I will soon journey to Spain for a month's residency at Fundacion Valparaiso on the Costa del Sol. Once there, I will be living and working with seven other artists and writers from around the world. My project is the novel, Faraway Nearby, about three orphans whose lives intersect on the island of Malta, one of whom is a Libyan migrant. I hope to become deeply immersed in my story and characters, thanks to the concentrated focused attention and the break from quotidian cares and responsibilities that this fellowship generously provides. Once a year, I become an outlaw Mom and rediscover myself out of my usual context.
The retreat was founded in 1989 by the Danish artist, Paul Beckett and his wife, Beatrice. It sits on the edge of terraced almond, orange and olive groves with a view of the Sierra Cabrera and the white hilltop village of Mojacar. The residence was a former olive oil mill house.
The area is a hiker's paradise and is just 4 km from the sea. I'm looking forward to daily walks and explorations. Andalucian cities such as Granada, Cordoba and Sevilla are a bus-ride away. So when I'm not writing, I'll be taking excursions and learning more about Espana.
I was last in Spain at the age of 16 when I lived with a Spanish family in Zamora for a summer, immersing myself in their daily life and world. They ran a fish stall at the local market and welcomed me with warmth, as a member of their family. One sister, my age, worked in a pastry factory, their oldest son laid down bathroom tile and served as my fiercest protector, warding off any interest from male admirers, and their "baby," eight years old was my constant companion. I came home fluent in Spanish and in love with Spain.
Though it's taken me forty years to manage a return trip, I'm grateful and incredibly excited about this opportunity.
I am getting ready for my journey now, packing and planning, and practicing my Spanish. Be sure to check this space for news and pictures of my adventure.