|El Madroño - Symbol of Madrid|
For the past month, my life has been a whirlwind, full of great company and a lot of stress. I am never one to complain about having an exciting social agenda but when I had a major meltdown trying to exchange a scarf in Missoni, ended up crying in the store TWICE and my soul mate was reminding me that I was “acting like a brat”, I knew that I had reached the breaking point.
It is funny how life can change from one moment to the next and hopefully, it always brings something that will cause growth and add character but sometimes the initial shock can be overwhelming and saying a temporary, “hasta pronto” is never easy on emotions.
A month ago, my husband got transferred to the States and he is absolutely thrilled. He has wanted to live in the States since we met, I always told my Spanish toro that he married the wrong American as I have always felt more Spanish than American. With the news, we have had to make the proper arrangements for the move. He has been making the proper arrangements Stateside and I have been packing and closing things in Spain. Perhaps both of us know the other’s culture better than the other.
I finally mustered up the courage to tell my main boss, I entered his office and felt like I was going to be sick.
“Boss 1, we have something to talk about and you aren’t going to be pleased.”
“Aye, Sarita, what is it?”
“I am giving you a month’s notice and I would like to ask for a year off.”
He turned white and didn’t get back to me for a couple of days. When word took off, the Hacker boss got teary eyed and Mr. Ibiza said I would be terribly missed because I have given such joy to the office, the Brainy boss was so excited for me and the Pacer boss said I will be missed and "who is going to touch his balls?" when I am not there. I got a laugh out of that one because in Spanish they say when somebody is getting on your case "me está tocando los huevos" which in English would translate to, "somebody is being a pain in the ass" but when you translate it literally, it would mean, "he's touching my balls!!
Shortly after, my whirlwind started at work. We had our AGM in Lisbon at the Hotel Pestana Palace which was lovely but beyond stressful for me; I worked with the hotel, the investors, the investors’ secretaries, etc so the event would run better than perfect. I found that the work ethic in Lisbon was a bit slower than my accelerated pace so I had a patience tests on a daily basis since last October. No pressure there as I tried to maintain the office orderly at the same time and give support to 17 co-workers. On the personal side of things, I coordinated with my sister so she could meet up with me in Lisbon to celebrate her birthday. My sister arrived on the same Thursday and I was in disbelief: For the past ten years, friends and family have always said they will come to visit me in Madrid or Tel Aviv but the typical excuse always rolls around; it is far away, they have kids, the flight is too long, they don’t have any holiday, etc so when a visitor comes, I am so overjoyed.
|Running around like a monkey in a |
cocktail dress at the Hotel Pestana Palace
My sister commented that she doesn’t remember us ever spending quality time together alone and much less in a foreign country. It is never too late to spend quality time with anybody so make that effort.
We had the best time in Lisbon. One of the Portuguese co-investors, just happened to live in the barrio where my sister and I reserved a room at the Hotel do Chiado that has the best views of all of Lisbon. Elizabeth gave me a list of restaurants that are her favs or that she highly recommends because “you’ll eat well there”. Europeans definitely love exceptional food. I made reservations a month in advance because I figured it is always better to get your personal life sorted in a jiff and then focus on what pays for you to have the social life. I made a reservation at the restaurant Largo and Faz Figura but since it was raining the Saturday we were there, I had the concierge at the hotel cancel the reservation and make a new reservation at Aqui Ha Peixe.
After I tied up the last details at the AGM at the Hotel Pestana Palace, I cruised over in a taxi to the other hotel. I got to the room and the view was breathtaking!! Just amazing.
My sister and I decided to walk around together but she said that she had already walked around a bit but didn’t mind walking around more. So we get down to the street and we walk literally 10 steps and we found ourselves in ZARA, a Spanish clothing store!! We walked a bit more and we found ourselves in another shop!! Shop till you drop in Lisbon!!
The trip with my sister just kept getting better. We went back to the hotel and had a drink on the terrace. The weather Gods must have wanted us to be extremely happy because suddenly two rainbows appeared in the sky. It was amazing.
|Lisbon - a view from the Hotel Chiado|
We got ready for dinner and walked up to Largo. When we got there, we saw all of these people in a cute plaza, right across the street from the restaurant. My sister who tends to be just as bossy as myself, must be a “Warden thing”says, “You go manage the reservation and sit at the table and I’ll go check out what is happening.” Unlike the Spaniards, almost all of the Portuguese speak English.
“Yes, a table for two under the name of Sarah Casado.” I tend to use my husband’s last name on the Iberian Peninsula to avoid have to spell out my own.
My sister comes cruising into the restaurant and sits at the table and reports, “You aren’t going to believe it, there is a free fashion show that starts at 22:30!!!”
