After yesterday's slow escape from expatland, things have speeded up.
FIrst a note about my use of the term "expat". The proper definition is anybody living in a country in which they were not born, I suppose. And a hint that they are not fully assimilated into the new country.
This can apply to a lot of people all over the world. Movement of people has been going on since people evolved . . . and before . . .
In an interesting linguistic twist, one of the reasons many British expats, or emigrants, give for relocating is immigration into their beloved, forsaken, damp, Britain. They rarely identify as immigrants to the hospitable countries to which they escape. France, Spain, Portugal . . . USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand . . . Thailand . . . they are all over the place . . .
The subset of emigrant/immigrant I describe as expats, are retired folks, seeking a sunny, relaxed place to spend their latter days. Until medical problems set in and the NHS beckons. With all its immigrant workers.
Portugal, my next destination, also has its stereotypical expats, as well as the exceptions I have been finding in Spain. And I am aware that becoming an expat myself is an option. Maybe that's why I am experiencing a little of that life, its pitfalls and opportunities.
A Place to Be dreams of places of retreat, reconnection with Nature. In the North Pennines of the UK, and anywhere else. Perhaps Portugal.
Today, on the bus to Seville, I am thinking of walking into Portugal on New Year's Eve.
It has never been my personal ambition to live in an intentional community. The little rented cottage by the river in Stanhope was just fine. Yet the vision persisted and wants to be followed, fleshed out a bit.
Since we can't story our lives looking forward, the way this trip works out in the bigger picture cannot be known. It is all flowing beautifully so far and I am content not to know exactly where, when or why it's going.
Rewinding to this morning, I took the Baza- Granada bus at 8, had 25 minutes to change to the Seville bus, on which I appear to have booked the last seat. It is holiday time and I have someone sitting next to me. Harith is 20, a first year student of mechanical engineering at Aix, planning to specialise in aeronautics at Toulouse. He is a Malaysian Muslim from Kuala Lumpur, fluent in three languages and thinking about learning more. I ask a few questions about Islam, a religion I know little about. They see Jesus as one of the prophets.
And decline images of Allah or prophets. Which seems sensible. Not so sure about the notion of one human incarnation to decide whether they end up in heaven or hell.
Seville is big, very big. It has a very big cathedral and a very big river. The Guadalquivir. After wandering with the tourists awhile, picnicking on bread and goats cheese by the river, I locate the bus station for Huelva and Ayamonte. A different bus station. By this time my idea of being a tourist in Seville for a day has waned. There is a bus at 3.30 pm for Ayamonte, on the border with Portugal.
I'm on it. Sitting next to Jose, 38, originally from Valencia, now working in Barcelona, visiting his girlfriend, Mafalda, and her mother for the holidays. He spent time in Nottingham and Southampton teaching Spanish, and his English is very good.
After wandering round town, enjoying a beautiful sunset over Portugal, scoping the options for the morning - longish walk to the road crossing or ferry from town, I find a hotel a couple of minutes from the bus station.
Some food in town and a early night, ready for some coastal walking in Portugal tomorrow.