9 November – 21 November
It’s the 17th of November and As usually I wake up by myself. I’m sleeping on a matrass on the second floor of a Spanish house. Here I’m the guest of Maria, who has lived in Granada all her life, and Yann, who grew up in Montpellier. They’ve got a quiet, six-month old son called Ocean. They form a friendly, spiritual family. Their house stands on the side of the Sacromonte mountain and from here there’s an excellent view of the city and the 13th century moslim fortification which towers above it. This district, Sacromonte, is the Flamenco district of Granada; there are flamenco shows, flamenco restaurants and flamenco pubs. Often, when sitting in front of the house in the afternoon sun, the wind carries some music from the nearby terrasses. And sometimes, walking on the main road, I meet the fancy dressed dancers and guitar players who are preparing for their show.
Today it’s again sunny, not really hot, but nice enough to wear a t-shirt. I’ve been on the road for quite a while now, and realising the passage of time I’m wondering what I’ve reached so far. I need someplace to think, so instead of going into the busy city I decide to go up into the mountains. My walk starts on a cobblestone street which runs northward. After a couple of minutes I make a turn and go up a less travelled, steep path leading higher up. Meanwhile I’m thinking about why I am in Spain. Of course there are plenty of things to do here, but what do those things mean for me? It’s not a merely a vacation, it’s a trip of inner discovery. So far I’ve tried many new things, things I was afraid to do. I’ve travelled alone without a tent and on occasion even without a sleepingbag, hitchhiked in some new countries and made new friends, while some old friendships have been renewed. Still, this does not explain while I left Groningen. I do have plenty of good friends and was finding plenty of new activities there. Even staying at home I felt like I was travelling, because of all these new things and people which came into my life.
I climb up and cover a couple of hundred meters in altitude before getting to a small and flat peak. Here there’s an excellent clear view of some of the heighest peaks of the Sierra Nevada. The first snow arrived somewhat over a week ago, and it’s really a beautiful sight to look at the snowy mountains. A smiling girl with a purple fleece and dreadlocks appears on a higher peak, walks by one time, a second time and then dissapears out of sight, leaving me alone on the mountain. This is a quiet, peaceful place and I go back to the question; what am I doing here? Or better yet, the question which comes before this; why did I leave Groningen? Thinking about the good things I left in Groningen I go to the things which I was enjoying less. There are painful relationship memories – which actually can’t be left behind, no matter how far I go, and a study which I only partially enjoyed. The second point seems much more important. I’ve been studying quite long and nothing much to show for it. Of course there are the studypoints I earned and some good grades, but what does it mean for me? The main motivation for continueing studying was money; I wanted to reduce my debt to the government by finishing my study. So I got quite adept in getting a lot of study credits with not to much effort. But where did this leave me? I got the credits and the grades, but in the end these mean absolutely nothing! They’re just a bizarre way of measuring knowledge. And then I got less debt, but so what? Money does nothing for happiness. In the end there’s just a hollow victory – you win, but you lose. So much time and effort wasted! And I guess this is the main point why I left! The most important activity in my day was studying, day after day, week after week and finally year after year. And so the main activity in my life was something which I didn’t enjoy, something for which I was not really motivated. No matter how many nice friends and hobbies one has, you can’t win in a situation like this! So that’s why I left – I needed to break out of a life that was good, but missing something important. A rewarding job. Something with which I can earn money, but also gives me something more important than this. Just being stuck in Groningen it would’ve been so simple to continue on the same road! More short nights because of late night studying, more stupid, pointless deadlines, more colleges and more computer practica. And always more of the same the week after. That’s a tiresome life of struggle. No thanks, that’s not what I want! I rather try to fully enjoy the time I’ve got..
Of course I already now at least part of what I want to do – become a life coach. All I need is the money to start, and this is an interesting issue, because my savings account is now down to 0, my debitcard to 2,20 and my wallet to about 14 euro’s. It’s the very last money I own – it’s rock bottom, so it really is time to get some work. So far I’ve been looking around a bit here in Spain, but without succes. I’d like to live here for a while and for this goal I could just lend some money, rent a house, take some intensive language courses and then get a job. Tempting… but one of my principles is that I don’t lend money unless it’s really necessary, so that means I’ll be heading back to Holland soon, find a job for a couple of weeks and consider my next step. In the meantime I’ve already subscribed for my first coaching course; I’ll be starting with the distance learning on December the 1st. While I’m not really eager to leave Spain, I do am quite interested to see how this course wil work out.
On the evening of the 17th I’ve celebrated my birthday; Yann spontaneously offered to hold a party when he heard it and so I’ve invited some of the friends I’ve got in Granada. I can’t even remember the last time I had a party where there were only Dutch people present, and of course this party here in Granada is no exception. The guests are Hugo from Portugal, the hitchhiker who lives in a cave, his 8-year old daughter, his Italian girlfriend Sarah, their guests Rossa and Carlos from Andalucia, both students, and Monica and Anna, who are from Poland and studying Spanish. It’s very nice to have so many people around for my birthday in a place where I knew nobody just 3 weeks ago, but in the meantime I also get many congratulations by email from the people I have known for a long time. It really cheers my spirits! From Asia, there’s a note telling how we met just a year ago on the exact day of my birthday. Then, they sang “Happy birthday” in Polish for me – today it’s the same song, but in Spanish of course.