Why buying firewood felt so significant

Buying firewood, was one of the jobs we had set ourselves on our recent visit. Whilst this sounds a trivial thing, it ended up signifying so much more.

This was to be our last trip to our cave house before finally becoming full-time cave dwellers in January 2017. As such, we arrived with lots of luggage (most of our remaining possessions from the last 10 years spent in the Turks and Caicos) as well as a list of things we wanted to achieve whilst we were to be in Spain.

One of the items on the list was buying firewood, to warm us during the first few cold months. After all, we didn’t want to arrive in January to be greeted with cold caves and no way to warm them.  Why we were choosing to arrive during the coldest time of the year after having spent 10 years in the Caribbean is a whole other story … and something we may well be scratching our heads over as we huddle for warmth during those early months !

buying firewood

On our previous visits, I had seen truck loads of wood for sale at Baza’s weekly Wednesday market, and with no better plan in mind decided that we would buy our wood there.

Now, to be honest our previous experiences should have taught us that we need at least a couple of days to get our ‘heads sorted’ when we return to Spain. We had only arrived late Monday after 26 hours of travel from the Caribbean, as well as adjusting to a 6 hour time change. This can be difficult at the best of times, without throwing a language barrier into the works.

But I never seem to learn … so come Wednesday, having had been in Spain barely 36 hours and not having really spoken any Spanish in the previous 3 months, we headed to the market. Having bought fruit, vegetables and of course, pollo asado, we headed to where the trucks loaded up with  firewood for sale park up.

Now I hold my hands in the air, my Spanish has a long way to go and so knowing that the sellers were likely to speak little English, I had practised what I was going to say. As I furtively looked at the wood, I was approached by one of the sellers. Plucking up courage, I asked how much the wood cost – he replied “doscientos ochenta euros” (280 euros).  I understood the cost and it seemed in line with the research I had taken 🙂 What a result !

buying firewood


… and then he carried on talking 🙁

How to shatter your confidence ! I picked up a word here – seco (dry) and no verde (not green), but lost most of it. I reverted back to my comfort zone and asked if he spoke English – the answer was ‘no’.

Confidence lost, I thanked him and walked away.


Now I know I was being a little hard on myself , but suddenly everything seemed so daunting. How were we going to manage in a rural area of Spain, where relatively little English is spoken ?

Fast forward a week.  I had spoken Spanish daily and begun to understand a little more with each conversation. So, it was back to Baza’s Wednesday market, this was our last real opportunity to buy wood before we flew home that weekend. This time I approached, reconfirmed the price and asked when it could be delivered. I managed to provide directions (with the aid of a hand drawn map), understand when he said he would deliver and even ask for a business card 🙂

Now I had not learned any more Spanish since the previous Wednesday. Simply my head was straight, my confidence had increased and more importantly my understanding of what was being said to me had also improved. I went away feeling so different to the previous week. Whilst I know that this was a simple conversation, it signified so much more … with time and practise, I now believe that I will be able to make myself understood and by doing so be able to immerse myself more into Spanish life.

And then things got better … he successfully followed my directions and arrived on time !

But this is only half the story.

He asked where the wood should be unloaded and I just said out the front of the cave. Now it had looked like a lot of wood when stacked on the truck … however,  when he started unloading the wood, I thought it was never going to end.

I think the video below says it all …

Looking on the huge pile of wood that had just been deposited, It suddenly dawned on me that maybe ordering the wood with my fledgling Spanish was the easy part … as now we had to move it and find somewhere to store it all.

Between Josie and I we moved and stacked the wood over the following days and I have to say took great pleasure in the task. Both buying firewood and then stacking it in preparation for our first winter felt like we were putting down the first roots in our new home. Whilst there will undoubtably be many more hurdles, challenges, setbacks and successes – this felt like the first step along that road to making Spain our home.

And now I hope you can understand why buying firewood felt so significant 🙂

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 …

Firewood – Leña.

January – Enero.

Truck – Camión.

To Sell – Vender

To Buy – Comprar


4 thoughts on “Why buying firewood felt so significant

  1. Su and Sid

    Hi Danny. It’s Su. You have my sympathies. We bought our wood during summer (we always put seats on our hire car down and fill the back) since we have to drive by the wood place everyday and our strapping adult sons were here. This wood lasts from now (half term) Easter bbq and some left for next October.

    1. Danny Post author

      Hi Su, lovely to hear from you again. I’m going to try and coincide our next wood purchase with friends staying over – that way they can pay for their upkeep 🙂

  2. Phill

    I can relate to what you have wrote, we to will be spending our first full winter here in Spain, and last Saturday I went through the same process and purchased our wood at the market in Castillejar.

    When the wood arrived and my wife and I started shifting it all one of the guys who have been doing some building work asked if we wanted a hand he then asked if we were staying all year now. When we replied we were, he said he would bring one of his own bottles of wine for us…..this made us both feel accepted.

    Now to boldly head in to the future.

    1. Danny Post author

      Great story. I love how accepting the Spanish are, especially if they see you making an effort to integrate. I’m also glad to know we won’t be the only ones spending our first winter in this area ! Good luck 🙂


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