We had a table right next to one of the jellyfish tanks – the restaurant is awesome! My sister ordered a watermelon martini and I ordered a blackberry/raspberry mojito – both were delightful. The food was wonderful and we had a fabulous time at the dinner.
We paid and cruised over to get a decent seat at the fashion show. It was so fun! Great music, great clothing. We topped off the night with a Port on a terrace.
The next day, we went up to the Castelo San Jorge and then walked back to the hotel. We ate lunch and then took a nap. When we woke up, it was POURING. So we got ready and luckily it stopped.
|View from the Castelo San Jorge, Lisbon|
We decided to get in a cab and see the last monuments and then we took a cab back and we went SHOPPING! We had a quest. The only way she was “allowed” to cross the pond, was if she bought her husband who loves the great grapes, was to send him a case of vintage Port. So off we went. We found a great shop and tasted a bunch of Ports and made the shipping arrangements.
In the evening we went to a place that has over 300 Ports on the menu – fabulous! Then we walked down and ate at Aqui Ha Peixe – spectacular!
The next day, we hopped in a cab and got to the airport. The airport in Lisbon is quite chaotic but we managed to get on an earlier flight to Madrid.
In Madrid, we walked around everywhere, went shopping and I finally bought myself a piece from Sargadelos, Galician porcelain, we had a drink at El Viajero which was the very first bar I ever went to, had a glass of wine at the Mercado de San Miguel, saw a flamenco show and a bullfight. After my sister left, I had to tie things up in Madrid.
|La Menina by Sargadelos|
|Flamenco at Casa Patas|
|Bull Fight at Las Ventas|
|Having a vinito at El Viajero|
I called the moving company, turned off the Digital+ and started with the “despedidas”.
I am not going to get into all of the details about the move and preparations because it is stressful and boring.
My husband set off ahead of me as he had to work and wanted to get things settled before I arrive.
Annabel, my British soul mate who I met on our first day at work at a law firm, flew in this past Saturday to lend me a helping hand. She witnessed the meltdown and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be by my side and we will be laughing about it later! I had the meltdown after about 5 “hasta pronto” gatherings with the dear friends I have met along the journey and then ate lunch with my bosses. It suddenly hit me that after 8 years in Spain and all of the adventures it gave me with 2 years in Tel Aviv in the beginning of my decade abroad, I am leaving. I am still in shock. I love Madrid. It is probably the most wonderful city ever but I have to remind myself that like many cities I have seen, that there are many things that I don’t like, especially the fact that there is no water.
As I reflect on my life, I have traveled the globe; I am very lucky. I have gotten on wrong trains, I have gotten on wrong airplanes, I have gone in the wrong direction numerous times, I have met really weird people who are interesting and I have met some of the most wonderful people who have filled my life with support, love, laughter and made me feel alive. I studied my junior year in Málaga, my mom had to constantly remind me that I had another year of the University to finish and had to return “home”. I loved it. Shortly after I graduated, I moved to San Juan Norte, Costa Rica to be a volunteer for a year and a half where once again, I had to be reminded that I could not work for free forever and had to return "home". After that, I lived in the BIG Apple which never felt like "home"…and then off to Madrid to do a Masters at New York University where I found I was finally "home". Shortly after my arrival, I met my best friend, roommate!, love who became my husband who I met through one of my hometown best pals, the world is a pañuelo as they say in Spain (it's a small world).
|August 25, 2005 - Married at the Junta del Retiro, Madrid|
My mom wrote on my Facebook profile a month ago when I was freaking out, “Change makes growth.” And that is exactly what it does. Change makes growth. Changes make you laugh, they make you cry, they make you nervous, they make you excited, perhaps you could say, they dust off the adventurous side of yourself. It’s like starting all over again and getting the opportunity to be like a kid who sees a big Elephant for the first time and asks, “What is that?” I think that my dust has been removed and I think I am ready to go back to a country I once referred to as “home”. I have always been one for adventure. I will miss Madrid. I will miss all of the wonderful people I have met but with today’s technologies, nobody is really ever that far. Their footprints will always be in my heart and they have given me growth. Thank you Madrid for everything. You have spoiled me rotten and for all that you have given me, I am beyond grateful. I love you. Hasta pronto Madrid.
I decided that since I am moving and will no longer be making the occasional entry from Madrid or wherever else I am as a broad abroad, that if you want to read about an ex-pat making new adventures as a semi-foreigner in her own country, you can find my new blog at the following address: www.tinytalesfromabroad.blogspot.com
Thanks for reading about my adventures and for all of your support. Remember, Change makes growth.
|Me and Annabel in Madrid|