Soller – Yours and Mine
Walking through our City the other day I bumped into the indomitable Elena Davis. A legend around these parts for her fierce intellect and longevity. This is a lady who will reach her 100th birthday in just a few years. Elena came to live in the Soller valley from New York over fifty years ago and has fascinating stories to tell of her life here. She has a published book of stories of the past which I recommend to you. ‘Witches, Oranges and Slingers’ is a fascinating insight into the lives of the incomers to the Hidden Valley from her arrival in 1959. Elena commented on the articles I write for the Bulletin in a positive fashion but said that her Soller was not my Soller. My life and experiences here are a completely different world to hers. This in one way is not surprising as life as moved into a different direction for ex pats in Spain in the last fifty years. In another it made me think that all our experiences are unique and the only thing that binds us together is our choice of location.
‘My Soller’ means a place I live all year round. I do not have a house anywhere else and it is where I refer to as my home. I can be in the middle of London, enjoying every moment of my visit to the City that was my heart for many years when I feel the need to go ‘home’. ‘My Soller’ is the place where my lifestyle is similar to my neighbours. I shop locally, use the infrastructure that Soller provides and live a life similar to other Sollerics. They key factor that binds us is that they look after their grandchildren as much as I do. We are often to be found in the park or in the town centre watching as children play or gathered together at school gates meeting our little ones. Grandparents play a huge part in the lives of the family here and this is a tradition I am very comfortable with.
I know that I am in the minority and that most English speaking Sollerics do not have extended family living here. This means that for them their local friends become their family and friendship has a diffferent meaning. The solidarity between my daughter and her friends in Soller is humbling to watch. They have created a caring, sharing bond that is unlikely ever to be broken. They are God Parents to one another’s children and work on the principle that it takes a village to raise a child. They all watch out for each others children and keep a watchful eye out for each other too. Life is not always easy in Ex Pat land and the shared experiences of good friends can help when things are tough and when they are fantastic!
The Sollerics who are not here all the time fall in to three remaining camps. Those that work in other places and return to Soller for weekends and holidays. These are the equivalent of the London commuters who only see their town at weekends. They are always playing catch up because life has gone on without them in town while they have been away earning their money. They often miss the nuances of Soller life because they just weren’t there when things happenned and inevitably have their experiences second hand.
The next group of Sollerics are the half year residents who arrive in Spring and leave in Autumn. They arrive with a flourish and quickly get up to speed with local life which immerses them until it’s time to go again. Then they fade away until the next year when we next see them in the square and know that spring has arrived.
The last group is the ever expanding one of second home owner in Soller. They come to stay as often as they can which can mean a couple of weeks a year to many months. They are at the mercy of their working life somewhere else. Often they have bought the Soller property ready for their retirement when they anticipate they will graduate to another status here.
Everyone has a contribution to make and the fact that all these groups live in Soller brings us a huge benefit. We do not live in a retirement complex or a young families estate. We live a diverse village life with incomers from all over the world. They are all seeking their Soller moment and have in common with us a love for the Hidden Valley.
Elena was a pioneer 50 years ago bringing an English library to Soller. She was honoured by the town a few years ago and given special status to acknowledge her unique contribution to Soller life.
Elena has special legend status as someone who made it here – she made ‘ a brand new start of it in old Soller’ leaving New York far behind. We walk a little unsteadily in her footsteps but hope that our version of Soller life will stand the test of time as hers undoubtedly has.