Oh Yeah, Now I Remember

It’s not like I don’t appreciate what living in the US has to offer. I do. But there is some downside that I hadn’t seen before, but now that we have some perspective it’s abundantly clear that we need to get out of here.

I have been keeping a list since we arrived. It’s broken into two categories. Things I miss and Things I don’t like. I’ll break them out into two separate posts, but since the ‘Things I don’t like’ is top of mind right now I’ll do that first.

First on the list is being accosted by Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, soccer teams, cheer leaders, and nearly any other kids group at the door of every grocery store in the US. It’s epidemic. We went out to the town where we used to live and visited the local grocery store. It’s where we bought the food our family ate for 10 years.

I approached the door behind another gentleman, who, upon spotting the Cub Scout that was lingering beside the table displaying his wares ($20 popcorn), actually growled at the kid. And it wasn’t a quiet growl. I rushed to follow him so the boy wouldn’t hit me up too. I quietly laughed to myself and thought ‘Good for him’ I had never thought of pulling out the growl.

It sounds harsh that I would applaud growling but it’s gotten to the point of ridiculousness that you can’t go grocery shopping without running the gauntlet EVERY SINGLE TIME. And the kids and their parents look at you like ‘Come on, help the children’ except you’ve been hit up for ‘Just $20’ every day of the year. Sometimes multiple times a day on a weekend day when you’re going to multiple stores. In Valencia we never see kids and their parents soliciting money.

Speaking of food shopping, and eating out, the prices here are insane. We had no real perspective when we lived here. I worked and commuted an hour and half each way to work (don’t me started on the traffic here). So we ate out ALOT. My children knew now to behave in restaurants and they knew how to order. We didn’t think twice about spending $60 for dinner, plus a tip. And we ate breakfast out on the weekends. Another $45 for breakfast.

But in Spain, a meal that costs more than $35 is very unusual. Usually it’s less than $20 and it includes wine and beer and three courses. And coffee? I pay 1.50 euros for coffee back home. Here its $5 for burnt coffee.

Food in the grocery store in Spain is half what it is here. Jeff likes salami. We usually pay 2 euros for our favorite specialty salami in Valencia. Last night we paid $7 for something similar at Safeway. It’s not like we can’t afford it but we’ve felt ripped off since we arrived.

People complain about Spanish bureaucracy but yesterday we had to go to our State Capital and get some documents apostilled. The utter nonsense of the hoops and costs we had to jump through were mind boggling. And it was all totally unnecessary.

I had started corresponding with the person at the State Dept a month ago to ensure I was ready to go. I would mail in the document in advance and get done what we needed. But the State of WA was switching over the systems so we couldn’t do it in advance. Yesterday, they charged us $70 extra because we ‘requested expedited on the spot service’ when we didn’t request it – they couldn’t do it in advance. I had all the emails explaining the situation. The State worker wanted none of it and asked me ‘Do you want my job and I’ll go live in Spain?’. I will never complain about Spanish bureaucracy. I mean it – you can hold me to it.

Homelessness. In both Portland and Seattle the homeless population has EXPLODED! I have never seen anything like it. So many people on the streets; They pitch tents on the sidewalks and are lined up in the medians on streets and the freeways. It’s an epidemic and a crisis here. I can’t imagine what they’re going to do about it.

Homelessness is’t something we routinely see in Valencia. Sure, at times you see some people in the Turia. But it’s not a common thing because of the social safety nets in place. Universal Healthcare is a human right in Spain. And they have drug laws that are more sane than here. One man who lives on the street near our house is taken care of by the restaurants in the neighborhood. And it appears his outdoor living is more a choice than a failure of the social system.

But the thing we don’t like the most – by far – are all the INSANE political ads. First of all, elections only last a few weeks in the parliamentary systems in Europe. And you don’t see the massive amount of signs in lawns, street corners, billboards. And TV? It’s awful here. The nastiness and the mud slinging is over the top and goes on for an entire year before an election. It makes me ashamed that our country has devolved into this. The negativity seeps in everywhere.

As I said, there are positives about living in Seattle. I will post about those tomorrow – with pictures – but before we moved we didn’t see all this and now we can’t unsee it. Most American’s don’t travel to other countries, let alone live in one. They don’t understand that there are other ways of living and think that the way they live is ‘The best in the world’. But that’s not true. In so many ways, if they only knew what it was like in other places they would be shocked about being duped. They wouldn’t put up with the things they think are just how things have to be.

When we arrived several weeks ago, Jeff was so looking forward to being able to do all things he used to do. And the ability to understand the language and see and eat at the places we used to. Now we both remember why we moved to Spain. And those reasons haven’t changed.  I guess perspective is everything.


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