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What does Tarifa have to offer to the expatriate community ....?

When you are 10

You are past the sand castle stage, but the dunes present a challenge to climb and to ‘sand-board’ . Get a ‘head start’ on windsurfing until you graduate to kite surfing.

There are plenty of extramural activities such as flamenco and ballet dancing; football matches (organized by the Dutch who have formed a team composed of all ages to confront a local team); swimming (indoor pool and lessons). Then there is the joy of sleeping at the beach in your camper van. Riding. The outdoor life per se.

Schooling in Spanish – what an advantage to grow up bi-lingual (in many cases tri – or quatro – lingual).

When you top 20 and head for 25 there is a great social life in the summer when you return from university or college to re-bond with your group of friends. Tarifa ‘throbs’ and many hearts throb with it. You have every reason to wear the latest fashion, be it on the beach or in the discos. You can lounge or chill (or whatever the fashionable word is) to your heart’s content. You can swim, ride, cycle, go rock climbing or you can just ‘beach bum’ (I guess this is just the old fashioned term for chilling?). Finding a summer job demands initiative and determination – jobs don’t pay well and hours are long so a combination of a job with sports and your social life is not easy. But you are young and don’t need much sleep.

Somewhere between 20 and 40 you are likely to start a family.

When you are 40 you are probably gradually regaining some freedom as your children become more independent. What does Tarifa have to offer you then? Plenty, if you have the energy and organizational talent to fit it all in. Water sports of course, but also mountain biking, marathons, yoga, boot camps, pilates, and rock climbing. Tarifa offers you the possibility of a good life in the sunshine in a unique spot with vast unspoilt beaches and Morocco just across the water. Optimize what Tarifa does offer , and what you miss now you can get later in life. Don’t imagine that your peers in Germany, Holland, UK or wherever are gobbling up culture at this age and stage – they are saving madly to be able to afford a summer holiday with the kids in Tarifa !

When you are 60? You have retired – or are about to retire – or have just arrived in Tarifa to establish a new way of life, perhaps to be near a son or daughter, or to ‘convert a ruin and open a Guesthouse’ (I did exactly this at age 63 – see my blogs ‘So you think you want to open a Guesthouse’ on my website

If you turn 60 and come to Tarifa with the two of you, life can be great . You are fully occupied in building or rebuilding a new home. You have time to explore, to learn Spanish, to follow a cooking course, to read, to write, to study ...yes ,you need a project! It is (looking back) a pretty idyllic period in your life. You face new challenges together, you have time, you have enthusiasm, you start making new friends.

But ‘life is what happens to you when you are making other plans’ (quote: John Lennon).

Our retirement home just finished, I was totally unexpectedly widowed.

Between 60 and 80 it is statistically likely that one of you is left alone. However, I had never imagined that I would be totally unexpectedly widowed at age 63, having just built our retirement home in Tarifa. What does Tarifa then have to offer? A challenge, but that would be the same anywhere. To stay, or not to stay, that is then the question. ( If you – the reader also living in Tarifa or anywhere else along the coast - decide to leave, you do not need to read on)!

The challenge is to develop a satisfying way of life. Having always been very project oriented, the thought of getting up with nothing particular to do in a day is anathema to me personally. Boredom, or monotonous routine, I dread. If ever there was a moment when I had to look for the opportunities in the problems, it was when I found myself alone in Tarifa, looking out of my window over the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco. I have always considered that luck is recognizing an opportunity when it comes your way and daring to do something with it. I had the luck that the ruin directly next door to our (now ‘my’) home suddenly sported a SE VENDE notice. To make the long story (which I have written elsewhere in a blog) very short, I bought this and this is today Dar Cilla Guesthouse. This year I celebrate 10 years of successful entrepreneurship together with my fantastic team. This year I celebrated my 80th birthday.

I am now asking myself what Tarifa has to offer me at this age to keep me here. There are days when I think it has a lot to offer, and days when my frustration with the inefficiency and lack of a coherent vision is so great that I think I could better swim across to Morocco. Nonsense of course as I can only just swim the length of the pool and Morocco, much though I love it, is not a country I would want to live in at this age. Then the sun tickles my nose and the hyper-fresh seafood tickles my palate and positive thinking again takes over.

Good health at any age is the main ingredient needed for a good life. Good health in old age is essential if you are to maintain independence and continue to lead an active life. ‘Active’ needs further definition – I do not want to go paragliding, go white-water rafting or bungy-jumping. I don’t even want to wind surf or kite surf, activities inherent in Tarifa’s way of life. I do want to optimize the good weather, to take long beach walks, to go on another adventure holiday with friends in two 4 x 4’s in the south of Morocco, to revel in the company of my grandchildren (mostly teeners-plus now) who love to come to Tarifa (see above for what Tarifa has to offer you if you are 20 !!). I do need friends. Friends of my own age are in short supply as Tarifa is a young people’s place – the sporty young, the beautiful bodies, the long manes of swinging hair. I am lucky to have known many of them long enough that even if they are now only approaching their 50’s I can call them friends and it keeps me feeling young. My thanks to them all (and they know who they are!).

I do need to know there is good medical care. What luck that a Clinic opened here a few years ago with a delightful German doctor who I can also call my friend – as do many other local people, foreigners and Spanish alike !

I am so glad I am still a working woman even if my input in running the guesthouse gets ever less onerous as my team shoulder yet more responsibilities. Meeting and greeting my guests adds a social element to my life that I would not gladly miss.

Tarifa offers me (and others of similar age) a good way of life in the sunshine (and wind!) with long hours of daylight. As long as I have the good fortune to be able to spend several months of the year elsewhere to enjoy films, theatre, concerts, lectures, art galleries etc. I am more than happy to sip my wine on my terrace offering one of the world’s most wonderful views across to the coastline and mountains of Morocco. Let us count our blessings.

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