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Last Night in Ericeira, Our Portuguese Home

Valentino is already sleeping and Cataleya’s obsessed with the giant water slides in Bali on YouTube. She can’t wait to leave Portugal and for her life to be one big water park.

Kids have no sense of occasion.

As for me, well, a mixture of nerves, sadness, and excitement. In between tasks today I managed to take out some seven black sacks of garbage. It’s amazing how much you accumulate in a short time especially with kids.

And it’s almost entirely like throwing your money directly into the garbage. Some 90% of the toys and other junk held their attention for more than a fraction of a second. The rest was barely even glanced at.

I’ll try to be more minimalistic in Bali. Perhaps they can play with leaves and flowers instead.

The Long Road Home

But of course, before any of the water parks and enjoying the simpler (and cheaper) things in life, we’ve got the long road home first. Driving across the center of Spain in the scorching heat with its parched lands and lonely villages. A stark contrast to the jagged cliff edges, open ocean, bright white windmills, and rolling green hills that surround us here.

I shall ache inside for the waves. The frothy whiteness as they form a rolling consistent break along the rocks. The little fair in front of our house that we pass by every morning (and end up going to every evening), the smiling ladies in the nameless cafe below, and the kindly people from the laundry.

They’ll never know how much I appreciated them. I think I was their best customer of the summer so far. They even gave me my last wash for free. I nearly cried.

And then there’s Liliana and Gonzalo, Ana, and Cristina, Nora, Mariana; all the personalties that smoothed our transition here and allowed for us to do this.

Tomorrow, I will try to grab one last session in the surf before we leave–even if it means setting out later on the six-and-a-half-hour journey to someplace in La Mancha, home of Don Quijote. I think it’s called Manzanares. Wherever it is, it will be in a lonely baron land, rich in history, and limited on child-friendly food.

Somewhere in my naive and over-hopeful brain, I actually think that it will take that amount of time. Of course, it’s far more likely that with the kids in the back and the incessant calls to stop, eat, pee, and generally not be still, it will take a lot longer than that.

Change of Summer Ride

It’s a shame we can’t initiate the 24-hour-or-so journey to Denpasar Bali from here. Alas, we need to take the jeep home and initiate our trip from Valencia. We have one hell of a set of wheels waiting in Bali though.

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A Toyota AGYA, whatever that is, I think it has power steering at least. The rental agency is reputable too–if the car breaks, they’ll happily give you a new one.

I’ve heard lots of stories about driving in Bali and most of them make me nervous. It will be weird driving on the other side of the road and having mopeds with entire families on top passing by and tooting their horns. Weird, stressful–and wonderful at the same time. It will remind me of El Salvador, where taking the roof off a car removes the need for windows or a/c.

What I Mostly Feel Right Now

I feel strange. I feel like the longer I live the less I understand. I can’t contemplate this whole Brexit train wreck or that the UK could have someone like Boris Johnson captaining the ship. It makes me cringe that out of a country with a glorious past and bright future, this is the best we can do.

I’m exhausted too. I don’t think I mentioned that in another post, but working intensely, raising children, and putting it all together is tough. You never really rest. The orders and requests come flying at you 24/7 whether they be proposals, reports, a request for milk and cookies, or mopping up vomit from the floor.

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Ericeira Has a Piece of My Heart

This is a charming town with pretty buildings, friendly (but not overly) people and some of the best surf in the world.  I love the education system, attitude, and culture. I even found out today that Portugal doesn’t tax earnings in cryptocurrency. I need to explore that in greater depth.

In Cullera, Spain, it took three years for me to be added to a mommies’ WhatsApp group. I’ve since left. There is no way to say this without sounding like an asshole but I will never care enough about the color of the uniforms or the way the children hand presents to the teachers.

In Portugal, in this mini slice of the world, we already went to a party in less than six weeks. There is a burgeoning ex-pat community (with all the negative effects that has on the local economy, driving up prices and making accommodation scarce). But, it has its good things, too.

We spent Sunday with an Italian friend of Cataleya–and her many, many more Italian friends. It was a veritable festival of languages. English, Portuguese, Italian, German. All people brought together to the same place seeking the same thing. Peace, surf, happy kids, and a happy life.

