Islands In The Sun

This is one of a few stories I wrote for a local newspaper when I first came to Spain and is based on facts and my personal observations.

I once lived near an American base, and also worked on one for a couple of years and was quite surprised to see how totally isolated and self-contained it was.
Although it was close to the centre of a large town and access to it by locals was almost unrestricted, once inside it was very noticeable that it was truly part of America, e.g. electricity was 110 volts, only American Dollars was acceptable, the shops only contained American products – nothing local! Even newspapers, radio and TV was all American!
They had all the American news, but knew nothing that was happening locally and did not even know their way around the town they lived in!
They called the locals who worked for them “Aliens”!

I have now being living in Spain for a number of years and notice a striking similarity between the American bases and the isolated pockets of British residents here in Spain.
They prefer to live in a whole community, with their own supermarkets, bars etc. where the prices are considerably more than normal in Spain – paying, I suppose, for the privilege of being able to speak English!

As the communities grow, they soon establish their own entertainment and network between themselves.
And, as on the American bases, they have their own satellite TV, radio and newspapers, as well as local free papers, so that they can find out the gossip from other English communities!

As the communities grow even further, they no longer employ local Spanish “Alien” tradesmen, they now have resident UK workers – UK prices as well!

The Americans were only posted to the base for a maximum of five years, after which they returned to the USA or some other country.

Many of the UK Spanish residents, however, are here for life, being voluntary exiles.
They are often heard complaining about local conditions, e.g. bad postal service, problems with the roads, street lights, etc. this apart from being ripped off by some UK builder who promises them the earth and, a year later, it is still that – a patch of earth!
Others have been living in their houses for about two years before signing the deeds to prove ownership – but have paid for it!
They are however pacified by “free” electricity and water – when available!

A proper resident in Spain registers him/herself at the Town Hall to obtain a certificate in the town of residence, which is compulsory. This gives him/her the right to register on the electoral roll and to vote in the local elections.
With this certificate of residence he/she can then obtain a resident permit “Residencia”, which is no longer required for EU residents, but advisable.

It is advisable to register as a resident in order to benefit from the Spanish facilities (health care etc) and take part in local elections so as to unable them to have a voice in the local community and, as the British will soon be in the majority, this would be a considerably loud voice!

If, however, they choose not to speak, they should not complain when they are not heard!
However, many do not and remain for years in a transient situation.

My advice is: “Get involved, do not watch from the side lines”!

dunno scold roll eyes teddybear

Comments (45)

Reading this makes me aware how much I've evolved, while many others have not. peace
Nice post, D. Those of us who have lived a bit elsewhere can relate. Much of the alleged annoyances is based in fact, but then again, as a species, we love to complain, no? Aa-V.
Most expats want the weather and cheap prices without the pesky locals and their pesky foreign language.
I've heard this frequently, that ex-pats (ex-patriots) have their own communities and rarely venture into those of the locals. From what I've heard from friends, I believe the problem is two-fold.

The friends that I know that moved to Mexico, had all these great fantasies of how it was going to be and how they would fit into their Mexican locale. The problem was, they used Mexican labour for their menial labour. While the Mexicans may be grateful for the pay, they may not have been particularly happy at the type of work they did. My friends wanted to be friends with them, but one is generally not friends with their employers.

As the Mexicans made it clear the need for friendship was not reciprocal, my friends sought out other ex-pats and found 'home' with people that shared common interests and culture. It's not surprising that Mexicans begrudge what they view as the wealthy Americans and Canadians coming to their country as interlopers, buying up all the property and re-selling it at a profit few locals can afford.

