Benialí

While the guys stayed behind to work on the house, the three of us got into the car and drove one hundred and seventy-five kilometers to Francisco Segarra’s showroom in Castellón. Not wanting to be late for our appointment with Hind, we left half an hour early. Unnecessary. Because when we reach our destination two hours later, we still have exactly thirty minutes left for a cup of coffee. Fortunately, we find a typical Spanish restaurant closeby, which is still busy at this time. Although we are (as foreigners) being gaped at when we enter, we soon feel at home. While we order a coffee with milk, we take a seat at the bar. The smell of the grill, which is a few meters away behind the bar, swiftly hits us. With a growling stomach Noëlle glances at the menu. Unfortunately we don’t have time to eat. We are here to buy some bar stools. Because as soon as the two men from Piscinas Sfica are done constructing the pool, we hope to finish and furnish our bar area.

That it will take some time before we can also finish and furnish the other rooms, is not a problem at all. We’ve only just started. The construction permit, which was issued a month and a half ago, gives us two years. Not only to convert our newly purchased home into a beautiful Bed & Breakfast, but also to get to know the village and its inhabitants. With there only being one hundred and two inhabitants, that should not be a too difficult task, we presume.

The fact that most of them do not or hardly speak English and the Spanish language does not yet roll fluently over our lips, makes it a bit more difficult sometimes, but it will not be due to the friendliness of the local residents. We were therefore very happy that the two daughters of the local pub owner came by last week for a snack and a drink. The fact that we were already laughing five minutes after their arrival was a great sign. The youngest, who has spent most of her life here in Benialí, tells animatedly about her friends who are currently studying abroad. “Then they describe the place where they live now and I can’t imagine it at all,” she says with a laugh. “To help me picture it, I always ask them…” She pauses for a moment. “How many Benialís is that exactly?” We burst out into laughter. “Ten? Twenty?” The village that we will call our home in the coming years (and most likely for the rest of our lives) has eight (small) streets. It’s not hard to consist of ten Benialís.

When we drink the last sip of our coffee and want to pay, the bartender asks us where we are from. Without thinking, my sister answers confidently. “Benialí.” I have to laugh. We are nearly 200 kilometers from home. The chance that they know the village is… not there. But we hope to change that in the future. When the house is ready and we, in addition to friends, can also start receiving guests. Benialí may only consist of eight streets and one hundred and two inhabitants, but it is not inferior to any other city. In fact, maybe Benialí is a little bit better. Ten times. Or twenty?

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