March 30, 2023

“In Brunei, in a training session, they all lay down on the floor. I lay down too. A swarm of 10,000 bees passed by. We could stay like this for 4 minutes”

When you received the offer from Brunei, had you ever heard of the country?
Do not. I had to research. I learned that it was a Muslim country. First I went alone and then my girlfriend and son went there.

What were the first sensations and experiences when you landed?
The first shock was with the weather. I was coming from the winter to Valencia, I was wearing a coat and when I got off the plane I felt a hot breath, a hell of a lot of heat, I could hardly breathe. I had to undress and take my slippers out of my suitcase, immediately I was sweating and my body was sticky [risos]. Then I was leaving the airport and people, who were waiting for their friends and family, were staring at me. I don’t think they were used to seeing black [risos]. But it was only the beginning. I loved the experience in Brunei, it was great to clear my head, because I was very frustrated, with the feeling that no one else was going to bet on me and that I had no value anymore.

Was he making more money?
They didn’t pay badly and showed that they wanted me. One of the most important people in the country, the prince, came to see the training sessions and kept asking me how I was doing and that was an extra motivation for me. It was very positive.

What impressed you most about Muslim culture?
I did not know the Muslim culture, I did not know that they pray several times a day, nor that, for example, on Friday everything is closed. The first Friday, we were away and I thought it was a good day to go to the mall and enjoy it. I was still alone. I took the car and on the way every time I saw a mosque I noticed that there were hundreds of cars at the door. I was baffled, “What’s going on there?” [risos]. However, I got to the city center and there was no one there, everything was closed. I returned home. When I went to train, I asked my colleagues: “What happened that there is no one on the road?”. They explained to me that it is the holy day when everyone goes to the mosque to pray. It was like the country was closed. I didn’t know anything.

Do you have any other funny episodes due to cultural differences?
At the first training session when I got to the locker room to shower, I stripped and got all dressed up, that’s what I was used to, they stayed dressed, they sat and everyone was looking at me, even the physios. “Whoa, what’s going on here?” [risos]. It was all a learning experience. I started going with a towel or boxers, every time I learned something I tried to respect their customs.

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