A million-euro house, candy from the president, and dreams about Ukraine: how 90s superstar Olya Yunakova lives in Spain
The singer Olga Yunakova, who was incredibly popular in the 90s, disappeared from Ukrainian screens not because she decided to quit her profession. The performer continues to do what she loves and hasn't given up her art. However, she demonstrates her talents in another country.
Olya Yunakova and her family have been living in the south of Spain for nine years. The artist spoke about her current life in an interview with OBOZ.UA.
Olga Yunakova and her husband Stepan have three daughters: "Tereza is 19, Eva is 14, and Monika is 12. It's their desire to stay here-I didn't plan it. In 2014, we came to Spain by car for a vacation, but it so happened that this trip is still going on. I remember when I was enrolling the girls in a Spanish school, the principal asked me a question during the interview: "Are you sure you are from Ukraine?". He was very surprised by the names, because they were purely European."
"My daughters really like studying here," says Olya. "In Kyiv, only Tereza went to school, Eva and Monika were still very young. And although she studied at a very good gymnasium, the teaching is still different. Here, pens have to be folded, everything is strict. And here it's different. You can get up, go sharpen a pencil, leave the classroom to go to the bathroom without being asked, share a sandwich with the teacher. Teresa was pleasantly shocked by this: "Mom, can you imagine, the teacher came up to me today and asked what I was eating. I gave him my sandwich and he gave me his." Our teachers don't behave like that, you must admit."
"There is a completely different system here," Yunakova continues, "A teacher is a friend who tries to help you with everything. And this was very appealing to Teresa. Not knowing a word of Spanish, she ran to school with joy. For half a year, teachers who had "windows" in the classroom helped her to get accustomed. They took her and other foreign students to a separate classroom and taught them basic phrases together to facilitate adaptation. And all for free. For an hour or two every day."
"At school, meanwhile, our child was a free listener - no one asked her anything in class," says the singer. "Then she gradually began to speak in phrases, got confused, and made mistakes. Spanish is a difficult language, by the way, so don't listen to people who say it's easy. Today, my daughter speaks very good Spanish. Sometimes she even teaches the language online, both for children and adults."
Yunakova's oldest daughter has already graduated from high school. She entered an educational institution equivalent to our college: "I'm learning the profession of videographer, film editor, photographer and sound engineer - everything you need to make a movie. It helps me a lot in my work."
"Luckily, I'm still singing," says Olya, "although you know that no one here has met me with a red carpet. And the Queen of Spain was not waiting for the weekend. But it so happened that I didn't have to change anything in my life. I teach vocals. I created a children's group, and the kids sing in Spanish, English, Ukrainian, French, German, Chinese, and Japanese. And they themselves express a desire to sing in which language. Sometimes we get orders for corporate events. Recently, I was a master of ceremonies at a wedding and tried myself in this role. I was invited by the bride and groom, who were from Odesa. I performed the wedding ceremony for them, and then I toasted at the restaurant. Teresa helped me a lot - she is well versed in technology. Of course, with the help of my dad."
While living in Ukraine, Olha's husband Stepan, who was a choreographer, took up another profession and worked as a massage therapist. "In Spain, he doesn't have his own office, but he has a certain number of clients who come to him whenever they need him. Someone passes on his contacts to someone else - it's word of mouth. He is also well versed in the intricacies of nutrition, and he also advises some people."
"And we are 'loaded' with it," laughs Olya. "We used to have five kinds of cheeses in the fridge, because everyone likes different ones. Now, if there is only one, it's a blessing. Our dad says it's not good to eat, so we've cut out almost all milk from our diet. Stepan is sure (of course, he didn't come up with this on his own, he read a lot of specialized literature) that the human body is so smart that it produces calcium on its own-it knows how to do it. Now we have only coconut or almond milk at home."
Olha Yunakova's family lives in the south of Spain, in the town of Marbella. They rent a five-bedroom house: "We can't buy it because it costs more than a million euros. In previous years, housing was cheaper, but now prices have gone up five times for sure. It used to be possible to buy a house with two or three bedrooms for 140-160 thousand, but now you can only find a small apartment for that kind of money."
"Our home is within walking distance of everything you need - shops, schools, pharmacies, post offices," continues Olya. "It's a street with only private houses. It has its own large territory, a swimming pool, a barbecue area, a garden, even a small vegetable garden that I planted on the territory myself. When we first rented the house, there were almost no plants here. I planted all the trees that can grow here. Palm trees, cacti, agave - these are for beauty. I also have lemon, orange, tangerine, kumquat, persimmon, lychee, pitahaya (also called dragon fruit), and avocado. I have strawberries, some strawberries. A piece of land where parsley and tomatoes grow. The only thing I struggle with every time is cucumbers, they don't want to grow because it's hot here. I love dill, but it's the same story with it."
- Is it true that Petro Poroshenko's house is next door to yours?
- It's just somebody's imagination. I live in a region where a lot of famous people live - athletes, show business stars, politicians. They have beautiful, huge villas - it's an expensive area. Poroshenko does have a home somewhere here, but I don't know where exactly.
