Ten Mistakes New Language Assistants Make (and how to avoid them + eBook giveaway)

My Spanish now-fiancé couldn’t help but laugh when I looked, puzzled, at our new coffee maker. I was jetlagged, yes, but also coming off six weeks of straight drip machine American coffee. The cafetera had me reconsidering a caffeine boost and swapping it for a siesta.

‘Venga ya,’ he said, exasperated, ‘every time you come back into town, you act like you’re a complete newbie to Spain!’ He twisted off the bottom of the pot, filled it with steaming water and ordered me to unpack.

Even after seven years of calling Spain home, I can so clearly remember the days when everything in Seville was new, terrifying and overwhelming. That time when the prospect of having a conversation with my landlord over the phone meant nervously jotting down exactly what I’d say to him before dialing.

You know my Spain story – graduate, freak out about getting a teaching job in Spain, hassles with my visa, taking a leap by moving to a foreign country where I knew not a soul. How I settled into a profession I swore I never would, found a partner and fought bureaucracy. I’ve come a long way since locking myself in my bedroom watching Arrested Development to avoid Spanish conversation, though each year I get more and more emails from aspiring expats and TEFL teachers who ask themselves the same questions:

Is it all worth it? Is it possible at all? How can I do it?

Like anyone moving to a foreign country, there’s a load of apprehension, endless questions, and a creeping sense of self-doubt as your flight date looms nearer and nearer. I tried and learned the hard way how to do practically everything, from look for a place to live to pay bills to find a way to make extra income. Call it dumb luck or call it nagging anyone who would lend a friendly ear, but I somehow managed to survive on meager Spanish and a few nice civil servants (and tapas. Lots of tapas.).

As a settled expat, I am quick to warn people that Spain is not all sunshine and siestas, and that it’s easy to fall into the same traps that got me during that long first year. Year after year, I see language assistants do the same, so let these serve as a warning:

Packing too much

Back in 2007, I packed my suitcase to the brim and even toppled over when I stepped off the train in Granada. Lesson learned – really think about what you’re packing, the practicality of every item and whether or not you could save space by purchasing abroad. If you’re smart about packing, you’ll have loads of room for trendy European fashions to wow your friends back home (and you won’t have to lug luggage up three flights of stairs).

Deciding on an apartment without seeing it

I was so nervous about the prospect of renting an apartment that I found one online, wired money and hoped for the best. Despite my gut telling me it was maybe not the smartest idea, I decided to grin and bear it. I ended staying in that same flat for three years. In hindsight, choosing a flat before seeing it was a stupid move that could have turned out poorly. What if I didn’t like my roommates, or the neighborhood? How could I tell if it was noisy or not? Would my landlords be giant jerks? Save yourself the trouble and worry about finding a place to live when you get here.

Choosing not to stay in touch with loved ones

My first weeks in Spain were dark ones – I struggled to see what my friends and family were up to on Facebook or messenger, and I did a terrible job of staying in touch with them. I was bursting to share my experience, but worried no one would relate, or worse – they simply wouldn’t care. Get over it and Facetime like crazy. That’s what siesta hour was invented for, right? Or at least Skype.

Not bringing enough money

Money is a sticky issue, and having to deal with what my father calls “funny money” makes it more difficult. Remember – even coins can buy you quite a bit! Consider bringing more money than you might think, because things happen. Some regions won’t pay assistants until December, or you may not be able to find tutoring side jobs. Perhaps you will fall in love with an apartment that is more expensive than you bargained for. Having a cushion will ensure you begin enjoying yourself and your new situation right away, without having to turn down day trips or a night out with new friends. 

Not taking time to learn Spanish

Moving is scary. Moving abroad is scarier. Moving abroad without being able to hold your own in the local language is the scariest. Take some time to learn Spanish and practice conversation at whatever cost. Spanish will help you accomplish things as mundane as asking for produce at the market to important situations like making formal complaints. Ah, and that brings me to my next point…

Not interacting with locals

I studied abroad in Valladolid and met not one Spanish person during my six weeks there. While I have great memories with my classmates and adored my host family, I feel that I missed out on what young people did in Spain (and I had trouble keeping up when they did talk to me). In most parts of the country, Spaniards are extremely friendly and open to meeting strangers. Even if it’s the old man having coffee next to you – lose your self-doubt and strike up a conversation. I scored cheaper car insurance just by talking to a lonely man at my neighborhood watering hole.

