Our Third Community-Centred Fortnight in San Jose - Filled With Gratitude For Our Extended Stay

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Friday 19 February 2016

Our Third Community-Centred Fortnight in San Jose - Filled With Gratitude For Our Extended Stay

Wow.... the weeks now seem to be flying.  I can't believe it's more than 6 weeks since we arrived in San Jose at the start of January.  We never intended to stay this long, but it's such a wonderful place it's hard to leave.  Not only are we massively benefiting in our personal lives from the stability, extra space and comfort provided by our winter rental, situated in a stunning natural environment but we have been so touched by the warmth and generosity of the local community here.  Our first fortnight here was characterised by the fun of being back, seeing friendly faces and exploring our favourite areas.  Our second fortnight was filled with meeting up with friends not only those who we'd met here last year but also some who we'd met in other countries but who'd also been drawn to this special area.  So as I write and think back over this third fortnight, I am filled with a deep gratitude for the wonderful community we have found and temporarily been included into.  

At the start of January, we felt extremely grateful to have fortuitously been offered a wonderful apartment to rent in San Jose by Nina, who we'd met playing Padel last year at Camping Los Escullos.  We knew immediately that this was just what we needed at this point in our adventure and in our lives.  So as our stay in the apartment came to an end, we were so happy to be offered by Nina (who runs SanJoseSpain.com) the opportunity to rent the amazing Casa Bergantin and thereby extend our stay for a few weeks longer.

After saying goodbye to our friends Hayley and Marcus as they prepared Klaus for the next leg of their own adventure, grateful for our fun-filled week together, we walked a little over 500m down the road to meet Nina and collect the keys for Casa Bergantin.  Although we elected to stay a final two more nights in the apartment (it was cosy and we just loved the roof terrace), over the weekend we packed up our belongings back into Homer, and within half a day were moved into the Casa.  Immediately it felt wonderful and homely, like we'd lived here for ages.

Bye bye our wonderful cosy apartment and roof terrace.....

And hello Casa Bergantin......

Waking up with the sun rising over the Mediterranean that first morning, we felt a huge amount of gratitude to have met Nina last year and that events had allowed us to continue our stay.  Every morning there has been a different display of colours in the sky, filling us with such joy as we start the day - even on the one or two cloudy mornings, stepping out onto the balcony has been amazing.

But what has been truly wonderful about this fortnight has been the opportunity to stay and continue to be part of the community here in San Jose.  There is a number of, mostly British, couples who are resident here either full-time or throughout the winter, who it has been a pleasure to get to know.  There are so many activities organised by this community, that if you wanted to you could find yourselves very busy every day!  

During this fortnight, although as yet we've not been down to watch the Six Nations Rugby, we have enjoyed another Pub Quiz, hosted by the Mediterrano but organised by the wonderful Tony, who now lives in San Jose but used to run a pub in UK.  This time we did surprisingly better than our first attempt last month - joint second - although we were of use for some questions, most of the credit for this we can't take!  Famous war film, 3 words, anagram of FAIL BEAR ACORN AWE...... anyone? Comment below if you know it or figure it out - we couldn't that night!

We have continued our twice weekly Padel sessions but most excitingly we got to take part and be here for Padelday 2016! In addition to organising the weekly sessions, this event was started 2 years ago and organised by one of the British couples living here over winter.  What they did to organise and bring this community together was truly inspiring to us.  We've written more about what a wonderful day it was, how grateful we were to be made so welcome and included in Padelday 2016.  


But the fun didn't stop there - the couple had also organised a meal for everyone after the event and also evening entertainment.  Although we were feeling quite tired having started playing the first of our group games of Padel at 8.45am (ironically drawn against each other in the first match!), we had considered giving the evening a miss.  Wow we are so glad we didn't.  From the moment Carlene Graham started singing we were revitalised by the sheer energy and passion with which she sang.  Her and her dad, Errol Ross, made an awesome duo and we feel so lucky to have been able to see them perform live.  They created a wonderful atmosphere which was a really great ending to an amazing day - the dancefloor was packed and even Dan made a few appearances (a rarity for him!), see more pics here.....

In addition to Padelday 2016, there are a number of other ways we've also felt increasing part of the community here. We've had a few opportunities to get to know some couples a little better with tea and biscuits on the balcony or a drink in the evening, but what's been really lovely is to walk along the streets of San Jose, pop to the weekly market or stroll along the beaches and be able to wave or to stop and say a hello to someone.  Particularly as this past week we've stayed in more to focus on the projects we're working on, it's therefore been lovely that when we've taken a break to be met with such friendliness and kindness.