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Whatever the future holds I can’t help but keep this piece of Portugal in my heart. And I am so thankful that we took the leap.

Time for a Change – Portugal to Bali

It’s entirely fascinating to me how quickly humans can form new relationships and routines. When I close my eyes and think about my life so far, it’s a bitter-sweet collection of memories–and constant relentless change. Continue reading “Time for a Change – Portugal to Bali”

Pretty Close to Perfection, Our Weekend in Cascais, Portugal

It sounds a little pathetic. Hands up, I’m the first to swallow my urge to vomit at parents who live vicariously through their children. But there’s a difference between forcing your own failings upon your offspring and encouraging them to develop their own sense of self. Continue reading “Pretty Close to Perfection, Our Weekend in Cascais, Portugal”

What’s Harder Than Being Sick? Having Two Kids to Look After While Being Sick

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We didn’t have the best of days. All three of us, I mean. I haven’t started talking about myself in the third person or anything just yet. Something was just off today and I think we all had reasons to be cranky. Continue reading “What’s Harder Than Being Sick? Having Two Kids to Look After While Being Sick”

Top 10 Takeaways From Our Working Vacation in Portugal So Far

It feels like a lot longer than two and a half weeks since we first set off on the road for our working vacation in Portugal. We’ve established a new routine already. They know us in the laundry, the small Italian restaurant just a few minutes from our house, and even in the adventure park at Alto da Serafina in Lisbon. Continue reading “Top 10 Takeaways From Our Working Vacation in Portugal So Far”

I Turned 40 Today

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Today, I turned 40. Not a statement I was looking forward to saying, but there it is anyway. Been doing a lot of reevaluating and soul searching lately, although there isn’t all that much time for that.

Work is now 24/7. I sort of hate smartphones. They are a double-edged sword. They give you the “freedom” to work from anywhere–and the obligation to also do so. Continue reading “I Turned 40 Today”

Our Home Away from Home in Ericeira Portugal

ericeiraAs the sun goes down on Saturday, tomorrow marks exactly one week since we got here. Ericeira, Portugal. Our home away from home–and we’re loving it more and more as the time goes by. Continue reading “Our Home Away from Home in Ericeira Portugal”

I Surfed Today. That’s Pretty Much It

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I surfed today for the first time in four years. I can’t decide which part of that statement carries more weight for me. The fact that I bit the bullet, canceled a couple of meetings, and just f**king did it; or the thinly veiled sadness I feel at the fact that I’ve made my needs invisible for so long.

My arms ache and my body feels bruised and tired. I have half of the Atlantic ocean in my left ear and my hearing is somewhat diminished. But it was worth it. Every salty cold, glorious minute of it.

I was panicking inside about not remembering how to jump on the board or paddle for a wave. Like the first time you get in a car after not driving for a while and you overthink where your feet go and how to change gears.

Very soon though I was catching lefts and rights and riding the wave almost to its end. That natural high that only comes for me when I’m alone with my board and the ocean had me grinning from ear to ear.

There’s more–a whole lot more–to life than working and earning money. I’ve been trapped in the wrong mindset for too long.

I used to know how to live and those memories are slowly coming back to me. The crisis of Monday with the WTF am I doing? moments and mom guilt about leaving my kids in an unknown place in Portugal are slowly dissipating. I’m feeling something strangely close to happy… for the first time in a long time.

And the kids are as well. The daycare center is everything I dreamed it to be. There are children from all over the world speaking Portuguese, Spanish, English, Italian, Danish… holding hands, exploring and playing; being kids and being free.

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Also, the sun finally came out unhampered by clouds and this place is decidedly cheerful in the full light.

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To be clear though, there is no perfect. Cataleya’s still crying in her sleep, waking in the night, and causing me to worry. Valentino poured coffee all over my brand new laptop and now all the keys are sticky. I won’t even get started on work.

But… we’re getting through it. This home away from home is starting to feel exactly that and, I dare to say, we’re even enjoying it.

 

 

Knowing When to Draw the Line

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At some point, there has to be some kind of dawn of realization and self-reckoning. Life is hard, without doubt. It’s an indisputable reality that things are more complicated with kids, work, ageing parents, or whatever your burden happens to be. But you also have to stop and realize when you’re hiding behind that burden. Continue reading “Knowing When to Draw the Line”

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