Most healthy air of Europe, least depressions, on the way to longest average life expectancy in the world, fit people, stylish fashion… always in Top 5 of most handsome people or best food, and so on. So, how to get there yourself? How can you turn Spain, or its quintessential brand, Andalusia, into your personal coach?
The Top 10 Training Sessions:
Go to the lakes at 8-9AM, when there’s still nobody.
Have breakfast at 10-11AM, and let it be toast with just olive oil and/or tomatoes.
End it with a coffee and a pacharan.
Have “raciones” at lunch time, which means just a number of plates that you all share. Andalusia, sharing and being social is your name, and incidently those are also one of the main pillars of happiness.
Have a tapa with every drink. This is both portion control and alcohol protection.
(By the way, one doesn’t “eat tapas”, a tapa is just there to accompany a drink, to make it to the next meal, and to be less hungry then. “Eating tapas” is a guiri thing).
Realizing when you’re being a guiri.
Second Most Amusing:
When you’re contacting any builder or company from Marbella and the coast, thinking that is “higher quality“, and then someone from your own village picks up the phone. The coast can be but the industrial estate, where all your village neighbors go to work. It are your neighbors who built the coast, are its lawyers and designers and gardeners and builders and carpenters. Improve care and costs by cutting out that Middle Man, The Coast.
Most Useful Hour:
One hour a week that combines all the best things of life that you can possibly do: health, fitness, shopping, ecology, learning Spanish, socializing... By: one hour of shopping in the local village tiendas! They have the most fresh and ecological fruits, even more so than in a frutería. They have those products you would usually never buy or think of (turón, sweet Malaga wine, local olive oil). They are located in the most steep alleys, making you also perhaps pass by locals who sell fresh eggs. They speak Spanish and thus are a free language course. They ensure that the elderly still walk around, and thus the social vigilance that ensures that children can still play in the streets. And so on, and so on. They are the thread that keeps your life together.
(Alternative: 1 hour to supermarket, 1 hour fitness to get rid of the supermarket fats, 1 hour of working to pay for the petrol and costs of the above, 1 hour of working for all future doctor costs, 1 hour to go to expensive Bio-Shop in the city, and 1 hour of going to Spanish class. People sometimes think Andalusians to be “lazy”. Not at all! It is us who are Busy Fools, doing more to achieve less).
The limitless things you can do with olive oil: skin conditioner, hair gel for wet look, one teaspoon aligns the stomach before drinking alcohol, polisher for leather shoes, clean wooden furniture… Or did you think that the Romans came all the way just to have a better salad dressing? Olive oil is liquid gold. Have it fresh (December), and bottled in dark glass so it keeps its nutrients.
Most Thought Provoking:
Book a visit to a bull farm, like ReservaTauro near Ronda. To not just lazily be pro or contra, but make a first step to an informed opinion or an actual thought struggle. Learning to see through 2 eyes, not just 1. That’s the greatest thing another culture can contribute to you; and where the average City Trip stops and turns into brains having to go to work. “Oh my word, I almost forgot it, there are always 2 sides to every story”! Obviously, as foreigner you can never catch up with the decades of growing into being a farmer or local. But it’s a start.
Most easy useful book about Spain:
“Ghosts of Spain” by Giles Tremlett.
Most interesting experiment:
Slowly letting go of all the Expat Facebook groups. They come with the risk of keeping you in Newcomer Phase for a decade, or physically being in Andalusia, but rather being wrecked because of a non-stop holiday mode life, than it helping you to improve.
Taking the path to learning Spanish. To get surprising insights, encounter surprised and friendly people, feel how this language in particular liberates your body for being so expressive, and surprises you by pulling the extrovert out of you (a bit). I always say that Spanish is the one and only pharmaceutical we need.
Syrians and other desert people as the Phoenicians and Moors came here, because seeing water simply come down the mountains, looked like Paradise. But now every year is dryer than the one before, and we have to take care, and remember that water is the basis of all life, civilization and comfort, and “the wars of the future will be about water”.
All cultures are a tapestry, in which every thread keeps all others in check.
You can for example wonder what will happen if you pull the thread “bullfight” out; will it increase aggression or stabbings elsewhere? Not saying that this WILL be the case, but that we should always think very hard about consequences.
Personally I think that the country track is the most holistic pillar: have it concreted and there is the bump in your fresh air, tranquility, contact with neighbours and security. For anything that is most easy, is so for everyone, motorcycle clubs, tourists, and burglars alike. The more traffic, the less neighbours will be inclined to keep an eye on every car, that one rare eagle will decide to move, and so on.
OK, that was 14 tips, not 10 (Andalusia, always generous with its portions).
15. Do you already have your Life Bottle?
That ONE bottle, eliminating a yearly 100 plastic ones?
That you carry everywhere, for in rural Andalusia you can fill it anywhere anyway?
So you reduce your own trail of plastic, and also the import of water coming from 1000s of Kms away?
And it assures that you do not forget to drink, and it reduces the times that you think that you have to stop at a bar, making you both save money and develop a healthier habit, and it makes you a walking example spreading the message.
One of those other “killing 5 birds with 1 stone” habits. Things that are really good, usually are good for and in everything.
“The Andalusia Happiness Test” on Kindle
Order here on Amazon.co.uk
Or the Amazon of your country or neighbouring country.
Price: 3 Euros.
It combines the best of this blog with 10 more topics. To check your Andalusia-readiness: “Would you be happy in Andalusia? Or in the Garden of Eden for that matter”?