My list of red-letter days is short, not because I lack memorable events, but because I am surrounded by so many amazing and positive experiences. My departure to leave for another country, for example, was a red-letter day, because it was something that

I had spent three years considering, planning to accomplish, and doing. Decisions that I made were all cast in the light of making the change, whether it was adding to my “stuff” or getting rid of things. In my first month in Spain, here are some thoughts on what I have learned:

The Good:

  • New experiences are good for me. Being brave enough to reach into my dreams and make one a reality has been an interesting process of self-discovery.
  • Most people are nice. This is a confirmation of what I had hoped to find here in Valencia, and I have not been disappointed.
  • Variety is valuable. I delight in the different items in the supermarket, in restaurants, in stores, in the Spanish culture, and the people surrounding me. However, I don’t think I am ever going to get used used to the idea of a mango-mint milkshake I saw on a menu yesterday, though. Uck. Not for my palate.
  • The local community is important. I have been impressed how people are very involved in their local community presence, and the importance of small shops and interpersonal connections. There is no fear in asking someone standing next to you in a crosswalk a question or for directions. (Let’s be honest, if they ask me for directions, I don’t think they are asking the right guy!)

The Questionable:

  • Timing is everything. Boy, did I learn a lot about timing in the Spanish culture. Coming from America, where we can walk into a store and expect to leave with a) what we want, and b) a solution is not the way of life here. Being told to come back tomorrow is normal.
  • Every house I have been in has hard floors. A rug may be over part of the floor, but it is still a stone or (less common) wood floor. In a country that should have invented the Swiffer WetJet, why is that product not available?

The Ridiculous:

  • Cellphones. Why did it take me so long (4 weeks) to get a cellphone service plan activated? Of course, now that I am probably best friends with Carmen at the Movistar (digital services) store, I should invite her to lunch or something.
  • Coffee… as in ridiculously GOOD! Cheap and delicious, I am really enjoying my morning coffee when I go out to a cafe for a bite to eat!
  • People and processes. I am really amazed at how many people have to handle everything that must be processed. From the people I had to meet to get my luggage back at the airport to the amount of time I spent waiting in a chair to have my number called, the way people operate here can be maddening if I let it get under my skin.

Now, though, I am settling into a routine and spending my mornings writing and my late afternoons and evenings exploring to maximize my productive hours. In December, there are so many things to do, including free concerts, nativity scenes, and more. It’s a great place and time to see a new culture in action!

The adventure continues…