The novelty is dissipating. After the first two whirlwind weeks of paper chases, wandering around wondering what the heck we just did, discovering, and trying new things, we are awakening to the reality of everyday life in a foreign land.
I think it’s the animals. They ground us in everyday life. They’re all senior animals and during the first couple of weeks we worried they might have trouble making the transatlantic transition. Besides that, none of us have ever lived in an apartment.
dry food, wet food, cat food, dog food
We wanted to be especially sure no stress related illness popped up as our pets recovered from being shipped in the hold of a Boeing 787. Until this year, the only time our cats left the house was on a rare trip to the vet – a journey of maybe 2 miles at most.
We didn’t know what to expect, so initially we were reluctant to leave them alone for very long. Out we went to get our certificados de empadronamiento, then back to the apartment.
Next day, out to open a Spanish bank account, then hurry back to check on the pets.
Heck, during those first weeks I think our longest absences were when we walked down to Mascotas, a fancy pet shop, to spend more time and money selecting pet food than we spent shopping for our own groceries.
Okay, I admit it; we were being helicopter pet peeps.
I have a feeling we aren't in Kansas...
The day we had to bring Zander to the veterinarian office was an eye opener. Imagine trying to:
Find a veterinarian in a foreign country,
Who, because you are living car-free, is within walking distance,
Who, because lord knows our Spanish doesn’t extend to medical terminology, maybe has a little English,
And there's the call to make the appointment (see my point above about pathetic Spanish language skills).
After realizing that the only carrier you have is a supersize, heavy-duty model for shipping live animals in an airplane.
Finally with the appointment set, you wrangle your sick cat - in that giant carrier I mentioned - along crowded city sidewalks for maybe a half-mile...
- On a hot muggy day.
Then the fun starts because the vet doesn't speak any English.
We definitely are not on vacation.
There are going to be just so many more challenging things to get through. Already grocery shopping isn’t a new and exciting adventure. It’s just grocery shopping with hard to read labels. Our walks are becoming familiar, even when we head out into new streets. After all there are only so many ways to set out a sidewalk café, shoe stores are still shoe stores, and the corner parks are small and dusty, no matter how many of them there are.
Strolls are still a pleasure but they’re no longer magical mystery tours.
Now comes the time when we focus on learning the language, understanding the culture, and adapting our expectations to the local reality.
We agree that it will happen. All we have to do is make it so.