Advantages of Traveling with an Aspie

Until now, I have given quite a negative description of ASD. Fortunately, Lars pointed out that I do have my strengths. When we plan a trip, we each have our own responsibilities. Lars always takes care of the lodgings and the budget, whereas I research the places and things to visit. When I research a destination, I’m usually in hyperfocus (intense concentration). When we drive, I usually have a keen eye for details, and that often helps us in finding interesting attractions. I also have strong memory skills. The combination of these skills (hyperfocus, eye for detail and memory) are my strongest traits, and I share them with lots of other aspies.

I’m not sure if you aware of this, but I also write articles for an American movie website ( and there too the same traits, I have just mentioned, turn out to be very helpful. Independent thinking is another one: I don’t care what anyone else thinks about a movie that I am reviewing. I just make sure that I have enough arguments for my opinion.

Photo by Anna Shvets on

You will never hear me say that being on the spectrum is easy, but we aspies do have our strengths, we just have to be aware of them and know how to use them!


3 Years in Spain: Embracing Change

Indeed, today is a special day, exactly 3 years ago we arrived in Spain, eager to start a better life. One of the main reasons for leaving Belgium was to be as far away as possible from the toxic people in my life. The people who had made my life a living hell were my parents aka my principal mental abusers who liked to remind all the time that I was “stupid, fat and ugly”. But after some months, I realized that I felt safer, and more relaxed, yet I wasn’t fully enjoying myself, but why not? Why wasn’t I happy? Even when we moved to Iznalloz, something was lacking. Wouldn’t you feel happy if you lived in a cozy apartment with 2 bedrooms, a spacious kitchen and a huge terrace with a killer view, all this for less than half of the rent we used to pay in Brussels for a 1-bedroom apartment with a kitchen designed for Lilliputians?

Relaxing Viking and chocolate milk while I am writing outside, because this Belgian girl still needs chocolate!

A view to die for, the swimming pool we share with our neighbors!

Seriously, why wasn’t I happy? A certain virus gave me more than enough time to ponder this question. Wasn’t it about time that I accepted myself as I was? Wasn’t it about time that I put the hurtful words of my parents behind me, once and for all? Moreover, when we left Belgium, it was merely weeks after having received my diagnosis as an aspie. And then it dawned on me: as long as I did not accept that diagnosis, I would and could never be completely happy. I became a member of a group of aspies on Facebook (I highly recommend this in case you are a struggling aspie yourself), I also started reading scientific articles about my disorder, especially about the positive traits (I will devote an article on this), and last but not least I started following channels about autism on YouTube (ask me in the comments if you want to know which ones I recommend). All of these made me fully accept Ingrid Dendievel with the quirky brain. And once I did that, I reached happiness. I now fully realize how lucky – and happy! – Lars and I am.

Some other big changes

When we had just arrived in Torrox, I felt restless because there were no trams or metro like in Brussels. In the meantime we have realized that living in a small town like Iznalloz is better for us, we have everything we need, the locals are super friendly and whenever we have a bad day, we can seek refuge in the surrounding mountains, where we have a canine friend, a Pyrenean mountain dog called Floof. When I meet him, he comes to greet me and then pees on our car, I think in his own way he has accepted us. And we have become friends with some locals here. All this contributes to our happiness.

I think it’s safe to say that we have become obsessed with the local tapas! I actually come from a family with the worst cooks ever, and I sincerely can’t tell you who was the worst, my mother or my grandmother. My grandmother, who raised me, because my own mother didn’t have the time for this, managed to cook a whole dinner in barely 5 minutes. They both were masters of turning pork into something abominable, a gray mass that smelt, felt and tasted like rubber. Even when I was an adult, I still disliked pork so much that the mere sight of it could make me vomit. Guess what? I have come to love it, thanks to the tapas culture! Not so long ago, I prepared pork tenderloin with a wine sauce for the very first time in my life. Last summer, The Viking almost fell off his chair, when I ate grilled pork fat with garlic as a tapa. I actually felt a bit guilty the other day when I saw a truck full of pigs on its way to the slaughterhouse, but the Viking crushed that feeling by telling me that pigs could behave like cannibals. By the way, I taught myself to cook and the very first dish I prepared was … paella! Actually, the Viking is spoiled with food here!

