Spotlight on Callie Stewart by Susannah Grant

British physiotherapist, Happy Loro, mother and grandmother of 3 and longstanding INC member, Callie Stewart, tells us about her superfood plantations in Paraguay and the secret to an enriching, long and happy life in Madrid. 

1.       When did your overseas adventures start?

When I was 25 my father banished me to Canada l as I had an unsuitable suitor at the time. I spent 6 months working in Toronto and forgot about him quite quickly! 

2.       Later on you met your future Spanish husband but again, adventure prevailed – how did you end up working in Italy?

I replied to an advert in a professional physiotherapy journal and ended up working in Florence and Ancona in 1972 where treatments were practically 50 years behind the times!

Some families brought their disabled children to the hospital for the foreign Signorina to cure! That was terrible! 

3.       How has Madrid changed since you moved here with your husband and 3 small children in 1982?

Madrid seems to have grown almost beyond recognition since my early days here! The centre was very compact and going home to Majadahonda meant travelling through countryside to a separate village.  

4.       How easy was it to slot in back then?

It did take me a while to adjust at the beginning. However, through my work as a physiotherapist in a country where the practice was little known I was embraced by society and I treated people from dukes to dustmen which was fascinating.  

5.       Do you have any funny stories you can tell us about adapting to life in Madrid?

The most outrageous moment was when I had an old car and the horn didn’t work and someone had double-parked me. I was in a hurry to leave so when I saw a man going to his car I asked him to blow his horn for me: “Puedes tocar tu pito para mí porque el mío no funciona”  which basically means “Could you touch your penis for me as mine doesn’t work!” My family dined out on that story for months! 

6.       What are your connections with Paraguay?

Years ago a friend and I visited Paraguay and decided to make some investments. Later we became interested in Moringa which is a tree that grows very well there and is an extremely nutritious superfood. We have been growing it now for 4 years and are importing it into Europe and Asia.   

7.       Travelling is in your blood, tell us about your recent trip to India

Last January a group of us from INC travelled to Kerala in the South of India where tea and cardamom plantations nestle in breath-taking scenery. Afterwards we spent time in Delhi and also visited the Taj Mahal. 

In December we travelled together again, to Vienna, where INC member, Mareni, set up a splendid programme for us, she could easily go into the tourist business! INC has provided me with some very lasting friendships over the years.  

8.       What other clubs and associations do you belong to?

I’ve been involved with the British Benevolent Fund for many years, we provide a much-needed rescue service to Brits who are in dire need in Spain. I also do weekly walks in the mountains near Madrid with my bilingual walking group called the Happy Loros.   

9.       Finally, what are your tips for a long and fulfilling life?

Take a keen interest in everything around you, particularly in people and get involved in a fulfilling project – my case it’s a plantation of Moringa in Paraguay!