According to the guidelines of the Ministry of Health, one can drink twice as much in Spain as in France. Where both men and women are allowed to consume two alcoholic refreshments per person per day in the second, is one in Spain allowed to drink as many as two (women) to four (men) alcoholic units per day. So when the Spanish Health Insurance asked about my and my sister’s drinking habits, our answer was animatedly laughed off. If you don’t drink more than twenty-one alcoholic beverages a week, there is nothing to worry about. It is no surprise then that the rest of Europe has raised eyebrows at the tolerant policy of the Spaniards. However, that we don’t raise our eyebrows at them, isn’t either.

Because when it comes to drinking a glass of wine (or twenty a week), our integration process in Spain is running smoothly. Thank goodness, because our Spanish still needs work. The fact that Noëlle mainly tries to compensate her inadequate vocabulary with an overdose of enthusiasm, leads to a lot of hilarity in the neighborhood. “Hola!” Anyone whose daydreams are abruptly broken by this shrill greeting, now knows that the youngest is on the way.

Gold in the hands of the “Ik Vertrek”* editors. Or not? Because that we sometimes take this “bible” (about how to emigrate) a little too literally, becomes clear when our neighbor Ruben raises his eyebrows in surprise when Noëlle asks him whether we should introduce ourselves to the mayor. “Why? It is not the king whose ring you will have to kiss”, he replies in English. “I’ll introduce you to him when we are having a beer in the pub,” he concludes. Perfect. With the lax (according to Europe) Spanish policy on alcohol consumption, chances are that this will happen very soon. And should that not be the case? Then we can always invite him to officially open our Bed & Breakfast in a year or two. I’m sure Noëlle will greet him just as enthusiastically as she would have done now. “Holaaaaaa!”

*In the Netherlands there is a very famous televisionshow called “Ik Vertrek”, where they film people who are planning to move abroad. Most of them plan to run a Bed & Breakfast and very often this will not go easily. Being selected to appear on this show should not be seen as a compliment, but the free publicity might be worth it.