To say that our plan is anything but original is an understatement. We are not the first foreigners who want to start a successful Bed & Breakfast in Spain. But it is not originality we are after. In being our own boss, we hope to organize our lives more according to our own insights. With more freedom, time for each other and time to enjoy life. And all this in a place with more peace and quiet, more nature, better food and a better climate. It doesn’t matter that it was a long process. After dreaming of a different life, looking for a suitable house and actually buying it, we are now in one of the last stages before opening: the renovation.
If you would like to calculate the chance of success by comparing the pluses and minuses, you would see that the first list is considerably longer. The house is in good condition, there is sufficient budget for a renovation, our father has ample technical and constructional knowledge and experience and he has the time and desire to help us. We are learning the language, we each have our own qualities in which we complement each other perfectly and both Dutch equivalents of ‘The Great Escapers’ have ghosted us a long time ago. If that last one isn’t a good omen, then I don’t know what is.
Yet there is still one thing that can throw a spanner in the works. That damn, persistent perfectionism that’s hard to escape. Don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with aiming for the best possible outcome, as long as you don’t overdo it. And therein lies our challenge. Because the house is old. It’s Spanish. And everything – really everything – is crooked. So as soon as someone swears under their breath again, there is at least one person who will comment in a quasi-surprised way: “What?! Is it crooked?”
Frustrating. Especially if after an hour of fanatic sorting in the Leroy Merlin (the Spanish hardware store) you come home with the straightest of slats and then have to glue them onto a crooked wall. Then when you walk up the stairs, your gaze does not fall on the newly leveled and tiled floor, but on the built-in hall closet that is now at least twenty centimeters skewed in relation to the new, perfect floor. Fortunately, we can occasionally lower our (straight) bar and ‘optically straight’ has become an acceptable alternative.
Does that mean we no longer see the imperfections? Of course not. Because we see the traces of the paintbrush on the wall, the drips that have leaked through the tape, the wider joint of the tile that broke and was later replaced, the flakes that soon fall from the freshly painted damp Spanish walls and the traces of the hole of the tap that was installed on the wrong side of the sink. Fortunately, it helps to take a step back every now and then. That and humor. Like our father who, after a deadly serious question about the distance between the bed and the wall, answers dryly that it depends on what part of the wall you measure exactly.
Because yes, you guessed it, there can just be twenty centimeters difference in it. But what if we were to step back those twenty centimeters and take in the bigger picture? Then we would see that the house in all its imperfection is becoming quite perfect after all.