Adhering to timetables and traditions from your home country

As if adapting to language and a new job weren’t enough, Spain’s weird timetables can throw anyone into a funk. I tried getting a sensible night’s sleep for about two weeks when I started to realize that being in bed before midnight was nearly impossible. If you can’t beat them, siesta with them, I guess.

And that’s not to say you can’t bring your traditions to Spain, either. Making Thanksgiving for your Spanish friends is always memorable, as is dressing up on Halloween and carving watermelons for lack of pumpkins. Embrace both cultures.

Not exercising (and eating too many tapas)

My first weeks in Spain were some of my loneliest, to be honest. I hadn’t connected with others and therefore had yet to made friends. I skipped the gym and ate frozen pizzas daily. My weight quickly bloomed ten pounds. The second I began accepting social invitations and making it a point to walk, I dropped everything and more. Amazing what endorphins and Vitamin D can do!

Not getting a carnet joven earlier

Even someone who works to save money flubs – the carnet joven is a discount card for European residents with discounts on travel, entrance fees and even services around Europe. I waited until I was 26 to get one, therefore disqualifying myself from the hefty discounts on trains. This continent loves young people, so get out there and save!

Working too much

Remember that you’re moving to Spain for something, whether it’s to learn the language, to travel or to invest more time in a hobby. Maybe Spain is a temporary thing, or maybe you’ll find it’s a step towards a long-term goal. No matter what your move means to you, don’t spend all of your waking hours working or commuting – you’ll miss out on all of the wonderful things to do, see and experience in Spain. When I list my favorite things about Spain, the way of life is high on my list!

So how do you avoid these mistakes?

It’s easy: research. I spent hours pouring over blogs, reference books and even travel guides to maximize my year and euros in Spain. While there were bumps in the road, and I had to put my foot in my mouth more times than I’d like to recall, I survived a year in Spain and came back for six more (and counting).

That’s why COMO Consulting has brought out a new eBook to help those of you who are moving to Spain for the first time. In our nine chapter, 110-page book, you’ll find all of the necessary information to get you settled into Spain as seamlessly as possible. In it, we cover all of the documents you’ll need to get a NIE, how to open a bank account, how to seek out the perfect apartment, setting up your internet and selecting a mobile phone and much (much!) more.

Each chapter details all of the pertinent vocabulary you’ll need and we share our own stories of where we went wrong (so hopefully you won’t!). Being an expat means double the challenge but twice the reward, so we’re thrilled to share this book that Hayley and I would have loved to have seven years ago – we might have saved ourselves a lot of embarrassing mishaps! The book is easy to read and downloadable in PDF form, so you can take it on an e-reader, computer or tablet, and there’s the right amount of punch to keep you laughing about the crazy that is Spain.

Downloading Moving to Spain is easy – the button above is linked to COMO’s online shop. Click, purchase thru PayPal, and you’re set! You will receive email notification of a successful purchase and a link to download the eBook. You can also click here.

If you act quickly, you can score Moving to Spain for a discount this week:

         Timetable            Discount          Final Price
Monday, September 1 thru Wednesday, September 3                50%                 5€
Thursday, September 4 thru Friday, September 5                 25%               7,50€
From Saturday September 6                  0%                                            10€ 

 

(note that days are defined as GMT+1)

And get this – I’m giving away TWO of our eBooks, free of charge, to aspiring auxiliares. All you have to do is post a question in the comments, which I will gladly answer, and follow COMO Consulting on social media to win more entries. This contest is a quick one – just 48 hours – so if you don’t win, you can still get the eBook for a discounted price.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As someone who has been there, I know it’s tough to leave a life behind for a new one you know nothing about. But trust me, it’s worth it. You only have one life, why not make la vida española part of it? 

Please remember that intellectual property is just that – this eBook belongs to COMO Consulting Spain, is copyright and should not be duplicated, reproduced or resold. Remember that science project you worked crazy hard on in elementary school, and you beamed when it was over and you were proud? That’s how we feel about Moving to Spain: A Comprehensive Guide to Your First Weeks on the Iberian Peninsula. Gracias!

Taking a Stand Against Animal Cruelty: Support for the Travel Blogging Calendar

Seville’s central streets echo with the sound of hooves before the flamenco chords set it. The yellow-wheeled carriages carry tourists around the city’s main attractions and through the María Luisa park. It’s a romantic way to see the city, particularly for horse lovers (or those willing to pay to be whisked around).

Growing up, I spent my Sunday mornings at the barn, learning to care for horses. I was amazed at just how powerful the creatures were, and how gentle they became after being tamed. Pudge, my mother’s first horse, was an important part of our family until I was 22.

