Some things in this world are beyond even my capability to express in words. Read the rest of this gem…
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve kind of been on a bit of a Spain kick lately. Read the rest of this gem…
I miss the days of pretend.
When we could lose ourselves in a world of make-believe and it seemed so real.
Let’s try it.
Like… can we pretend that my post from yesterday made a modicum of sense?
Can we pretend that I actually planned where I was headed with that post and somehow managed to successfully tie my Sweeney Todd date story in with how people in a relationship can be different, but that’s okay, as long as you both respect those differences?
Can we pretend that I didn’t flee the house, 10 minutes late for work, knowing that I could have written that better if I’d actually left myself some time?
Can we pretend that I did go back and fix it, and that blemish that will likely exist on my blog until the very end of time (along with many, many others) is just an illusion brought on by lack of sleep or drinking 3 cups of coffee before we’ve had anything to eat?
And while we’re at it, can we pretend I’m still here:
Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain
Biking is the best way to get yourself around this island. It’s mostly flat. Mostly. And for the parts that aren’t… well… exercise is good for you.
And eating this:
We rented a small apartment just a half-mile bike ride from a tiny grocery store. This breakfast “frittata” is my sister-in-law’s genius concoction of our leftover garlicy pasta noodles, eggs, and whatever else we had left in the fridge.
With these people:
So this is the not-flat part of Formentera. We were exhausted. But it was nothing that a can of Pringles and a spectacular cliff side view couldn’t fix.
I think, while assisting realtors in their extremely respected and important line of profession today, I’m going to be doing a lot of pretending.
***UPDATE*** It has been brought to my attention by my good friend Leslie (huge country buff and friend to country singers everywhere), that the person I should be slamming in the title of this post is Miley Cyrus and NOT Taylor Swift. Since it’s a pain in the ass to change post titles once published and they’re all the same to me, I’m not going to change it. But since I love Leslie and don’t want to blame Taylor for Miley’s missteps, I will, for the record, stand corrected.
(But Taylor probably doesn’t know what she’s talking about either.)
I’ve been to a few beaches in my time.
It’s odd because as a teenager, I always thought I was more of a mountain girl. That might have something to do with the fact that I primarily grew up in Nebraska, and it wasn’t unusual to take family trips to the magnificent Rockies where my sister and I would don knee-length shorts and flannel shirts tied around our waists (hey, it was the 90’s grunge era, and if I’m not mistaken, the plaid shirt thing is currently making a comeback, suckas!), and we’d hike the scenic trails of Estes Park, marveling at pristine mountain lakes from pointy vistas, trying desperately to comprehend sheer size and distance based on the veritable layers of mountains that faded off into a purple haze on the horizon.
Fortunately, for the most part, the mountains still have that effect on me.
But nothing — and I mean nothing — has ever made me feel smaller than the ocean.
Except maybe that senior who called me ugly during my freshman year of high school.
But while oceans have swallowed ships the size of small cities and an entire mountain range that, if its base were above sea level, would boast peaks higher than the Himalayas, all that senior managed to swallow was a drop of my 15-year-old self-esteem, which, by comparison, was much smaller.
So, considering the fact that I haven’t yet been to outer space, the ocean reigns supreme on my list of awe-inspiring things in terms of sheer vastness.
In this life, I’ve been lucky enough to dig sand dollars from the warm gulf surf off the cost of Georgia; scuba dive the reefs near St. Lucia’s black sand beaches, feeling the stunning shock of sea gnats while gazing at the limitless colors of coral and fish; view the North Pacific, with its cliffs of rock rising out from its frigid depths, as it feasted on the remnants of hundreds of sand castles along its beaches; witness the power of waves that looked like building-tall scoops of ice cream sprinkled with runaway surfboards as they tested human courage on the beauty of Oahu’s North Shore; watch cruise ships dump inconceivable amounts of pollution into the shockingly blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico; buy trinkets sold by colorful hippies and artists while absorbing the vibrancy of the beach known as Venice; frantically flee strange, floating jellyfish in the bathtub-warm waters of the Caribbean while learning how to scream through a snorkel; accept a proposal for marriage on a beach composed entirely of shells on the east coast of Florida; and accidentally lose track of the top of my bathing suit in a wave working its way towards the famous shore of Tamarindo Beach in Costa Rica.
