Living in Lanzarote – Barbarella (aka: The Mad Cat Lady)
We have known Barbarella for a couple of years now, and know that she is passionate about her kitties (I think she makes up for our lack of cat love ha ha ha). She has kindly agreed to have her experiences on this Lanzarote blog, and so we hope you enjoy reading!
Barbarella a.k.a. The Mad Cat Lady
Where did you move to Lanzarote from?
When was this?
Where on the Island do you live now?
Puerto del Carmen
Did anyone move over with you?
My cats Spider & Lugosi. They are the loves of my life.
Why did you decide to move to Lanzarote?
I simply had enough of the “rat race”. Working in a City lawfirm for another 25 years until retirement was not my idea of how I wanted to live my life. Luckily, the flat I had bought in London in 1999 gained so much in value over the following 4 years, I sold it for 2 and a half times the price that I had bought it for, and with that money I bought a lovely little place in a quiet alleyway in Puerto del Carmen.
How long after deciding to move, did you actually arrive?
I decided to leave London in September 2003, put my London flat on the market, scouted out my new Lanzarote apartment and put down a deposit in November 2003, got my cats ready to travel, and moved here in February 2004.
Is there anything you miss from your home country?
“Proper” shops. Especially like PC World or Mediamarkt. I love gadgets and computery stuff (“shiny shopping”).
Cheap stuff. Ok, so we have the Chinese shops here, but it’s not the same as going down the high street and finding lots of bargains.
Also, I miss liver & orange paté. You can get plain liver paté here, but not with orange. It’s yummy.
How often do you return to your home country?
Since I´m German and my family is in Germany, I visit them once every 2 years (flights are very expensive, around 370€ return), and I have only been back to London once in 7 years (because I really don´t miss the rush, the cold, the wet and the unfriendliness), but the latter I have to do more often now because it was great to see my friends and ex-boyfriend in October this year (and I got a really cheap flight).
What are the real benefits to you personally in having made the move?
I suffer from fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, and even though these can only be treated but not cured, the lifestyle here, warm weather and relaxed atmosphere help immensely. Healthwise, I would probably be so much more ill if I was still living and working in London. The Spanish national health service can sometimes be very frustrating, but I am at least receiving the same kind of treatment & medications that I would receive in the UK, and for free too.
What are the downsides if any, of having made the move?
Finding a decent job here.
Your friends in Lanzarote – what country are they from, predominantly?
Totally mixed bunch – Spain, Argentina, Ireland, Holland, UK – that´s where my best mates here are from.
Could you speak Spanish before you arrived?
I had learnt Spanish back in the 80s at a foreign language college for 2 years, but of course I didn´t know then that one day I would be living in Lanzarote! 20 years later, I found that I still had a lot of my Spanish “in limbo” somewhere, and it wasn´t hard to pick things up again.
How is your Spanish now?
Intermediate. I have a vast vocabulary that even I surprise myself with sometimes, because I pick up a lot of words from talking, reading and hearing Spanish, and I almost always immediately look up what they mean (I have a dictionary on my mobile phone). I can hold conversations with my Spanish friends quite easily, although I don´t always understand everything they say, so then I ask and they explain in slightly different words, which I then might understand (does that make sense?). Still having problems with some of the grammar, but the more I talk with and listen to people, the more I pick up.
The two Spanish books I have at home help with the grammar too, and I use online tools like www.wordreference.com and www.conjugation.org on an almost daily basis to help me learn more, or when I come across something I don´t know in Spanish/English. And the forums at wordreference are great: http://forum.wordreference.com/
I think the worst thing about not knowing the language is, when I first came to Lanzarote I didn´t know how to fill in a simple form (e.g. at a doctors, or post office). This was so frustrating! I am grateful that now I can easily do things like that.
Is your lifestyle healthier, or less healthier, since moving to Lanzarote?
Since my illnesses have got worse, I *had* to become healthier, so yes – healthier now!
With hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently?
No. I never look back and don´t have any regrets.
Tell us about what you do for a living here?
Freelance Web & Graphic Design, Photographer….. and Shop Assistant. Does Cat Herder count as a job?
Will you stay living in Lanzarote?
Yes! I love this island to death. That is, if my health doesn´t decline so much, because, unfortunately, I cannot get disability here.
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