I would imagine that this type of attitude and problem would exist in any country.
Where I live everyone is very welcoming and nobody sees themselves as better than any other, because this is what you face from some nations. Of course it's only in their minds, but hey illusions are big these days.
Daniela ~ Great blog, that base in US sounds a nightmare. I would have thought going to live in a country, it would be basic to try and learn the language, or at least a basic knowledge and something about the culture.
No I am not speaking of bull fighting as you well know, but what is the point in just staying with the same people and not trying the local food, and going to some of the local entertainment? defies logic.dunno
Good to hear Keepers..that you've evolved.thumbs up smitten

Yes..I agree we like to complain but...when living in a foreign country I think we need a bit more tolerance and accept what that country has to offer...good and bad.dunno
That's right Molly...
In other words they're all cherry picking.roll eyes
Hello Imp...I entirely agree!
It applies to any country though. grin
Hello Goldie wave

Regarding the American bases in you know...
You speak 2 languages're bilingual..
More than 2're polyglot..
One're American! laugh

Anyway..why should they have learned when most Germans speak English and they were going back to America after 5 years anyway?

And you know what...if they were shown a map of Europe they couldn't even find Germany! laugh

But the black Americans managed to find some nice looking blond Fraulein though.wink
Daniela - yes, I mentioned that the attitude was probably common in most countries, unfortunately. What is really 'funny' is that North Americans talk about people not assimilating into their countries, and yet, who are the biggest offenders in other countries? wink've got a point here.wink
It's harder to learn new languages when your old.
Miwagi.. I wouldn't say that. Maybe it takes longer?

I know many of our age who go to classes at least to know the basics.dunno
Well you're younger than me. I'm learning Spanish but I'm not immersed in the language so it is harder, that and my memory is not as good as it once was. But I do think I can learn to speak it enough to get by...….understanding native speakers is harder.
Miwagi...younger than you? wow Thanks anyway.

To learn a language you've definitely need to practise with native speakers and live in the country for a while also helps.
great blog , and very true in Bulgaria ,,the locals often used to ask why I do not mix with other brits that live here ....but it didn't take long for the locals to wake up and smell the coffee...they ask no more .......
Hello Ed, long time no see? wave

Do you mean you live in Bulgaria now? confused

Anyway, it´s the same for me... I don´t really mix with people of my own nationalities for the same reasons.
I am quite handy, however, when they need a translator. wink
yes Daniela I am living in Bulgaria ,and love it ,,prior to moving here i lived in turkey for 5 years and the brits there are worst people that I have had the misfortune to meet ,,,they show total disregard for the laws of the country ,,and then cry when they are found out and deported losing all that they had, as Turkish immigration do not mess about ..they just frog march you to a cash machine to pay your fine then on to the airport where they x your passport and ban you from re,entering the country simple as that
Thanks for sharing Ed.
Is this attitude the residue of imperialism? And that is not unique to the Brits. grin
Just wondering which laws can get you deported from Turkey if you break them?
I also thought Turkey wanted to join the EU. Would the EU allow this? answer your question about Turkey..

It was Germany ...and I think also Austria... that wouldn't allow it because they're a Muslim country..and they also used to have the death penalty.

However they haven't anymore and I believe that they will become part of the EU...eventually?
I think there are many more human rights concerns apart from the death penalty which is keeping them out
Yes of course but the death penalty was also a major issue when I was living in Germany.
Here is an interesting article in the Washington Post. It sounds like Sharia Law is taking over in Turkey. I wonder if this would be a problem for the EU?
Miw, according to you, Islam has taken over all of Europe laugh
Molly the Washington Post wrote the article not me. They are the paper that broke Watergate. Considered to be very left wing by most and there is really no need for them to mislead on this issue.
Sorry Migwagi...cannot read your link as you need to subscribe.
Here it is:

Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is the author of “The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey”
Over the past few weeks, Turkish officials have broken with decades of precedent in what is still, at least nominally, a secular republic: they have begun describing the country’s military deployment in Syria as “jihad.” During the first two days of the operation, which began on Jan. 20, the government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs ordered all of Turkey’s nearly 90,000 mosques to broadcast the “Al-Fath” verse from the Koran — “the prayer of conquest” — through the loudspeakers on their minarets. Mainstreaming jihad, which sanctions violence against those who “offend Islam,” is a crucial step in draping the sheath of sharia over a society. Sadly, Turkey seems to be slowly moving along that path.
In the West, sharia law is often associated with corporal punishment, such as beheadings carried out by Islamist extremists and the likes of the Islamic State. But in fact, only a few countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, enact sharia in this form.