Until I recently dipped my toes into the surprisingly June-cool waters of the Mediterranean, I was convinced I’d seen it all.
But that’s the beauty of the ocean.
No one has ever, ever seen it all.
You know that song that’s all, It’s not about what’s waiting on the other side… it’s the climb? I think it’s by Taylor Swift. Well. As you can see, she was dead wrong.
The climb, which we did on bicycles, sucked. But that thing that was waiting on the other side?
Pretty. Damn. Fantastic.
So. To answer the burning question I know everyone is wondering but is too afraid to ask:
Did I “lose” my top on the notorious nude beaches of Formentera?
Let’s just say that I never realized how utterly uncomfortable bikini tops are — until I experienced a world without one.
Photo by Becca Gard
On my Facebook status the other day, I described the Spanish wine we’ve been getting as “moi barato,” which is French for “me barato” and Spanish for “moi cheap.” I realize now, through the miracle of a little internet research, that what I meant to say was, “muy barato,” which is very inexpensive.
But it’s okay. I can’t be blamed for these things because I took German in college and no one corrected me.
My friends are too polite.
Here are some things I like about Europe (and I’ve been to this continent all of twice now, so I feel it’s fair to generalize):
1. Language. No matter the country, I’m always surrounded by foreign languages. Often several. And while this is frequently the cause for discomfort and/or mild irritation, I find that when I sit down with a glass of wine and bowl of olives at an outdoor cafe, hide behind my sunglasses on a plaza bench, or type here at my computer in my sister-in-law’s basement apartment and just listen as strangers converse while they pass by (and it’s not eavesdropping if you can’t understand a word they’re saying), it really is quite intoxicating.
Bar snacks in Malaga.
2. Food. What can I say? There’s nothing I don’t like about food. Even food I don’t like. Whether I’m sitting down in front of a tiny bowl of seasoned olives with wine at a swanky cafe, a steady stream of tapas and beer at a pub, an empanada or falafel procured from a street vendor, fried churros served at a tiny alleyway table with chocolate dipping sauce and a very strong café con leche (ie. couple shots of espresso with steamed milk), or a giant pan of paella cooked right out of the chef’s childhood home, I’m pretty sure I’m the happiest woman in the world.
Paella on Ibiza.
3. Exercise. When we want to go somewhere, we walk. When we want to go farther, we walk to the public transportation, take a train, then walk again. When we’re on the island of Formentera and have no car, we bike. When we’re on the island of Formentera and decide we want to see the one thing that requires getting to the top of a very large hill (*cough*mountain*cough*), we ride our bikes, walk our bikes, and ride our bikes again — over 13 km, both ways, up hill, in the snow just to get there.
(All of that’s true. Except for the snow.)
Southeastern lighthouse on Formentera.
Oh, and sometimes these old cities have stairs. Lots, and lots of stairs.
But whether you bike it or hike it, it’s always worth it when you get to the top.
4. There are like a billion ways to flush the toilets.
Need I say more?
I´m back on the island of Ibiza (in a different city, but the same island from where I last posted), and this computer also will not read my memory card.
Because I seriously have many, many photos I wish to share.
Hopefully I´ll have a chance when we get back to Malaga tomorrow night. If not, the day after for sure. Or definitely the day after that. Mañana, mañana, mañana.
I am in Spain, after all.
I´m doing my best to adopt to their culture.
Which, as far as I can tell so far, basically means working all morning, taking a 2-3 hour siesta involving lots of food and alcoholic beverages in the afternoon, working a bit more, and then eating and drinking again. And since I´m unemployed in this country, we´re basically cutting out the superfluous “working” part and pretty much sticking to the eating and drinking.
The only thing making me not feel like a complete blimp is the fact that we just returned from 3 days on the island of Formentera, around which our only (chosen) way of transport was bicycle. It was relatively flat, for the most part, except for that day we decided to ride up a frickin´mountain (at least by Formenteran — and Nebraskan — standards) to see a lighthouse.
I´d like to say it was worth it.
And I will tell you, it was.
So, so worth it.
The pictures will be forthcoming.
