Usually, there are reasons we live in whatever city we do. We have a purpose, something tying us to it; a workplace, a lover, a university, which sets our initial playground. Our decisions on where to live and what coffee shops to frequent are built around this anchor. We fit ourselves into the city as much as it fits itself to us.
I don’t have any of these anchors. I could just as easily live 6 hours drive away in Valencia or a plane ride away in Munich. Nothing except what I experience of a city’s features; its rhythms, its people, its landscapes, restaurants and streets, will entice me to settle here.
Why is it always my most wonderfully romantic thoughts that end up being fraught with confusion?
Because adding to this are idealistic fantasies about a modern one-bedroom apartment overlooking the beach costing only around 250 euro a month. I rationalise I could even go a bit further out from the city and truly live the European dream with a little Vespa Scooter. I’m thinking pump heels, a scarf and big round sunglasses for its virgin journey (aka: facebook photo in front of the beach, caption: “Living the European Dream!” Won’t Kendyl just be so jealous of my happy little face!!)
So the question is posed: does Malaga have what it takes?
The city is gorgeous. The perfect European dream complete with tiny lanes lined with balconies overflowing with hydrangeas. A man has his shoe polished on a street corner next to a band of musicians in traditional dress. Marble shines under my tired disoriented feet; streets keep popping me into plazas, the blazing sea on completely the opposite side I thought it would be.
For groceries I’m directed to the ‘Supermercado’ which turns out to be a small version of the Victoria Markets; three sheds of innumerable vendors selling fresh veggies (in the first) fresh fish (in the second) and meats, cheeses and wines (in the third). I order some fat, tight, juicy strawberries (unas fresas, por favor!) and wander down to the harbor eating them one-by-delicious-one out of the paper cone.
On the way back to the hostel, Oysho, a pretty little store selling soft bed clothes, (of all varieties *wink*) is having a sale. I buy PJ’s, a new set of lingerie and something like a super-soft jumper-thingy. It comes to about 20 euro. I can only describe this feeling as Smug. All those other people in the ENTIRE WORLD buying these things for TWICE AS MUCH! Fools. Sunshine sits in my heart as I step out into the main street and head for the next task… a SIM card for my mobile phone. Also 20 euro a month.
I could definitely live in Malaga.
Until I start trying to find an apartment. Bit by heart wrenching bit I up the price I’m willing to pay. The Spanish have a, er, unique perspective on décor that clashes with my own. I start considering a studio or sharing with someone. The areas outside of town are a conundrum. Where are the coffee shops? Do people go out here or just head into the city? Am I going to make any friends being a bus ride and a walk up a steep hill away? And should I even be thinking about making friends or just concentrating on writing?
By Day 5 I’m utterly frazzled. I don’t want to be here. I should’ve stayed in South America. Gone to Canada for Christmas and travelled down the West Coast of the USA in a combie van (aka: facebook photo, caption: “Living the American Dream!”) ending up in Costa Rica. Maybe I should try another country. Bali’s warm right? How much would a ticket to Bali cost? These thoughts whirl around my confused head huddled under a blanket at 3pm in the afternoon. I’m having a siesta. Gimme a break, it’s Cultural Research.