But it's not only the British winter residents, the local Spanish community here has also been so welcoming.  This past fortnight I've joined in with the Zumba and Pilates classes organised in the San Jose village hall by the incredibly bubbly Rosa.  Three mornings a week, the loud and energetic Zumba music fills the community hall and although my rhythm is shocking and I feel as stiff as an ironing board compared to the staggering hip movements of the Spanish ladies, I've thoroughly enjoyed it.  And although Rosa and most of the Spanish ladies don't speak very much English, they too have been so so welcoming and re-enforced just how much you can communicate with smiles and laughter.  (Sorry no photos of this!)

As well as Pilates and Zumba, we've continued to exercise our bodies as well with runs along the clifftops, turbos, Shaun T sessions etc.  Not because we feel we must push ourselves or because we are training for something in particular, but to be outside and be grateful to be able to move our bodies!

On one particular occasion, we got the opportunity to run together over the clifftop path towards Los Escullos on the GR92, knowing that our friends Hayley and Marcus, who had been staying there since they'd left us a week earlier, were waiting there to offer us a lift back to San Jose.  It wasn't great weather but it's like that made it even more exhilarating....

This fortnight we've also been touched by the kindness and help of the shop owners, Maria and Pedro, at Ecocentro in Almeria.  We have mentioned a couple of times before that we have made a commitment to support local and as much as possible organic agriculture. (We might write about the reason why in more detail at some point in the future).  Driving around this area of Southern Spain and seeing the devastating impact of the mass-scale commercial agriculture, the extensive fields of grow tents, rubbish and shanty towns of the migrant workers, has strengthened that commitment.  Although Ecocentro is a relatively small bio shop compared to those in countries like France, Holland, Belgium, Germany etc, Maria and Pedro have made it possible that now once a week we email them a list of the vegetables, fruits and other items we'd like and then a few days later we make the short trip into Almeria to collect it.  They are both incredibly friendly and helpful, not only when we come do they have everything packed up and ready for us but also having the time and patience to talk to us in English about the local farmers who supply them, their shop and other services offered within the same building (yoga, meditation, herbalists etc).  We feel truly grateful to have found them.  

It's meant that we've been able to do a lot of juicing and smoothie making, which is something we both very much feel benefits us in numerous ways as well as cook some new recipes - mini corn muffins for example and also prepare some favourites! 

We've also enjoyed some wonderful new places to sit and enjoy our breakfasts and lunches.....

It was also Valentine's Day and also our 14th Anniversary on the 15th February and although we didn't do anything 'special' to mark these days, we just feel so happy and grateful to be enjoying every day together.  As we've mentioned in several other posts this year, we've been doing a lot of personal clearing up of historic baggage this adventure and it's been very good for both of us personally and as a couple.  There've been some difficult times over the years and some particularly rocky moments in the last 6 months or so but we now feel grateful for the opportunities and lessons these challenges have allowed us to have.  Maybe we'll reflect on this more in the future but for now some photos of us enjoying another round (after it went so spectacularly well with our friends the week before) of sushi making together....

So that almost concludes the highlights from this past fortnight!  There has also been a lot of time working on our personal development and the projects we're enjoying contributing to.  Dan's writing is continue to give him almost daily insights and I'm enjoying the research and learning I'm involved in.  A stable base, extra space, inspiring working environments and internet access is really helping this be possible.

There's also been some admin from home which continues as we start to think about and put into place a few plans for what next year might look like for us.  Having stayed put over winter and still very much enjoying being part of a community, we have been inspired by finding out about competitions like 'Drive Your Adventure' offered by We-Van, to think about the options of touring more extensively next year.  As we've shared in other posts, we want to share how beautiful life is, how much variety Europe has to offer in its culture, history and natural beauty but also combine this with what we have learnt this year to travel in a community-minded way.  No fixed plans as yet just some ideas .... but we're just so excited and happy in each moment to see where life guides and takes us, through the people we meet and the opportunities that arise along the way.  

 p.s. Really do check out the 'Drive Your Adventure' competition over the weekend (it closes on the 23rd February) ..... what we've strongly learnt over the past 2 years is that you never know where life might take you in the year ahead, despite what you'd planned.....

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