For the last six weeks, I have called Costa del Sol home. However, I know this is not where I will end up and it is only a temporary stop on the journey.
I have spent a lot of my time recently observing others. Where I am in Costa del Sol there are a lot of foreigners. In fact, there are more foreigners than there are Spaniards. I lived in a city of transients for most of my life – New York – but how is this different?
And, as I was thinking about it today, I realized this is where all of the nonconformists arrive. This is where all the square pegs come after they realized they could not fit in the round hole. They love their respective countries, Britain and Germany in particular, but they were the dreamers and the people who were looking for a better life in the sun. There are also Russians and citizens of various Nordic countries.
They came here to this part of Costa del Sol and they have brought their pubs, for example, foods, languages and all of their customs. If you pass by the restaurants, you know very easily what nationalities they are catering to for customers.
This past weekend I spent some time reading a local English paper and it was full of pages of clubs, associations, stories and articles about how someone from one of these countries can meet other people from their respective countries and backgrounds. It doesn’t seem as if they really ever assimilate.
When I travel to other countries, I usually like to get to know the local culture and people. However, I do understand the desire and need – after being far away from home for weeks, months or years – for wanting to be with people from your own clan, so to speak. For the record, I looked at the lists of associations and clubs and made a notation of the American Clubs. I know they may come in handy at some point and I will appreciate speaking to people who were born and raised in the States and who have an American accent.
And so, as I start to acclimate within this place of group individualists who probably never fit in completely in their own respective countries and who dared to dream and travel to a better place with sun and other benefits, I wonder how it could be that I can be here and see the mavericks and in New York where so many people are transient, I barely noticed. Could it be that New York is a major metropolis where misfits disappear into the very fabric of the city? Could it be that while many people in New York City are not native New Yorkers, they are still from the States and so the cultures and customs are better known and understood?
I don’t know if I will really understand and come to know how a city like New York can have so many outsiders and make it all seem as if that’s the way it is supposed to be while in this part of the world, it is so clear to see the nonconformists, adventurers, dreamers and individualists who brought “home” to their new country.
Maybe it’s because so many of these people seem to not care about going back and don’t go back home even for a little annual vacation. Their only tentative connection to home is their fellow compatriot ex-pats. Perhaps it’s because New York City is a global city with 8.5 million people and this little slice of Spain boasts only several hundred thousand.
Maybe in a place like this, the nonconformists do not disappear in a sea of people in the middle of Times Square. They stand out proudly and challenge your thinking about what home and being an outsider means.
Posted: October 2, 2014
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