We knew that moving to Spain would bring us many challenges. We understood that our way of life would be very different and that we would have to adapt to that. Apart from moving to a new country, we were also retiring from work. That meant we would have more time at home and more time to get to know our new neighbours.
Mostly we were able to anticipate what we would be facing from the accounts we'd read in books and articles. However, there have been a few aspects of living on an urbanisation that we hadn't counted on.
We were surprised first of all by the diverse social backgrounds that our neighbours came from. Where we lived in the UK, there was far less of a mix of people. Here it was a bit like being put together in one of those TV reality show houses.
At first everyone seemed to get on very well but you knew that couldn't last. Friendships started to form and cliques developed. Within a relatively short space of time we had the inevitable 'fallings out'. In most cases, the result has been an amicable 'parting of the ways' . In others, the fallings out have been more fraught.
As one very astute neighbour put it to me, "true friendship only happens after a long period of getting to know each other. What we have here are acquaintances who may or may not eventually become friends." Clearly my neighbour wasn't going to fall into the trap of pretending that people he'd only known for a short time could be classified as friends. Equally he wasn't going to start falling out with people because they didn't share his views on life. His plan was to take things slowly, get to know people and then, based on his judgements, either associate with them or avoid them. That seemed to me to be a very sensible approach which was similar to ours.
The other aspect which has surprised us is how some of our new neighbours deal with each other. Obviously, we are not all going to see eye to eye. There are going to be times when we'll feel the need to air our differences. In our view, that doesn't excuse rude and aggressive behaviour nor the use of obscene language. What we are witnessing is, not just people who are not getting on with each other but are actively at each other's throats. We weren't prepared for that.
Last night's Residents' Meeting highlighted the wide divisions that are appearing in our community. It also demonstrated the lack of tolerance that some of our neighbours show towards each other and to the Spanish way of life.
The original purpose of the Association was to bring people together with a common aim. Increasingly these meetings seem to be driving people apart. They have become a platform for aggressive argument rather than reasoned debate. That's neither the fault of the Committee nor the Association; it is a sad reflection on the current 'state of play' within the urbanisation.
We didn't come here to pick arguments with people. Nor do we want to be witnesses to other people's aggression towards each other. Like most, we came here for a peaceful retirement and that is what we are going to have. Please don't take this personally, but I'd rather watch people threaten each other on TV than see it in real life. If that means I'll missing out on any valuable information provided by the meetings, then so be it.