One of the many things I love about Valencia is the ease with which we can meet with friends. There is always a bar, a restaurant or a cozy place to be able to share with someone (or on your own) a coffee, a horchata or a vermouth.
There isn’t a great distance or traffic jams between each person so you can easily “pensat y fet” (think and do) and find time to talk, visit an art exhibit, or simply walk around. All of this is possible because of the warm and dry climate. It never really gets cold and we always try to leave the rain and fog for other places. (Although, with climate change, we could have to endure more rain in the coming years.)
That’s how a Valencian friend and I recently spent an afternoon. After a hard day of work (yes, yes … that’s it!) we went to see the new exhibition of an art gallery and then we stopped off at a bar to drink vermouth (with that drink I became a bit addicted I must admit).
We talked about everything and nothing. We began to talk about our recent trips to the US. He had gone to California and other cities on the east coast. I told him about my trip to California that included San Diego, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, the cities that I was enchanted by. I had never felt more at home in a foreign country ! In fact, I have always had doubts about reincarnation but since that trip, I always say I was a Californian in a previous life !
But the conversation turned more interesting when my friend said “How well one lives in America.” With envy he emphasized “the high purchasing power of the Americans and how super-developed everything is there”.
I agreed that it is a great country, but that I prefer a million times over and for a million reasons to live in Valencia than in any American city.
And to wipe off his look of surprise, I told him as an important point: “Have you seen the number of Americans who come to Valencia and end up staying? Do you not think that means you live better here than there? Do you really believe that they have everything there? Have you not noticed that “the American dream” no longer exists ?
I ordered another vermouth (talking passionately makes me thirsty!) I tell him what lots of Valencian people can not imagine : that living in Valencia is the “American Dream” for many foreigners, including Americans. They daydream about quality of life and life of quality we have here and can live the dream here.
All is not measured in GDP or per capita income. Could it be that they value things that seem normal to us here like the power to choose the type of health care (here we have 2 high level options) for a reasonable amount, access to good public universities and enjoy a good public transportation system and above all, not run into the risk of being shot in a mass shooting because some armed fool decides to end the lives of 25 people?
Let’s not forget the gastronomy, the know-how, the culture, the festivals and celebrations, the historical heritage, the well-preserved nature and most of all, the cheerful disposition of the people… That and so much more makes Valencia the kind of “promised land” for many foreigners.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Valencia is the perfect city but it should definitely make us more grateful for what we have here.