I can’t believe how lucky I am to be a writer with plenty of time to indulge my passion for books – both writing and reading. I live in a beautiful corner of the world, in one of the ‘white villages’ of Las Alpujarras in Andalucia, Spain. From our living room balcony, on a clear day, I can see the distant Mediterranean and, if the sun’s out in the evening, tiny white cruise ships making their way from Almeria towards Malaga, Gibraltar and beyond. The light hits the mountains surrounding us in different ways at different times of the day and year so the view is ever-changing but always stunning. Yes, the first time you wake up, look out of the window and see a cloud layer not far beneath you it can be a bit unsettling, but seeing mountain peaks rising from a fluffy, white sea is a spectacular and unforgettable sight.
It gets cold in winter this high up (we’re at 1360 metres above sea level) but the summers are more forgiving than those on the costas, where the temperature often reaches 40C or more. Here, the evenings are fresher. The very thick walls and small, deeply recessed windows of our house keep us cool during the day, while the windows are thrown wide at night to allow cool night breezes to freshen everything up before the sun comes up for another hot day.
The pace of life is easy, relaxed and stress-free. Ours is a working village – not touristy, apart from serious walkers who, with grim expressions, large hats, sturdy shoes and walking poles huff and puff past our house to follow the challenging but beautiful mountain walks above our village. Their expressions of satisfaction when they return, tired, sweaty and dusty, are well worth noting. Since ‘la crisis’ began, with Spain’s severe financial problems and very high unemployment, even worse in rural areas like ours, there are fewer tourists and, consequently, many bars and small businesses have closed. The people who lived in these villages are a hardy race who have lived through hardship before and who will survive to build a better future for their children and grandchildren when the economy improves. Meanwhile, we will continue to visit local towns, villages and, especially our local bars, where it is a pleasure to sit and watch the world stroll by.
After a lifetime or working full-time, bringing up our family, dealing with the many traumatic and difficult moments that just about everybody goes through in their lives and surviving a life-threatening illness, I know how lucky I am to be here, now, able to read and write to my heart’s content.
I’m sure I must have a guardian angel watching over me. Whoever and wherever you are – thank you.