A wise person observed that visiting a new place for a day makes you an expert but the longer you stay, the less you seem to know. As you integrate into new surroundings, the exotic eventually becomes familiar and what was once quirky becomes the new normal, though you may never quite fit in.
From 2000 to 2005, I lived with my family in Sant Cugat, a Catalan village on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain. These were interesting and formative years to live, work, and learn abroad.
On a global scale, the hope of the new millennium and the promise of peace didn’t last. The new century barely arrived before the world was convulsed with terror that soon turned to war. According to the daily headlines, the planet had become dangerous place. Against a dark and widespread backdrop of fear, many people, especially Americans, stopped traveling.
As we went about our daily lives, we found people were drawing closer, not pulling apart. Traveling extensively through Europe and North Africa, we never felt unsafe or unwelcome. People disagreed with our government, often loudly, but felt no rancor towards us as people.
In putting together this brief collection and the two that will follow, I chose to leave world’s upheavals and politics aside in order focus on a few odd milestones, minor upsets, and gentle bumps along the road one travels from tourist to resident.
Most of these articles were written and published while avoiding work on my novel, “No Roads Lead to Rome.” The novel takes place in Spain in 123 A.D., a time not unlike the present.