It’s no surprise really that meeting people and making friends in Torrevieja is not at all like it is in New York City. When I first moved to New York in 2005, I was entering in to a situation where I would be working from home, and I knew that it would be monumentally important for me to put myself out there in order to meet anyone. So I started my search for friends with Meetup.com. I found a french language speaking group and attended a meeting and through the French meetup, I found some of my closest friends in NYC. It was easy, effortless and, even in my broken French, I found friends.
Seeing how it had worked so well in NYC, I applied the same strategy and method in Torrevieja and immediately looked up Meetup.com groups in Torrevieja. Excited at first to even see that Torrevieja was listed as a city on the Meetup.com website, I already started dreaming of the various groups that I could join. But my search was sadly cut short when I realized that Torrevieja might exist as a city but no Meetup.com groups yet existed. Sure, I could start one, but that’s not nearly the same as just finding one and attending the next meeting.
So, I expanded my search to a general search on Google. Surely, there had to be groups somewhere. And there are. I found them! In fact, it turns out that Torrevieja is quite active and since so many of the people who reside here are English speaking, the groups are all anglophone. But, unfortunately, they weren’t quite what I was looking for. It was either something that didn’t interest me like masonic meetings, a group for classic car lovers or a specimen carp catching group. Or something that I didn’t qualify for like a social and charitable organization open to adult men or the amateur theater group with members between the ages of 50 to 75. Or something that might interest me but in the heat of the moment (it’s super hot here), I can’t even imagine joining like The Costa Blanca Runners with hill runs and track sessions. I don’t especially like running but in the interest of meeting people, it’s something I would consider. But in this heat, it’s not even a possibility. I can barely type. I definitely can’t run! I did get excited though when I found a Writers Circle. A group of writers meet once a week and write. That’s just my thing and I planned to go to it this week only to find out that they meet about half an hour’s drive outside of Torrevieja. Perhaps there’s a bus that goes there, but the public transportation is a whole other story that I’ll have to blog about soon!
So when my search came up fruitless, more or less, I turned to the people that we were meeting on a daily basis. The woman at the Salt Industry Interpretation Center where we stopped to ask for directions seemed very nice and definitely friend material. (Torrevieja and the surrounding area is famous for its salt production, producing about half a million tons of salt per year. When driving here from the airport, you see huge mountains of salt!)
The guy at the Social Security office was also very friendly and helpful. Perhaps he could be our friend. Regretting that we had let the girl slip through our fingers, I encouraged David to ask for his card, and at the risk of looking odd and definitely desperate for friends, David asked. The culture here is not quite so oriented around networking and exchanging cards, so the guy simply looked at David quizzically and said “I’m always here”. Clearly, he didn’t understand that we were looking for friends. I just hope he didn’t think that we were looking for swingers!
And this is where I feel the true handicap of my muteness. Unable to speak in Spanish, I’m basically unable to speak. And as much as I may desire to meet people, I’m unable to move beyond that. It will take time.
Despairing but not yet hopeless, we went next to David’s dad’s restaurant where we found two people who will start performing at the restaurant. One is a guitarist, the other a professional flamenco dancer from the Netherlands. The dancer looked about my age and seemed very nice and, best of all, she can speak English!
(Interesting fact: restaurants need a license in order to play amplified music. However, Torrevieja does not give out licenses as the city can make more money giving out fines then granting licenses. As a result, flamenco music, which you would think would be abundant, is practically non-existent here. David’s dad was able to get a handwritten note from an official so they have the right to perform with the amplified music until midnight. However, if the neighbors complain too often, the business can be shut down for good.)
Perhaps, I have found my very first friend… I’ll keep you posted!