It’s June 13, 2014 and the World Cup games are about to resume. I had been working tirelessly to publish the ESPN Deportes World Cup Edition, and our magazine had finally been released that week.
Five days earlier, I arrived back to NY from Barcelona. On my way home, I had made a vow in my travel journal and messily scribbled, “If I lose my job, I’ll just go to Barcelona!” Life was rough in publishing, and I had a hunch.
My boss took me out for a coffee that morning and broke the news that I was going to be laid off at the end of the month. My initial reaction and the words I immediately muttered were, “I guess I’m going to Barcelona!”
On August 13, 2014, I was back on a plane for an extended visit, and by August 13, 2015, I had a one-way ticket from JFK ready to begin my new life in Spain.
I have always felt profoundly drawn to the Mediterranean – its food, its richness in culture and history, and its purely magical location. Medi- is the Latin root for “middle” and -terra translates to “earth” thus, the Mediterranean is literally the middle of the earth.
I began studying Middle Eastern dance in 2001, then eventually Flamenco. The ancient drum rhythms, the strumming of the classical Flamenco guitar, the crooning of hypnotic voices conveying centuries of strife and persecution suffered by the “gitanos,” transcending language and invoking immense feeling… all had piqued my interest in Spanish and Mediterranean culture long before I even believed it to be possible to one day live in this region.
That life-changing summer in Spain, I met many expats from just about every continent (except Antarctica). I listened to their stories about how and why they ended up in Barcelona and many of them ended in exactly the same way. Unbeknownst to me, my story was about to end and begin. They “fell in love…” with people, places, and even the Mediterranean Sea.
After hearing these tales, it was the first time in my life I had considered living abroad as a real possibility. I mean, if these fellow Americans, Australians, Mexicans, etc. could find a way, “Why couldn’t I?”
Barcelona was truly the perfect embodiment of everything I loved about my hometown, San Diego, and the Big Apple. It was this cosmopolitan city by the sea with fabulous nightlife, an excellent foodies’ scene, and the most intriguing people with a beckoning beach culture.
I had hit the city jackpot once I discovered myself in this unfamiliar environment, unintentionally constructing a microcosm of my next life chapter.
I couldn’t believe that for €60-100 I could easily find a round-trip ticket to Italy or Portugal. I visited both that summer, though I could hardly tear myself away from my new little bubble in El Born and the Ciutat Vella.
Since then, I have lived in Barcelona, Andorra, and, most recently, Tarragona. I am continually discovering charming sites in Catalonia and beyond, enamored with Tarragona, formerly known as Tarraco, and living in the remains of this ancient royal Roman city.
While there are many things I miss about the US, I have become so ridiculously spoiled by shopping at European supermarkets (cheese!!!) and tasting high-quality Spanish wines for a fraction of the price of mediocre wine from California.
Catalonia is famous for its production of cava, a delightfully sparkling white wine that I used to imbibe happily at Amelie (favorite NYC wine bar).
The most precious part about living on the Costa Daurada (which translates to the “Gold Coast”) is the 10-minute bike ride or 20-minute walk to breathtaking beaches.
I can smell the salty air from my balcony and enjoy views of this sparkling azure beauty if I walk just 5 minutes towards the coast if I’m feeling too lazy to walk down to the beach.
These are a few of the countless reasons I fell in love with Spain and why you just might do the same if you dare to pack your bags with a one-way ticket to this enchanting part of the world.
Do you have daring dreams, too, that might become reality? I would absolutely love to know! Share your thoughts with me in the comments.
by: Marjorie Jean Vera