In the TV documentary we talk with foreigners who saw the region as the ideal place to come to live and to develop their personal projects.
Our culture and heritage, our customs, our environment and a slower pace of life were some of the main factors that convinced foreign citizens who came to visit the Serranía de Ronda to settle in one of its towns or villages.
Although practically any town in Andalucía could offer these things, the privileged location of the Serranía de Ronda, near the Sierra de las Nieves and a similar distance from Malaga, Seville and Cádiz, were decisive for these residents of Canada, France, Norway and the United Kingdom who decided to stay and live in our area, fleeing the bustle of the big cities.
“We like nature and we also wanted to live among Andalusian people, in a town without many foreigners, for us it was important. Although to feel at home you need to integrate into society, make an effort to get to know people, learn the language… This for me has probably been the most difficult thing ”, explains the Norwegian journalist Karethe Linaae who moved to Ronda from Canada with her Mexican husband Jaime De La Barrera in 2012.
However, and although Linaae highlights the charm of the City of Dreams, she also perceives it as “a very conservative city, very Catholic, where the politicians are the politicians and the people are a little apart.” And she adds: “If you want to be fashionable, if you like exotic restaurants and books in other languages, Ronda is not the town for you.”
Also in that year the British couple Heather Cooper and Wayne Pickering came to live in Ronda to undertake a mountain biking project: Hike & Bike The Sierras. They acknowledge that they came across Ronda by chance because Heather wanted to learn Spanish. As Wayne maintains: “I would miss out on going to Seville in order to see Ronda, because it is unique”.
Pickering says that for them registering as self-employed has been quite an experience, especially because of the expensive quota that small entrepreneurs have to pay each month: “The way in which small businesses operate in Spain is very different with respect to taxes and that kind of thing”.
On a social level, the midday break and siesta has been one of the customs that these residents of Ronda have found the hardest to get used to.
Carolyn Emmett, also English, who, thanks to her husband’s job at Michelin Tyres, has lived in Canada, Botswana, South Africa and Indonesia before finally settling in Montejaque.
Although language has been the main barrier to integrating with the locals, Carolyn has done her best, and in 2012 even published a recipe book and a guide to Montejaque, with information in English and Spanish about accommodation, activities, the local area and shops, bars and restaurants.
In addition, this Briton and montejaqueña by adoption was a mayordoma in the Montejaque Fair procession that year, dressed in a mantilla.
At the age of 27, Charlotte Wilmot was going through a small existential crisis as head of Human Resources at a hotel in central London, and when some friends suggested spending part of her summer holidays in Andalucía, she didn’t think twice.
The group passed through Ronda by chance, but an incident with the car in which they were travelling forced them to stay on in the town.
What began for her as a two-month adventure has spanned 19 years and today she runs RondaLingua, a language school in Ronda, together with her husband Jaime López, whom she met here.
“When you live in a place you sometimes don’t appreciate what you have. I think the pandemic has taught us that we have an impressive landscape around here, and I think we have learned a lot about enjoying ourselves in ways other than sitting in front of the TV and watching Netflix,” she reflects.
“We like the way of life in Ronda and as a result we spend more time together. That’s why we decided to come”, says another Englishman, Paul Bowles.
In the UK Paul worked as a fruit distributor, but the different hours that his partner Louise and he had made it impossible for them to see each other frequently. They also aspired to live somewhere with a standard of living that was far from the frenetic pace of London.
In 2016 they decided to move to Ronda, where Louise already had an apartment in the Barrio de San Francisco.
Subsequently, they set out to build a holiday house in the Barrio de Padre Jesús, and despite the fact that the pandemic has made a dent in their income in the last year, they insist that they have never considered returning to the UK.
The pandemic has caused a cautious increase in the number of places to stay in a natural environment that offers greater guarantees of health and security vis-a-vis COVID-19.
“If you are looking for adventure there are vías ferratas, horses, quad safari… There is everything! hiking, cycling, motorcycles… And there are great fiestas with flamenco, which I love”.
That’s how Julie Wilkinson talks about Ronda and the Serranía. Julie is a resident of Cañada del Real Tesoro (Cortes de la Frontera Station) and hales originally from England where she was a university academic involved with banking, computing and languages before she moved to live in this tiny village.
Wilkinson came to the area attracted by its history: “I was studying at the Complutense University and wanted to know more about the history of the Moors, of the occupation. I also like the interior of the province a lot, because I don’t want to be in a touristy area. I wanted to get to know the authentic Andalucía and especially Ronda as a historic centre”.
Although the start of the pandemic was hard for her, since she lives alone, she took advantage of the confinement to run errands for her neighbours and friends, and thus managed to feel useful and maintain her social life.
In 2000, coinciding with his Silver Wedding Anniversary, Paul Whitelock did a mini-tour of Andalucía with his then wife, since, together with Galicia, it was the only Spanish region that he did not know.
They started in Ronda and spent their first night at the Parador de Turismo, from where he speaks to us in the documentary.
“I’m not here because of the weather, because of the sun, that doesn’t interest me. Ronda is spectacular, its heritage, its culture, there is theatre, there are concerts… There’s always something going on here.”
Whitelock is able to list the “five or six things” that drive him crazy about Spain, but insists that the rest is positive.
“The noise, the litter everywhere, the bureaucracy, the corruption and a couple of other things, like parking the car and, worst of all, Spanish beer.
"However, I think I have learned to come to terms with all of these.
"For example, when it comes to dealing with bureaucracy, my strategy is go to the office early to talk face to face with the person who might be able to help you. But make sure you get there before they go to breakfast, better before 9.00 am”.
Whitelock has been living in Montejaque and Ronda for 12 years with his second wife Rita, a German, whom he met in Ronda in 2008 and who has been a resident here for 15 years.
The situation of Delphine Duboys differs greatly from those we have described so far. A Frenchwoman, she was born in Paris half a century ago and has lived in Spain for 26 years, where she used to work as a communications executive for a company in Madrid.
Her partner’s brother used to manage a piece of land at Finca La Algaba, about four kilometres from Ronda, which has wild horses living in freedom.
In 2019 Duboys became unemployed and in September 2020 she and her partner Fernando, decided to move to Ronda, thus advancing their plans to retire to the town.
Duboys says she feels “delighted” to have changed a life in which she spent 10 hours in front of the computer. Now she is part of the Paddock Paradise project, which organises horse-riding tours with the wild horses, some of them to the foothills of the Tajo de Ronda.
Comunicaciones Ronda, S.L. has 30 years of experience working in this sector, having pioneered in Ronda. Currently, Canal Charry TV is the only private TV channel in the town. On top of that it offers 100 themed channels: cinema, sport, music, documentaries, etc. And now, internet via fibre optic cable, fixed-line telephones and mobile telephones with the best prices on the market.
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