15.10.2011 - 23.10.2011
With the celebration of my birthday comes a reconfiguration of my blog…lo siento…I needed to make some upgrades and revisions. Feliz Cumpleaños to a nueva pagina.
Celebrating birthdays is a universal event, but how we feel about our birthdays seems to be age dependent. When we are young, we can’t wait to have our birthday; we can’t wait to be one year older; we can’t wait to ‘grow up’. Then, once we are ‘grown up’, at some point the sentiment shifts we hope that time will slow down and we will not get any older.
A few months before I was to turn 40-years old, I was feeling very depressed about hitting this monumental age…to me, it sounded rather old. Then September 11th, 2001 happened – and when my 40th birthday came 5-weeks later, I was overjoyed to be turning 40 and full of life.
Well, if I thought 40 sounded ‘oldish’, 50 sounds even older. I don’t feel 50, but then again I don’t know what that’s supposed to feel like. I only know that when I was 10 years old, the number 50 years old sounded like an old lady. Well, I don’t feel like an old lady and I don’t act like an old lady (whatever that’s supposed to be).
The Saturday before my 50th birthday, Andy and the girls put together a surprise birthday party. I knew that something was going on, but had no idea what they were up to. In the late afternoon, Andy took me to see the movie, “Johnny English Returns”, the second of this series starring Rowan Atkins. We were both very pleased with ourselves in that we could understand the dialogue (converted to Spanish). When the movie finished, we went to CarreFour, as Andy told me we needed to get some ice cream (right Andy)…and then walked home. Just as we were walking home, there were lots of neighbors in our house shouting “Happy Birthday Shari”. Andy had managed to contact the neighbors we’ve become friendly with and told them to bring a traditional Spanish dish to share (but vegetarian!). Someone made a cake and there were also some impromptu dance lessons. I must say…it was a FABULOUS way to kick of my 50th birthday. Thank you Andy…thank you Ans and Marls and to all of you who came to celebrate.
Amigas de Oregon!!! Monday evening, October 17th, my dear friend Nancy, and her daughter arrived in Plasencia. They live in the same town we live in; Nancy lived in Spain many years ago and has a special place in her heart for this beautiful country. Her daughter and our youngest daughter are super good friends – so what a wonderful reunion we’re having. Nancy’s birthday was Tuesday, October 18th and for her – being in Spain on her birthday holds special meaning too.
We are really enjoying Plasencia, but of course it is different than our lives in Oregon. And of course there are frustrations and things we don’t understand -- there’s the language barrier and cultural differences. It is easy to get overwhelmed; it is easy to get frustrated and lose focus and make judgments in the midst of our frustration. So – having our friends from Oregon here this week is like having a piece of Oregon come and visit us. It gives us a moment to relax, to re-connect and to rejuvenate. We know just how hard it is to make the effort to come here, especially from Oregon, so we THANK YOU SO MUCH for making the effort. We have a spare bedroom in our house and are always eager to show you around this lovely city and the surroundings.
We are quickly realizing how blessed we are to have English as our primary language. I am working very hard to improve my Spanish and have several language intercambio partners. We are having a lot of fun meeting locals and each one brings a unique perspective. Trying to learn and improve another language makes me more aware of how we tend to take our language for granted. Generally we don’t think about how many people in this world want to learn English, nor do we really think about how important English is across ‘el mundo’. With ‘el crisis’ here in Spain and the global economy struggling to recuperate, more than ever people are looking to improve their skill set(s) to make themselves more marketable around the globe.
Fall finally arrives - Tonight is the first rain we’ve had here in nearly two months. Fall is slowly arriving and Halloween is just around the corner. I am eager to learn about how Halloween is celebrated here and am eager to share a bit of Halloween in the USA. There is a bit of an extended holiday around the Halloween time – a four-day weekend. We hope to get out and do some sight-seeing during this holiday break.
We have been here in Plasencia a bit over two months and it is feeling more like our home…but of course we miss Oregon, Bend and our home very, very much. We miss all of our animals and all our family and friends who look forward to hearing about our experiences here. We appreciate all your letters, postcards, emails and connections as we continue to adapt.
Andy and I have been teaching for a few weeks and hope that we resolve any final paperwork issues, so we can start getting our monthly grant soon. It has been very difficult for us to draw down our US savings to pay our monthly expenses here and cover incidental expenses back home. We understand that the local government is struggling with the economic crisis and it is more difficult than ever to -- as we say in the U.S. to “find the money”. And, we also understand that many Spanish people, under contracts, have also not yet received their salaries. Rightly so, they come first. So…we’re not sure when our first month’s stipend will get to our Spanish bank accounts.