It’s important to recognise the warning signs. It is. Really. The tell-tale moment, the single point, the revelation to oneself that you have, in fact completely lost it.
The term ‘Gone Troppo’ for the uninitiated is used widely and freely in, well, Australia for example. Actually, probs pretty much there, really. Not even sure the Kiwis would stoop to such a phrase. It means the heat and the humidity and the weirdness of the climate have got to a person and they are now behaving in a very strange way – in fact, in a crazy way. Yes, yes, George Harrison DID have an album called ‘Gone Troppo’ but that’s because he picked it up from Australia, like a nasty virus, ok?
Going troppo is something that particularly happens to people who don’t come from ‘there’, wherever there is. In many Australian’s minds, ex-pats in particular are in danger of going troppo when they move to warmer climes – ie, anywhere north of where they are. Hell, if you’re in Tasmania, then you are at risk of going troppo by simply going and living in Melbourne! As for moving to Brisbane, or Singapore – forget it!!
So, when we arrived in Spain from chilly Brighton, I was particularly on guard for the indicators of the condition. A good clue to whether it would be possible to go troppo here was of course how the local ex-pats behaved. Were they turning up to bars with one shoe on and one shoe off? Were there disturbing instances of ex-pats found with nappies on their heads, or deciding to roll into to work wearing nothing but an inflatable lilo strapped to their arse? I was suspicious, although not yet convinced when visiting the office of the brilliant Gestor who has been helping us to settle in, we discovered an ex-pat wearing shorts and sneakers and a loose flowing top, loudly pontificating in English in the lobby to the poor receptionist. It was not that hot, after all, and he had just been to visit his accountant – in shorts! Who visits their accountant in shorts??? I don’t even think they do that in Darwin (well, actually…).
With keen vigilance, I have been observing other potential incidents of the insidious disease. When our laptops required urgent repair, we rang a local computer specialist who popped over promptly to pick them up. He was deeply tanned and leathery (mmm sun consumption…), and in shorts and a t-shirt (worrying), and he spoke extremely quickly (mania?), but took our laptops with a flourish saying that is should only take a day or two to fix. Several days went by and no word. After a week, we gently enquired, and were told they had been put to a deep test over the weekend and were still in the middle of the diagnostics. Another week and a slightly more tart request for an update resulted in a strange stream of consciousness about parts and bits and bobs and something about the kids and holidays. And another week, and another week…still no laptops.
There could be no other explanation: Troppo. Definitely!
With smug satisfaction, I had identified a clear case of the disease, even if it was at the cost of my own laptop. I now knew that the disease was active and present in our town.
In the six weeks since we arrived we’ve been doing our best to acclimatise. We swim daily, shop at the local open markets weekly, we’ve become regulars at the local restaurants and the chiringuitas on the beach. We head up into the hills for fabulous wine and we get the most wonderful tortilla from the local supermarket. There really is so much to say about being here, but first, I must finish about being troppo.
You see, today, we needed to pop into the Gestor to drop off our paperwork. It was only after we had loudly greeted Eva the receptionist, and handed over the papers that I looked down at the two of us: both in shorts and sneakers with loose flowing tops, straw hats and sun-glasses. Troppo. Definitely!!
Remedial measures are instantly required: down to the chiringuito for some Sangria and Tapas – it’s sure to cure all ills