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Thanksgiving Reminisces

23 Nov

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

Not long after I moved to Spain six years ago, (from the Central Coast of California), a Norwegian friend expressed interest in trying an American Thanksgiving. I was happy to do it, and invited a group of friends, not anticipating some of the challenges to come. While this year does not allow for Thanksgiving and other holiday get-togethers, I am reminiscing and laughing about a couple of past Thanksgiving celebrations.

It took some effort to find some of the American ingredients, like canned pumpkin pie filling, spices like sage for the stuffing, but found a whole turkey at the local carnicería (butcher.) When I purchased the turkey, I was asked if I wanted it cleaned. At first I said no, then asked to have her remove the remaining feathers and pins.

Surprise Thanksgiving morning as I began to prep the turkey, and discovered the giblets (internal organs) were not in the usual bag as in the U.S., but were still attached to the cavity of the turkey, so I had to detach them. No bueno. There were items inside I had never seen in the U.S. bag of giblets. Worse yet was the head was still attached, and I had to detach it, which took over an hour. I began to think there would be no turkey for dinner. Finally, got it in the oven, but the electricity in the stove and other appliances kept shutting off due to too much electrical demand, (a repeated experience at my dinner parties.)

In the end, it all worked out and the guests expressed pleasure at all the traditional American Thanksgiving offerings. Or perhaps they were afraid to give me their real opinions. I doubt I will ever make a whole turkey again.

I am reminded of my last Thanksgiving in the U.S. before I moved to Spain, which I wasn’t sure would happen. My three sons had other commitments on Thanksgiving, so I asked if they wanted a family Thanksgiving on an alternate day. All three enthusiastically agreed so they found a mutually agreeable date. Even with the standard Thanksgiving dishes, the dinner was atypical in their chosen topic of discussion: best and worst U.S. vice-presidents. I could add nothing elucidating to the conversation. As I was putting all the dishes on the table, I remembered the bread was still in toaster oven; I have an unfortunate habit of burning bread. My middle son remarked, “It’s not dinner until Mom burns the bread.” Good times.

 

 

Travelling Solo as a Female

24 May

altea

Altea, Spain

Travelling alone as a woman is something I take for granted. And moving solo from the Central Coast of California to the small Mediterranean town of Altea Spain was not something I considered that challenging, other than the practical logistics. Therefore, I have been surprised when I have received many comments telling me how “brave” I am.

Adventurous with wanderlust, yes, but brave?

 

I have travelled to almost 40 countries worldwide, many times solo and also with my three sons while they were children. When reflecting on those travels, I tell myself I must have been crazy to take one or all three young boys by myself to places such as Kenya, Australia, Italy, France,Turkey, Belize, Jamaica, Mexico, etc.

 

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Family swimming at Palapa Bar, Ambergris Caye, Belize

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Palapa Bar: Ambergris Caye, Belize

As I prepared to move to Spain, I chose to sell my large home, luxury car, and virtually everything I own, except a few kitchen items, but most importantly, family photos and videos. I was overwhelmed with the many photos and videos, which were too numerous to transport. I decided to have them scanned but because there were so many I had to choose which ones to take. I experienced unexpected happiness while reviewing our family travels. Travelling with children can obviously distract one from paying attention to environmental cues, but I guess I was lucky.

 

As a retired forensic psychologist who evaluated and testified on violent and sexual offenders, I am by no means cavalier when it comes to personal safety, particularly as a single woman. Here in Altea, I am often out late at night, as are many other females. Whether female or male, it is important to first know the safety of the area where you are. Certain cities are well-known for pick pockets, assaults, etc., and certainly researching the crime and safety of your destination should be an important part of travel planning. And go with your gut. If you suddenly feel an uneasy or fearful feeling, react accordingly. Do whatever will restore your sense of being safe by doing such things as getting to a safe public place, or hailing a cab rather than walking.

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Palais Garnier: Paris Opera House

 

Some advocate finding a travel partner if one is a female travelling solo, but I would rather travel alone than risk having a toxic travel partner. That is exactly what happened to me when I took a rare cruise which started in Rome and then went to the Aeolian Islands. LuLu, who I had met on a Greek Islands cruise, was interested in going on the Italian cruise. The tour started in Rome. During a private tour (her demand) of the Coliseum, she repeatedly interrupted the tour guide, telling her to move on. Both the tour guide and I were shocked at her rude behavior. The tour guide said she had never seen anyone that rude. Not one for conflict, I disengaged myself from LuLu as much as possible the rest of the trip, which was difficult as she was my roommate.

 

Travelling alone enables me to more easily meet people, something I increasingly relish. Coming full circle, today I am waiting for the arrival of my 20 year-old son to my home in Spain. He will spend the summer with me. I hope we can travel to some of Spain’s many historic and beautiful sites, that is, if I can pull him away from the young ladies.