Adriano moved three years ago to Gran Canaria, and now lives in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
He enjoys hiking, meeting new folks, and…shrimps. (Besides his fabulous view over the Atlantic ocean.)
- Why living in the capital is a pre-paradise
- Why it’s fundamental to learn Spanish
- Why Adriano dislikes Gran Canarian roundabouts
- How biodanza promotes self-esteem, the joy of life and the expression of emotions
Listen to the 40-minute episode here:
Watch the show here:
Transcript (Including sexy grammar glitches):
Moving to Gran Canaria: Dr. Adriano Gasperi on Shrimps, Biodanza and Renewable Energies
Sven: Good evening, Adriano; nice for having you here.
Adriano: Hi Sven, nice seeing you.
Sven: (laughs) So, Adriano, tell us a little about you. What’s your home country and most important, why did you move to Gran Canaria?
Adriano: Well, your question is a bit confusing. You first talking about me and then about country. Separate issue. Not because I don’t feel Italian – well, I feel Italian, but I feel a very special relationship with Italy. I think that Italy is a beautiful country to be there on holidays, and much more complicated for living; that’s why I’m here. And, well, I decided to leave Italy a couple of years ago. Once I got my jubilation, my pensionista, and all of my children are grown up – they can easily work with their legs, with their feet. I have five children.
Sven: Wow. You were pretty productive.
Adriano: Well, life has been very generous with me in many aspects and I think the most important one is that of children. Furthermore, a couple of them are living abroad and working abroad; one in Germany, another one in New York. So I felt quite free to decide to find a place where to continue this beautiful story of my life. And Canarias was the decision.
First of all, I was thinking to go back to Africa – I’ve been in Africa about ten years in my life. I was thinking to go to Kenya, but then the situation there convinced me that it was not the best option.
Sven: Do you mean the political situation?
Adriano: Well, security and political situation in, you know, Somalia – another place where I’d be living. So, I – well my brother told me that his sister-in-law was living here. So I decided to come down to Gran Canaria. I was here for just one week and decided that Gran Canaria would be my next home country. And since then, a few months later, I moved definitively to Gran Canaria.
Sven: So you have never been before here for holidays?
Adriano: No I just came two times for logistical reasons – to prepare my movement here.
Sven: Yes, and then all the paperwork and finding a home –
Adriano: Bank account, you know just the few things that you need when you start up your new life in a new place and so yes, paperwork as well.
Sven: Were there any struggles or problems while planning your move to Gran Canaria?
Adriano: Planning to move to Gran Canaria? No. I think maybe the only procedure which was a bit too long was with my ministry of health to get the papers needed to be registered here as a medical doctor. Despite being in Europe, there is still a lot of paperwork our administrator should do to make paperwork we need every time, a bit simpler because it’s still quite complicated.
Sven: I think it’s a bit more complex than just registering in the local office to be a local citizen here.
Adriano: Well to be a local citizen, honestly, I didn’t have problems. Once I got my “Empadronamiento”, things went on olive oil. Really simple. Sometimes I listen to people who are very much squeezed by this procedure, but I don’t know. I think I was lucky or I met the right people.
Sven: So how did you come to Gran Canaria; with a plane, with a car?
Adriano: Well, when I moved finally, I came by car. A car with a small trailer and full of few things of my life. So I arrived here after a long journey because I decided that in this journey from Italy to Gran Canaria, I had to start a process of cleaning up my being. It’s a kind of desincrustation to clean it up. And it was an intense process, but I think that for these couple of weeks to my car, which I left in a very gray morning, arriving here in a beautiful sunny day. It was very important to prepare for new life because really, I think that for me, living in Gran Canaria is to have started a new life.
Sven: Yes. So, you sent to me upfront, a nice photo of a shot when you arrived with your car, with your bicycle up on the car. So if you want I will post it later below the video to show the people how you arrived here.
Adriano: Well to be honest and frank, this was the third arrival because the first one only the trailer – which was much fuller than the third one – the third arrival – because I have arrived three times by car. Same car, same trailer, and last time the bicycle as well. I like the way from Gran Canaria to Italy and back by car.
Sven: How long did it take?
Adriano: It depends on how long you want to. I can tell you the minimum – the minimum business would be three plus two days – five days.
Adriano: Two days by boat from here to Cádiz, and then in three days you can easily round the 2,000 kilometers from Cádiz to my hometown.