The only down-side is that my thighs seem to be en fuego.
That´s on fire.
Anyway, I´d love to catch you up more, but the lack of photo sharing ability is kind of getting on my nerves, and my last night on Ibiza is waiting outside this cafe, so I will have to say adios for now. It´s 9:30 p.m., which means it´s time for dinner.
My favorite part of the day.
Aside from… you know… breakfast, lunch, and siesta.
Life is rough, my friends.
Very, very rough.
Right now I´m the most stressed I´ve been in 4 days. I´m sitting in an internet cafe on the island of Ibiza and I know I only have so much time left on the computer) but no clue how much, and the keyboard is so jacked up with strange symbols and keys in the wrong places, that it´s probably taken me about 20 minutes to type this sentence.
Okay, I´m exaggerating.
Also, this thing doesn´t seem to want to read my memory card, so the AMAZING photos (not from a photography standpoint, but from a subject/scenery standpoint) will just have to wait until we get back to Malaga. Unless there´s a decent internet cafe on Formentera, which I´m kind of doubting.
The reason I say this is the most stressed I´ve been is because I haven´t been stressed. Like, at all.
It´s pretty phenomenal.
From authentic paella (cooked by a man out of his restaurant/home where he´s been living his entire life), to a falafel made by a world-traveler who was born in Israel, to wine. Lots and lots of wine. We´ve been pretty fortunate. The less fortunate are those who have to look at me on the beach, since I´ve probably gained about 30 pounds.
Okay, I have lots more to share. Tons. But I´m kind of worried this thing is going to crap out on me mid-sentence and I feel like these stories would be much better with photos anyway, so I guess we´re going to have to wait just a little longer.
Which is awful because I miss you.
The withdrawals are palpable.
But the wine helps.
And the beach.
And the company.
And the fact that I´m, you know… in Spain.
If you forgot to look on Tuesday, check out my guest post on Simply Solo!
P.S. I have no idea what day it is.
P.P.S. ñ ç ¿ € ¡
So I am fairly notorious for never being properly prepared for a trip. But this time? This time it’s like… extra bad.
Let’s just say we’re T-minus 3 hours from leaving our house, and we still have not packed, I haven’t sufficiently broken in my plane ridin’ jeans (since I failed to buy a decent pair of plane pants), my camera battery isn’t charged, I barely speak any Spanish, and I still don’t know the exchange rate from U.S. dollars to Euros.
Assuming Spain jumped on that whole European Union bandwagon.
The problem is that it never really feels like a trip is actually going to happen until the plane is burning rubber on the tarmac and I kiss the ground goodbye. (Although let’s hope the plane doesn’t actually burn rubber on the tarmac. I can’t imagine that would be good.) This mentality makes it awfully difficult to actually remove items I might need from my bathroom and closet and place them in various bags for transport.
Add to that the fact that only a day or two after we arrive in Malaga, we’ll be heading off on Ryan Air with only strictly size-regulated carry-on bags to spend the majority of our trip on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera. In fact, the only reason we’re bringing a checked bag (or two) at all is so that we have plenty of room to bring home the maximum allotment of bottles of Spanish wine and other food souvenirs. This means that we basically need to fit everything — including my DSLR and 2 lenses — into two small backpacks.
In case you’re new here, this is what I packed for 2 months in Costa Rica:
See that nice, green bag on the left? That won’t be coming. It’s too big.
See that black bag on the right? That’s the bag that’s supposed to fit all of my camera gear, my swimsuits, probably underwear, possibly toiletries, and anything else we can manage to stuff inside. Then, the rest of our clothes, shoes, and my purse will have to fit inside a second, similarly sized backpack.
Two bags. Period. No exceptions.
And I’m actually mildly concerned that backpack might be on the large-side. I’ll have to measure.
So you can see why someone who normally procrastinates on packing anyway might be particularly intimidated in this scenario.
Oh, well. I suppose if space gets really tight, we can throw out some of Justin’s clothes, because it’s not like I’d ever leave the camera behind.
Speaking of leaving things behind, I’m bringing my Netbook for use on the plane and maybe a bit in Malaga, but it’s very unlikely that I’ll be taking it to the islands. This means that I might be sparse on blog posts for a bit, but I promise I’ll make up for it upon our return to reliable internet connections.