When my family came to visit shortly after putting Pudge down from an injury, I mentioned the horse rides. My mother staunchly refused, unwilling to take part in anything she hadn’t been properly informed about. After all, we hear about the cruelty towards work horses in New York City.

As it turns out, most Spaniards are great animal lovers, and the horse is one of its most revered creatures, valued for its beauty, power and noble personality.

Not every country has such a special relationship with animals.

I’m proud to be a part of the Travel Blogging Calendar this year. Service and charity have always been a part of my life, which is why I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and raise money for a charity that’s very special to me. The Travel Blogging Calendar has used influencers in the industry to be a voice for the voiceless, including orphanages and disaster relief funds. 

This year, proceeds from the digital calendar will go to the Save the Elephant foundation located in Chai Ming, Thailand. This city is a backpacker mecca, and thus poachers capitalize on tourism by capturing elephants and using force to subdue and domesticate them. This process is called phaiaan, and it’s based on fear. If you ride on an elephant you, in short, are promoting this horrible practice.

The foundation and its animal park, Elephant Nature Park, use a technique of positive reinforcement to reverse phaiaan, and the park is now home to 26 pachyderms. Each of the elephants has been bought legally, and park founder Lek Chailert has been saving elephants since 1995.

Here’s the thing: it’s hard to not want to cuddle up to elephants – they’re adorable – and support local economies. But please be informed about how your dollars or euros could be affecting our four-legged friends. Tourism is a double-edged sword: while it can keep economies from collapsing, it also promotes terrible practices and has the potential to destroy culture and tradition.

How Can I Help?

I’ve always operated under the “You get what you give” motto, both in my classroom and my life outside of it. This prize rewards your generosity and voice in the fight against animal cruelty with a pretty sweet prize that will take you to the place where it all happens: Thailand.

I know you’re interested in winning a $2000 voucher from Flight Network towards a flight to Thailand and an week-long, customizable tour from Where the Sidewalk Ends for two people, which includes visiting the Elephant Nature Park. The contest will be held in raffle form, but a small gift towards stopping animal cruelty can mean a trip of a lifetime. And here’s the best part: The prize is valued at $3300.

You can purchase the digital calendar, which is in blog format and will allow you to travel around the world weekly, thanks to blog posts by other big names in travel blogging. A newsletter will also keep you abreast of fundraising efforts and the bloggers involved.

The amount of money you donate directly correlates to the number of entries you receive. For example, $20 gets you 10 raffle “tickets,” so a high donation means more chances to win. Sharing on social media through rafflecopter will also mean more entries.

Entering is easy – donate using this website, then use the widget to share on social media. Using your voice to spread the word about the harmful practice of phaiaan is just as appreciated.

The flight is a $2000 voucher, donated by Flight Network, that you can put towards a flight to Thailand. The tour with Where the Sidewalk Ends includes hotel, tours and transport, along with a trip to the park to meet Lek and her pachyderms is for two people. More information can be found on the Travel Blogging Calendar website.

You can also support the organization by sharing their story through Facebook or Twitter.

For more on Lek Chailert, the founder of this organization, check out her interview on Green Global Travel.

Please consider a small gift to help Lek continue the work she does, or even by sharing this post on social media. People really can change the world with small actions, and I appreciate you reading about this incredible cause and the great work it does daily.

Molly Sears-Piccavey: An Interview with a Counterpart in Granada

Blogging can be a strange thing – you often find you ‘know’ people without having met them face-to-face (and when you do meet them, you don’t have to fumble through the awkward introductions). One of those people is Molly Sears-Piccavey, a British resident in nearby Granada. She and I have been reading one another’s blogs for years, and we finally got the chance to meet at the annual Writers and Bloggers About Spain meet-up earlier this month.

Read more about Molly and Granada, and be sure to check out her great blog about her adoptive city, Piccavey.com.

Tell us about yourself …

I’m a British girl living in Granada, Spain. I have been here since 2006 and know the place well. This city has a rich historic background, many fascinating buildings and traditions. The Sierra Nevada Mountains are a breathtaking sight to see. On a warm spring day you can still see the snow on the peaks of the mountains just a few miles outside the city. The beaches are a 35 minute drive from the city and the area along the coast produces tropical fruit such as mangoes, bananas and avocados.

What does Granada have that can’t be seen in other places?