Happiness can come in small portions. My favorite moment of the day is the evening, when I can hear a lot of neighborhood dogs barking. It always makes me think of “101 dalmatians” (the animated movie, not the one with Glen Close), where dogs far and close bark to spread the message that Pongo’s and Perdita’s puppies have disappeared. This moment of the day always puts a smile on my face.

Anyway, up to many years of happiness in Iznalloz!

What about you? Would you be able to move to another country and to live happily ever after there?

Our First BBQ of 2021

This post deals with mental health issues. Read this text first.

Wednesday 17 February. Temperature 23 C grades (= 74 F grades). Time for the Viking to prepare himself.

Look at the weather!

The table is ready! Viking looks very concentrated.

Apart from my grandmother’s china, there isn’t much on the table. That will soon change.

Some ingredients…

I know it’s not summer yet, but we were both in the mood for some tinto de verano. By the way, I think we should have cleaned the table first…

Time for the potatoes and green peppers to go on the BBQ.

What’s in the mystery bag?

This is a Viking making garlic butter. Simple but oh so delicious! The butter, I mean…

Peppers arriving at the table.

The meat! Lars wanted a giant steak. The aspie in me had some troubles with that; I have the impression that the cut of the meat is different here in Spain. It simply doesn’t taste the same as in Belgium, so I stuck with hamburgers.

New arrival: a mixed salad.

I must have looked very hungry toward the Viking…

Steak is ready. Even I had to admit that it looked delicious.

Let’s attack!

You can even prepare dessert on a BBQ: grilled slices of pineapple. The fruit becomes less acidic and goes well with some whipped cream.

Later this week, we take you back to the province of Córdoba!

How to Drive To (and Through) the Gorafe Desert (and How Not to!) – Part 3

First of All

Earlier this week, I had promised to publish this post yesterday. But then something happened…

Probably like many of you, the last days I have been experiencing many problems with my Gmail. I can imagine that many of you were frustrated or angry as well, but it had a far worse impact on me. And that’s because of my ASD.

Because I am hypersensitive, and communication and social conventions can be difficult for me, the outside world can be overwhelming to me. In order to cope with this, I rely on certain habits and routines. From organizing my day to arranging my food on my plate, I live according to strict routines. One thing that I do every day, even before breakfast, is reading my emails. You cannot imagine how soothing it is for me to check my emails and then visit your blogs.

When something disturbs a certain routine, or I can’t perform them, I feel very unwell – on a mental level. I can feel restless or uneasy, or I have a breakdown/ meltdown. And then it’s impossible to focus and write. That’s the reason nothing happened on this website yesterday.

Anyway, the problems seem to be resolved now.

One more thing. You probably have noticed that when I visit your blog/website, I leave a “like”, but I hardly comment. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s because I don’t know how to. Yes, even when it’s written communication, I have problems. In real life, people accuse me of being too direct and rude. That’s the reason I keep a low profile.

Back to business.

Read part 1 here. And here is part 2.


Simply put, the Gorafe desert is a unique and one of the most spectacular landscapes in Europe!

“The Guadix-Baza Depression is an inland sedimentary basin, surrounded by mountains and relatively high above sea level and fluvial in nature. In the centre there was once a lake teeming with life. Some 100,000 years ago, its waters spilled into the Guadalquivir River Valley by way of the River Guadiana Menor, leaving evidence of millions of years of activity etched on the rocks and ground. (…) Erosion is one of the main features of the landscape in this region, which has created spectacular badlands, so named because of their dry, ravine-like nature. These shapes give the region its unique character, and they are especially varied and extraordinary in the central part of the basin.” (source:”

Most prefer to visit this remarkable landscape with a guide. Check out and Al Andalus Photo Tour.

Budget Adventure

Yes, it’s possible to do this on your own. I am not going to lie: these organized tours are not cheap!

We recommend:

  • Take snacks and drinks with you.
  • Preferably drive an SUV.
  • Don’t do this during bad weather or when it gets dark!
  • And follow our route!