Sven: What was the first thing you did when you arrived in your first home in Gran Canaria?
Adriano: Well, I must tell you a secret. I love shrimps. So, even before discharging my car, I asked the tenant of the house to prepare me a plate of shrimps. She knew already because when I rented the house, I told her this aspect. So the first thing I did when I arrived in to Gran Canaria was to eat the first lot of shrimps. That’s the beginning of a long story. Cholesterol might be up there, but I don’t care…for the time being! So this was the first thing. Then, of course, started knowing the place where I was and at the beginning I was living in the south of the island in a small – I call it small Africa, you know? Because it was really like a piece of Africa same colors, same – there was a banana plantation in my garden. So I started walking around, driving around, and slowly I get acquainted to the rules and regulation as well as to the fines given by the Guardia Civil. They stopped me once and I hope it will be the last one.
Sven: (laughs) So you’re a fast driver?
Adriano: No, no, no. I was going on the provincial road, and I saw they were just behind me and when I reached the place of my pleasure, which is a small beach soon after Maspalomas, Meloneras, I entered the entrance of the beach, crossing the line. So, there was nobody in front of me of course; they were there behind me and they immediately stopped me. I had already stopped in the parking area, and they told me “Sir! Senor, caballero: 200 euros!”
Sven: Wow! That’s a nice welcome present!
Adriano: And five points from your license. Five points – I don’t know – what was the end because I still have an Italian license.But the 200 euro (which became 100 because I paid within 30 days) was my contribution to Guardia Civil that day.
Sven: (laughing) Very nice. So in general now you’re living here in the capital, Las Palmas de La Gran Canaria.
Sven: How is the quality, for you, of living in the capital? Or in Gran Canaria in general?
Adriano: I think that your question is right: “for you”. It means that for me, living here is like living in a pre-paradise. But at the same time I can tell you that among my friends, especially Italian friends living in the south, when we talk about this topic, they tell me “Oh, you poor – oh, it’s so cold in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It’s so cold!” And I am astonished because I’m living here, since May this year, and of course it is not the continuous hot climate that you have in Maspalomas or Playa de Ingles. It is not the beautiful climate that you have in Mogán, but nevertheless, it’s a beautiful climate as well.
Sven: And it’s not boring.
Adriano: And it is not boring because you have – Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a city, small, but you have – not you, I. I have all that I need, I have picture, I have music and especially I have this atmosphere you can breathe on in Vegueta or Triana. I feel at home. In one word I feel at home in a place and in a situation which I cannot get in my natural home.
Sven: Very interesting because I always thought that the Italian culture is similar to the Spanish one, but it does seem to be very different:
Adriano: Well you are right and wrong in the sense that the culture is the same – we come from the Mediterranean area, we are used to some very special acts. For instance when you greet people we like to touch people – physical contact, this is very common in south Italy. On the other hand, for me there is a difference which is basic. I found in Gran Canaria – I don’t know about peninsula, but I found in Gran Canaria something that is lost in Italy, and this something is respect. So this makes, for me, a terrible difference.
Sven: So, you’re talking about respect. How does it feel to be a foreigner in Gran Canaria?
Adriano: Honestly, I don’t have the feeling to be foreign here. Unless in some circumstances for instance when I cannot explain correctly what I want to say or what I want to buy, but it has been fundamental for me to attend a course of Spanish language. When I arrived here I didn’t know the language. I speak as well Portuguese and this was creating a mess in my mind because I was mixing up Italian and Portuguese and I was not able to speak Spanish. So I told myself, “Ok, you are almost 70, but your brains is still working.”
Sven: It’s just a matter of concentration, you know? I have the same trouble because my brain is already thinking in Spanish, while I’m talking to you right now in English so that a lot of people will see it, I have to translate it into English.
Adriano: You say you are thinking in Spanish now. I was telling something different. My brain sometimes was mixing up, in a terrible mess, Portuguese words, Italian words – trying to speak my own Spanish. So I decided, “Adriano, this is not the way; you don’t know anything – go to a school!”I went to school and the school was fully booked, so I was lucky to find a private teacher and very honest. If I tell you how much I was paying for private lessons, you will not believe me. We started twice a week, and after six months when I knew already the difference between “ser” and “estar”, and “haber” and “tener” I decided to start talking in – (sorry that was the telephone) – and I started thinking I would start learning in Spanish and life became much, much easier.
