November 12

The Kindness of (Almost) Strangers

One thing about the Spanish culture is that it enjoys a level of camaraderie at the core social level. Don’t know where to find a store? Just ask. Aren’t sure which is the best product in the supermarket? Just ask. Need to find an apartment?Trust me, everyone knows someone who has an apartment, a renting agent, a friend who just found an apartment, or an amalgam of all of these scenarios. I don’t have many friends in Spain, and all of them are sending me suggestions, taking me to look at places, forwarding agents and ideas, and being so incredibly helpful that I am humbled quite a bit.

I think such courtesy would wear very thin very quickly in the US, but in my experience here, such involvement seems the norm. All that being said, I don’t yet have an apartment. I have seen many places, from teeny-tiny to old and faded to small and cute. Since my cellphone number is still on order, I don’t have any way to contact folks easily, which is very frustrating, but my friends have gone out of their way to accommodate my unique needs. Admittedly, I can’t be easy on their nerves!

Such a situation becomes even more amazing when I realize that I only met these folks in January when I was in Valencia for two weeks. What’s even more wonderful for me is that I feel so supported by these awesome people who are showing me patience, consideration, and understanding when I admit that I am frustrated and confused. “I don’t understand” is one of my most-used phrase in Spanish right now. So, gentle reader, is “Gracias.”


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  1. Awesome post Christopher! Really thankful to read about your new life in Valencia. I’m smiling over the graciousness your friends extend. True community.

    Best of luck finding an apartment!

    1. Alysa, every day, I am humbled by going back and recognizing the gifts I have been given to be here. Regardless of language barriers and cultural expectations, I must put aside the “American Middle-Aged Male” perspective of independence and self-reliance and grow again by being nourished by others. Thanks for the apartment-hunting thoughts! I think I may be making an offer today… and we’ll see what happens then!

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