Tag Archives: pontevedra

Galicia Profunda (Pontevedra, Ourense, and a little bit of Lugo)

El tiempo vuela…

 

Plaza America (Vigo).

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were a wonderful time nonetheless and it was great to spend time with the grandparents and hear their stories of when they lived in New York.  Andrea was positively hyper due to gifts from Papa Noel and the sugar rush from all of the turron.  A day later, it was time to bid farewell to everyone (and avoid an Iberia strike) and head back to the US.  Saying goodbye at the airport was extremely difficult (we were all crying), but I try to remember that it is not a true goodbye and I will see my Spanish family again sooner than I expect.

On Dreams, Goals, and the Year of Action

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho, “The Alchemist

 

2011 is what I have dubbed as “The Year of Action.”  It’s become common to hear people talk about their long-term goals, their dreams, what they ultimately aspire to do or be as though it is some unattainable, unrealistic, out-of-reach end state.  I’ve grown tired of forming conditional statements: “IF I do this…”  There is no “if.”  I WILL do this.

Almost time to surrender the passport…

What am I doing exactly?  I am going to live in Spain this summer, where I will be enrolled in various business and legal Spanish courses.  I also plan to network and make contacts while I am there.  There will be plenty of opportunities for fun because I am only kilometers from the Rias Baixas wine region and the beach.  Seems easy enough – all I do is fill out a few forms online and I’m living the good life in Pontevedra, right?

 

I wish!  The planning process itself has taken a few months – securing a host family and obtaining an acceptance letter from the university.  From there, I have been taking the necessary steps to apply for a visa.  The first step was having an FBI background check performed and getting fingerprinted.  (You can read my Yelp review if you need a little comedic relief.)  Next steps will include scheduling an appointment at the Spanish Consulate, getting interviewed, and paying for all of these courses (ouch).

 

Inevitably, there are moments when excuses and doubt surface, both internally and from others discouraging me.  

 

“Dana, you’ve been so busy with work, do you really have time to do this?”  

“Dana, this is really expensive.  Are you sure this is how you want to spend your savings?  Do you really think you’ll be fluent when you come back to the States?”  

That’s all in my head, but when others say, “Dana, you’re committing career suicide.  Why would you leave your current situation for something where the magnitude of the benefits is unknown?” I feel as though I am making the wrong decision.

 

Whenever these thoughts arise, I have to ignore them and even prove them wrong.  Okay, I’ll stay up an hour later each evening if it means I need to devote more time to confirming logistics for my trip.  I won’t go out as much on the weekends or make any more Louboutin acquisitions in order to save money.  And because fluency is one of my top-priority goals, I am determined and will do everything in my power to practice once I’m back in the States.

 

When I first started the “living abroad” process, it was extremely daunting and borderline intimidating.  It’s a lot to risk.  But then I thought ahead to 30 years from now.  Inevitably, I would feel regret and be unable to live with myself for not living life to the fullest, allowing fear to paralyze me, or disregarding my dreams.

 

As Coelho also said, “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”  I am looking forward to my time in Pontevedra and am sure if nothing else, it will make for a good story or two.

 

What are you doing to pursue your dreams?  What will you be up to in 2011?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

 

la gente de galicia…nos recibieron con las puertos y brazos abiertos

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My last day in A Coruna was more of an exploratory day – which is what I feel like Galicia in general is really all about.  It was less about one particular destination or a set of destinations for me (“We will go to the Alhambra” or “We will go to the Alcazar”), but more so a place to relax, to unwind, to be more spontaneous and to find things that I least expected to.  Most of the tourists here have been Spaniards looking to “get away from it all” and I cannot blame them.  Whether it be in Ourense, Pontevedra, A Coruna, and to a lesser extent, Santiago, I have felt so much more relaxed, calm, and more appreciative of what these cities have to offer.

 

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I am typing this entry on the Renfe Trenhotel (essentially, a night train) and the doors are about to close as we leave Galicia.  As cliché as this sounds, I am so happy and grateful to have experienced such a beautiful place.  What I felt here rivals how I felt when I went to Valencia for the first time.  I am sad to leave, however, because I have enjoyed myself a tremendous deal.  The last few days have brought a flood of thoughts, ideas, and emotions to me, as I would relax on the shore, or stand at the top of tower with nothing between me and the water.  In this moment, I liken my feelings and sentiments towards Galicia to that phase where you compare everything to your first love and how things could not possibly get better.  It was like someone took various bits and pieces of who I am and morphed it into a place, a physical location.  Without getting very personal, Galicia gave me something that I have needed for a very long time.  I am hoping that I will have the opportunity to return sometime in the near future.

 

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On a less “heavy” note, I asked a friend and learned what exactly some of the mysterious (not to mention, pricey) shellfish I have eaten are.  Percebes.  They are a type of barnacle, indigenous to Galicia, and a real delicacy served primarily around Christmastime.  Let me tell you: they are heaven on earth.  One twists them at the center, then the barnacle breaks, and then it is time to eat some of the sweetest pinkish-greyish flesh ever imagined.  At the risk of sounding nerdy, one of my most memorable moments of this trip was finding a little back alley and having the fishmonger/restaurant guy just steam these by the kilogram for me.

 

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On an even more lighthearted note, Jen and I wanted to stimulate the Spanish economy a bit by doing some shopping.  I found THE COOLEST baby pink shiny, slightly quilted blazer.  It may sound horrid to you, but it was SO Euro-chic and heavily discounted and fit me perfectly.  It worked!  Some hipster on the L Train would have tried to take this off of my back and claim they picked it up in some little thrift store in Pontevedra.  My dreams of becoming a fashionista and pseudo-hipster were razed when Jen shut me down and said how no one in America would wear such a jacket.  If Jen ever guest blogs or if you ever speak to her, give her heat about this one because I am experiencing a severe case of buyer’s remorse.

 

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And on a random note, I was reading La Voz de Galicia this morning and discovered that The Arcade Fire will be playing the MTV Festival in Santiago on September 5.  Umm, can I still get tickets to this?!  I’ve been saving up all of the entry codes from the bottles of Estrella Galicia I’ve been drinking…who’s in?

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But back to my exploring – I went down by one of the main ports, where a lot of locals will take their bikes or go for a run.  I just walked along the shore; it was a shame it was a hazy day because I would have gotten many beautiful photos.  I wandered back towards the Tower, to enjoy my last day of breathing in the salty ocean air (it has such a calming effect) and feel the breeze.  I wanted to enjoy my final hours in A Coruna, so instead of taking siesta, I headed towards one of the busy streets for some Estrella Galicia on tap and my final serving of pimientos de padron and percebes.  A bit more wandering, and it was time to head to the Renfe station.  At the station, I talked to one of the employees who said that he has family in New York and got all excited when I told him when I was from there.  What I’ve definitely noticed, relative to the rest of Spain, is that the people in Galicia are much friendlier and more willing to stop and talk, share things about themselves with you.  It’s a very refreshing change from the “avoid eye contact at all costs” approach that I take daily when I ride the subway.

 

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Because this is a long-haul train, I have some more Random Thoughts on Renfe to share with you…