Most people know of Granada because of the Alhambra palace. This monument and the typical Albaicin quarter are both UNESCO World Heritage sites. But reaching past the city, the province of Granada really is a land of contrasts. You can see beaches, rivers, mountains, deserts, lush valleys and historic sites within a 30 minute drive of the city. Most of the year, you can see snow on the mountains and in summer we have red-hot temperatures. Because of the diverse geography, it is great for outdoor sports such as walking, climbing and cycling.

What is the best time to visit Granada?

As Granada has a ski resort and beaches 30 minutes away it’s a wonderful place to visit in all seasons. May is my favourite time because at the beginning of the month there is a popular celebration known as the crosses of May. This time of year the orange blossom is in flower around the region and the plants and flowers are particularly bright and colourful.

Can you recommend somewhere to eat in Granada?

Granada really is a heavenly place for foodies. It has lots of local produce and a large selection of seasonal dishes. It you want to sample the local tapas the most popular area is Calle Navas right by Granada town hall.  There are bars and restaurants packed in one after another. In Granada Spain’s only revolving restaurant gives views of the city and of the snow-capped mountains, too. Panoramic 360 is a good option for a romantic dinner with views.

The Hidden secret about Granada:
Granada is often affected by Earthquakes and tremors as it is in a seismic region. On 26th December at the Virgen de Angustias church in Granada a special service is held. The idea is that the Patron of Granada, the Virgen de las Angustias, protects us for another year from a large Earthquake such as the disaster back in 1884.

Tell me something else about Granada…

There is a saying about Granada: Dale limosna, mujer, que no hay en la vida nada como la pena de ser ciego en Granada.

In English this translates as:   “Miss, please give a coin to the beggar, there isn’t anything worse than being a blind man in Granada¨

Come to Granada and see if you agree!

Interested in Granada or Molly? Check out her blog with recommendations on what to see and do in Granada: piccavey.com and see her interview about me, too!

Seville Snapshots: El Peñón de Ifach

Round the N-332, I caught my first glimpse of the dramatic Peñón de Ifach. In all of the research I’d done on Calpe, the 332-meter high rock face seemed to loom everywhere – and we found that to be true once we’d settled into this sleepy fisherman’s town on the brink of touristic glory. Our hotel room at the Hotel Solymar had sweeping vistas of the bay and of the rock, we sailed around it on a catamaran and tasted paellas and fidueas in its shadow in the afternoon. Its size and sturdiness meant that Sunday’s paddle surf lesson would be on calm waters.

It’s the Giralda of Calpe, its most recognizable symbol.

Ifach, pronounced Ee-fahk, is nowadays a bird and wildlife refuge, a last little hiccup of the Cordillería Betica that stretches across much of Andalucía and Murcia. You can visit the Peñón daily from sun up to sun down, and well-marked trails and climbing are available.

Author’s note: I was a guest of the Calpe Tourism Board on their annual blog trip and digital media conference, #Calpemocion, and will be reporting for The Spain Scoop. All opinions are my own because, ya sabéis, I like to give them.

Habla de Tu Ciudad: An Online Training Course

I have a short list of things that make me happy: sunshine, a cold beer and my friends (and puppies, too). Moving to Seville was a no-brainer for me.

When I graduated college, I expected to live abroad for a year, learning Spanish and traveling as much as 631€ would allow, and the  return to Chicago to become a journalist. But I was hooked, not willing to give up my daily siesta, the cheap tapas and a whirlwind relationship with the Novio. Five years on, I make a living from teaching part-time and blogging part-time. Turns out, with Seville as my muse, I’m able to sell the city I now call my hogar dulce hogar. A city where flamenco seduces, where the sun and empty blue sky reflect off the Guadalquivir, where lunchtime stretches into dinnertime. My visitors to Seville understand the draw it’s had on me, and I seek to relate that to my readers, too.

When Flavio Bastos, a travel professional with a background in digital platforms, offered me the chance to test run his course about how to use your city as a vehicle with which to make money, I couldn’t say no. Habla de Tu Ciudad y Vive de Ella is the result of over fifteen years in the travel industry, numerous city guides and a love for Europe’s great cities.

Banner Leaderboard - Habla de tu ciudad y vive de ello

The Course

Habla de tu Ciudad is a five-part online course that focuses on the various mechanics of starting up a blog or webpage, learning SEO, writing compelling content and learning how to monetize your blog. Each module comes with mini-lessons, complete with videos and text to helped you get the most out of each one. After deciding to self-host Sunshine and Siestas late last summer, I’ve used loads of resources on the net and other e-books to get an idea of how to begin taking my humble blog to the next level. They’re useful and pertinent, but very one-dimensional in the sense that you read it, take notes, and try to apply what you’ve learned to your own pages. But Flavio’s approach, his videos that show real-time tutorials and “homework” activities that allow you to put to practice the different topics discussed in each module.

