A year in the life of one foot in the cave takes a look at this years blog entries, along with any updates and reflections that we thought worth sharing.
Although before I start, I have to be honest and say that It seems far too soon to be doing a review of 2016. I do sometimes wonder where time goes ?
After all, we started discussing an eventual move to Spain back in September 2012 (whilst sitting on an agricultural terrace in Machu Picchu, Peru). Back then, we had set a goal of being in Spain by the end of 2016. We will actually be there in January 2017, but I think that in the grand scheme of things we can overlook a couple of weeks !
Anyway, enough of the waffling … here goes and I hope you enjoy the read 🙂
The end of the year seemed so far away. We had not long completed the purchase of our cave homes and were looking forward to the planned renovations getting underway.
The first blog entry of the year was about choosing names for our caves. To us, the caves were more than homes, they were a big step towards our dream of moving to Spain . We decided to give each cave a name; one that would reflect what led us to this point in our lives.
Since then, we have also named the overall parcel of land … Cuevas Herradura (horseshoe caves), because of the way the caves have been shaped into the land. I guess we had better try to find some horseshoes to string up here and there 🙂
I also wrote about my attempt to learn Spanish.
My Spanish has improved enough that I now try to read (skim) an article from El Pais each day. I also read a couple of online story reading books for beginners by Olly Richards (there are plenty of other options out there) and have found a great sitcom series on You Tube for Spanish learners called ‘extra en Espanol‘.
Whilst I have tried a number of methods in my attempt to learn Spanish, my Monday lessons with my good friend Pablo have been the most useful. He has been a very patient teacher and by the time I left the Turks and Caicos, I could nearly roll my ‘r’s’ as well as he rolled his eyes when I frequently butchered the Spanish language 🙂
What I have really realised though, is my Spanish slowly improves each time I am in Spain. Ultimately immersion will be the only real way either of us will fully learn.
I said it before and will again, the more I try to grasp a new language the more respect I have for those that are multilingual.
The main blog entry was on the forums that we used during the whole process of buying a property and moving to Spain. We don’t tend to use them so much now, although I am sure that will change again once we become established in Spain.
An exciting month as the cave renovation work started . It was very frustrating being so far away, as we had so little control and input over something so important.
Where in Spain are you moving to? was a question we were being asked more often and made me realise how little I knew about our future home. I decided to rectify that with a little research and a blog entry about where in Spain our cave house was.
After all Spain is quite a large place 🙂
This month was in many ways the point of no return, as I officially handed in my notice at work *gulp*. It made the whole process feel a little more real, although at the time 9 months still seemed like an eternity.
We also launched our Facebook page , to provide additional updates, pictures, chat and general nonsense on cave living, Spain and the area in general. We have had some great responses from the page and are thrilled with how popular it is becoming.
Having in the previous month written an overview of the regions of Spain, we now delved a little deeper into where our cave house is located; exploring our region of Spain – the Altiplano de Granada.
We have to be honest, the more time we spend here, the more we fall in love with the area and the huge contrasts within it.
I also decided I wanted to expand the horizons of the blog beyond our cave and region of Spain. So the idea of exploring cave living around the World was born. Beginning with cave living in Africa.
We finally got to stay in our cave 🙂
The slow transition from the Turks and Caicos to Spain also continued as we arrived with 2 huge bags of things we were going to leave behind.
Approaching the caves, we were like little kids on Christmas Day. We didn’t know what to expect as we had heard nothing from the builder. Although he was well recommended, he was a little useless at communicating ! There was no need to have worried, as the renovations exceeded all our expectations 🙂
For the first few days we stayed in a rental cave, as ours were not ready to be moved into. We spent that time buying basics, clearing out and cleaning the caves. Finally we were ready to stay in our caves 🙂
They were very cold and damp as they have been unoccupied for nearly 8 years. We bought a couple of radiators (after receiving the electric bill we will try to avoid using them too often) and lit fires to start to warm them up.
We learned we couldn’t have too many appliances on a once as it blew all the fuses. Wiring problems meant that using the oven or 2 of our hobs also had the same effect. We adapted and baked over an open fire 🙂
The plumbing leaked, the window shutters were swollen and wouldn’t shut … the list went on.
That said … we were already in love with the place, warts, and all.
The second week we spent simply being tourists, visiting the local markets, enjoying recommended walks and travelling to the coast. The time passed all too quickly and it was difficult to say goodbye to our future homes.
The cave living around the world series also continued, with a look at cave living in Asia.
This month we found ourselves reflecting on our recent visit and looking at our 10 most unusual, unexpected and unforseen experiences. I had somewhat mysteriously called it the horse that ate the iPad. I now realise I need to be less cryptic with the titles, as whilst this is one of my favourite entries, it passed largely unnoticed 🙁
Speeding around the world, this month we found ourselves heading down under to discover all about cave living in Australia.
I wrote about a day we spent in the coastal fishing town of Garrucha, which received a lot of interest. More importantly for us we also had a lot of feedback from readers on other places to visit.
This was fantastic, as one of our hopes for the blog was to learn from other people’s experiences, not just to share our own.
