Friday, March 5, 2010

Finding our Stick in the Surf

Everyone took advantage of the weather to get the laundry done, including us.  Good thing.  Two more days of rain now.
We've been here almost three weeks now.  There is a subtle feeling I wanted to get across to you. I don’t want to generalize, so this is only my observation—that moving to a country where you don’t (yet!) know the language well--or the customs, your fears as well as your sense of adventure are accentuated.  This leads to more highs and lows than you might experience during a routine existence where everything is all-too-familiar.  You have pushed your comfort level to the extreme setting.  It’s in the red zone.

One minute I am thinking, “what am I doing here?” and next minute a man outside the restaurant starts to chat with me in a very friendly way that I am not used to in my country.  He is younger, I am a woman of “a certain age” and I am pretty much used to being ignored.  I notice right away that this weird feeling is that I am being treated…like a person.  Then, just a few minutes later, an older man on his cell phone spots me sitting outside enjoying the sun and starts talking to me about the weather.  I get that person feeling again and realize that I like this.  I like being here--even though it can be very difficult just getting things done I used to take for granted.  The same feeling I think applies to Doug when the mail carrier here in Santa Domenica hands him our mail from America out on the street sparing him the long line in the post office.  Even if Nuncia at the local store waves at us every day from inside the store when we walk by because we are their best customers, it still happens and feels different than going by Safeway—in a good way.

It has not been an easy three weeks, but it hasn’t been that difficult, either.  Like Vince, we have figured out that while the stick in the surf isn’t just quietly going down the river as we are used to, we can brave the wave and get it.  For example, I found a great plant nursery Wednesday and I took a deep breath trying to figure out how to communicate and then found that plant people speak the same language all over the world, and they deliver!


  1. Hi! I know how it feels to feel like a fish out of water! I've been here 10 years now, and it gets easier as time goes by. Friendly and curious people make life fun! You can spot a snooper a mile off, though. lol I once had an elderly woman bring me a plate of cookies just so I would invite her in my home. She then made her own house tour, oohing and ahhing. She never came back! lol

  2. We hear what you say about everything taking twice as long. When John went to Italy to start renovating the house it took him nearly three days just to get the van unloaded and up to the house. Mind you he did have a Transit van full. Of course the locals helped where they could. Things that you don't think you will be able to manage to do, you do find that you can get around. When he wanted a replacement part for something and didn't know the Italian word for it, he took a picture on the digital camera and took that to the local builders merchant or fai di te. He spent the first two weeks with the dictionary in his bag and took it everywhere that he went. The one thing that he was most taken aback with was when he had got the days wrong of when the local pizza ristorante was open and turned up on the wrong day. They sent him to the agriturismo down the road, but when he asked for the menu he was told there wasn't one. They were very understanding though and brought out an array of food for him to choose from. Can't see an English restuarant doing that! He soon learned what the days of the week were after that. He likes to look after his tummy! I was so proud of how he had got on and how much he had learned in such a short space of time when I flew out to be with him two weeks later. He seemed to have soon much to teach me. Give it a few weeks down the line and you will be laughing about how you found certain things difficult and be busy overcoming the next challenge. Best wishes John & Toni

  3. It gets easier, harder, more and less frustrating as time passes, but it is 100% worth it.

    If I may offer a little advice - When it gets to much, take time out and treat yourselves - a weekend away, a night at the theatre, drinks with some of the expats, anything that doesn't need you to think "how do I say.." "where can I..." "how...". Sometimes we have to recognise how hard it is, stop, then it becomes a joy again.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thanks everyone. Just wanted you to know that we are really more than OK. It was the subtle HAPPY feeling that comes through the frustrations that I was trying to get across. Guess it was subtle.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...