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Celebrando cinco años de Nomad Estilo 🎉

Celebrating five years of Nomad Style 🎉

Six years ago I was sitting in the Plaza de Aguamarga, having a drink with some friends, when one of them told me that the store on the corner across the street was available for rent. It was one of those moments in life that seems like a cliché, but a thought hit my brain like a bolt of lightning: "That's your store." I had no idea what I was going to sell when I was negotiating the transfer and signing the contract. All that came later. I spent months working alongside the masons refurbishing and decorating the shop, in what would be a crash course in small-town life. I had a small budget and when I opened in March 2015, the store didn't even have a name. I sourced local and other produce that I thought would appeal to the market, inspired by my many travels and the natural park that I already called home. As an avid shopper, I wanted to create the kind of store I'd like to shop at.

You could say that retail is in my blood. My father was a very successful industrialist who built a local empire in a small town in the UK and I grew up running around his shop and playing amongst the boxes in the warehouse. My career had taken me down a different path, into travel journalism and interior design. When I moved to Andalusia in 2014 in search of a different life, I never imagined that I would end up opening a store. I found the venue at a very difficult time in my personal life and having a creative project to focus on became a desperately needed escape.

Moving to Cabo de Gata from Notting Hill in London has been, to say the least, a culture shock. I had started visiting the area in 2011 and had fallen madly in love with it. The desert landscapes and pristine beaches reminded me of traveling through South America when I was in my twenties. I was desperate to get out of London and a cut-throat corporate job that wasn't my thing. I wanted to get as far away as possible, both physically and philosophically, from the grime and filth of the city. The endless hedonism that had been fun in my twenties began to make no sense when I reached my mid-thirties. I wanted to live in the countryside, with sun, sea and good food, and lead a more peaceful life.

By the time I found the store, I had spent a year living in a remote farmhouse, while suffering from a short, unhappy and disastrous marriage. The store was a lifeline, something of its own that gave me a sense of hope. The first months in the town were hard. I was an outsider and my Spanish was rusty and too South American. The closed accent of Almeria was almost unintelligible to me. I felt scrutinized with a mixture of curiosity and mistrust. I was also shy and insecure about how to interact, like a fish far out of water. I found a builder and asked him to let me have one of his crew to work alongside me and do the heavy lifting that I couldn't. I insisted that whoever brought it wouldn't mind working with a woman. The first day that José came to work with me, his wife Carmen invited me to a coffee. Of course, it wasn't just a coffee, but an opportunity to appraise the crazy Englishwoman who worked as a bricklayer alongside her husband. Looks like I passed that test, and soon became friends with the whole family.

My favorite anecdote from that time, at the beginning of 2015, while renovating the store, is about the famous María from the Aguamarga square bar. One day, while we were breaking down the false ceiling, with the electrical cables hanging and the place full of plaster dust, Maria came to see what we were doing.I told her she couldn't come in a bit abruptly (a combination of tiredness and a certain British gruffness) and she took it pretty hard. For two weeks, she barely even looked at me when I greeted her. Finally, exasperated, I went to talk to her, as she sat on the bench outside her bar.

"Maria, are you mad at me? What did I do to upset you?" I asked her.

She snorted, and then said in her wonderful deep voice, "You didn't want to show me around the store."

"Sorry Maria, it was a bad day to visit her, would you like to see her now?" I replied.

The idea that Maria, the village matriarch, would put a cross on me before I opened the door horrified me. So I gave her a private tour, showed her the things she had brought to sell, and explained, as best I could in those days, what my plans were. She was delighted to be the first to know what the English girl was doing with the store.

Two days later, on one of the hardest days of construction, when we had been working for about twelve hours straight, she brought me a ham sandwich and told me not to work so hard and to eat. We've been great friends ever since.

Today, in May 2020, Maria stopped by the store for a little chat and to see what's new as we set up the store for this year's season, and she told me that everything was beautiful. Her opinion is as important as ever. This year we are, of course, much further behind than normal. Back in March when the lockdown began and we were facing the reality of a pandemic, I had no idea if it would be possible to open this year. At this point it looks like we will have a summer of some kind after all, although we will continue to wear masks and deal with the terrible loss of life around the world.

When the virus hit, I was in the middle of renovating the place, which already needed a makeover. Now that we're out of quarantine, I'm glad we did. It feels good to start over after so much sadness and worry. The store has helped keep me afloat through several personal storms over the last five years, and I hope it survives this one too. This year I am delighted to welcome back Leles who helped me start the business in 2015. This year she is running the store and it is a pleasure to work with someone who understands my vision and adds her own creativity and passion to the project.

I will also be present, as much as I can. It continues to be a project that I am passionate about, in a town that I consider my home. Aguamarga has been greatly affected by the devastating impact of the virus on tourism. Many businesses will have a tough year in 2020. But the town is pulling together to provide the safest possible environment for its visitors this season. We are a diverse community, made up of people who were born here and those who have come from various parts of Spain and Europe, and yet we have one thing in common: we all love and are proud of our beautiful town by the sea.

I hope you'll come visit us soon, if you can, and be a part of our community for a while. This year is the fifth anniversary of Nomad Estilo and I am working harder than ever on creating an online store that replicates the warmth and magic that I have tried to create in my little corner store in Aguamarga. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of my neighbors, customers, team members, vendors, and associates who have supported my small business over the years. It continues to be an honor to serve you and work with you. I hope to see you very soon in Aguamarga.