Want proof? Type in “guy speedo siesta spain” and see who comes up first. I am an SEO genius. Not really, but the 15-year-old boy in me is loving this. Or, do a google image search for “Ham Fair Aracena” and you’ll see a few of my photos.

 

What Else I Liked

Flavio has worked on this course for the last four years, taking into account the latest rules and algorithms used by Google to rank pages. Apart from having the latest information within the travel and digital journalism, Flavio’s personal anecdotes of trial and error and how they led to his own successes were heart warming and left me feeling at ease. And even though it’s travel and tourism-centric, there are loads of relevant information for bloggers and digital media strategists. The course is easy to follow and starts with the basics, followed by a gradual build up.

Satisfied with that I had learned, I asked the course creator to tell me a bit more about the course.

Describe tu experiencia profesional, tanto en el sector en turismo como plataformas digitales. // Describe your professional experience, both in turismo and the digital world.

De formación soy periodista. Sin embargo tengo más de 15 años trabajando con Internet, trabajé en varias startups a lo largo de mi vida, y siempre de manera muy autodidacta. Cuando vine a vivir a Lisboa, hace 4 años, decidí que era el momento de entender más del área del turismo, que es algo que siempre me había fascinado pero nunca había tenido la oportunidad de explorar. Desde entonces he trabajado en el área de comunicaciones e internet para varias empresas, desde las RRPP para un software de revenue management hotelero hasta el community management para un buscador de turismo rural muy conocido en Portugal.

I’m a journalist by studies. Nevertheless, I have more than 15 years of experience working on the Internet, working on various start-ups throughout my life, and always in a self-teaching type of way. When I came to live in Lisbon four years ago, I decided it was he best moment to start understanding this part of tourism more – it’s something that has always fascinated my, but I never had the opportunity to explore it. Since then I’ve been working

¿Cómo desarrollaste el curso? ¿Tienes algún plan de elaborarlo o hacer otro curso parecido? // How did you develop the course? Do you have any plans to expand it, or begin another, similar course?

El curso nace de una inquietud: ver el potencial de muchas personas que no saben cómo sacarle provecho a las herramientas que nos brinda la era digital. A nivel personal, antes del curso, había formado a algunas personas con conocimientos básicos sobre cómo hacer ciertas cosas.

Por mi experiencia con la industria turística y tras ver casos como el de AirBnb (empresa valorada actualmente en 1 billón de dólares), pensé que esto es algo que puede hacer cualquier persona. Me refiero a “hablar de su ciudad”: la gran mayoría ya lo hace a través de las redes sociales: instagram, facebook, twitter. Y para vivir de ello sólo deben entender un poco más de el mundo digital y hacer eficazmente esas comunicaciones. Deben tener ciertos conocimientos: conocer cómo funcionan los programas de afiliados, optimización para buscadores (SEO), cómo escribir para web, gestión eficaz de redes sociales, asuntos de publicidad,  etc.

El curso es una plataforma pensada en brindar las herramientas necesarias a cualquier persona que quiera trabajar con Internet intentando abarcar de lo más básico a un nivel intermedio. El curso podría perfectamente llamarse “Habla de cualquier cosa y vive de ello”, pero pensé que no sería un buen nombre, y por eso decidí enfocarme en las ciudades y el turismo. Pero el curso lo han hecho personas de varias industrias y todos le están sacando provecho en sus carreras o empleos actuales, además de estar generando webs paralelas que les permiten tener ingresos adicionales.

No tengo planes de hacer un nuevo curso, sino de seguir mejorando el actual. De hecho, el curso está en constante actualización, y tenemos sesiones grupales y personales permanentemente para garantizar que quienes hacen el curso sacan el mejor provecho de las herramientas dispuestas en el curso.

The course was born from restlessness: seeing the potential that many people had to create content, but had no idea of how to take advantage of the numerous digital tools at their disposition. On a personal level, I was already training several people and teaching them the basics.

In my experience in the tourism industry and after seeing cases like AirBnb (currently valued at 1 billion dollars), I thought that it was something anyone could do: talking about their city. Most already do it through social media: twitter, Facebook, instagram. To be able to make a living really only depends on understanding the digital world a bit more and effective communication.  One should have certain skills: they should know about affiliate programs, SEO, how to write web copy, how to use social media, publicity, etc.

