I’m spending more and more time living in Valencia, Spain, as I’ve built a nice home office here and can do my job more than adequately some 6200 kilometers from my home office in Philadelphia. Spanish culture is vastly different than in Philly, considerably safer, cleaner, and less frenetic, and, for the most part, much cheaper, especially thanks to a strong US Dollar these days. I work US hours, so I have mornings off to go biking or walk around this old, beautiful, utterly magnificent city. With each passing day my Spanish gets better, but it’s a difficult process to fully master enough of the language to be effectively conversant. It will take me years to do so, but I welcome the challenge.
The good news is I have lost 40 pounds since I broke my arm in 2016. I haven’t been this thin or healthy in ages, and I’m working harder every day to keep thin and fit. I’m also gathering a nice group of friends here with whom to pass the time watching fútbol while guzzling beers at Bar Obispo or Bar Canada, our hangouts for such an activity. My friends Chris and his partner/girlfriend Klara own bike rental shops, called Bike Alao, in the Russafa and Grau districts of Valencia, and sometimes I join Chris as he takes tourists on bike tours of Valencia and the surrounding environs. Most of my friends are British and Belgian ex-pats who have lived in Valencia for ages, so much so that many have married or partnered with Spaniards or other ex-pats and have built nice family lives in this great city.
The best aspect of living part time in Valencia is spending time with my brother John, who has lived here 13 years and speaks Spanish like a native. John’s been arduously writing three novels the past few years and I’ve been helping him as his sometimes editor and critic. All three are fantastic and I hope they get published soon or picked up as the next cool Netflix series. John’s life experience as a master linguist, world traveler, and well-read intellectual has helped him create novels of tremendous depth, insight, and thoughtfulness, while also being exciting works that grip the reader’s attention on every page.
I return to the USA in early December, so my days are winding down on this trip. Next year my company is kicking off a huge project in Souther California, so I won’t have as much time to live in Valencia until that project is finished in a few years, though I’ll escape to here when I can. This trip will be my longest continuous stay, 46 days, though my last one was 40 in February-March of this year. It gets harder and harder to go back. It gets easier and easier to stay.