Summer Reads

We’re finding all sorts of things to do this summer. But going to the beach tops the list. And you can’t lounge near the sea under an umbrella without a great ‘beach read’. I could get some e-books from Amazon or the like and take a Kindle or iPad to the beach. But I like the smell of a book. Turning real pages and dog-earring them when I decide to cool off a bit in the sea.

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But we live in Valencia. There are book stores aplenty here. They even have a book fair in the Jardin del Real. And that is where I learned that there are a few – just a few – places here that sell English books. Sure, the selection is not what one has in the US. It’s usually just a few puny shelves, but it’s books and they’re in English so I pick up each precious one and read the jacket, savoring the feel of them in my hand.

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The first one I found was English Wooks  http://www.englishwooks.com/en/  Why is it called that? I really have no idea. When I inquired with the proprietor at the book fair in the park he looked at me like I was crazy to ask. Never mind – they have lots of books in English. More children’s books than adult, but their used book section is all adult books and they have two full book shelves of them that are overflowing onto the floor.

Today, Emilie and I walked the 40 minutes from where we live to English Wooks and perused the shelves. We could have made this trek much quicker on the subway, but I like the walk and we added a lunch into our plans. This book shop is located inside an English Language school called ‘English Wink’. Again, I don’t really get it but I’ve learned not to ask. They have books I can read – that’s all I care about.

Then we decided to make it a literary adventure day and went downtown to another book store Emilie had discovered while I was having lunch with friends last week. She was pretty sure she could find it again and, sure enough, we did. This one is both bookstore/gift shop/office supply place. It’s called Abacus Cooperativa  https://abacus.coop/es/ . They have 3 shelves of English books and they’re a little cheaper than English Wooks. And since they’re right off the Colon metro stop, they’re much more convenient to our house.

So now we are stocked up with books to read at our leisure this summer. Not that we don’t have other activities planned but when we’re laying on la playa and sipping our Aquarius water, we’ll be having some epic literary adventures. Sure, the stack we bought today was probably more money than they would have cost back home. But I’ll savor them more because they’re that much harder to come by.

When visitors come from the US, instead of asking them to bring favorite foods I can’t get here, maybe I’ll request books. Culinary tastes change over time, but good books will never go out of style – In my Book. Ha ha.

Morning Rituals

When we moved to Arizona from Seattle in 2016, initially we loved the weather and how different the vegetation was from the Northwest. But of course, we moved there in March after a particularly drippy winter in Seattle. We were ready for a change. But when the thermostat hit 124 Fahrenheit on June 21st – the first day of a summer in the desert – the bloom was off that rose. Or more to the point, the bloom had shriveled up and died in the blinding inferno coming from the bright orb in the sky.

So after spending the summer in Spain last year – where people were complaining that it was a scorcher – it didn’t seem that hot to me. And now it’s begun to heat up here again this year. But we have the Sea to dip our toes in. And sand to exfoliate our feet without burning the soles off. And the views? You can’t beat them.

We’ve decided that every morning we will be walking on the beach, so we’re getting up early and catching the tram for the quick trip to the sea. We now have our routine of the direction we walk, picking up shells and coral and then sitting down for our morning drinks while looking out at the water.

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We’re starting our new shell/rock jar. We’ve always had one of these in our house. They’re a collection of sand/rocks/shells from the beaches we’ve visited with our family over many years. We’d bring it back and add it all to the jar. The kids loved these jars and I’d catch them looking at the sometimes, remembering where each layer came from. Our old jars are at my parent’s house in Portland. In a box. Em was sad when she found out they didn’t make it to Spain, so it’s time to start a new one. Many of these shells I’ve never seen before.

Sometimes now, there is a cruise ship in town. This will mean the beach will be busier during the day and we should get our lounge chairs reserved if we have a hope of spending the day under a tiki umbrella with food and beverage service. You learn the ropes after a couple of days of observing the cadence and missing out. Emilie will be starting Beach Volleyball camp soon so I’ll definitely want to stake out a spot early on those days.

We have developed our favorite beach time haunts. There are the upscale restaurants, which by US standards are laughably cheap to eat at, but are considered by locals to be expensive. The views from these place are probably in the photo rolls of every tourist who visits the city, especially by cruise ship. And for good reason. We like Panorama to have a Sunday brunch drink and to watch the fishermen and the surfers. Or at Sunset.

View from Panorama

Then there are the typical beach standbys. And yesterday, Emilie and I discovered our favorite ice cream place was on the beach. We had packed our beach bag chock full, and made our way down to enjoy the water on a late afternoon, only to have a thunderstorm move in. Booming and flashing. What can you do but sit inside and eat the best gelato and sorbet of your life and wait for it to pass? The coconut flavor is like eating an actual coconut.

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We like Jijoneca – they’re everywhere in Spain, especially on the beach areas –  when we have a craving for Helado. It’s really nice inside and the servers are excellent and friendly, and they speak English – cause it’s the beach.

For our morning coffee, we usually go to a small cafe on Patacona playa. They know us now and they’re friendly and happy to have us every morning for our usual. I’m sure we’ll return to our local El Horno, near our house, when the weather turns colder in the fall. To see the ladies who just shout out ‘The usual’ and bring it to us.

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But for right now, we’ll be enjoying our daily walk, watching the happenings on our beach as tourists from around the world, and families, come and go. Picking up our shells, as the boats sail by, and just slowing down. I can’t wait until I’m tired of sweeping sand out of our house. Then I’ll know we’re settled in.