The course is a platform that uses the necessary tools that anyone who wants to live and work on the Internet, from the most basic to an intermediate level. It could actually be called, “Talk About Whatever You Want and Make a Living Off of It,” but I thought that it wouldn’t be such a good name, and that’s why I decided to focus on cities and tourism. But the course has been done by people in various industries who have seen its benefits in their professional careers and current jobs, in addition to running additional blogs as an extra income source.

I don’t have any plans to make another course, but to keep improving the current one. In fact, the course is constantly under construction, and we have group and personalized sessions constantly to guarantee that those who do the course get the most out of the tools at their disposal.

¿Cómo pueden los blogueros adaptar tu curso a sus blogs o las redes sociales? // How can bloggers adapt your course to their own blogs or social media?

Una de las inquietudes permanentes de los blogueros es “vivir del blog”. Con mi plataforma, muchos blogueros descubren qué están haciendo bien y qué están haciendo mal, así como generar ideas sobre nuevas oportunidades que quizás no vieron anteriormente.

Así que el curso puede funcionar como varias cosas: mera inspiración y mejoramiento de habilidades, o aprendizaje de cero de cómo iniciarte en el mundo digital, cómo escribir y sobre todo cómo sacar dinero de ello, en cualquier industria.

One of the biggest worries bloggers have is how to “live from” their blogs. With the platform, many bloggers have discovered what they’re doing well and what they’re not, allowing them to create new opportunities that perhaps they didn’t see before.

That way, the course works on many levels: plain old inspiration and improving skills, or starting from zero and learning how to get started in the digital world, how to write and, above all, how to make money within any industry.

¿Cuál es tu ciudad preferida? Descríbela en una o dos frases. // What’s your favorite city? Describe it in a few sentences.

Lisboa. Lisboa es una ciudad que para empezar, no parece una ciudad, sino una pequeña aldea pero al mismo tiempo con todos los beneficios de una capital europea. Tiene playa y montaña a menos de 30 minutos. Y es muy auténtica. Por  eso adoro esta ciudad.

Lisbon. Lisbon is a that, at first glance, doesn’t seem like a city but a small town, but at the same time has all the benefits of being a European capital. It’s got beaches and mountains at less than 30 minutes. And it’s very authentic. That’s why I love this city.

Banner Leaderboard - Habla de tu ciudad y vive de ello
Mil gracias to Flavio for providing me with a free trial of his great digital training program, Habla de Tu Ciudad. As always, all opinions expressed are my own. Click on the link above to learn more and sign up to learn how you can start living from your city, and take advantage of this incredible offer, plus a 20€ discount by using the code SUNSHINE. First ten to grab it and purchase the course will get the discount. Follow Flavio on twitter at @fba.

Seville Snapshots: Making a Splash in Croatia

This blog is a long love letter to Spain, particularly Andalucía, but traveling outside the land of sunshine and siestas is a lovely hiccup to my everyday life, my vida cotidiana. Like any expat, I’ve got my gripes about my adopted city, but spending a week away from Seville always rejuvenates my love for the place I now call my hogar dulce hogar.

I have a short list of what makes me happy: sunshine, cold beer and traveling (I’d also add food and puppies to this list). When Hayley and I decided to spend Holy Week outside of Spain, we were looking for those few things in our destination. We settled on Croatia, landing in Dubrovnik just as the rain clouds threatened the Easter processions back home and had a quick lunch to be able to enjoy the sunshine while we hunted down a cheap Balkan beer.

Rounding the old city walls near the ancient port, we captured the twinkle of the sun against the jade waters, the cats lazing in its warmth. In an attempt to find the famous Buza bar, we were met by an old man removing the last of his clothing, revealing a speedo and a belly that looked like he’d also been spending years downing Ožujsko beers at Buza. Clucking at us, he turned around, toes barely grasping the cement pier, and swung his arms backwards.

I was a gymnast my entire youth. He was making a go for it.

The old man’s backflip got me thinking about life and aging and goals. He reminded me that I’m never too old to try something new, to push myself to the limits, to quite literally jump into something headfirst. As his friend clapped and I held my breath, he bobbed up and down in the Adriatic, looking refreshed and pleased with himself.

Today may be April Fool’s Day in the US, but I’m not joking around anymore – I’ve got something big in the pipeline, and I’m ready to make a splash in 2013.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...