Karla Darocas: Artist, Entrepeneur and Canuck Expatriate in Spain
5. You are always involved in a variety of endeavours. Tell us about the various websites you are working on.
My husband and I try and keep all of our important information on our own website – http://www.darocas.com/ – this is where I keep track of my paintings too. Then, I have another website called http://www.spainlifestyle.com/ where I store my writings and poems and photos of the renovations on our house. Then, we have another site called http://www.spainphotos.net/ where we store our Spanish adventure photos.
6. In addition to web sites, you also participate in several business organizations. What are they and what is your role?
http://www.palomera.com/ is a website that seeks out and tracks what the Spanish business community is doing and we can watch business trends.
Last year, I started a business club for women – which has grown and we are actually hosting International Women’s Day. It just goes to show the power of women to make something out of nothing. This is a club of international women who have come to live on this coast. The website is http://www.wibc-spain.com/
7. Obviously both you and your husband have a strong entrepreneurial orientation. You are now also involved in a project that involves a luxury Canadian cedar log home development in Spain. Tell us more about that project.
We both love wood homes. The homes in Spain are made from cement – so they tend to be cool in summer, which is good, but during winter and the stormy season cement homes are damp, cold and clammy. They are always full of cement dust and if they don’t get enough sun they get moldy.
The Spanish don’t have a good understanding of wood home building but the many of immigrants from England, France, Switzerland, Germany and so forth love their wood homes. So I hooked up with some old university friends from Canada who design and build wood homes in order to be able to offer a Canadian cedar log home to the Spanish landscape and marketplace. We are currently working on a project with a Spanish developer to build the first wooden home community in Spain. That website is called http://www.spainloghomes.com/
8. In addition to your entrepreneurial ventures, you are also an artist. Tell us a bit about your artistic background and the creative endeavours you are involved in now.
I love to paint. I had not done it for many years due to being so involved with the internet industry. When we moved here I was so happy to get back to my passion and use my skills that I developed at university. Now, I paint to please myself but the paintings sell very easily to people buying new villas or to tourists.
9. Talk to us about the expatriate experience in Spain. Where do community of foreigners live, how do they interact, what types of business and activities are they involved in, and how has that changed the country?
The coastlines of Spain are turning into very international communities. It reminds me of what California and Florida must have been like back in the 60’s and 70’s. Every retired person from northern Europe is moving to Spain for the sun and sea.
They are bringing their cultural mix and adding it to the Spanish culture. The rest of Spain is changing too – for the good and for the bad. There are more social reforms happening in Spain now – for women and for labour and social welfare. The new government is young and progressive.
The bad side is that the progress is too fast and the natural beauty and landscape is being filled up with cement houses looking like low cost housing, but as holiday homes they are fetching a huge price. This inflation is eating away at the poor in this country and now young Spanish people are looking at an era where they will not be able to buy a home.
10. What advice would give to someone else who is considering moving to Spain?
Don’t’ move to Spain unless you are willing to be flexible. There is nothing stable about this country and perhaps there never will be. If you are rich, and can live off a pension and golf everyday you will be fine. If you think you can move to Spain and get a job forget it. However, if you are an entrepreneur and can see the holes in the marketplace and you have the guts and know-how to fill the hole you will be fine.
Thanks, Karla, for sharing your viewpoints and experiences. I appreciate your insider’s insights into a culture that has fascinated me for a long time. Good luck with your endeavours in Spain!