Resurrection in Torrevieja – an Easter Story

Beach cafés thrive during tourist season.  Bring a chair, a towel and some sunblock and you need not leave the beach all day.

Beach cafés thrive during tourist season. Bring a chair, a towel and some sunblock and you need not leave the beach all day.

Here in Torrevieja, Spain, things have been quiet up until this week. Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter, also marks the official beginning of the travel season. Torrevieja, a city with a population of about 100,000, slumbers peacefully through the fall and winter seasons with less than half that number of residents.  Suddenly, along comes Good Friday and the city bursts at the seams. This wave of visitors to Spain’s Costa Blanca is the annual ‘British invasion’ since most of the recent arrivals are from the UK, many of whom own apartments in the city.  Restaurants that have been sitting dormant suddenly come to life like a bear coming out of hibernation. Beach chairs, towels and beach umbrellas are flying out of the local stores. Cold beverages and snack foods are also big sellers.

Most of Spain’s fellow EU citizens enter Spain driving their own vehicles, and now finding a parking place on a city street would be like looking for an unoccupied parking meter in Times Square. One should keep in mind that the driving distance from Europe’s northern cities to Spain is less than 1,000 miles, a straightforward two-day drive. This proximity and the relatively low cost of living in Spain compared to many Western European countries explains why so many non-Spaniards have taken up residence in Spain, both seasonally and permanently.

The larger Catholic churches conduct Easter parades during Holy Week.

The larger Catholic churches conduct Easter parades during Holy Week.

Thinking back to Easter Sundays from my childhood, I recollect colored Easter eggs, chocolate bunnies (white chocolate was my favorite), jelly beans and pastel colored M&M’s hiding in simulated grass-filled baskets. Here in Spain I have seen no grocery displays for egg-dyeing, no candy displays, no special chocolate treats. The focus for Easter is almost entirely on the religious significance of the holiday. During Holy Week the churches in town, almost all of which are Catholic, parade down the city streets with statues of Christ on the Cross or of The Virgin Mary in glorious robes hoisted high on the shoulders of young men. Often, the parades of made up of parochial students in their school uniforms while their parents walk alongside with video cameras or stand back to proudly watch their children.

There is a daily migration to the beach in Torrevieja and coastal towns all along the Spanish Riviera.

There is a daily migration to the beach in Torrevieja and coastal towns all along the Spanish Riviera.

Just like in the United States where Independence Day marks the beginning of the travel and vacation season, the media here warns of extra highway patrol officers to crack down on speeders. It is estimated that 12 million motorists hit Spain’s highways in the days leading up to Easter, and the added traffic patrols are fair warning for all drivers to maintain safe practices on the highways.

That is Easter week here in Torrevieja. Our Easter was peaceful and pleasant. I hope yours was, too. And it turns out the Easter bunny left a white chocolate candy bar in my cupboard!

Happiness is…

Hydrangeas in bloom

Flowers announcing the arrival of Spring.

‘There are so many people who don’t know what they want. And I think that, in this world, that’s the only thing you have to know — exactly what you want. … Doing what you were born to do … That’s the way to be happy,’ said Canadian-born artist Agnes Martin (1912 – 2004), who would have turned 101 on March 22nd.

When I read these words I am reminded of the events that led my wife and me to adopt our self-proclaimed Six Monther lifestyle, our decision to live in a new country every six months. I had spent most weekends of my life in the great outdoors. However, most days I was never more than a few hours’ drive from home.

Then I met and married Florence, who has traveled throughout her adult life. I envied her that experience. There were places I wanted to visit and experience, too. Thus, we prepared ourselves to explore the world together. We sold our house, our cars, and whatever possessions we could not pack. Our aim was not to seek happiness, but to achieve it by pursuing our passion for discovery and adventure. People who learn of our lifestyle react in a variety of ways. The most common responses include:

1.  I wish I could do that, but I have to work so I will enjoy your lifestyle vicariously.
2.  I want to live like that someday when I can afford it.
3.  It sounds exciting, but I could never live like that. I would miss my family and friends too much.
4.  You must be crazy. Who in their right mind would sell everything and live like wandering vagabonds?

All of these responses are valid, of course. I have personally held each of these viewpoints at various stages of my life. It surprises many people, including me, to admit I have had my passport for less than two years. Perhaps I am much like my parents who eventually traveled extensively around the world, but not until we kids grew up so that it was something they could afford.

Heliconia in bloom

Heliconia in bloom

This phase of life is Spring, a season of optimism reminding us of regeneration and renewal, whether through religious beliefs or by simply observing the trees and flowers showering us with the vibrant colors of new life. Have you found what you were born to do? Are you pursuing it?
Happy Easter and Happy Spring!