Saturday, October 6, 2007

Month One Update - Dan

Hi everyone. Thanks for reading our news and staying in touch. We’ve been in Portugal for a month now and, as always, time is moving quickly. September was gorgeous here, and I must say that October isn’t much different. Usually sunny and in the low 20’s (Celsius, of course). Some days the fog from the ocean doesn’t burn off until late in the day, but our home is just far enough way from the beach that we stay in the sun. And speaking of the beach, there are enormous sandy beaches about 10 minutes away from us. With so much space they don’t get too crowded, but August is probably a different story.

So what have we learned since we arrived? Well, the Portuguese like food, especially cod. But also octopus, squid, eel, shrimp, mussels, and anything else that comes from the sea. They also eat a fair amount of meat and not much for vegetables, but lots of fruit. The grocery stores have aisles devoted to olive oil, and olives are practically free (as is the salt, as they farm it here in Aveiro). Eating out at restaurants is very popular, there are a couple of restaurants on every block, and it doesn’t cost much more than shopping and doing it yourself. A yummy fish dinner for two with a half-bottle of wine and some appetizers sets us back about 25 euros…I think we’ll be dining out a lot over the next three years.

Our home is still, well, not quite a home. Almost everything we own was packed up from our house in Burlington on August 22 and now more than six weeks later we’re still waiting for it. So we’re surviving day-to-day with our two plates and two forks and two glasses and a table and chairs we borrowed from our landlord. We’re excited to have a real home so that we can invite people over for dinner and such. It seems that’s the socializing method of choice over here. We’ve been to our landlord’s a few times for lunch or dinner, and hope to be able to return the favor soon.

Both Katrin and I are working a lot. The schedule at my job is 9:00-6:00, meaning it’s basically 8:30-6:30. There are three breaks during the day – 9:50am and 5:30pm for an espresso and one hour for lunch. But oftentimes people go out to lunch and then we take an hour and a half. Interestingly, it is Portuguese law for the company to provide lunch to employees. So lunch in the cafeteria is free, and it’s quite good with a choice of four different hot entrees every day. And if you go out to lunch for the day, then the company pays you 4.20 euros into your salary. Not a bad gig.

So what will the next month bring? Well, we do have a trip back across the Atlantic planned at the end of October for my friend Al’s wedding in Aruba, so that will feel like quite the getaway. And some much needed rest. I gotta tell you, we love being here but setting up a new life and a new home and starting a new job in a new country where you don’t speak the language requires a lot of energy. Some R&R at a friend’s wedding will be great. And we do expect our stuff to arrive soon and when we have that set up we’ll start to feel like we actually live here. And the other big challenge is to learn the language, but that will come with time…and with the lessons we’re taking twice a week. So we’re not quite there yet, but once we’re settled here and can communicate with the locals, I think we’ll love it. It’s really a beautiful town in a beautiful location with some great people and amenities. We hope everyone is doing great, enjoying the fall weather wherever you are, and we’ll be in touch again soon with the next update.

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