Sandpaper Kisses

On the page before me, a little girl stood on her bed in her pajamas, one hand held straight out in front of her like a stop sign. Her father smiled down at her. “Prefiere besar al aire antes que a su papá.” You prefer to kiss the air instead of your father. Woohoo! I…

Third Time’s A Charm?

I’ve decided I need to add more reading to my Spanish studies. There’s a used bookstore one block from my house and Michael and I have purchased a few children’s books. But I’ve always been frugal. And a minimalist. So no, I don’t want to own tons of children’s books in Spanish. The solution? The…

How Not to Learn a Language

Within a month of moving to Valencia, Spain I was certain of one thing: I wasn’t going to learn much Spanish at Spanish language schools here. How did I know this? I tried. Twice. At the first school, thanks to my Pimsleur studies, I tested into level A2 (Advanced Beginner). I told the school I…

Learning Italian?

“My husband and I, for the month of August, are only speaking to each other in Spanish,” said a woman in my Friday walking group. “Well today is August fifth,“ one of the other women said. “How’s it going?“ “Well, we haven’t said anything to each other yet today!“ — I had heard before that…

Coming Home (to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port)

As I walked down the cobbled Rue de la Citadelle, I saw her standing outside her home chatting with two gray-haired men. Oh good, I thought. She’s still here. And somehow I felt like my world was coming back together. I don’t know her name. But I’ve been in her home. Three years ago I…

How I’m Learning Spanish

Living in a Spanish-speaking country does not magically make  you a Spanish speaker. Especially when you live with an English-speaking spouse in a city where it’s easy to meet other English speakers and find restaurants, shops, and doctors that cater to them. Were I in my 20s and living with a host family, there would…

One Year In: A Trip to the Hair Salon

It has been one year since Michael and I moved to Spain. Which means it has been one year since I’ve gotten my hair cut. Why? It just hasn’t been a priority. And Michael likes it long. Would prefer I never step foot in a salon, in fact. So I had a happy husband. And…

One Year In. . .

“So, how is it?” people would ask when I first moved to Spain. And I would gauge how much of the truth they really wanted to hear. And how much of the truth I really wanted to get into at that moment. Let’s put it this way: Imagine moving in your own country. Whether around…

A Day of Rest

Every morning I wake up and think, “Really? We’re going to do this again?” By “this” I mean walk 12-17 miles through Spanish towns and countryside. In rain. Or sun. Or, ideally, partial clouds. But I don’t express this thought because what’s the point? Michael and I came here with one goal: to walk from…

Life Lessons

“Cannolis!” Michael exclaimed, seeing them stacked behind the glass. “Eh,” I said. “What do you mean, ‘eh’? You love cannolis.” “But those are pre-filled,” I explained “So?” “So who knows how long ago they filled them. The shells are probably soggy by now.” And so it was that I taught Michael one of the most…