It has now been more than a month (a bit less for Dale that only joined me 3 weeks ago) that we have been temporary living in the Hondon Valley in the South of Spain area also known as Costa Blanca. When this housesitting opportunity in the small village of Hondon De Los Frailes came up I personally wasn’t sure about spending three months in such a remote area, but after thinking about the benefits that we could gain from it and the desperate need we both had to slow down and take it easy after our latest and (too fast) leg of our European trip, I thought: “why not? It’s not forever, let’s give it a go!”
Not a Great Start
At the beginning it has been very hard for me because I was on my own, sorry that’s not exactly true, in fact I’m glad there were two gorgeous cats that not only kept me company but gave me so much love that made me feel better. Having some pets to look after is probably the best part of housesitting for us.
I was born and I grew up in a small town in the South of Italy which compared to Hondon De Los Frailes might seem like a city. I left that town because I wanted more, I was thirsty for new things to do, to experience, and what my hometown had to offer wasn’t enough for me, not anymore. When I arrived in the Hondon Valley I felt a little bit like stepping back in time. I love being in the city, I like having the option to choose what I can do with my days/nights, I love being in the chaos of the fast city life even though I do need to take my breaks every now and then, either going for a hike or a simple walk somewhere surrounded by nothing but nature and fresh air. I like the change and having the chance to enjoy everything the city has to offer but be able to get away from it when I’m too overwhelmed by it.
Embracing The Slow Life
Here, in Hondon De Los Frailes, life goes VERY slow and even if I haven’t been in the village for very long I can already tell that things don’t change that fast (if they ever change at all). I think I have already memorized the faces of most of the people living in the village, I even know most of the strays here, I can recognize them easily since I went to feed the homeless cats.
The first day I arrived it took me only 15 minutes to walk around the entire village and, even if I knew beforehand that Hondon De Los Frailes was a very small place, I felt like I was going to get bored very easily and that the three months of housesitting would kill me. I tried to keep these negative thoughts away, I stayed positive instead trying to find all the good things about the village and I said to myself that, even if the Hondon Valley isn’t a place where I would live long term, I should still make the most of my time here, get the best of it and simply embrace the slow pace lifestyle for once, without feeling the urge of constantly doing something new everyday.
Living Like The Locals Do
I started to get involved in local community life, I met a few people, I asked around information about the area, I joined a walking/hiking group that twice a month organizes hikes in the surrounding mountains and so far I went to one of them. I regularly go shopping to the local market where the veggies are gorgeous and so incredibly fresh.
I am trying to learn a bit of Spanish and I practice it at every opportunity, like at the local bakery where the lovely lady Lucia patiently makes an effort to understand my terrible pronunciation and she does it always with a smile on her face. When I go to the local market, the young lady that usually serves me knows a bit of English but, since she noticed my desperate effort to speak in Spanish she never speaks English with me, instead she corrects my poor Spanish which is simply amazing. The same happens with the guy at the local shop, he sometimes answers to me in English because he wants to improve his own language skills too so we both benefit from our short language exchange which is fine with me.
Here in Hondon De Los Frailes, everybody I meet in the street always say hello with a smile on their face, especially the Spanish people. There is a large expat community in the village of mainly English, Dutch and German people that have fit incredibly well with this kind of lifestyle probably because, on the contrary to what I look for in a place to live, they were looking to go away from the crazy city life and enjoy the calm and relaxed one of the Hondon Valley.
So Far, So Good
Perhaps it’s because I know that I’m already half way through it, but my initial fears about this housesitting assignment have been proved wrong so far. I’m not bored to death yet and I could have spent my time here constantly complaining about everything and about how I miss the vibrancy of the city life but I’m not. On the contrary I’m taking everything Hondon De Los Frailes has to offer and making the most of my time here catching up with the blog, thinking of what is coming next, enjoying having a base for a short time and not having to change location so often. I’m also loving having a kitchen all to ourselves, and yes, we have been very busy cooking and experimenting with new recipes. Probably at the end of the three months’ housesitting my opinion might change because I cannot stay still for too long in the same place and I’d probably be desperate to leave the Hondon Valley, but, if that would be the case, it’s just me and how I am. Let’s wait and see, ask me in few weeks time!