From Bri­tish to Span­ish

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - NEWS - By Irena Bo­denarec

With Brexit fastly be­com­ing to its dead­line, many Costa res­i­dent Bri­tish ex­pats pon­der over the idea of be­com­ing Span­ish na­tional - Irena Bodnarec brings us the story of broad­caster Dave Row­land, who re­nounced his Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship and be­came a Span­ish na­tional

MANY Brits make the move to Spain and feel to­tally at home here – but re­al­is­ti­cally very few would go so far as to do what one such ex­pat did, re­nounce their Bri­tish na­tion­al­ity and be­come a Span­ish na­tional.

That is ex­actly what Dave Row­land did and he couldn’t be hap­pier.

His first taste of Spain was a hol­i­day with his par­ents, aged around 10 to Cataluña un­der the Franco regime – cer­tainly pre-pack­age char­ter hol­i­day era and they drove all the way from Devon.

Even at that ten­der age, he to­tally fell in love with the coun­try and lit­er­ally had to be dragged scream­ing back into the car when it was time to re­turn to the UK.

His ex­pe­ri­ence to Spain sparked an in­ter­est in the Span­ish Civil War – some­thing that he is now very well read up on and some­what of an ex­pert on the sub­ject.

There­fore, in the early 90’s he jumped into a camper van with his then girl­friend and Jack Rus­sell and drove via Ply­mouth to the Costa Blanca – and never looked back. He guessed that with his back­ground as a pro­fes­sional diver – at the time he was work­ing in a gov­ern­ment ap­proved div­ing school it would be a trans­fer­able skill within a hol­i­day re­sort.

He plied his trade for a few years dur­ing the tourist sea­son and also worked as a tour guide.

He was de­ter­mined to learn Span­ish but classes were vir­tu­ally non-ex­is­tent back in those days so in­stead, he de­cided to to­tally im­merse him­self into the Span­ish cul­ture.

He re­fused to watch any Bri­tish tele­vi­sion, in­stead tun­ing into lo­cal sta­tions - prob­a­bly the best way to learn and chose a small typ­i­cally Span­ish vil­lage on the out­skirts of Benidorm to call home.

His one con­ces­sion was lis­ten­ing to OCI In­ter­na­tional ra­dio and he vividly re­mem­bers the pre­sen­ters talk­ing about Span­ish news and events and what a load of non­sense and in­ac­cu­ra­cies they were broadcasting to the English speak­ing com­mu­nity.

So what did he do – he called in and told them so! Gig­gling at the mem­ory, Dave said that they replied with “So you think you can do bet­ter?” to which he cock­ily replied “yes’ and so a new ca­reer in broadcasting be­gan.

Nowa­days, he is of­ten con­tacted by the BBC and is a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor on Ra­dio 2, Ra­dio 4, 5 Live, Ra­dio Wales and Ra­dio Ulster on all things Span­ish and is cur­rently a break­fast pre­sen­ter on Fresh Ra­dio Spain, from 8.00 un­til 10.00 in­form­ing Brits liv­ing here what is hap­pen­ing – as re­al­is­ti­cally, not many would be read­ing the Span­ish pa­pers.

To­tally dis­il­lu­sioned with the di­rec­tion that the UK was go­ing, he de­cided that he wanted to ap­ply for Span­ish na­tion­al­ity and so be­gan the process in early 2010.

For him it was a per­sonal choice and one that felt right.

He ap­plied in Vil­la­joyosa and back then, he was the only Bri­tish per­son to have gone through the very long and la­bo­ri­ous process. It would take three years and 6 months of checks – and boy, are they rig­or­ous and ex­haus­tive.

For those even con­tem­plat­ing of ap­ply­ing, firstly you have to have been res­i­dent for 10 years – mean­ing 10 years on your green res­i­den­cia card, be to­tally flu­ent in the Span­ish lan­guage and in­te­grated into Span­ish life. They do check!

He had nu­mer­ous in­ter­views with of­fi­cials - po­lice, judges, just about ev­ery­one bar the lo­cal shop­keeper and in June 2013 be­came a Span­ish cit­i­zen, com­plete with DNI card and Span­ish pass­port.

In the last lo­cal elec­tions, he stood as a coun­cil­lor but un­for­tu­nately was eight votes short of be­ing elected.

Cur­rently, there are only two ex­pats who serve on lo­cal coun­cils – Vic­to­ria Cur­tis in Fines­trat and Carol Saun­ders in Calpe.

Maybe with the elec­tions due next year it may be food for thought but Dave has a num­ber of projects on his to do list and as well as lis­ten­ing to him on the air­waves, you may one day also be read­ing his works as an au­thor.

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