La pregunta de la clave

Television programs such as ‘A New Life in the Sun’ and ‘No Going Back’ have been extremely popular for years. The more that goes wrong, the better. Viewers, who are not even thinking about exchanging ‘our’ wet, cold country for sunny Spain (or any other country), find new confirmation in every episode. “See! It’s all falling apart, yet again.” Others who, unlike the first group, have played with the idea of ​​leaving for a long time as well, are often more optimistic. “That would never happen to me!” and “We are not as ill-prepared as those people!” They find it difficult to see past the romanticized image of starting a small Bed & Breakfast in a quaint little village.

Of course, we belong to the second group. The romantics. The doubts about the chances of success, which critics are only too happy to share with us, often fall on deaf ears. But even if you are well prepared, have been working in the field for years and have an excellent understanding of the language – taking this big step remains uncertain. The key question (or ‘pregunta de la clave’ as my sister would call it) is the same in all cases: can you make a living from it? An excellent question that we have never been able to answer. I have no clue. At least not yet(!). It is not without reason that both my sisters are still working in Switzerland. A plan that we hope to be able to fall back on well into the future. Well, hope? We’d rather not, of course.

Next year we all hope to live and work in our own Bed & Breakfast. That was the plan. And that remains the plan. The fact that the same plan has already been adjusted and pushed forward several times does not go unnoticed. “This really is the last summer that I will go to Zermatt!”, my sister stated firmly, just before she left again. Bar owner Isa raised another eyebrow. “I’ve heard that before.” And she’s right. But right now, there isn’t much else we can do. With the money she and my other sister will earn there this year, we can start paying off some of our debts. Burdens that the Bed & Breakfast cannot yet bear by itself.

The romanticized image of a Bed & Breakfast in a small, idyllic village where we (as three sisters) can live together will have to wait a little longer. For the time being, this ideal is making way for reality. A reality in which they still spend most of the year in Switzerland. The step to leave Spain, becomes a little bigger every time. And although I occasionally almost drown in a sea of ​​rules, legislation and bureaucracy and setting up our own company comes with many ups and downs, I am grateful that I no longer have to take that step. The Penya Foradà of Vall de Gallinera may only enjoy local prestige, but I always prefer living here to living in Switzerland (or the Netherlands for that matter). We don’t have to become rich. We have never desired material wealth. The dream of a calmer, simpler and intrinsically richer life is still alive and well. As Bed & Breakfast owners in Spain. One day Zermatt will be a thing of the past. Because sooner or later also the Matterhorn will lose its shine.