After your visit to the Megalithic Park, keep on driving on the same road (Mirador del Llanos de Olivares).

The Olive Trees

With a bit of luck, you will see this…

Does anyone know what kind of animals these are? Let us know in the comments!

The Entrance

Keep on following the road. Your adventure will start soon… Do you want a sneak-peek?

At your right, badlands, badlands and,… badlands! At your left, when you look down, you will see Gorafe. You will also see signs towards a cave hotel. And then the road goes down and the fun begins!

Welcome to the Badlands

You are now driving on a dirt road. It’s narrow and steep sometimes. You will encounter some potholes now and then. But, trust us, it’s still safe.

Take it easy. Don’t drive fast. And let it all sink in. You are now surrounded by badlands in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Mother Nature was clearly inspired here…

You see that lonely mountain with that blue spot in the background? At the right of the picture?

That’s the Embalse de Negratin!

The Big Silence

Silence can be overwhelming…

The dust on our car was also impressive…

Keep on following the road!

Slowly but surely, you are reaching the highlight of your adventure…

Los Colorados

Also called Los Coloraos.

“Close to Gorafe and within the “Desierto de Gorafe” Geo-Route, Los Colorados is the name the locals give to a landscape where a reddish colour dominates. This tone justifies the name (“red-coloured” in Spanish is “colorado”), the cause of which is found in the ground, comprised of the dismantling of rocks due to the oxidant nature of sediments.” (source:

In other words: you are looking at the smaller version of the Grand Canyon!

And Then…?

You turn around, and you go back to where you came from: the Megalithic Park. Don’t worry: there is enough space to turn around.

Don’t do what we did. We kept on following the road. DON’T DO THAT! The road becomes a lot more narrow, steeper and rougher. Going on an adventure is one thing, taking unnecessary risks another!

And it got a lot rougher!

When you are back at the Park, check your car. If you can’t read your number plates, because of all the dust, clean them!

This was our biggest adventure of 2020. If you follow the whole itinerary, take 2 days. If you don’t go to Villanueva de las Torres, 1,5 days, with at least half a day for the Gorafe Desert. And again, follow our instructions!

Interested in more adventures? Come back tomorrow!

Two and a Half Years in Spain – Has it Changed Us?

Oh, yes! And in a good way! Let’s have a look.

Slower Rhythm of Life

Looking back on our life in Belgium, it seems like we were always in a rush. At work. At home, In the supermarket. During our travels. We were always rushing…

But here? No. Yet, it’s not like that we are on holiday here. I write. I blog. I photograph. Lars plans. Lars drives. And guess what? In a country where during at least 6 months it’s hot, you don’t feel like rushing. And especially during these months, we even take a siesta.


Better Physical and Mental Health

As a result, our health has improved a lot. I have not been physically ill ever since we arrived here. Lars maybe 2 or 3 times. In Belgium, I always had health problems. A cold. A flue. A throat and/or ear infection. Intestinal problems. And it’s because of the stress and the rushing…

And our mental health? We know that we will always have to take our anti-depressants. I also know that my ASD will never disappear. But the best thing is that I have finally accepted that. I am an aspie and I cannot change that. And if anyone has a problem with this, I refuse to make it my problem.

But there are 2 things I am even more grateful for. I no longer hear voices in my head. And I haven’t seen any shadow people. There was so much chaos in my head back in Belgium. And now, most of it is gone. No more dark clouds in my brain.

Moving Inland

Best decision of this year: moving to Iznalloz. We are now about 25 kilometers to the north of Granada. But:

  • The coast is only an hour away.
  • In our apartment complex, there is a communal pool.
  • Hardly any tourists.
  • Cheaper way of life.
  • So much tranquility!

Advice to anyone who wants to live here: go inland, to a big village. You will have all the amenities and your quality of life will improve!

No More Restaurants

How is that an advantage?

The answer is simple… TAPAS! And in the province of Granada: FREE TAPAS!

What Have We Learned So Far?