That said, I wrote a guest post that will be featured on the blog Simply Solo this Tuesday (5/31), so I really, really hope you go over there and check it out.
1,000 points to the first person who can translate the title.
I always get a little nutty before I leave for a trip.
You’d think I’d be doing real preparations, like diligently laying clothes on my bed and testing their fit in various suitcases and carry-ons, performing a pageant of mini-toiletries on the bathroom vanity stage while judging which ones to tuck inside my bi-fold sundry travel pouch, and scheduling various rub-downs and polishes and waxages to prepare myself (and the world at large) for superfluous amounts of exposed skin.
I never pack more than half a day ahead of time. Even for that 2 month trip to Costa Rica. See, I don’t know what kind of money the rest of you people are made of, but I actually need the stuff I pack. My closet isn’t divided into a “vacation stuff” section and a “regular stuff” section. (Though wouldn’t that be nice?)
To me, that would be a waste — like dumping out half a pot of stale coffee and buying towels solely for decoration.
In true procrastinator style, I pack everything in my head weeks in advance, and then I pretty much just dump everything into my bag the night before we leave, toss in a few extras before we hop in the car, and assume that a) I can most likely buy anything pertinent I forget, and b) I most likely won’t die if I forget anything I can’t buy, because nothing is really that pertinent, when you think about it.
Unfortunately, my particular brand of stinginess now has vacation prep spillover into the arena of professional pedicures and BZM (Bikini Zone Management).
Did every guy who reads Domestiphobia just get uncomfortable? Are there any of you left??
That’s right. Now that I no longer have a steady paycheck and some nights leave the bar with only $11.80 in my pocket (no, I don’t want to talk about it), certain extravagances like trips to the spa are few and far between.
This kills me for 2 reasons:
1) Until fairly recently, I had never really been a “spa girl.” I felt uncomfortable with the idea of strangers touching my feet and picking at my toenails and judging my body hair. But then, once a co-worker broke me in to the wonderful world of soothing aromatherapies and trickling fountains and music with flutes and complimentary wine, there was no turning back.
2) Until very recently, pedicures were something I bought for fun — a relaxing day with a girlfriend. Plus, when my feet look pretty, I feel pretty. Happy feet equal a happy Katie. I didn’t actually crave pedicures until I could no longer afford them — until I quit my cubicle job and started waiting tables, running around a restaurant without sitting down for 5-9 hours at a time.
Oh, the irony.
But it’s not a total loss. Between small tubs of soapy water, $1 mini bottles of toenail polish, pumice stones and drugstore supplies of Nair, I’ll get something worked out before we leave.
See? DIY applies to pedicures and BZM — not just home improvements.
So if I’m not busy packing or primping, what, exactly, makes me so nutty before a trip?
Yep, I’m that girl.
When I can see a departure date fast approaching, I start looking around my house — at the small layer of dust coating the bookshelves, the un-vacuumed carpets, the spotty mirrors — and my eye starts to twitch.
(Okay, not really, but my friends know I like to do this fake eye twitch thing when I get irritated. Yes, I’m weird. This shouldn’t be news to you.)
How can we leave the house in such disarray? my frantic mind wonders.
What kind of mold might grow on those leftovers if we don’t eat them or throw them out?
What if someone breaks in while we’re gone and sees what filthy pigs we are??
But mostly, I just don’t want to come home from a long vacation knowing one of the first things I’ll have to do (besides laundry) is clean.
So that’s why I’ve been slightly MIA lately. That, and the fact that I’m trying to plan a not-so-typical baby shower for Alaina (more on that later — it will involve alcohol), edit some photos I took for my neighbor, beta read my friend’s novel, start/finish a few other writing obligations, and complete a slurry of other tasks/projects to which I’ve committed myself before we leave.
WHAT was I thinking?
The only thing keeping me motivated at this point is knowing that soon, sweet soon, I will be here:
And if anything can numb an overwhelming sense of unfinished obligations, it’s sun, sand, and Spanish wine.
dolce far niente.
Which is Italian, not Spanish, but it doesn’t really matter because pretty much all of those Europeans have it figured out.