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Home is where the in-laws are
RealVail welcomes former Vail Daily Editor Andrew Hood seen here standing high above Spain's mysterious waters.
Photo by Andrew Hood 

Home is where the in-laws are

By Andrew Hood

November 4, 2007 —  With the possible exception of the majority of the Vail Valley population, most people don’t select their home, their home selects them.

It’s a lucky and select minority who can say, “I am going to live here just because I damn well please.”

Most everyone else in the world just closes their eyes, throws a dart at a map and end up pretty happy if they land within a two-hour drive of a ski area.

Vail residents are the exception to this rule. They want to be in Vail, and most happily make sacrifices to live smack dab in the middle of the heart of Colorado’s ski country.

I used to be a member of that select club, but not anymore.

Back in 1996, I took a fluke offer to chase bike races across Europe for a nascent web site. It was a dream gig that took me to Provence, Tuscany and Andalusia. And getting paid for all the extensive travel wasn’t bad, either.

It was meant to be a momentary detour on a Euro-style walk-about before returning to Colorado, but flash-forward more than a decade, and I’m still here.

And this time around, here is here to stay.

Spain is home now. León, to be more specific, and believe me, León picked me, not the other way around.

Perched on the windy northwest edge of Spain’s desolate northern meseta, León isn’t one of those places ex-pats dreaming of a life of playas, toreos and tapas would choose to live.

As far as I can tell, there are about another half dozen gringos living in my fair adopted city of 150,000 souls. One owns a language school, another a bar that serves up a pretty damn good chili con carne. None of us came to León because we wanted.

We all landed here for love.

Spanish women, as a general rule, almost never leave their hometowns, so there’s not much choice for us foreign-born cupids in the choosing-my-own-destiny department.

The idea of living more than a half-hour’s walk from their parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, friends and cousins is enough to throw any self-respecting Spanish woman (or man) into a pure panic.

I remember a few years ago, my extended Spanish family suffered a horrible crisis when the middle brother faced the choice of taking a job promotion in another town. From the amount of hysteria and collective hand wringing that wracked the family for weeks, I thought he was doomed to move to Hong Kong. No, it was to Valladolid, barely one hour away.

I still have pangs for those powder days in Vail’s Back Bowls, but when I’m stuffed with tangy Spanish chorizo and the local robust bierzo wine, I know I can’t complain too much.

After all, home is where the in-laws are.



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