He likes to remain in the background, so I had everything against me when I proposed that he should be my next ‘profile’.
Miguel Sanchis Alcamí, who has recently turned 55, was born in the historical city of Sagunto. He is married and is the father of two teenage daughters that often keep him awake and worried when they arrive home in the small hours.
I can see that he is a shy person, who finds it difficult to talk about himself, but, as the minutes go by, I manage to make him feel comfortable. Or that’s what I feel.
He is a Valencia CF supporter, and as a youngster he played football in the Spanish third division, for Saguntino and Acero.
The boot of his car looks more like a gym locker than anything else. You can find mountain boots, cycling shoes, running trainers, tennis rackets, tracksuits, rucksacks, etc. Everything you might need for any sporting possibility.
Sport is a vital necessity for him, due to his nervous disposition and to accumulated stress. Every day, seven days a week, he practices some kind of sport: mountain hiking, tennis, cycling, he runs along the Turia riverbed accompanied by his dog PIN, or he plays paddle tennis. Even during Fruit Attraction, he gets up early to go jogging around the Juan Carlos I park.
Of his numerous whatsapp groups, one surprises me: ‘Pies quietos’ (Still feet), an ironic name for the active group of friends who travel around the Espadán and La Calderona mountain ranges together.
Which is your favourite of all the sports you practice?
Without any doubt, mountain biking, amongst other things because it is in the open air and I like to enjoy my surroundings. I have been going out with my group every Saturday for more than ten years now. We have forged very deep personal friendships here; some of us have known each other for over 30 years.
Are they one-day routes?
Yes, if they are nearby. The most recent one lasted three days and we travelled around the Basque Country. The days are tough (‘Pedals de Foc’), around 70 or 80 km daily and twelve hours on your bicycle, but it is amazing being able to enjoy places such as the Bidasoa River, Hondarribia, the Zugarramurdi caves, etc.
I have discovered that you are a magnificent chef, the lord and master of an incredible wood-fired oven and a great paella pan.
Yes, I have my own private ‘txoco’ in the mountains. It is the only family stronghold where I am in charge, with my wife’s acquiescence. There, I enjoy cooking for my friends and family. I like to eat well and so I have to compensate for it by doing a great deal of sport. This weekend we have roast goat and paella.
I have been told that when you got married you made a condition with your wife: if you lived in Valencia, it had to be in an area that is well-connected to Sagunto. This reminds me of the story of the people of Sagunto, besieged by Hannibal, but no-one wanted to leave the city. Is this your case?
If we interpret it like that, yes, it is. My family, my friends, my ‘Easter’, the countryside and the L’Almardà beach have all formed part of my childhood and teenage years. It is also the perfect place to start out for mountain breaks.
What would your life have been like without citrus fruits?
Undoubtedly, I would have pursued another type of activity. I grew up amongst the humming of the warehouses. My grandparents and my uncles earned their livings linked to this sector. My father was different; he worked in the Sagunto Blast Furnaces. My first money, while I was studying, I also earned both in the fields and in the warehouse.
With this personal background, I am sure you ended up studying agriculture…
It could not have been otherwise. I went to the Faculty of Agricultural Technical Engineers and I started working whilst I was at University. The times were different and getting a job was easier than it is now. I spent almost 2 years in the first company and then I moved to Decco.
And your professional career?
I haven’t had to look for anything: one thing has always led to another. I joined Decco Ibérica very young, and professionally it has been an endless journey of decisions that I have accepted over the 28 years I have been here. Some decisions better than others. During this time the company has changed hands and name several times. Today we belong to an Indian company, UPL, with a CEO in Philadelphia. I think that this background has given me a special flexibility to be able to give back to the company.
I suppose you speak perfect English then?
I speak enough English to talk to my boss in Philadelphia and for him to understand me. My wife, who studied Tourism, has a very high level. I have had to get my English better by studying several summers in academies in Bournemouth, taking the whole family with me.
As your wife worked in tourism, you must have travelled a great deal.
The truth is we have. Before we had our children, we travelled a great deal in Africa and afterwards, with them, we have been to South America, Asia. Last September, we went to Indonesia.
Have you any plans for a Christmas journey?
We wanted to go to Lapland, but I don’t think we’ll manage to get it together in time. Anyway, I am sure that we will do something. My wife is always ready to pack a case and catch a plane.