Archive for September, 2008

God Bless America… and Spain

Karie on Sep 17th 2008 05:44 pm

I can’t believe we’ve been back in the USA for almost 2 weeks now.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to send an update, but here are a few happenings since our return to American soil…

The discovery of STOK
We arrived in San Francisco on a Thursday evening, and my parents were flying out at 6:00am the next morning for my niece’s 2nd birthday party.  (I know, daughter’s homecoming from a year abroad vs. granddaughter’s birthday… I lose.  It’s cool though, if you saw my adorable niece you’d understand.)

We woke up well before our alarm (thanks to jetlag) to drop my parents off at the airport. On our way home we stopped at a gas station, where we discovered the following:


Coffee just isn’t enough?  Need a little extra kick in your Red Bull?
Like that shaky feeling when there’s more caffeine running through your veins than blood?
Don’t worry fellow Americans, we have found a solution for your sleep-deprived,
over-worked, high blood-pressured selves:
STOK

Based on warnings such as “Limit 2/day” and “Not for Those Under 18”, we opted not to test this liquid gold, but still had to take one from the gas station coffee stand, well, just because.

Meeting New People
Meet Davis James. His cuteness speaks for itself.

He met us at the airport with a sign that said, “Hola godparents. Nice to Meet You!” The next day we chowed on Taco Bell and went swimming before he had to catch his flight back to Denver, with mom & dad (Devon & Jason). We wuv him.

 “It’s a little slow going uphill, but downhill it’s great.”
These were the words spoken to us as we were departing for a test drive in a ‘92 Honda Civic that would soon become our new ride.  It’s a far cry from our parent’s cars, which we have been borrowing since returning back to the US, but it’s actually perfect for us right now.  We bought it from a family friend, who is its original owner and kept it in (mostly) great shape.  Except for this.  Oh yeah, and except for that.  Oh, and one more little thing…

Ok, so it’s nothing to brag about, but we’re still pretty excited about it.  It’s a car, it was only priced in the 3-digits, and it runs well.  That satisfies our checklist for now.  Who really needs a side view mirror anyway?

Homeless… again
This is our 3rd time to search for a new home in less than a year.  It will be our 7th move in 5 years of marriage…. Although that number could quickly jump to 12 if we count all the times we’ve bounced back and forth between friends & families’ guest rooms. (Thanks parents & Zellers!) 

The few items that we didn’t sell before moving to Spain were kept in a storage unit in Stockton.  After hanging out with my family for about a week, we packed up a U-Haul, the 3 of us (Scott, me, Penny Lane) crammed into the cab, and we headed south.  Talk about déjà vu.  From there we moved some things into a friend’s garage, and the rest into a storage unit in San Diego.  As soon as we find an apartment – which hopefully will be very soon – we’ll rent yet another U-Haul and move our stuff again.  I have a feeling we’re going to have even less stuff by the time we’re finished, because I might just throw entire boxes directly into the dumpster so that I don’t have to face moving them again.

Culture Shock?
Everyone asks us that, and I wish I could tell you exciting stories about being freaked out by SUVs, the cereal aisle, and general excess of American culture, but the truth is, every Metropolitan city in the world has its share.  While there are many aspects of the European lifestyle that we admire and plan to continue no matter where we live – and aspects of American culture that we vow never to fall prey to again – at the end of the day, both are wonderful cultures and people are people. 

So what did catch us off guard upon returning to the USA?  The size of the refrigerators.  Being able to have full length conversations with strangers.  My shoe collection (I forgot just how fabulous it is).  The fact that there’s a huge purple 5 on the back of the new $5 bill.  Penny Lane now grazes on her kibble throughout the morning rather than wolfing it all down in 2 seconds flat.  You can no longer hold a cell phone up to your ear while driving in CA, but it’s still ok to text.  A few other random things.

Overall, we’ve been having a great time!  We’ve had the pleasure of spending lots of time with family and friends, and continuing to postpone the reality of home chores, cubicles, rush hour, etc., as long as possible.  But yes, of course, we miss Spain, and all of our friends there.  What excites me the most is that I’ve confirmed how much I truly love both places.  Barcelona or San Diego are, in my opinion, two of the best cities in the world, and I’ve been blessed to call them both home.

Filed in Coming Home, Travels | Comments (7)

Homeward Bound (I promise this one isn’t even sentimental!)

Karie on Sep 3rd 2008 08:20 pm

Our last full day in Barcelona is upon us.  We’ve said goodbyes to friends and are mostly packed up.  I’ve already cried over the people & things I’m going to miss, and also lost sleep over the excitement of everything we have to look forward to at home.  So now, I leave you with raw data.  No emotions, deep thoughts or reflections… just the facts:

Time lived in Spain: 1 year
Pickpockets/purse snatchings we physically stopped while living in Barcelona: 4 (I’m pretty sure that’s more than the Policia)
Travel days (outside of Barcelona): 111
Countries visited: 20
Most searched word to get to our blog: “pooping” (I assume this search lead people to our blog because of this blog entry)
Total amount of money spent: You have to buy the book for that one!!!

Yup, that was a plug.  The first draft of my book is nearly complete, although it will take more time for the editing, design & publishing processes.  The book is more or less the story of our experiences, how we did what we did, and what we’ve learned from it.  More details to come, so stay tuned.

As for this blog, it will continue once we are home, but will likely be restructured to separate topics on home life & travel.  You will definitely hear from us a few more times while we do our “homecoming tour” and learn how to reacquaint ourselves with the American Dream.  Then, once life returns to “normal” (whatever that is), we will stop the automated emails from going out every time we post a blog entry (for those of you who are subscribers), unless it’s something really important.  But if you - like Scott - think that everything I have to say is important, you can always RSS our site, or just check back whenever you think of us (which hopefully will be often).

Now, I’m going back on what I said above about keeping this blog to raw data (c’mon, did you really think I’m capable of that?), as I close with a quote.  Although I probably won’t fully realize how much this year has impacted me for months or years to come, I have a feeling this is will be a good summary:

“Absence lessens the minor passions and increases the great ones, as the wind douses a candle and kindles a fire.”  - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

I think it’s good to extinguish a few minor candles now & then, as long as the important passions in life are en fuego!!!  Hasta California…

Filed in Spain, Travels | Comments (7)