By David Gutierrez, David Hoces, Ana María Iglesias y Andrés López. English version: Denise Collyier

As part of the series of articles about life in the Valley and our relationship with all the communities living here, this month we decided to focus on the intercambio group…Didn’t you know? Yes, here in the Valley there is a group a people who meet regularly in different cafés with the sole purpose of practising each other’s language, getting to know one another and their cultures and improving their linguistic competence in a real setting. This type of exchange programe takes place in other places like Granada, and it is easy to find a colourful noisy group of Erasmus and local students in bars and pubs in the centre of the city like a small Tower of Babel.

As you probably know, Dúrcal has a wide foreign community and we want to know them better. We met them in a nearby café and they were extremely kind and welcoming, willing to answer all our questions.

Teas and coffees were the background to talk with our friends from Finland, United Kingdom or Holland together with some locals who also meet for the intercambio on Wednesday morning. We wanted to know things about them, so we started by asking for how long and why they had decided to come and live here. There were several reasons: some decided to come for health reasons and for the good weather conditions in the area. They might have chosen the coast but they dislike the areas with large number of foreigners and the noise and bustle. Another reason for not living on the coast is that they want to be more integrated and speak our language. For them it is important to practise other languages and it helps the fight against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimers. In general, contrary to what we thought, they did not find it difficult to learn Spanish and have easily adapted to the area, although we thought it might be more complicated as we think that there are not many places where English is spoken. However, they find it more difficult to deal with legal issues. Besides, they found very nice people in the area and they have friends in the Valley. Hilary, who is British, lives in Chite and decided to move to Spain because a friend of hers did an exchange with a High School twenty years ago. She told us that she liked the people and the weather and she came several times before deciding to move. She visits to Dúrcal every Wednesday for shopping; she likes painting and goes to art classes. Another member of the intercambio, from Finland, told us that her favourite activity is hiking, thanks to the beauty of the landscape. They know the Nico Medina Route, a pathway created in honour of Nico, a young sportsman from Dúrcal who has won several prizes at international level. They usually go on their own, as the only club they know, El Cerro del Caballo, has a high level of difficulty for them. They don’t belong to any local association and, from my point of view, I think that they could join some to set closer relations with the area and for us to get to know them and show them more options for doing their favourite activities together with the locals. I also asked them if they live here the whole year or they go regularly to their home countries. Many of them live there the whole year, while some go back to their countries from time to time to visit friends and family.

Among other questions, we asked them, whether they followed the Spanish ways and times for lunch and dinner, as we think it is a way to see whether they are more integrated. We were surprised to learn that their timetables are very much similar to ours, not like other communities, such as those on the coast. We also wanted to know whether they dream in Spanish or in their mother tongues and most of them can do it in both languages On the other hand, we also asked them if they have friends or links with people of our community or other foreigners and the answer was that they have friends from the Valley -Chite, Velez de Benaudalla, etc. Besides, they think that the people in the area are really open and friendly. To conclude, we can say that it was a beautiful and interesting experience for us and we learnt a lot, besides practising our English in a real setting. We hope we will get to know our new neighbours a bit more and that they will get to know us too.