By Popular Demand

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book for post

“You ought to write a book!” Professional writers, if lucky, hear that many times in their lives. But we’ve never heard it as often as we do now. The Expat Almanac does not have millions of fans, but the ones we have are loyal and loving. We blush and try to keep our egos in check, but thank you, dear readers. Making the blog into a book is really a good idea.

People tell us they have been entertained by the blog, and we believe that people need all the entertainment they can get; it’s not optional in adult life. People tell us that our optimism is inspiring, and the world needs more optimists. People tell us that we’ve opened a bit of the world to them, and anything that contributes to better global understanding is great by us.

Often, people tell us they want to do the same thing. We’re happy to share what we’ve learned, and we encourage adventurous spirits on the edge of decision to pull the trigger. We made some mistakes, and the book will tell all. We did some things right, and we’ll brag about those. We feel that the Senior Year Abroad is an idea that is about to blossom as more and more of us retire healthy and raring to go.

People tell us they’ve read every word, but do they remember every word? Even I did not remember a lot of the entries when it came time to review them for the book. We wanted to leave out the dull stuff, organize the dramatic elements of Tom’s hospitalization, and add some new material. Also, we will cut out all the parts where we repeat ourselves. Where we repeat ourselves.

Blogs are great, but ephemeral, they’re a little hard to pass around. We want to have a book that can be of use to people, that can be enjoyed and shared. We travel with Kindles, but we still love the power of paper. Gift it, turn corners down, underline it. So not only will you be able to get the Expat Almanac for Kindle (free for blog readers like you—we’ll tell you how), and you’ll be able to get it on paper, too.

So, we’re working at it. The first draft is done and we’re editing now. We figure we’ll be launching about May 15th. We so appreciate your support, and everything you’ve contributed so far. The time and money we’ve put into it is well worth the delight we feel when we get positive comments and also great private notes. It’s going to be so much fun to spread the joy.

 

We Don’t Need a Pet Washing Station

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streetcar

Portland in the spring: streetcars and cherry blossoms

We thought this blog was over, but there’s been a great outpouring of “Now what?” Maybe two or three people, even! So here we are, back in Portland after our Senior Year Abroad. I love the cooler air, the gentler sun, and even the refreshing drizzle. I love that everybody speaks the same language. When we walk into a grocery store, we can identify everything in it. We have new phone numbers and we make calls like real people. If we haven’t called you yet, here’s why: Continue reading

Use Your Feeling Words

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The therapist’s mantra: “How do you feel about…”

Lord help me. I’m a guy. We talk about horsepower and RBIs; we don’t talk about feelings. How do I feel about leaving the expat lifestyle? How do I feel about moving back to Portland? How do I feel about having a home again?

Could I just have a list of feeling words and I’ll pick a few?

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In Mexico, It Was Time for Another Margarita

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photo of tom in hospital bed
Long-term readers will recall my medical event almost a year ago in Spain. Three posts addressed the event, here, here, and here. Medical insurance was mentioned, but a financial resolution was not. I paid twenty thousand dollars to a Spanish hospital; was I ever reimbursed? The answer was not to be found in this blog until now.

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Peeping Tom and Louise

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There are all sorts of houses in Puerto Vallarta, from dirt-poor shacks to glamorous, sprawling sea-view mansions. We are all curious about how people live, especially the wealthy. What would life be like with a lot of rooms and a big staff and a perfect kitchen?

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The Land of Chocolate Milk

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Angel of Independence — Mexico City’s iconic centennial monument — was just four blocks down the street from our hotel. I was astonished to find that the twenty-three stairs surrounding the base were added long after the statue was built. It seemed that El Ángel had actually risen from the earth some fifteen feet since she was built. She hasn’t. Mexico City has sunk around her.

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The Miracle Stalker

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You want to be bored? Let me tell you how many ways I’ve tried to fix the right shoulder that has been hurting me for six years.

Never mind. Let’s just say I’m always looking for new ways.

What joy, then, when I found a milagro charm shaped like an arm at the Metropolitan Cathedral in Mexico City. These little tin charms, shaped like legs or babies or hearts, are used to send prayers upwards in search of cures. (Frida Kahlo made a whole necklace of leg milagros.) I gave a little donation for my little arm and stuck it on a prayer board with a safety pin. Then I sent a general prayer Upwards.

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Calling Dan Brown

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Click to enlarge.

You gotta love these people: no one really knows where they came from, no one really knows what happened to them (even though they built what was the largest city in the Americas at the time), their primary deity was a woman, and they built the coolest pyramids around.

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I Was Born a Bitch

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Frida Kahlo painting

“I was born a bitch,” Frida Kahlo used to say. The folk/surrealist artist has long been revered in Mexico for her art, her brash behavior, her dismal life story, and her legion of lovers. We visited the Casa Azul, where she was born in 1907 and used as home base, in the old and beautiful neighborhood of Coyoacan, now a part of Mexico City.

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