Recalibration was a given. We’d been wrapped in foggy bubble wrap for a year. Life in pandemic Spain has been a burst of color and warmth. Masks are mandatory. Noses are exposed. Life goes on.
One of the American expat sites was subjected to a few obligatory anti-vax rants. In a country where mask wearing is viewed as a personal contribution to the health of your fellow citizens the rants seemed even more juvenile. It’s not Science denial. It’s a fundamental lack of knowledge about how Science works. It’s a full-on embrace of pseudoscience, and crackpot theories. That the rants come draped in jingoistic pride is dismaying.
It’s not a post-pandemic Spain we are experiencing. Schedules, social routines, and the tourist economy are still impacted. When the state of emergency was lifted on May 9th you could almost hear the gears shifting.
We toyed with getting a small studio apartment in Valencia. Until the travel restrictions in Spain were lifted on May 9th leaving the Valencia Region was against the rules. If we couldn’t explore beyond the region, we’d dive into Valencia. Having a bolt hole in the heart of it seemed to make sense.
We retraced old steps, and found out what survived. A few old wonders have disappeared. We got pretty close to being lost, and discovered new wonders. Valencia is worth a deep dive. It’s historic center is just a place to start.
The rental market tested our ability to do business in another language, and within an unfamiliar system. I’d like to say we performed spectacularly. We hit the ground stumbling. We found tiny top floor apartments with dizzying hamster cage stairs that left you breathless. Prices reflected a wish to make up for a year of vacancy, or a hope to finally bring in a modest steady income. When things opened up on May 9th the market was flooded with short term rentals. The long term lease we were on the verge of securing fell through. The reason given was that our source of income is foreign. The owner believed this would make getting insurance impossible. Even the real estate agent was mystified!
The question at our stage of life is always, “What do you want to do with the time you have left?” That’s always been the question, but the realization that time is a finite resource has planted its feet firmly on our chests. Time is looking down at us with a sneer.
My answer to life’s most profound question is simple. “Everything!” We’ve compiled an extremely long bucket list. There are a million things on it we’ll never get around to. That’s freeing! If something doesn’t work out, there are 999,999 equally satisfying choices. It’s not life writ large where the joy lies anyway. Life is in the small moments. Having my locked left hip pop free is a huge pleasure these days. On 22,000 step days it’s a high point.
We tossed out the long term rental in Valencia idea. We secured a place in Valencia for the month of July. Air conditioning, lots of air conditioning and fewer steps were the draws. There’s an Italian gelato shop around the corner that makes an incredible lemon sorbet. All the markets sell cups of chilled fresh fruits.
In the meantime I’m writing down useful Spanish sentences. I have found my Spanish reading comprehension to be surprisingly good. I understand most of what I hear. Speaking is the challenge. Questions I didn’t anticipate come up. Words get lost as the context shifts. People think my initial attempts suggest a level of fluency I don’t possess. They start speaking faster and faster. I stand there tongue tied. Then I say something in Spanish that winds up being, “I think Tuesday is an excellent breakfast after midnight. Perfecto!” This earns a look that says, “WTF???” That look doesn’t need any translation. Life is good!!!