As we prepare to return to the US for several weeks to catch up with friends and family and on medical appointments and take care of some affairs there’s a lot to reflect on over four months in Portugal.
First, this is the longest time either of us have ever been away from home and from the USA. While we missed our friends and family and the ease of everything being familiar, I don’t think we felt like we missed much else. We certainly didn’t miss the arguments over vaccines and masks which are literally non existent in Portugal (the arguments, not the vaccine or masking). No doubt, it will be a little bit culturally shocking to return home if what we’ve read and our friends have told us are to be believed. These debates have been raging for coming up on two years now and as a center right minded American I’m still scratching my head in awe over why it’s such an issue to do your part to protect yourself and others. History, I doubt, will judge this period kindly. We will see.
But on the bright side, we’ve accomplished so much. Our Portuguese is better and frequently used, our apartment is looking great with some “small” (at least as we thought on the surface and at the outset) but lengthy remodeling projects nearing completion, we’ve made more friends (and sadly two more are moving away), we’ve figured out how to stay connected to both television back home, via VPN, and family and friends, via FaceTime. Now to figure out how to catch live sports… though with the time difference watching a recording a day late isn’t too inconvenient and better for the sleep. We’ve figured out Amazon Europe and how to get groceries delivered. We’ve navigated car purchases, EU digital COVID-19 passports, cell phones (all in Portuguese, mind you) and feel as though we’ve really settled in.
We’ve made some trips around Portugal both on long weekends and a three week sojourn north. When we return back, we will be nearly ready to launch our first trip outside of Portugal in Europe to southern France and Italy, God and COVID-willing and the creek don’t rise.
All in all, I’d call this four months on the continent a raging success. Now ready to return to catch up. Wheels up.