I met Darlene shortly before she and her husband moved to Spain from Canada. I asked her to share a follow-up on her life Abroad and how it came about.
Guest Post by: Darlene Foster
I can´t remember when I didn´t have the urge to travel and experience new worlds. My dear grandmother bought me a colouring book featuring children from around the world in traditional dress. I loved that book and wished, with each page I coloured, I could visit these places one day. Studies have proven daydreaming is good for young people because it plants seeds that often become reality. Of course, those dreams don´t come true without hard work and determination.
I had a good life in Canada. I grew up on the prairies and eventually moved to the beautiful West Coast where I worked as a recruiter and later as an employment counsellor. I loved my home, friends, family and job. However, the desire to travel the world was never far from my mind.
While working as a recruiter in Calgary, at a staff meeting, we were asked to list three goals, a short-term, a mid-term and a long-term goal. Now, it may have been because it was a cold February day in Alberta, but this was my list.
Short-term goal - To go on a holiday in a nice warm place.
Mid-term goal - To move to a warmer place.
Long-term goal - To retire to an interesting warm place.
I worked hard to earn my commissions. Within the next three months, I was able to take a holiday with my husband to the British Virgin Islands where we soaked up the culture and the sun. In two years I was offered a promotion and we moved to Vancouver, which in spite of the rain, is much warmer than Calgary, especially in the winter. Twenty-five years later we retired to sunny Spain. Goal setting works if you are determined!
My yearning to see as much of the world as possible inspired me to acquire a CERTESL certificate by correspondence through the University of Saskatchewan. To make extra money for travel, I tutored foreign students in English during evenings and weekends. This enabled me to visit amazing places like the United Arab Emirates, Spain, England, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Caribbean, Mexico, and much of the United States including Alaska and Hawaii. These trips inspired me to write travel articles and eventually books about a spunky young Canadian girl who travels to exciting places where she always has an adventure. Having a Teaching English as a Second Language Certificate was beneficial as it gave me backup if I needed to find work on an extended trip or if I moved to another country.
As my husband and I drew near to retirement we talked about warmer places to spend our time. We considered Mexico, the outhern States or Central and South America but my British husband preferred to move back to Europe. Having enjoyed our numerous visits to my in-laws living in Spain, we considered that an option. On our next visit, we looked at properties, found it affordable and eventually bought a lovely home in a quiet neighbourhood on the Costa Blanca.
Almost three years ago we sold, gave away and threw out seventy-five percent of our belongings, packed the rest and moved to Spain to start a new adventure - in our sixties. I am sure many people, questioned our sanity. Missing friends and family, learning new customs, dealing with the myriad of paperwork and struggling with another language proved to be more stressful than I imagined. But we looked at it as a challenge and through laughter and a few tears we have embraced our new life.
In Spain, we are in close proximity to other European countries and have enjoyed trips to Holland, Italy, France, England and Malta so far. I have collected many ideas for my children’s travel adventure books and can’t seem to write fast enough. I’ve had three books published since we moved here and am working on another. We have also explored many areas of Spain. Its rich and diverse culture, medieval markets, numerous religious events and unique architecture have provided much fodder for my travel writing.
Was it a good idea to pull up stakes and move to Spain? I would say so. It’s affordable to live here, the people are friendly and quite forgiving if your Spanish is less than perfect. The lifestyle is relaxed and the sun shines just about all the time! Remember my long term goal.
We adopted a rescue dog, have made wonderful friends of all ages and nationalities, go for long walks on the beach, have coffee by the Mediterranean, enjoy meals on our terrace overlooking a lemon grove, share tapas, visit museums, medieval castles and elaborate churches, and attend colourful fiestas. I am even able to make some money with my writing to supplement my pension.
I believed in my daydreams. Life is good!
About Darlene Foster
Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene Foster dreamt of travelling the world and meeting interesting people. With a desire to write since she was twelve, her short stories have won a number of awards. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels Series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene, with her husband and their dog, Dot, divides her time between the West Coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa Blanca, Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.