  • Try to adapt as much as possible.
  • They really don’t put any chorizo in paella.
  • Spanish men are so handsome. As an aspie, I don’t like to be touched by people I hardly know. But the man who runs the pharmacy here may always give me a hug!
  • Some Spanish women are beautiful (opinion of the Viking).
  • You will always find a bar here where the tapas are bigger.
  • Spanish watermelon is so much sweeter!

Later this month, we will tell you how you can cope with anxiety and stress when you have a mental condition and want to move to another country. In our next post this week, we will take you to Odessa!

Hasta luego, amigos!

Why This Website Is Now Also a Manifesto Against the Stigma of Mental Disorder

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

No more hiding… We have not been lying to you, certainly not, but it’s not easy to admit that you have a mental disease or disorder. The major reason why we have barely mentioned our disorders is the stigma, the taboo, the prejudices, …

This will change from now on. Look in the sidebar and you will see that we have written a welcome word where we simply admit it: we are a middle-aged couple, each with a mental disorder. Something like The Odd Couple … Anyway, you will see a link to a page where we discuss in detail each disorder. We ask you kindly to read this, you will better understand us!

Our diagnoses

Photo by Pixabay on

Lars has been suffering from major depression since his teenage years. Right now, he feels quite well, but there can be bad days. And luckily, you can consult psychiatrists for free here in Spain and medication only costs a couple of euros.

Me, that’s a completely different story. I had been struggling with depression since 2014 and it never seemed to stop. My psychiatrist was convinced that some other disorder was triggering my depression. So, she sent me to a psychiatric hospital. That was in March 2018.

I am not going to say much about the hospital. It was a sad place; I have seen things that I frankly never want to see again. But after 5 weeks of tests, my 2 psychiatrists and 2 psychologists all came to the same conclusion: I suffer from ASD, new term for Asperger’s syndrome. So, I am an aspie.

My initial reaction was one of shock, but all the tests pointed into the same direction. All but one: the infamous Rorschach test, the one where you have to interpret spots on a card. Here the psychologist decided that I have a very impressive imagination!

After some time, the diagnosis started to make sense. I had always been the odd one, the weird one. I always talked differently, behaved differently, thought differently, … And that’s because my brain is wired differently. Moreover, since this year, I have completely embraced my disorder. My depression is a side effect, not the source of my ASD. And it’s also the result of years of verbal and mental abuse by my parents.


Photo by RODNAE Productions on

“Cheer up!”

Really? That is the thing you say when someone suffers from depression? Granted, it’s a mood disorder, but also a sign that something is wrong with your brain chemistry. It’s certainly not the case that Lars sits in a corner all day, crying… But he needs a lot more than just “cheering up”.

For me, again it’s more complicated. We aspies have to deal with a lot more prejudices. Read about it in our Mental Health section.

By the way, just like Lars, I can have bad days too. But lately, I have noticed that I feel bad not just because of my ASD, but because of the way NT’s treat me.

Can you lead a normal life?

Photo by Kaique Rocha on

Let’s start with a remark: normal is a relative term. I am pretty certain that most of you think I am weird, but guess what? I don’t feel weird – unless you confront me with it, I feel normal, whereas I think your ways of thinking and speaking and behaving are weird for me. Just saying …

Anyway, everything depends on how severe the depression is and where you find yourself on the spectrum. In our case, the answer is yes. From time to time, we see a psychiatrist, but for the rest our life is pretty much the same as yours. And yes, we travel, otherwise this blog would not exist!

Some other remarks:

  • In case of a problem, Lars can quickly become stressed and/or confused. I, on the other hand, can become overwhelmed, but I can quickly regain my composure.
  • Because my mind processes information slower, I cannot drive a car nor ride a bike.
  • Lars’s mind can be chaotic, whereas mine is full of rituals and routines. This contrast is our biggest problem. Whether we are talking about spices or my DVDs or shampoo, everything has its fixed place for me. And when Lars puts something in another place, I can become upset or suffer from a breakdown.
  • My biggest problem is loud noise; this can easily trigger a breakdown. Luckily, Lars is aware of this.

If you want more info, there is a good YouTube channel.

Will the Website Change?

Photo by Donald Tong on

Yes! We will pay more attention as to how our mental health influences our way of travel … and vice versa!

Need more info? Contact us!

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