The guests are about to leave. The couple, who have just paid, are still waiting until their friends, with whom they spent a night in our Bed & Breakfast, have also packed their suitcases. One of them is thinking long and hard about how best to formulate his question to me. Probably not knowing that the Dutch are, in general, quite direct and not easily offended by a question or the way it is asked. So I have to laugh when he finally asks it. “Do more people like… er… you live here?” he finally concludes. Several adjectives run through my mind. Young? Tall? Friendly? (Self-deprecating? Something that hopefully won’t get lost in my writing or the translation of it.) Instead, I raise an eyebrow. “Foreigners”, you mean? He nods with relief.

Not at all offended (why would I?), I start nodding vigorously. “There are plenty of foreigners living here.” In fact, there seem to be coming more and more of them. Just last week we received a visit from a couple who had their eye on a beautiful building in the village. Dutch. With the same ambition to start a Bed & Breakfast. As I am about to list all the foreigners one by one, the man quickly interrupts me. Further than Werner & Lisa from El Capricho, he doesn’t let me go. Instead, he points his finger to the house across the street. My sister starts laughing. “Those are our parents,” I answer.

After already missing out on two houses, they have finally succeeded. Since two weeks they have been the proud owners of a house in Benialí. Just in time. Because it turned out that they were not the only interested parties. Fortunately, three times the charm and they think house number three is much nicer than number two. And the owners of house number two? We coincidentally met them for the first time last weekend. When they joined us for a drink at Bar Isa, they told us that their house had already been sold. My sister started laughing again. “Yes, to our parents,” I answered dryly. For a second there was a silence. I quickly waved the awkwardness away. “It does not matter. They have just bought another one.” They seemed to be relieved by that. Then they said that Sally, who still worked at Nou Terraso at the time, had at least done her very best to get them to cancel on the house. “There are hardly any English people living here…” is what she said. The new English buyers started laughing loudly. “That only made it more attractive for us,” they concluded their story.

It is not surprising to me that more and more houses have been sold in the past year. However, I still don’t fully understand why we even saw people looking interested at the ‘For Sale’ sign on four walls and a door last week. What still deters buyers these days? Not much, I’m guessing. Even the abandoned Llombai (one of the eight villages) has been inhabited for some time now. It seems like people are starting to understand the charm of living in a small town. Well, not everyone. “We will definitely come back,” the foursome promise, when the other couple walks into the reception with their suitcases. I smile happily. “Great,” I say. “We will be here for many years to come,” I add. They look at us in surprise. “Really? You don’t want to go to Valencia, for example?” I shake my head resolutely. Why wouldn’t we want to stay here? It’s a nice community. The (mainly Spanish) guests we have already received were all absolutely fantastic. And, there are hardly any English people living here. Right, Sally? (Or should this have scared us off?)