what I’ve read and been told I should be safe as I have a wife and two Spanish kids here), I’d be pretty gutted.
Back in the day, I would have snapped your arm off at the chance of leaving Seville. I was unhappy here to start with. I’d just got back from a trip round the world and found the city claustrophobic, too hot, difficult to connect with the locals, and just well, bloody boring. If I’m totally honest the only thing that really kept me here was my wife, and solomillo al whisky – a lovely pork dish in a garlic whisky sauce.
Now it’s my home. That’s right, Sevilla, mi alma, is my home, so if someone now said, after all the battling I’ve done to actually feel settled here, that I had to move away, then I’d be rattled.
These are the reasons why.
The freedom to write
One of the reasons why I stayed here in the first place was because of the lifestyle. As an English teacher, I get enough free time to fit in writing my blog and working on my novels. I always had a fear that if I returned to the UK and got a normal 9-5 job, then by the time I got home, went to the gym, had dinner, and caught up on all the soaps, then I’d just be knackered and probably fall asleep on the sofa. How the hell would I fit in my writing?
Now I’m in a pickle though, because really I want to spend more time with my kids. During the week I hardly see them, and I miss the little monkeys a lot in the afternoons while at work. I make the most of my time at the weekends and we have a lot of fun, but it just feels like it’s not enough. We’re lucky to be able to have lunch together (even though it’s never quiet) and I can pick them up from school every day, so that’s a big bonus for me.
Rainy days don’t get me down
I know, I had to mention it, but the weather here is ridiculously perfect, most of the time. Summers are insanely hot, but I can put up with the heat these days. I do miss the cold months, but I know for sure that if I went back to rainy, drab, and cold Britain, then I’d always have that nostalgic flash of me sitting out in my patio, sipping on a beer, in the early afternoon, having dinner outside in the evenings, or paddling in my plastic swimming pool in the garden.
I would miss my students, I’m sure of it. They can be a pain at times, ask me far too many irrelevant and obvious questions, and drive my potty, but I have struck up a real bond with a community of students and families over the years. I’ve been in the same place for about 11 years now, and am part of the building structure. I know a lot about the culture here and am able to build up a rapport with the students and have a laugh in class. It hasn’t been easy to build up to that level though, so to throw it all in now would be tricky.
When I travelled through South America, and was finally getting to a decent level, I had to leave for Australia and I was actually gutted. I’d lost that fun part of my life, that new adventure, that buzz of improving my knowledge via learning a language.
I was so desperate to keep up my Spanish that I actually started reading Diego Maradona’s biography, and I hate the guy (I was just 6 when he used his Hand of God). So leaving Spain would be hard, especially as I know for a fact within a year my level would be reduced to below average, and the only words I’d remember would be the swear ones.
If it’s taken me so long to pronounce the rolling r- and I still do it badly – to think all that work, practising in front of the mirror, could get flushed down the pan would be soul destroying.
Learning to live with mosquitoes
I’m sure I’ve struck up a deal with the mosquito family. They just don’t bite me anymore. I don’t kill them, they don’t aggravate me. It’s pure karma. My wife, on the other hand, is there number one enemy and they go for her straight away. Me? They just come and sit on my head for a bit when I’m a sleep, and stroke my forehead to tell me I’m such a wonderful person, then they go bite my wife.
Surely if I left Spain, I’d lose all those brownie points, and if I ever did come back for a holiday I’d be bitten to death. They’d probably all be waiting for me at the airport as soon as I got off the plane.
Knowing the beach (one with sand, and not pebbles) is just up the road
I do like the beach, he says, wondering just how much of a fan he is. I like the sea, getting a tan and looking healthier, and also reading on the beach. To be fair we’ve only been a handful of times in the last decade. We try to have a holiday by the beach, but because we haven’t got a car, yet, popping down with a 3 and 2 year old just isn’t all that appealing, especially on a stuffy bus full of farting old grannies.
But knowing the beach is up the road gives me a soothing feeling, it’s like knowing the next door neighbour is a policeman and could come round and help you out, or knowing that there’s a dictionary online; you don’t always use it, but it’s there, and it makes you feel good about yourself.
Yes I am a bit of a Semana Santa freak, see my other blogs. To think that I could never participate in my procession, or coming back for it would costs an absolute fortune, would be hard to take. It’s sort of like saying that you can support a football team and never be allowed to go see them again, or just that you’d need a second mortgage to afford the tickets. My wife would probably kill me for comparing such devotions, I’ve done it before and received quite a hard slap, but it’s just to give you an idea.
So, I guess after all these years, I don’t want to change. I’ve battled against the language, the culture, the silly people who still say ‘¿Tu no eres de aqui?’ – ‘You’re not from round here, are you?’ and now to be told I had to leave, just like a certain country in the UK from it’s fellow Europeans, would be a right old smack on the chin.
So I hope it doesn’t come to that.
What do you think? If you were told you had to leave where you lived abroad, what would you miss?