It will be 14 months almost to the day I left the U.S. that I will again step foot into the customs line of one of America’s airports.
I had an unused airline ticket lying about I needed to buy for Portuguese immigration, but now I have become a resident (insert big sigh of relief), and didn’t need it. So I figured, “what the heck, let’s go change my U.S. bank and visit my friends. Note: I don’t think Bank of America should have my money anymore, they haven’t been very good citizens.
Another Note: Never believe Continential when they say they will refund, even when you pay extra money for the ticket.
While giddy at the thought of getting big hugs and hearing “Oh My God! You Look Fantastic!” from my friends. I am slightly terrified about go back there. I watch the news, I check my internet. Things don’t look so good from over here. People getting arrested for peaceful demonstrations? Still? Didn’t they do that in the 70’s? Still people losing their homes and jobs, arguments about private and personal matters that are none of the governments business. Wasn’t Obama supposed to be a voice of reason?
It is so very different here; Portugal has changed me in ways I could not have imagined. Physically, there is 25 kilos less of me (around 60 lbs. for the metric impaired), I am calmer, I eat fresh food every day. My skin looks really good and I get really cheap health care.
Mentally, living in a small village without crime, where people are nice, the air is really clean. I don’t remember seeing the sky so clear and blue, ever. Yes, there is corruption, graft and the people get very upset and pull an occupy Wall Street, but guess what? No one gets tear gassed! Wow. The only injury that may occur is a traffic accident, they drive like crazy people, or if you are in Porto and you are a Benfica fan on game day. Futbol is the true religion, don’t let anyone tell you different.
People ask me what I miss about the states. I do have a list of things I have to bring back that we can’t get here or are very expensive in our lovely little country:
• Altoids (I am addicted to them)
• Tony Cacheres Creole Seasoning
• Crest Pro Health Toothpaste
• Cod Liver Oil Capsules (joints get sore from walking so much)
• Pedometer to measure our “Happy Trails”
• Foul Weather Gear with zip out warm liners
• Dawn dish soap (for those pesky olive oil stains)
• Sharpies…4 boxes (I love my sharpies)
• Spatulas (for some reason they cost so many Euros it is crazy)
• Clothes for me (all of mine are too big…a good thing)
Of course what I really miss does not fit on a list. My friends. The people you have known forever. I would like to put the Pams, Mary, Laura, Vicki, Michele and Anita on that list, wrap them in my clothes and throw them in my luggage. Christa is already here, she is now a TV star in the Ukraine so she is kinda in the neighborhood. If I brought my girls over I think the luggage weight would give me away. Ask any ex-pat, good friends are the treasures that you can’t take with you.
Even though it is only for two weeks, and will go by in a flash, I know when I step off that plane in Lisbon I will be very, very glad to be Portuguese again.