The opportunity to be able lead a simpler life in Spain, was a key reason that led us to our cave house in rural Andalucia.
It is something that Josie and I have talked about for a number of years, however, living in the Turks and Caicos has to date limited what we have been able to achieve.
Our upcoming move to Spain should change all of this for us 🙂
So, what exactly are our hopes for a simpler life in Spain ?
1. To continue to reduce our clutter/downsize
We have already downsized several times, but ‘stuff’ seems to have a way of sneaking back into our lives.
Our biggest downsizing was back in 2005 when we decided to rent out our house and leave the UK. There was a lot of car booting, giving things to family and friends and donating to charity. Mind you, we still ended up with a storage garage full of ‘stuff’ ! We soon realised we didn’t need most of these ‘things’ and sold or gave them away on subsequent trips to the UK. I imagine (or hope at least!) that our total belongings in the UK now fit into half a dozen large cardboard boxes. I am sure that when we go through them that will further dwindle.
Our second downsizing was in 2008, was forced upon us, and was certainly more unwelcome. Our flat was burgled 3 times, in the space of 2 weeks – leaving us literally with the clothes we were wearing !
Slowly over the years though, ‘stuff’ has crept back into our lives! Some of it can’t be helped. Josie is a Yoga and Pilates Teacher, as well as a Free-diving Instructor. All of which come with additions to wardrobe and closet. Between you and me, I truly believe that her love for shoes which can’t really be supported here just transitioned to fins. I swear she has about 8 pairs!! And I love to cave dive, so scuba tanks, helmets and fins live in boxes with torches, reels and gizmo’s.
I can assure you. It all adds up.
Now, once again we have found ourselves reducing what we own. After 10 years in the Turks and Caicos, we now leave in less than 2 weeks, exactly as we arrived – one check-in bag and one hand luggage bag each. Plus of course 2 crates containing our Potcakes – Jasper and Baxter! (The story of getting the furkids from the Caribbean to the UK to Spain is a blog for another day. Josie is working on this).
Hopefully it will be a case of third ‘down sizing’ time lucky !
Once we arrive in Spain, we have a blank canvas to work with. We hope to make sensible decisions about what we really need, so we don’t end up back where we started ! Note from Josie: downsizing does not include shoes 🙂
A very limited budget and the declining value of sterling thanks to ‘Brexit’ will certainly help on this front !
Whilst it sounds like a contradiction, technology has already helped us simplify our lives:-
A kindle (or app) means we have fewer books, although I admit there is still nothing better than holding a physical book. My collection of Stephen King hardback books (every one since 1984) will have pride of place on a bookcase. (bookcase – damn ! another thing we need).
Spotify means we have no CD’s or anything to play them on, whilst being able to stream movies and TV shows means no DVD’s or player. That’s just eliminated at least 2 of those 6 boxes we have in storage !
And less ‘stuff’ means we need less room, less things in which to store our ‘stuff’ in and even better less ‘stuff’ to dust – it’s a win, win situation.
A simpler life in Spain for us means less stuff 🙂
2. To reduce our own impact on our environment
We don’t have any lofty ideals that what we do will have any meaningful impact on our environment, but we will feel better for making a small contribution.
Again we believe that most changes won’t be too difficult to blend into our daily lives.
We will finally eliminate plastic bags from our lives (the curse of the Turks and Caicos where the stores insist of triple bagging everything ).
To be honest I think Josie is just excited to be using her ‘granny trolley’, which are so popular in our part of Spain !
An added incentive is that you have to pay for plastic bags in Spain … and every cent counts when on a budget.
We also hope to eliminate our use of disposable plastics such as plastic wrap, disposable cutlery, straws, coffee-cup lids and the like.
The biggest change for us though, and one we are most excited about is that we can finally shop more locally – taking advantage of local produce from the outdoor markets of the towns and villages within our area. The simple act of being able to buy produce without packaging – and yes we can even cycle to the market instead of taking the car (Josie said that … not me !).
Our cave naturally allows us to have less impact on the environment as its interior maintains a year round temperature of between 16 – 19 degrees, thus staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It’s one of the reasons why we love living in a cave. We will have to heat the cave in the winter and will be replacing our open fireplaces with wood burning stoves, as they are both more fuel-efficient and generate more warmth. In the summer there will be no need for fans or air conditioning as they naturally stay refreshingly cool.
We plan to reuse a lot of our grey water from the sinks and washing machine to water the garden – dish washing water goes straight onto the plants and washing machine overflow goes straight into a water barrel. It’s a simple and technology-free way that will hopefully supply us with enough water for the needs of our garden.
The amount of rubbish we produce and how we deal with it is something else that which we will have greater control in Spain. There’s been no recycling in the Turks and Caicos for a while now; there was a recycling plant but it got burned down. Josie tries to buy goods with packaging that can be reused (kind of limited to glass jars, and man do we have a LOT of glass jars).
I love that in Spain, homes don’t have their own bins. Instead there are municipal bins dotted around the towns and villages. They are separated into general waste; glass; cans and cartons; paper and cardboard. If nothing else this makes recycling far more accessible.
We intend to set up a compost heap for household waste and to recycle pretty much everything else. In an ideal world we will put nothing in the general waste bin. We will certainly look very carefully at what goes there and try to work out ways to eliminate those items from our lives.
So a simpler life in Spain for us means less impact 🙂
3. To become more self-sufficient
This is something we have never been able to achieve (apart from a small herb garden) in the Turks and Caicos.
We have no grand ambitions on this front and will be approaching these projects with enthusiasm and humility – a herb garden, a vegetable garden and some free range chickens. My MIL kept chickens for a while, Bantams if I recall. She would get attacked every morning by the cock, heart of a Tiger that thing had. We suspect the keeping of chickens to be an adventure in its own right and there’ll no doubt be a blog entry / progress report on that one!!
There is also a couple who teach self-sufficiency workshops a little over an hour away from us. Courses Include baking your own bread (Josie already does this), cheese making, soap making (don’t mix those two up !) and preserving. Oddly enough the Mrs got a bit teary over these courses ? One that has already caught our eye though is foraging, as there are a number of edible plants in the area that are mean to be good in salads. Adding those to our home-grown greens, carrot & beet tops, along with warm fresh-baked bread and home-made cheese?? Sounds like heaven!
During our recent visit (September), we became aware that there are a lot of fig trees growing wild along some of the river beds and an abundance of blackberries. Foraging some of these should be a fun activity as much as anything and one that our whole family (ie. the aforementioned furkids) can take part in. If nothing else the dogs get a great walk out of it !
A simpler life in Spain for us means greater self-sufficiency 🙂
So while there’s nothing too complicated or world shattering about our plans, they should certainly help to keep us busy and I’m pretty sure there will be plenty of updates in the blog and on our Facebook page along the way 🙂
As always all tips, suggestions, thoughts and first hand experiences are always welcome …
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 …
The Environment – El Medio Ambiente.
Recycling – El Reciclaje.
Self-Sufficient – Autosuficiente.
Vegetable Garden – La Huerta.
Life – La Vida.