How I came to Spain – part 2

13 February 2018 0 Comments Category: Just Landed, Robert Nieuwland, TNS Amigos

How_I came_to_Spain

 Life is a Wink

[Part 1 ended: (…) Sometimes, the days just before a holiday are better than the holiday itself. Of course, its not like I minded when I finally arrived to Madrid, two days after leaving Le Verdon…]

Today, February 1st 2018, it’s more than twelve years later. I have two kids, Anne and Lucas. Three and five. Girl and boy. Both incredible (of course).

Sadly enough, Nuria and I are now divorced.

Happily enough, everyone is doing well. Under the circumstances.

And, I don’t mean anything by that. There are always circumstances, right? That’s not exclusively inherent to the expat life. It’s more a question of… plain and simple life. But, let’s not dig further into these everyday matters.

This is Part 2 in a series consisting of three, very creatively called “How I came to Spain” (I was distracted when coming up with the title and open to suggestions). So, being Part 2 of “How I came to Spain”, let me get back to that…

Life Really is a Wink

Again, ¡me and titles! It might not seem very creative to repeat myself, but please let me emphasize on this: life passes darn fast! Very cliché, sure. Not less true though. Thing is, now that I’m 34 and actually have something to look back on, I’ve taken notice…

At my arrival in Madrid, shortly after the skydiving in Le Verdon, the first job I found was in a mountain sports store in Ribera de Curtidores, otherwise known as “El Rastro”. I worked there for about 6 months, but working all the weekends wore me out. So when I got offered to be a bike messenger, I accepted.

I’d done and enjoyed that (very much) some years before I left. So it fitted me like a glove and I enjoyed it just as much as I did in Amsterdam. But then, about six months later, I got lucky. A spot in the manifest of the skydiving center Aerolibre (Ocaña, Toledo) came free.

The next two years were amazing. Some periods, I was jumping from airplanes twice or three times per day! Looking back, they were probably two of the happiest years I’ve had the pleasure to live. And not just because of the skydiving frenzy. Things were pretty much in place. Balanced out.


So, I’d studied Journalism. I still had that spirit burning to be an informer, the watchdog of democracy, the intrepid traveler and adventurous photographer. Living the dream… That was the original idea.

I’d never stopped writing since I landed in Madrid. I started freelancing during my 12-month internship at Amnesty International in Amsterdam. So I had some clients and was also able to sell some pieces to new media, but initially I didn’t make a steady income with it.

I’d been working about six months at the skydiving center when I came across a Dutch newspaper in the Costa Blanca area, mostly covering Alicante (province). I sent them my CV and they offered me a job that combined journalism and translation and I took it. The two years I worked for them launched me to become a full-time freelancer.

I enjoyed it and succeeded in making a pretty decent living with it, comfortably working at home, writing for a varied range of magazines and newspapers: editor of a website for the Dutch Buddhist Broadcasting Association (BOS), wrote frequently for a newspaper for kids, a magazine for hiking, outdoor lifestyle magazine, a magazine about Spain, did translations as well and also wrote for some Spanish climbing magazines…

Journalism VS Outdoor Sports?

I enjoyed the ”free” in free-lancer very much and organized myself to be able to go out climbing often and also got into trail running back then. I basically really got into all the outdoors and mountain sports and I even made it into the prestigious Madrid State Team for trail running, as well as running for Salomon and the Dutch National Ultra Running Team.

My decision to leave the skydiving center and become a journalist was something that, at the moment, seemed an obvious thing to do. After all, I did dedicate 20% of my life to prepare myself for that. But it always left me with a little itch (that’s a metaphor).

With time, my love for action and nature and the growing amount of hours spent sitting – just writing – only made that itch heavier. But, let’s leave some for Part 3, titled… Hmm, it might be a good idea to think that one over 😉


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