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Why I won’t stay in Spain

After two years in Valencia, a city to which I always felt attached while being far away, I’m ready to go back to Taiwan.

It was naïve to believe that after 33 years I could easily reconnect with Valencia, and it soon became clear that it wouldn’t happen. I arrived here with my family from Germany in 1968 when I was one year old, grew up completely bilingual and graduated from high school in 1985. While studying in the city where I was born, Berlin, I returned a couple of times, often to attend weddings of my former classmates.

Then I lived almost 20 years in Taiwan. Taipei is the only place where I ever felt at home, but in 2018 I had to leave for different personal reasons. I don’t regret being far from Asia for a while, as luckily I accomplished the three goals what I had in mind in Europe. Also, I became aware of how much I miss the island, its people, its food and its convenience.

Spain is nice for a holiday, or when you retire with a foreign pension and have enough leisure to often waste days, weeks and often months to get treatment in the much-trumpeted health system. I know some foreigners, especially Americans, who are very satisfied with local health care. I’m happy for them, though I got so frustrated myself that I stopped trying to benefit from it. This is something that I have learned here and I’m very thankful for: become your own doctor if you have minor issues. Often I used stuff that I brought from Taiwan and my little ailments went away. DIY!

To make a decent living here nowadays is quite a challenge. Before, most Spaniards never lived to merely work, though in these days many are forced to work to barely make end meet. I guess that’s what you call “working poor!” This isn’t my personal, rather biased opinion: I have heard this a couple of times from local self-employed persons and entrepreneurs!

At the same time, while I have experienced Spanish bureaucracy as truly dreadful, I haven’t met a single public servant who didn’t complain about too little money, too much work or too few personnel. This is pathetic, as Catalonia alone has as many people working for the administration as Taiwan, where such most public services are excellent.

So for many causes, I decided earlier this year to leave in autumn, I had to postpone the purchase of a ticket until this week due to the pandemic, that a painfully incompetent Leftist Spanish government has handled in the worst possible way. This has convinced at least three friends to move to Asia ASAP. I was even more surprised to hear from an old buddy that he is now seriously thinking about going abroad after retirement.

Anyway, with the help of a good friend who works at a travel agency, on Wednesday I got offered for October a very reasonably priced Turkish Airlines ticket, with extra luggage included. I was quite happy, especially as the renting of my recently renovated flat has proven more complicated and less profitable than I expected.

To my shame, I must confess, that for a second I had forgotten about my two cats and asked the travel agent to check with the airline, which had transported the three of us to the Old Continent in February 2018. Well, first we were informed that suddenly I could carry only one pet with me! I thought that to be a little misunderstanding, because indeed a passenger can only take one pet with into the cabin and the other one is considered cargo.

However, the next day we received another despairing email from that company: still depending on availability (!), both cats must be of the same race and their combined weight can’t exceed eight kilos, carriers included! That’s more than absurd, if not outright animal racism! We both tried to get in touch with the author of such a grotesque message, but to no avail. The call center has been inoperative for months now!

At the end, we decided to first renew the reservation, which expires after 48 hours. From tomorrow on, it will be an arduous task to try to solve this totally unexpected problem. I had rather thought that there might be some administrative issues, particularly considering the total inefficiency I have experienced here in almost every sector.

This “cat drama” wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, though it confirmed my decision to say goodbye to this country as soon as possible. Obviously, there are too many fellows around that seem to enjoy making one’s life miserable. It’s an attitude I simply don’t understand. Instead of rejoicing about everybody who takes the risk to plan to long trip in these difficult times and requires their services, all they can think of is to make unreasonable demands!

Theoretically, regardless of the actual political and economic situation, which is further deteriorating, it would be more convenient for me to stay then to start afresh in good old Formosa for a second time. On the other hand, why should I do so, when I never really felt welcome, and trying to get my kitties into a plane looks like a Herculean task?

After two years in Valencia, a city to which I always felt attached while being far away, I’m ready to go back to Taiwan.

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