I work in the morning and at 11 we meet my aunt for a walk in the Parco Naturale, just a stones throw from the house. We pass many people walking and jogging, some on bikes and one man on horseback. All greetings are in Spanish: Ola, but who is Spanish is anyone’s guess. This is driven home the next day in a bar where I am convinced a man is an old local only to find him a life long Londoner there to read the paper. Similarly in a shop where I try to buy a sim card and old Spanish couple enter, looking for all life like an old fishing couple from the 1970s but they too are pensioners from the UK. The walk is lovely, through the garrigue and down to the lake side. There is little litter, one condom, a bit of dog shit. There are areas on the roadside where residents have tried to garden and escapes from these mini gardens appear here and there in the park. We walk for a couple of hours, past a few vineyards and a lot of bird rich scrub. When we do pass other people I feel that there is great hesitancy in actually speaking in case the same language is not encountered. Groups of people tend to go silent as they pass each other, not wishing to give away their identity, hiding behind a hard to decipher and eventually meaningless ‘Ola’.
My father tells me about a programme he heard on Talk Radio Europe where they were reporting that two thirds of children born in England had one parent who was a recent immigrant. It turns out after some internet investigation that this figure refers to London alone. However 25% of babies in the UK in 2010 were born to foreign born mothers. How much is this behind the mass migration of the British to Spain? My father is here for the heat, he suffers from circulation difficulties that make even a mild day on the Costa del Sol leave his fingers numb. However he is at home here and in the UK, where I live in Sheffield, he admits that he feels out of place, more at home in Spain, as an immigrant rather than amongst immigrants. This makes him I suppose more an immigrant than I realised – he is not only in Spain for a reason but has a reason for not wanting to be in his own home.