Sven: Yeah, I mean, you don’t need to speak perfectly Spanish. I know from my experience if you do know a couple of words, the locals are more open and they help you to find the right words without any problems – with hands and feet – and it does work.
Adriano: Well, there is a kind of indicator that I use when I speak Spanish. I look at the eyes of the person whom I am talking to, and if the eyes come out of the orbits, it means that they don’t understand what I mean. (laugh). So this was very, very common at the beginning. Last time I had this experience, in fact it was a patient with Basedow disease; it was not my Spanish. He had outspoken eyes by himself.
Sven: Adriano, is there one thing you really dislike about Gran Canaria?
Adriano: Yes! There is one thing and I experienced it on the first day. It was the driving my car in Gran Canaria. When you enter a roundabout and you are on the inside line of the roundabout, pay attention to the one who is on your right side because instead of going straight and not crossing you, in many occasions it will cross you. This, I think, is the – one of the few approaches I can make to Gran Canarian drivers. I have an approach for foreigners – very strong, for foreigners, bycicle riders. When they are on a public road, in group and they think to be running the Tour de France, they stay in group, they go at their own speed, they don’t care. This, I think, is a kind of lack of respect for the car drivers.
Sven: Also, the roads here are not very prepared for the Tour de France guys. Very interesting. So , Adriano – you said already – you lived many, many years outside your home country, but is there something special besides friends or family that you’re missing for your home country.
Adriano: No.Not at all. Because usually Italians miss food – food and coffee. With globalization, the coffee I have here is the same I can have in Italy. And foods, I have been for many, many years, been a kind of food transporter. When I was going to a place, when I was taking it back to the place where I was living. I quit at this because now I think and I am convinced that a special food in a special place, you have to eat what you are in that place. There is no sense to bring Kimchi from Korea to Gran Canaria. You eat Kimchi when you are in Korea. That’s all.
Sven: So do you like the Canarian food?
Adriano: Well I am almost vegetarian, so I don’t like to eat the meat here, but Canarian food is perfect for me. Gofio, the salted version I like very much. I don’t like the sugar version. Fish is good. Many of the food I have no problem. I enjoy local food and maybe sometimes they use too much sauce, but if ask them to put the fish just on the barbecue it’s ok.
Sven: So you came here basically without knowing anybody, so basically alone.
Adriano: My brother’s sister in law. I knew since we were children, and then I lost her because I didn’t see her for thirty years and then I met her again here. But it is not difficult finding people here. Now I have groups of friends – I have international friends and I thank you for being the facilitator with the group of new people I met here. I have groups of Canarians. I like tracking, so I have a group I’m tracking. I have a group of Biodanzing, which is very interesting; I discovered it here. And I’m enjoying a lot of this activity. And then meeting people and exchanging telephone number is quite common here.
Sven: Can you explain what Biodanza is in a couple of words?
Adriano: So I think, is a kind of philosophy; the principle is that you leave your body responding to music. In almost 70 years of my life, I hated dancing. This has been a cause of many problems with my partners, my female partners because the majority of women like dancing, and always I’ve been set aside and I didn’t even wanted to go dancing because I felt, you know, unable to move to the “ritmo” of music. So after just a couple of months ago, I decided after the last experience with a woman – was dancing and I was not dancing and so it was creating of course problems. So I decided to – when she left me, not because of dancing – but any case, I decided to – not to go to school, but to see what Biodanzing was. So I was there in this group, about twenty people, and I started moving and then the teacher told me that I was able to dance, especially – this happened with an African song which I love – the name is Malaika. When she put on this song, I started moving as I was seeing in my brain Kenyans were dancing. So, doing very rhythmic movements with my arms and with the legs and the teacher told me you are able to dance. You have done this music the best way it can be done. So of course my ego (laugh). And now, it happens when I am in Triana for instance and I listen to music, I start moving and I’m not ashamed and I am really happy.
Sven: And you’re just yourself and enjoying it?
Sven: Adriano, is there any advice you would like to give to people who are planning to move to Canaria?
Adriano: Yes, I have only one advice, which is not only for Gran Canaria. When you decide that your home is not your home country, and you move somewhere else you should forget a lot of what your previous life was. I’ve seen here many people from all European country I know – Italians, Germans, British – quite, not unhappy… because they are distraught by some situations that they find here because they cannot repeat here their home country life. This is a big mistake. When you find a new country, a new home, I think that you have to build up your new rules and regulations.
