Ipswich mum turns to art as Brexit and Covid shatters Spain Airbnb dream
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
An Ipswich mum whose dreams of opening a holiday language school in Spain were shattered by Brexit and Covid has turned to art to overcome her nightmare.
Rosa Manteiga Castro was on the verge of setting up a residential Airbnb in La Coruña, northern Spain, where holidaymakers could learn Spanish while enjoying the sun.
"I've successfully built up a private tuition business in Ipswich for the last 12 years, teaching Spanish, and was looking forward to offering a residential learning experience in my native home town - offering guests the chance to both learn Spanish and explore the beautiful northern area of Spain," she said.
"Then the pandemic hit and my dream was shattered."
The lockdown hit the Spanish tutor particularly hard, as many of her students were either not comfortable learning on Zoom or were short of money while on furlough.
However, she said the rules following Britain's exit from the European Union had also hit her - as Britons can now only spend 90 days in an EU country every 180 days, even if they are opening and running a business.
"I started teaching from home in 2008 part-time," she said. "I had always dreamed of the residential part.
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"I just got to a point where I could see the whole dream slipping away.
"If we only had to contend with Covid, the dream would still be up there somewhere.
"Brexit has really affected it. There are so many rules in place, it is not good for a business like ours."
Mrs Manteiga Castro still plans to open the Airbnb in the future - but has found not only solace but another money-making venture in her colourful artwork.
"My mental health really suffered last year and that's when I took to art," the 50-year-old said.
She said she "began painting in order to relax" and started to share her work on social media and her website.
To her great surprise, she has sold pieces all over the world, including as far away as Texas and Australia.
Her work has been described as "naive art", which is created by a person who lacks the formal education and training of a professional artist.
"I'm so happy that my artwork - be it in the form of a greeting card, an original signed piece, cushion or mug - brings joy to people," she added.
"I'm happy to bring colour and joy to peoples homes through my creativity in these unprecedented times."