Lovely Spain, Portugal, and Italy,
I will miss you dearly this year! For the last five years, my husband and I have arrived on one of your doorsteps or a combination of you three. time You deliveredon your promise to show us a good time and welcome us with hospitality!
I will miss taking hours to enjoy a good meal while engaging in great conversations with the people around us. When we first arrived, we ate so fast that you stared at us, and you felt no shame telling us to take time and savor our meals. It took a while, but I got used to two hours in a restaurant, especially after it took that long to get the waiter’s attention because he didn’t expect us to finish the meal so fast.
You understand “love thy neighbor” better than any other places visited. I was enthralled to watch people actually stop and talk to each other. Although I will admit that I found it disturbing at first to learn that you don’t know how to whisper!
Everyone talks loud to each other, with hand gestures flying! Admittedly, I don’t know if you were saying nice things to each other, as I couldn’t understand a word, albeit Duolingo tried to teach me. At home, I had Portuguese down to a tee, but it took one conversation spoken so fast that I couldn’t catch but one out of every five words to let me know that I had to find English speakers. I am still wondering what we used to wash the dishes, as neither us could read the labels. I guess we will never know!
I will admit that the egg on hamburgers was too much for me, but old “iron stomach” loved them. You see, eggs are for breakfast to a diehard American, so I just didn’t order burgers, unless we were at McDonalds or Burger King. But, boy would I love an order of sea bass or tuna or shrimp, because your fresh fish was off the chain! We got so excited about the fish at a small town in Portugal that we forgot to ask the prices.
It wasn’t until we paid that we realized that all of those wonderful extras costs extra, but, hey we learned to say no after that first instance. Yet, the flavor of the fish was enough to justify a few extra euros for olives and butter and bread.
I will also admit that because no one seems in a hurry as they walk the promenade or beaches, I was shocked at how fast you guys drive! We came to understand that 120 kmp was just a suggesttion for most of you, and that we needed to stay in the right lane if we were going that slow! How can people who eat so slow move so fast in automobiles is a paradox to me!
I was particularly surprised after Douglas and I were pulled over by gun-toting policeman for going over the speed limit! I didn’t think there was one! And those guys in Quarteria, Portugal were serious. We paid on the spot with a credit card, as there is no going to court to challenge the ticket, if you plan on enjoying what’s left of your holiday!
But, we weren’t angry, as we later saw the speed. But, after that one time, Douglas made a few of you frustrated because he wouldn’t go higher than the speed limit if I were on fire! You only need a policeman in full riot gear with a semi-automatic weapon pointing a gun at you to ensure a lead foot becomes a feather foot. Those guys were sticklers for going the speed limit!
Even problems couldn’t negate the beauty of each country! The languages spoken around us was like listening to music, so less harsh than English. Sitting outside on the balconies of our Airbnb apartments, enjoying sunsets and feeling the sweetness of a zephyr wind on my skin was pure joy!
So, thank you, and I will miss you terribly! Maybe not the small showers where even I at less than five feet and less than 150 pounds had to nearly take a squeegee to get a bath. But then, I am used to much bigger spaces, as an American. I wish you all the best, as we experience this pandemic that is keeping us apart.
My condolences on your losses, as I realized that family is foremost to you guys, whole units from grandparents to grandchildren eating, walking, and laughing together. Take care and be safe! Hope to see you next year!
Regina from Georgia USA