I greeted the New Year on the plaza 'Balcon de Europa' in Nerja, Spain. As the church clock chimed in the New Year, the custom was to pop a grape in your mouth on each chime - one of many amusing Spanish customs. There was a great atmosphere on the Balcon, a band was playing, the people were dancing, the Champagne was flowing and it was a beautifully mild evening - perfect! Another year had passed and I was beginning 2002 in Spain. In contrast to the past 7 years I was starting the year with a job and with the aim of staying put!
The next couple of weeks flew by and then it was time for my 'vacation'. On 14th Jan I caught my $30 EasyJet flight to London and began my 2 week holiday. Back in London I had a great time visiting my friends and family. It seemed very strange returning for just a couple of weeks - hardly time to unpack. I had always been used to returning for a couple of months before setting off on another trip!
On 29th January I flew back to Malaga and caught the bus back to Nerja - mi nuevo hogar (my new home)! It felt good to be back in the sun after two wet and windy weeks in the UK, I even managed to get an hours sunbathing in that same afternoon. On 31st January I did my 'Carnet de Manipulador' examination at the local Health Centre - this is required by anyone that handles food for the public. The examination wasn't really too difficult, but it was in Spanish so still quite a challenge! In early February I signed my work contract and became a permanent full-time employee of the Med Web Cafe in Nerja!
Over the next few months I slowly began to settle down to life in Nerja. The spring in southern Spain was supposed to be the wettest in years, however, the sun still shone almost every day! One of the great things about living in Spain is the continual stream of 'Fiestas' (festivals). Some of the best parties were the Festival de San Isidro at the Nerja Caves in the middle of march, and then the huge beach party of San Juan on mid-summer's day. At the end of July I finally received my Residencia and became a full, card carrying, resident of España! The summer heat arrived with the hoards of tourist at the beginning of August - never mind only a month or so to put up with them both!