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Jan Weima- Secretary Triple A: ‘’A Journey to My Life in Marbella’’

Jan Weima- Secretary Triple A: ‘’A Journey to My Life in Marbella’’

Jan gave a most entertaining talk to our club on the 24th April 2014

Although a well-known face in Marbella due to his many years of volunteer work for animal shelter Triple A, Jan was born to a Dutch father and Venezuelan mother on the Caribbean island of Curacao in 1945, following his parents flight from Holland during World War Two.
His father was an engineer with Shell and Jan lived with his family in a number of Latin American countries; including Panama, Costa Rica, Venezuela and finally Argentina. A self-confessed language lover, he grew up speaking Spanish, but also speaks Dutch, French, German and English.

At the tender age of eighteen years, he determined to return to his father’s home country, so together with his pet dog Pinky he managed to ‘work his passage’ on a steamer to Rotterdam. Arriving in Holland some 28 days later, he found the cold northern European climate and constant rules and regulations not to his liking. Accordingly, with his brother he managed to purchase a motorbike and they decided to try their luck in Paris. After a few weeks there, however, they did not find their circumstances much improved and so journeyed onwards, south to Barcelona. Notwithstanding the improved climate, one day Jan spied a boat about to sail to Ibiza and asked his brother where Ibiza was. His brother had no idea either, so they took a chance and jumped on the boat, finding when they arrived a beautiful and unspoilt island; eventually his whole family moved there.

Reminiscing on the paradise that Ibiza was in the early sixties, Jan explained how he was running out of money and so, with his brother he decided to set up an Argentinean style steak restaurant which he called Es Grill; this quickly became the trendy place on the island to meet and eat and resulted in Jan rubbing shoulders with the top stars of the time: John Lennon, Terry Thomas and Brian Jones. Sadly, however, during this time Jan’s parents died and he finally in 1970 he decided to sell up and leave Ibiza.
“Back then it was all sex, drugs and rock and roll’’. I thought ‘’There’s only two ways out of here, via the funeral directors parlour or by plane. I had to get out and when I fell in love with a girl in Ibiza, who worked as a model, I followed her back to Manchester for a short trip. I ended up, however, living there for 7 years, being involved in the ‘rag trade’ for most of that period!” Fortuitously, one day a male model was missing for a photo shoot, so Jan stepped in and later became a top male model on the Manchester and Liverpool scene. “When I became a male model, overnight I was very popular in Manchester and could get £300 for a day’s modelling work. I modelled for major catalogues such as Grattan and was the main male model for Adidas.”

Then, opportunities in acting roles occurred, starting with minor parts with the BBC and leading to walk on roles in the British soap ‘Coronation Street’. He also worked with Twiggy in a play called Victorian Scandals for Granada TV from 1973 to 1974. In 1977 Jan was looking for somewhere to invest his savings and finally ended up on an inspection flight to Marbella.
He said: “I arrived on a Friday evening and by 11:00 hours on the Saturday morning I’d bought a property. On the flight back to Manchester I asked myself why was returning to the UK? I already spoke Spanish and the weather was perfect there!’’ Just over a week later Jan drove back to Marbella with his partner and cat Pedro. That was 34 years ago and he has been here ever since.  Initially based in Marbella and earning money as a rep for a British holiday company, he then met his current wife Beryl at Malaga airport: she was a rep too.
In 1979, like many living on the Costa del Sol, Jan ended up trying to make a living in the booming real estate business, leading to several brushes with the local police.
But according to Jan, Marbella in the early 80s was a world apart from the trendy resort it is today, especially where stray animals were concerned.
“I was very shocked to see dead dogs on Ricardo Soriano that would sometimes be left there for several weeks.” he said. “It was particularly distressing in the summer. There was no animal health department and just one vet for the whole of Marbella - she had to look after all the farm animals too.”
It was against this backdrop in 1983 that Jan and an American called Bruno Lupia started a charity called Costa Animal Society and although, due to an exodus of expats from the Costa del Sol, that charity collapsed in 1991, in the same year he and a few other expats started Triple A, where Jan is currently the Secretary.  Proud of his involvement with Triple A, Jan explained that this was a 24 hours a day job, working with a budget of Euro 24,000 per month to try to rescue, treat and find homes for stray and distressed dogs and cats. Explaining that people, not animals, were the problem, Jan informed the audience that Spanish culture was not sympathetic to the plight of animals and most adoptions of Triple A dogs and cats were by Finns, Norwegians and Swedes; we love animals, the Spanish do not appreciate them in the same way.

Jan stated: “We once found Sean Connery’s dog, which we took to Triple A. One afternoon Sean arrived and wrote a cheque for 15,000 Pesetas (around 90 Euros) for finding his dog and looking after him. I shook his hand and he drove away. I still have a copy of the cheque to this day.”
And back in those early days, English language films were shown in the little Puerto Banús cinema. Then, if it rained the movie was cancelled as the cinema had a corrugated roof and the rain made such a noise that the film soundtrack could not be heard. In those situations a quiet, ‘little’ voice would announced to the audience that they should come back another night. Often Jan would see Sean Connery, Deborah Kerr or Stuart Granger also watching a film there!
Confirming his commitment to Marbella, Jan stated: “I’ve always dreamt about bringing up my children here. I felt like I was in Latin America and was going back to my roots with the weather, language and lack of organisation. I felt at home.’’