Most Muslim countries have a mix of religious and secular laws, which invite other, and less draconian, forms of sharia. In these instances, sharia law feeds into a complex web of legal, political, and administrative measures. Blending with state power, it imposes Islamic practices on the public, such as fasting during Ramadan. It also demonizes those who do not practice and punishes speech or acts deemed offensive to Islam.
In its widely seen practice, sharia, therefore, is not a black cloak or the ax of the executioner, but rather an impermeable veil that envelops the entire society. Many pious Muslims individually choose to abide by some or all tenets of sharia law, which guides their religiosity. But, as a political force, sharia draws its power from governmental and societal pressure mechanisms. Together, they coerce citizens to adhere to the conservative spectrum of Islam.
Turkey, established as a secular republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk at the end of World War I, long managed to hold sharia out of the official sphere, making it an outlier among Muslim-majority countries. While the secular constitutional system remains, my own research, polls and recent developments in Turkey together demonstrate a dangerous shift.
Daniela, I´m sure the local Spaniards are more worried about you and your mates trying to encourage aliens to land on their beach than they are about a few Brits who like a drink together. Also, if the aliens did land, it would be the Brits who would be first in line to fight them, you French and Germans would be hiding behind your sofas filling your pants!
BN...if some Aliens landed here I would be ...together with my mates...the first one wanting to go and try to communicate with them.
No hiding!! scold

I'm sure we could find a way to communicate somehow?

Thanks Migwagi for the info.
I don't really know what to say? dunno
Daniela, just remind them about littering and no animals on the beach before 7pm either!scold
Animals are ok...we have a K9 beach for all day use.

About the littering...Maybe they could educate the Spaniards ?
Hi again D,
I really dislike these communities and the British arrogance and laziness. They complained bitterly when Indian, Pakistani and West Indian communities sprang up in the UK in the sixties and now the same generation who complained loudest, are mimicking it themselves. They tire me out!
I have nothing to do with these communities, my businesses here before I retired had more French clients than British but I would accept British clients 'cos I'm the sort of chap who'll take money off any one.
In my opinion, it is a matter of courtesy, if you can't be arsed to learn the bloody language and integrate with the indigenous populous then go home! doh Sorry, on my soap box!
Exactely my way of thinking thumbs up

However...we must still make allowances for the elderly who are retired and have more problems picking up the language.
miwagi ..
there are plenty of laws that will get you deported from turkey, and the main one that most foreigners break is the no work law ..which applies to all foreigners you can only be employed if it is a job that a Turkish citizen cannot do ,,
you can open a business no problem ,but you cannot work in it, only allowed to do so on a advisory scale nothing else..
turkey will never be in the European union for many reasons,, the list is endless .there is defo no freedom of speech what so ever ,,
when there is a problem in turkey then facebook is shut down straight away along with twitter and other forms of open media...
on a plus side for turkey,, is that the bank interest rates are probably the best anywhere in the world
even in todays economy the current interest rate is approx. 14% .. when I first moved there it was 23% which was amazing .
but as you have stated and I agree with you that turkey is taking a back ward movement due to the people being blinded by a president that rules with an iron fist..
and god help anyone that speaks out against him..
the so called failed coup that never was ???? resulted in nearly all the lecturers from universities and schools being imprisoned with out trial ???? for what no one knows for how long the same answer.. after all of that you are probably thinking why did i go in the first place ???
and it was because property and the cost of living were extremely cheap that along with the interest rates then it suited my needs at the time so I made the most of it and as the changes began then I looked else where simple as that ..have a good one ..
Interesting information you´ve got here Ed, thank you! thumbs up

I suppose every country has its pros and cons. dunno

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