Dancing in the Fountain: How to Enjoy Life Abroad recounts the adventures of an American couple who moved from Cleveland, Ohio to Seville, Spain. Of all the expat books I’ve read, I have to say this is one of the best, rivaling only Peter Mayle’s tour de force, A Year in Provence.
This was my late-afternoon-hammock read recently, and I found myself laughing so uproariously in several spots that I made the hammock sway dangerously and brought my husband and dogs out to see what was going on.
Author Karen McCann and her husband went to Seville one winter to get away from the gloom, cold and snow of Ohio and learn some Spanish. That started a love affair with the city and the region. After spending several winters there, they decided to make the move permanent.
Moving overseas, McCann says, provides “an opportunity to reinvent yourself that rarely exists outside the witness protection program.”
The author candidly describes some of their challenges, including the anger and disbelief of many friends when they announced they were leaving Ohio.
And she’s very funny.
For example, about Marbella, a Spanish city very popular with British expats, she writes:
“Aside from visiting the tiny, ancient Moorish section and a town square filled with peculiar Salvador Dali sculptures, there isn’t much to do in Marbella beyond watching seventy-year-old British and German matrons sunbathing topless on the beach, an activity best followed by drinking heavily in the bars.”
Or, while bemoaning the difficulty of the language classes:
“I felt it was highly unfair that the verbs were allowed to have moods while i was expected to remain cheerful and alert throughout a day spent in the company of condescending kids.”
She describes the difficulties they had in moving their dog from Ohio to Spain, including having to re-microchip the animal.
“Apparently . . . it’s vital to American interests that we use a different kind of chip from the rest of the planet. Thank heavens these public-spiritied ctiziens are vigorously protecting our borders against any attempts to introduce foreign chips into the lucrative pet-chip market in this great nation of ours.”
Her description of the superiority of US engineering in Chapter 12, though, had me laughing so hard I was crying. I’ll let you discover it for yourself.
Throughout, she weaves interesting information and descriptions about the places, customs, and especially the people of her adopted home town of Seville.
Dancing in the Fountain: How to Enjoy Living Abroad gets my heartiest endorsement. If you’re even thinking about moving overseas — let alone planning to — you owe it to yourself to get it and read it.