Sven: And I think that it’s not about – that you have to change completely, it’s that you, you know, you have to forget about some things you were used to in your home country, some cultural things.
Adriano: It’s like people who live here instead of their own country, and don’t tell the local authorities that they’re living now in Gran Canaria. It is not intelligent; it’s just to get to the best from one side and the other side. I think this is not correct. When you move, you move and you take the bad and the good of the place.
Sven: So, Adriano, I have a bonus question.
Sven: What’s your favorite book? And why?
Adriano: One of the things I have brought with me are books. I read quite a lot and to answer for you is difficult because to tell you just one book I like –
Sven: But maybe a book that made a bigger impact in your life.
Adriano: Well, yes, there is one book – let me see where I find it around. No, I don’t see it at the moment, anyway it’s a book on – I wanted to see because I read many books and I don’t remember the title or the writer. This one is written about the importance of network in changing the history of the world. If you give me just a second –
Sven: Of course, we have all the time you need.
Adriano: My favorite book is written by a Belgian. His name is Gunter Pauli, and the book is called “The Blue Economy”.
Sven: Ok, what is it about? I mean, I do understand the word economy.
Adriano: Blue Economy. Blue is not about the economy of the sea; it’s a new way of considering nature. Usually, we are – what we do is to exploit nature, just make use of natural resources and then we read in the newspapers every year that we have consumed the energy of that year. So the next will be a negative balance, the next months or weeks and so. So this man, whom I know personally and I’ve been working with him says that nature should be copied, not destroyed. So what man should do, we should understand better what nature does and try and reproduce natural pathways and natural mechanisms. This is not to just philosophical position. He has created a group of about 3,000 scientists all over the world and he has created a group of five hundred or six hundred NGO’s who are working in the field. And I’m very happy to say one of his projects – there are a hundred projects going on in the world – one of these projects is in Gran Canaria.
Sven: Oh, wow. Interesting.
Adriano: It is the energy project in the island of El Hierro. El Hierro is the first island in the world which is able to produce all the energy it needs without fossil oil. The man behind the project in El Hierro is Gunter Pauli.
Sven: Very interesting; I didn’t know the name. Very interesting.
Adriano: I try to invite him to work for Milano Exploit, work in my previous life as a secretary general of the scientific community of “Exploit Milano 2015“. I thought that this man could give a lot of support, but then the management of the operation didn’t like my idea so he was not invited. Which, for me having seen Exploit has been quite a pity.
Sven: You know, Adriano, that should be a great example for Gran Canaria. Of course, the population in Gran Canaria is much, much higher than in El Hierro, but you know, changing from fossil energies to renewable, it should be a goal also for Gran Canaria.
Adriano: Yeah, but you know behind this talk, we are just getting on now rage a war between oil producers and (of course the electricity companies)– it’s quite evident. Technology comes first. Then you need the political advice, then you need the people except technology.
Sven: I will put a link to the book below the video so if people are interested they can buy it; maybe I will find it on Amazon.
Adriano: Yes, look for the keyword to get in touch with Gunter Pauli is Zeri, which is the name of the organization that was created for this very novelty idea.
Sven: So Adriano, it was very, very nice to talk to you. It was very interesting. Do you want to add one last thing for the audience? [Music rolls in]
Adriano: What I would like to say is that the way we are working nowadays is beautiful. I mean, just to mention Skype…I published a book with a friend who was in Italy and we had been working every day on this book by using Skype and there are two problems. One is that I think that even if we can work, we can discuss, we can do things, we cannot look straight on in our eyes when we are using this technology. The second thing is, we cannot drink beer together – we cannot share the pleasure of drinking a beer together. That’s all. (laughing) Thank you for chatting with me.
Sven: Thank you for your time; it was very interesting. So, have a good evening. I’m listening to the sound of the shore in your background. So it’s if you’re living right next to the ocean.
Adriano: I’m just living in front of the ocean. And it is a real richness I have now in Gran Canaria.
Sven: Very, very great. So Adriano, have a nice evening. Thanks for taking part in this interview and for responding to my questions and hope to see you soon.
Adriano: Me too. With a beer! Ciao!
Sven: With a beer, of course! Thank you. Bye-bye.