Olga does not know yet whether she will connect her life with this country for good: "When we decided to stay, the kids were comfortable - warmth, sea, fruit, sun, gorgeous nature, everything blooming. Even in winter, it's 15-20 degrees Celsius. It's a very high country for visual perception. But I suffered so much during the year! People were constantly calling and inviting me to some programs, and it was painful for me to say no because I love my job so much."
"For a long time I had dreams: blue sky and yellow sunflowers. Every morning I woke up in a bad mood," the singer recalls. "Now, of course, I've settled down. And, you know, I learned to live one day at a time. The sky is blue, the sun is shining - and thank you. I don't plan anything global. The war really affected me, and before that there was a strict quarantine here because of covid - you couldn't even leave the house. It all taught us to live in a regimen: we got through the day, and thank God."
"When we came to Spain, we decided to organize a music festival and had a great time for four years," says Yunakova. "Then the pandemic came and that was it. Now we have no global plans. And Russia has taken away all our immediate dreams for the future. I'm not judging anyone, but I recently saw a video: Taisiya Povaliy in some Russian city shouting from the stage: "I love you, Russia!" It's so disgusting. I have one question: love for what?"
"With the great war, many Ukrainians came to Spain," continues the singer, who volunteered at aid stations at the beginning of the invasion. At first, they lived with relatives and friends, because the country provided very little help with housing. This is not Germany or Poland. They provided a little bit of hotel rooms and food. Ordinary Spaniards helped us a lot - they brought everything we needed in carts, and sent thousands of boxes of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in trucks from our people who have lived here for a long time. But you know how it is: a person helps once, twice, thrice, but cannot constantly take money out of their family budget. So now they are collecting as much as they can. I talked to the consul, and I have the following figures: almost 200,000 refugees from Ukraine came to Spain, and over the past year, 4,500 left the country. You can't find a job because you don't speak the language. Only a few have received payments - this is the situation."
"But I'll tell you, our people are very hardworking, they know how to earn a penny," says Yunakova. "Men get jobs in construction. Women are mostly engaged in cleaning and caring for the elderly. These are difficult jobs, what can I say? And young girls are doing well - a good hairdresser-colorist, for example, will always find a job. A manicurist is also valued. I don't want to offend anyone, but local workers have a lower level of professionalism. That's why ours are in the top."
Olha says that neither she nor her husband have been home since they left for Spain. The Yunakova family had been renting out their two-story house in Kyiv for some time, but "the tenants were a little bit of a pain in the ass." "All people are different - what can you do," says Olia. "I'm renting my fifth house right now. If something is wrong, for example, a wall is chipped, I paint over it. Because I want to live in comfort, I like it when everything is clean, nice, and tidy. But not everyone is like that, I understand that. If it's dead, it's dead - it's not yours."
By the way, Ukrainian viewers had the opportunity to see the singer's Kyiv home when she participated in the TV program "Changing Wives." At that time, Yunakova went to visit a Ukrainian family in the UK for two weeks, while his wife settled in Kyiv. Olya says that after the TV show aired, she didn't lose touch with that family: "We kept in touch for some time, until we disagreed on political preferences. We even quarreled a bit. I wrote something on social media, and she didn't respond very politely. She is Russian, her husband is Ukrainian. After some time, however, we congratulated each other on our birthdays, we have a two-day difference. She wrote: "Let's communicate without politics." I agreed. But it's strange: a man loves his president, but for some reason he lives in Britain."
Olya and her husband have had a hobby for many years: they restore furniture they find at antique flea markets. "And two years ago, I got a new hobby - I started collecting dolls' houses," says Yunakova. "I make miniature food out of polymer clay. This activity is very calming. I just lost my mind on it - I really like it. I made one house, then another - now I have five. They take up almost the whole room. Someone knits, others embroider, make something out of beads, and I 'hit' it. And I'm so happy!"
Another family hobby is traveling: "This year we went to the north of Spain to Bilbao for Christmas. The kids are on vacation, so we decided to use the time. However, we didn't take into account the main thing: our girls love kutia - they look forward to Christmas every year because they can eat it to their heart's content. It's made from our wheat, with poppy seeds and raisins. However, we couldn't find wheat, so we didn't make kutia, which the children were very sorry about. But we were lucky enough to see a little snow, which may have compensated for the missed treat. It never snows in our region. In fact, we did not celebrate this year. Given what is happening in Ukraine and in the world at large, you know what the mood is."
"When we returned to our Marbella, we went to the festival of the Three Kings," says Yunakova, "It's the culmination of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. It's a carnival-like event, with people marching on high stilts, dressed as cartoon characters. The three kings ride in special cars and throw candy to the children. By the way, for three or four years now, these have been exclusively Roshen sweets. There used to be many others, but now it's only our jelly beans. Besides the fact that they are really tasty, there is another reason why people choose them. There were a lot of complaints about caramel and chocolate jelly beans because they sometimes hurt children when they flew. That's probably why the authorities decided that the candy on the holiday should be soft."