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A Casual Notebook

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added on 24/08/2011 by: ShawnM
A Casual Notebook is a periodic record of musings from Shawn Moksvold. It is a humble blog in its infancy, concentrated mostly on 1st-person happenings in Spain, with a new entry usually on the weekends, and it has a lot to learn. The plan? To grow up into a wise observer of a healthy and well-lived life. We’ll see…
 tags: Food & Conversation, Madrid, photography, Spain, Travel

 Latest posts on A Casual Notebook

Language Files Part 1: Spanish and Bullfighting  Posted on 09/11/2015
Languages take loan words and phrases for many reasons. Some languages, like English, sneak in the middle of the night and steal words, and bring them into a creepy woodshed in the backyard, and in a shakedown proceed to change their...
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IRC Volunteering (Re-post)  Posted on 09/04/2015
Last week I finished a short stint of volunteer English teaching with the International Rescue Committee in San Diego.  First it must be said that the full-time teachers there are some of the most dedicated and effective professionals...
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Places in Retro, Part 4: Alaska  Posted on 08/24/2015
When the Fall season approaches, where ever I am, I always think of Alaska, at least for a while.  It could be that I was at my most impressionable at that moment, in the autumn of 1992, when I wanted to be immersed in the extremes of...
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The Light in Lisboa  Posted on 08/22/2015
In the Praça do Comércio, there is a temporary museum exhibition showcasing the light in Lisbon.   From a photographer´s point of view (or simply an observer´s) the exhibit might be best viewed as a...
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Mexico’s Ruta del Vino, Part 1  Posted on 08/03/2015
Often in the summer, a cloudy marine layer hangs just over the coast of Baja California, marking a tenuous line between the hot, dry air of the desert and the dampness of the ocean, and as the grey retreats to the open sea, in the morning,...
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Pagus Oculensis  Posted on 07/12/2015
Uclés is a village in Castilla-La Mancha, already populated around the time of the Pax Romana, which today has about 290 residents. The surrounding plains are layered with a summer patchwork of red dirt plots, olive and almond tree...
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Sitting Still  Posted on 06/06/2015
There is a sometimes disconcerting change that happens to a foreigner who remains in a place long. The color and …Continue reading →
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Project Madrid: Old and New  Posted on 09/11/2014
In the constructions of cities, in particular European cities, an interested observer can see the framework and shapes of history.  In …Continue reading →
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Project Madrid: Old and New  Posted on 09/11/2014
In the constructions of cities, in particular European cities, an interested observer can see the framework and shapes of history.  In …Continue reading →
Read more
Show all posts (10) 


  • ShawnM
    ShawnM 22 March 2012 19:22:11

    To the prior commenter and dispenser of wisdom:

    I would thank you for the travel tips, but they are less advice and more of a list of problems you seem to have had.
    I have lived in Spain for just over two years, and while the visa situation is not easy, it is not impossible. Nor is life impossible. Nor is it even marginally difficult. I work hard everyday and it has paid off for me. I set goals for myself, try to be smart with the money I make, and I have something to offer that benefits this country in general while not taking away from potential local employment.

    And anyone looking to live in a country for longer than a backpack trip and a few hostel stays should be unaware of the necessity of learning the local language; if they are unaware or oblivious if this, then they simply deserve what awaits them.

    Even during my first months living of here, my advice to anyone thinking of coming to Spain went well beyond the common bitching about bureaucracy, slowness of business transactions and the obvious unemployment. And I am the same now. There are more important (and interesting) things to advise the newcomer. Listening to complaints about these things is more cumbersome and trying than the "bureaucracy" itself.

    I wouldn't say that there aren't risks and disadvantages (and pains in the ass) of living here, but if moving to Spain is a "massive gamble," I guess I've won the lottery, as I am happier here than in my prior life in sunny San Diego. And I would attribute that more to Spain than my own virtues.

    I believe that living in a foreign country requires a lot of things, some of which are respect for the culture and language, patience, open-mindedness, reluctance to jump to conclusions and spout small-minded advice, and guts.

    Sometimes, people look to others to help them make decisions about moving to another place. I guess am thankful that I didn't read your advice before I came here.

  • Rohini 15 March 2012 19:32:37

    If you are experienced in this karmet then I guess you will appreciate how competitive it is, that is more so in Spain than in any other country I can think of, short of the USA. What makes it even harder at the moment, a fact that you may be unaware of, is that Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Europe and so it is suffering more in the financial crisis at the moment than the majority of European countries. Your experience in the trade will no doubt help but we aware that Spain has a rightly deserved reputation bureaucracy and red tape. Licences, permits and the like extremely complicated and time consuming to obtain. Allow for this in advance, nothing in Spain gets done in a hurry.It is vital that you can speak and read Spanish, if you can't then learn BEFORE you embark on this exercise. No matter what anyone tells you, English will not get you through, spanish is essential. Anyone that tells you otherwise is a salesman!The tourist trade has severely dropped in Spain, partly because a big large of the tourists were from the UK and the Euro rate has hit the UK very hard recently. If you have the finances to ride out the storm you may be one of the few who can invest now but you need those reserves before even considering this massive gamble. If you could survive the downtrend and then join in the recovery then all well and good. Please tread carefully, Nerja is a fatastic and popular location but it is suffering from the recession like everywhere else in Spain.Good luck.

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