Travel Bloggers that Rock! Interview with Will Peach from Gap Daemon
If you jump wholeheartedly into something, with no option but to succeed, because failure isn’t an option, well then that helps you come up with income streams and all the rest of it that you’ll need to survive.
Will, you left your 9 to 5 job in London for Spain to become fluent in Spanish and immerse yourself in the culture…what drove you to do that? What was the turning point?
Turning points eh? They cause us to do a whole myriad of crazy things. Unlucky for me then that I’m just plain out a little bit doolally. It didn’t really take much of a turning point for me!
Of course the 9 to 5 thing never suited me well, especially staring and reading about everyone else’s epic adventures and glorious travels each day. If anything that only made the wanderlust worse.
I guess I really knew that I wanted to leave when I simply just didn’t “feel” anything anymore. Living in London had become a bit of a bore. My everyday routine was a little tiring. Popping into Tesco’s was torturous. Not having a Club Card was cancerous. I just wanted out.
The simple fact is living abroad makes me feel a heck of a lot more creative. And I also want to be the first person in my family that doesn’t only speak English. The lazy fuckers.
Tell us about the place where you are living now and why you chose it…
Ah Cáceres. You have to love it really. This little city is quite the ticket when you look at it. One of the principal outposts in the dry, lonely, region of Extremadura, it’s home to a gorgeous old quarter (where I’ve had many a cerveza) and the ultra-modern high rise apartment blocks and commercial centres you can see all over Spain.
Let’s start with the people. A lot of other Spaniards will tell you that the Extremeños and Cácereños are the backward-thinking rednecks of the country but don’t be fooled. The locals here are some of the warmest, funniest and downright helpful people you can meet. Even the vagrants in the park cause you no bother.
Then there’s the atmosphere. Just enough buzz to be lively, but quiet enough not to drive you to despair. The weekdays are low-key yet the weekends debauched. With a good mix of dingy back alley bars, flamenco and salsa joints and uber-modern clubs, you’re bound to find something here to shake your sombrero.
Why I chose it? Firstly, because the English level here is pretty poor (increasing my chance of mixing and immersing myself with locals) and secondly, because the living expenses are some of the lowest in Spain. Perfect for bloggers and wannabe entrepreneurs!
Did you know any Spanish before you arrived in Spain, or were you a complete beginner?
There’s thinking you know Spanish and then there is actually knowing Spanish. Before I arrived I’d learnt a bit (I’d started a few months before). I’d listened to the odd podcast, flicked through the odd grammar book, spoke with a native or two. I thought I was old Billy Big Balls and thought I had la lengua done, dusted, and all wrapped up. Then that plane hit the ground and that’s when it quickly dawned on me I knew nothing.
It only took a single metro ride in Madrid and some serious eavesdropping to shatter my beliefs. Not being able to make out a single word, I knew I had a tough task ahead of me.
People say the best way to learn a language is by being in the country. So how is your Spanish learning going? Fluent yet?
Well putting that opinion to the test is all about what I’m trying to do at My Spanish Adventure. There I set myself biweekly learning goals and record a video of conversation at the end of each one to chart my progress. I’d say being in Spain is certainly helping. Just ask my local shop owners who bare the brunt of my horrible grammatical utterances during every one of my baguette (yes they buy them here too) buying sessions!
What are your top tips for learning a language?
They’d probably tell you that I’ve improved. But then I have spent a small fortune in Snickers bars there!
As for fluency, well I’ve given myself the comfort of a year to achieve it. Right now I’m three months in to the experiment and it’s going pretty well. I can certainly say more than “dos cervezas por favor” or “you make me horny”. The last one’s still novel however.
Actually the ultimate, definitive, kiss-my-feet-for-giving-you-this piece of advice is very simple.
Not giving a shit.
Making mistakes, not taking myself seriously, introducing myself to strangers and chatting to myself as I wander the streets have all helped to vastly improve my language skills in a very short time. They’ve also nearly put me in straitjacket too!
If you can get yourself out of the “oh I’ll speak it one day when I get the chance and I’m not too busy, and the lightings just right, and the moon is about two quarts full” mindset and simply jump, unabashedly, in, then you’ll learn rapidly.
It also helps if you’ve got some handy tools at your disposal. Get Anki (the SRS freeware programme) and learn the 1000 most used Spanish words, get yourself a decent grammar book and listen to a few podcasts (Notes in Spanish is a good series).
Getting laid and cooking with a local helps too. I’ve only done one of them. I’ll leave it up to you to guess which.
What are your favourite things so far about Spain?
Spain, without doubt, is one of the best countries I’ve lived in (I’ve done the USA, UK and Vietnam now!) Putting my finger on why though is a bit tough. If I was pressed, by a lovely buxom wench, into a corner, I’d probably say the mentality of the people.
I’ve had some irksome moments yes, but, for the most part, the people here are bloody lovely and know what matters in life. Their emphasis on family, relaxation and not working every hour of the blessed day is pretty refreshing coming from the dislocation and desperation of London. It also means I can go out and get a drink at 3am at night if I want to and sleep during the day like a tramp.
Oh yeah the weather, the geography and the food are pretty kick ass too. But then you all already knew that right?
Like many of us, you’re also doing the location independent thing. Any words for someone thinking of taking the leap?
Almost everyone I know thinking about going location independent (or trying to) usually still haven’t left the comfort of the places they live or have made their careers. If you jump wholeheartedly into something, with no option but to succeed, because failure isn’t an option, well then that helps you come up with income streams and all the rest of it that you’ll need to survive.
Keeping your expenses as low as possible to start with isn’t a bad idea either. That’s why my Spanish friends call my room “el zulo”, which derives, quite literally, from the windowless cells that ETA would throw its interrogation victims into. My secrets are all out in the open too coincidentally.
It also helps that Gap Daemon, a brilliant information source for young independent and gap year travellers, also pay me to work for them wherever I choose to live. Find a team like that and you’ll be made!
Tell us where else you’ve been on the planet…
As I mentioned before I lived in Vietnam for almost two years from 2008-2010 (after I graduated with my ever useful degree). Over there I was working for a lifestyle magazine called The Word (which is still going strong) in Saigon and freelancing a fair bit. I went out first as an English Teacher, which was pretty fun. As a result I’ve been practically everywhere (ok, not embedded with the rest of the Khmer Rouge or anything), but most places, around Southeast Asia.
I also lived in Miami, where I dreamt that I did a lot of cocaine and slept with a lot fake-breasted women, during a student exchange year at the University of Miami. Take away all the American football, beer pong and rich kids and it was actually a very nice experience.
Once you’re fluent in Spanish, what next? Do you have any upcoming travel plans?
Spanish is only the start. From there I hope to keep on rocking and rolling around the world trying to become more of a global citizen and constantly better myself. Travel is the only thing I’m interested in. The only thing I want to do. And the only way I want to spend the rest of my life. Period.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll try Portuguese in Brazil or a have another crack again at a more complicated Asian language. Now I’m better prepared from the first I’m pretty confident I’ll do a good job at both. Stay tuned for more My (Insert Country Here) Adventures soon, that’s for sure, and, most importantly of all, thanks for having me!
If you’d like to be my next interviewee, Contact Me and tell me why your blog rocks!