Vanessa Van Camp
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As a baby, I was literally taken back to Spain in a suitcase. My father was more a driver than someone who likes to take a plane and since then the current ultra-equipped children's chairs were not present, I was in the back with a mattress laid in a wooden suitcase. Today, this might be considered ill-treatment and lack of children's rights, but I slept blissfully, the nearly 24-hour journey it took to reach our destination... This was were the topics of flamenco, castanets and olé became part of my upbringing .
Of course my parents invested back then with more enthusiasm than knowledge in the different parts of the country, where my experience with the local mentality, habits and idiosyncrasies would be enriched through the years, and I also could study the contrasts and differences in the various regions.
The school gave ample time to build both new and recurring friendships and learn the language, that I then further perfected with the evening classes.
On my 16th I was suffering with pains and it cost me a lot of effort to walk up the stairs due to the prolonged rain periods, this mixed with my natural need for colour and light made me all decide very early on, to look up the south without waiting for my pension...
In other words, my studies just completed and the experience of four generations in the building, I left with a tinge of sadness but well aware gray Belgium behind.
The first months were really no walk in the park, and despite earned diplomas and academic knowledge of the language you do come to stand for a lot of surprises if you really want to integrate. Fortunately with over 30 years in Spain and with a good healthy group of friends and clientele, I have found my path, which makes me fully established here and feel at home despite the size and diversity of the country. ¡E Viva España!
My story starts two generation ago!
My Spanish grandfather left in 1920 a village (Burriana) 60 km in Valencia to Belgium and ended up in Antwerp for exploration and eventually imports of oranges from Valencia. He found Antwerp a great city, he stayed and launched a Spanish Bodega "Cafe Malaga" and back in the days, sold wine and port by the glass from the barrel. The family became importers of Spanish food products of different regions of Spain; like the wines from the North as well as olives and the best olive oils from Andalucia. In 1949, my Spanish grandmother opened the retail trade in the old city centre of Antwerp (Zirkstraat "El Valenciano").
My Spanish father Victor Bernard is 100% Spanish but born and raised in Belgium as his older sister and his younger brother. I have also worked hard in the family business for 10 years; when customers came in our shop, with all the aromas and flavours, they had to feeling to be back in their favourite country Spain for a little while.
I am the oldest of the 3rd generation, so I have Spanish and Belgian blood in me. All my life we have been coming on holiday to Spain to Valencia in the village of my grandfather and his family.
I came for the first time to the Costa del Sol in 1990, when I was 27 years old, and I was immediately in love with Marbella, beautiful weather, full of life and activities and sports, a real golf and tennis paradise. Only two hours drive from Sierra Nevada ski resort and afterwards we came back on a regular basis to play golf.
In 1996, I left, with my Belgian partner, for definite to my homeland Spain, I felt at home, we are now living 22 years under the Mediterranean sun. Marbella is in Spain but it is a special feeling. Why? We live here with more than 150 nationalities and we all feel comfortable on this beautiful coast. Mañana mañana... Yes, we still have to get used to it after 22 years.
¡Hasta luego, op de BBCCE club!
I've always had a little adventurer in me, and in 1997 I ended up in Fuengirola, with the thought to stay here six months and then move on. But that planned out slightly different, as my bags are still not packed after 19 years.
My mother's ancestors came from Spain and in her you could still see the Spanish influence, dark curly hair, olive skin, passion and temperament. The passion and temperament have passed on a generation, all the rest have skipped a generation.
As a very naive 27-year-old I arrived on the Costa del Sol. Fuengirola was not trendy or refurbished as it is now, and Puerto Banús and Marbella was really something else. All day sun and partying. After an 'educational' lesson in the timeshare world and several ups and downs, I was approached by a real estate broker and I ended up in the real estate business. After all these years on the coast, I am well informed how the Spanish bureaucracy works and on a daily basis I help people to integrate.
Over the years, I have said loads of goodbyes with a heavy heart to friends who have gone back, but the beauty to live here is that I have friends and acquaintances from different countries and you can learn about different cultures without stepping on a plane .
My favourite hobby has always been dancing, so it didn't take long before Salsa, Merengue and Bachata were part of my life. And if there's one thing Belgians are fond off, is a good party, and there are plenty here.
I'll see you soon. ¡Hasta el proximo evento amigos!
In September 2002, embittered by the gray sky of Belgium, my husband and I, who are both members of the Lions Club Brussels Arc-En-Ciel, decided to install us in Spain in a region famous for its 300 days of sunshine year; namely the Costa del Sol.
We have come to Spain, along with two of our children, a granddaughter and a great-grandchild.
The sea, the mountains, space, sun and warmth are part of our new environment. Here in the heart of Marbella, 2,600 km from our flat country, we found the peace we were looking for, since leaving Africa... This is not to say that we no longer have lion heart.
In Marbella, we found a mixed Lions Club, founded in 1967, the oldest of the Costa del Sol.
For information, in 2008, my husband Jean left us, but I keep doing my humanitarian action for the Lions Club and the Belgian Business & Community Club Spain.
Overall a glimpse of my life here in Spain.