So thanks to the suggestions we received we now have Agua Armaga, Carboneras, Playa de los Muertes, Salabrana and San José to visit (and maybe write about).
On our return journey from Garrucha we spied the village of Seron perched on a hilltop. We received several suggestions about this village, including where to eat and which day the market visited. We were also told about an annual ham festival that takes place there in July. This is definitely on our radar for next year.
I also came out this month, telling the world (well the blog followers) why I love living in a cave. This became our most viewed article of the year. Hopefully whetting the appetites of a few other potential cave dwellers.
We shared other people’s Facebook pages that we found useful and interesting.
I also revealed one of my real loves of Spain – Spanish market days. Even writing the word conjures up the sights, sounds, colours and smells of market day.
We were back in Spain, laden down with 6 bags full to the brim with additional items we would be leaving behind.
Upon arriving at the caves, the reality sank in about how much work still needed doing on the caves. In May we had slightly rose-tinted glasses as the transition had been so dramatic from when we purchased them.
Now we saw all the details and the amount of real deep cleaning that needed to be done. There had been deterioration to the walls and ceiling with flaking of paint and even some collapse of the plaster. We knew that this was down to the length of time it has been left empty and unmaintained as even with the windows open there was little air movement. Whilst it will improve once we living there full-time, it was still a little disheartening.
I had mentioned a couple of times that we were only receiving one electric bill even though we had two properties (and meters), but was reassured it was being resolved. We now discovered that the electricity company thought differently, as we only had power in one of the caves. A quick search revealed they had removed one of the meters !
We made a few improvements each day.
The window shutters were sanded down so they closed properly, whilst the annoying flies were barred from the cave interior by fitting a door screen.
An electrician came in to sort out the lack of power in one of our caves. He also fixed one of the faulty hobs (the other has a broken connection and needs replacing) and the oven.
Lastly we bought a few more essentials (a fridge for example). Overall we started to feel less intimidated by everything we had to do.
Back in May we had briefly met Clive & Allan who had just bought a cave property opposite. They had been leaving the day after we arrived and planned on moving there in June. We had kept in touch and on our return it was wonderful to catch up with them properly and spend time with them. They helped us out in so many ways, we also went on a number of outings, including to the Baza Feria (fair) and Lake Negratin. They were hosting a yoga retreat whilst we were there and Josie got to join couple of the classes. They had also just finished the renovations on their upstairs cave, which they now run as a B&B. We truly believe that there is the beginning of a firm friendship there.
We had an amazing 2 weeks, it was wonderful for both heart and soul. Especially as we knew that the next time we would be there, it would be our full-time home. If leaving in May had been a struggle, leaving in September was far worse ! In just 2 short weeks both the caves and the area had come to feel as home.
There was also another chapter in our cave living around the world series. This time looking at our future home, with a look at cave living in Spain.
For us, the Castril river walk is on that list and one I was so happy to write about this month. I definitely intend to share more of our favourite walks next year.
Why buying firewood felt so significant was about our first foray into buying wood to keep us warm through the winter months. More importantly it was about us overcoming hurdles in a country where English is not the first language. It was also about the realisation that between us we could make this move to living in a cave in Spain work 🙂
Work, a business trip to Vegas and our impending departure meant I had little spare time to work on the blog. The only entry this month was on Cave living in Europe. Following on from that though we received a lovely email from a fellow cave dweller in the Loire Valley, France. We also had an invitation to visit which is something we certainly aim to do next year 🙂
I wrote about some of our hopes for our new life in Spain in a simpler life in Spain.
The biggest event though was that after 10 wonderful years in the Turks and Caicos it was time for us to move on and start our new adventure in Spain. We have had some amazing experiences, great memories and made some wonderful friends. Leaving the Islands was far more difficult than either of us thought.
Since being back in the UK we have sorted through the boxes we have had in storage and bought a car with which to travel to Spain. We have seen our families, caught up with friends and spent our first Christmas in 12 years in the UK.
Clothes have been bought to get us through out time in the UK and our first winter in Spain. Hearty pub meals have been consumed, Guinness has been drunk (by me anyway). There may also have been a little complaining about the weather.
We will be spending a couple more weeks in the UK, catching up with more old friends and finalising our preparations before driving to Spain.
So, all in all this year has been one of huge change for us and we’re positive that an exciting (and slightly daunting) 2017 lies ahead.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this whole process and the kind words and great suggestions we have received through the blog.
We hope you had a great Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.
Finally, we look forward to sharing our exploits with you in 2017.
So … Who are one foot in the cave ?
We (Danny and Josie) have spent the last 10 years living and working in the Caribbean. In 2015 we decided we wanted to move closer to family and friends so bought a cave house in the Granada region of Andalucia, Spain. We moved there full time in January 2017. Now we write about our experiences of cave living and how we are adapting to life in Spain.
We also have a Facebook page full of pictures, experiences and information that we have found useful along the way. If its your thing, you can also follow us on Instagram 🙂
5 words related to this blog entry …
A year – Un Ano.
First – Primero.
To Clean – Limpiar.
Christmas – Navidad.
New Year – El Ano Nuevo.