A deciding factor in my move back to Madrid was the number of long-time friends I have here. Spanish society’s attitude toward friendship was also key — it’s a place where people work hard to maintain their friendships for a long time. Of course, it’s helpful that there isn’t a marked tendency to move far away, as we do in the U.S., but I don’t think that’s the only thing at work here. In my opinion, there’s more emphasis on the collective than on the individual. Sometimes that isn’t a good thing — as shown by the tiny number of entrepreneurs here — but it does mean that people can count on their friends and family for just about anything, anytime.

Here’s one of my dearest and “oldest” friends in Madrid. I went out to her place in the mountains for the weekend, and over lunch we were marveling at how we’ve known each other for 25 years, which clearly can’t be possible since we’re so young! She’s also the one who famously chewed me out for not asking her to help me when I was so sick at the New Year. As far as she’s concerned, I wasn’t letting her be my friend then. Won’t make that mistake again. After all, she’s a keeper!