Friday Favoritos Are Back
Now that I’ve been in Spain for a very long time, it doesn’t feel so exciting to post updates. Everybody’s used to me being here, turns out it wasn’t just for a year or two, so the world’s moving on. I remember those bright-eyed (terrified?) first months in Bilbao, learning new ways to live and adjusting to all the changes. Weighing my own produce and bagging my own groceries! Saying hello to people in waiting rooms and elevators! A smaller personal space bubble!
Now those things are all commonplace, in fact I don’t even think about them anymore. But I realized the other day, I am still foreign here. I had sort of forgotten. Remembering you’re foreign opens your eyes to observe things in a fresh way.
I’d like to bring back an old tradition called Friday Favoritos. Back during my first year, I used to write about new discoveries I was making. It didn’t last long though, as I got quickly worn down by my time in the classroom, turning my occasional Friday posts into a very emo series called Friday Feelings. Looking back, that first year was really hard, but I would’ve been too proud to admit it at the time!
More on that another day. Back to the present, here are a few of my favorite things these days.
My secondhand Orbea bike, gifted to me for my birthday last year. This little amiga is getting me around Zaragoza. The city’s extensive system of bike lanes is perfect for bike commuting, something I’ve been missing a lot in recent years, especially in Madrid!
This sweet little record player I bought secondhand on Wallapop. I’m apparently going all kinds of vintage these days. But seriously, Wallapop is the best place ever to find things. Everybody is selling something you might need, especially in larger cities! Don’t hesitate to sell even the most random things on it, somebody may want it. This Lauson record player has Bluetooth so I mostly use it to play music from my computer or phone while in my room. I do have a couple of secondhand records too and may grow the collection more if I see any I love.
This is a cross between a place and a thing, but BALCONIES. Oh yes. Post-lockdown, everybody is scrambling to move to bigger apartments or houses, or at least a place with a balcony. Not being able to step outside for 40 days really does take its toll. I chose the place where I live in part because the bedroom has its own balcony (and bathroom! Score!). It’s on the 8th floor and faces west, so I’m treated to some nice sunsets every day, and even a massive double rainbow one morning. I tie my exercise band to the railing and do this 4-minute rowing workout and I even sit and drink my morning tea. If I get over my self-consciousness I may even start doing yoga out there.
I’ve also had the privilege of staying in apartments or rural hotels with lovely balconies this summer. Who doesn’t love a mountain view?
Okay, I’ve tried getting on the podcast train. Really. Brené Brown especially. But I struggle to consistently listen to them. It may be that since I don’t drive, there isn’t a good time for me to listen to podcasts. When I’m home, if I start listening to something, I immediately start cleaning or doing other things. So I’m sticking with books, as I read pretty fast and digest the ideas better.
The book I’ve read recently that has resonated the most is Your Erroneous Zones by Wayne Dyer. Here’s a snippet of the description: “If you’re plagued by guilt or worry and find yourself unwittingly falling into the same old self-destructive patterns, then you have “erroneous zones” – whole facets of your approach to life that act as barriers to your success and happiness.” This is a book to read one time, and then read again and again as necessary. The idea that our feelings are 100% a choice wasn’t one I had considered in depth. Dyer suggests that we do have complete and total control over our feelings because our feelings stem from thoughts. And once we learn to control our thoughts, our feelings don’t rule us anymore. It made me reflect a lot on the thoughts I’ve been telling myself that have been leading to anxiety or worry or guilt. I’m now working on ways to rewrite my negative thoughts. Everyone, seriously, read this book.
I also read The Cash Machine by Dave & Chana Mason. This was a great story-style guide to financial independence and gave me some more insight into the world of investing. It’s free on Kindle right now! Pause immediately and go download it!
Another idea rocking my world is the idea of active, passive and periodic friendships, written about by Anna Akbari. I’ve since gone on to read many more of her blog articles and am really enjoying her perspectives. She feels kind of like a kindred spirit.
As for other books I’m reading right now, I’m working on Virginia Woolf’s The Voyage Out, Thus Spoke Zarathrustra, and Theodore Zeldin’s An Intimate History of Humanity (attempting these last two in Spanish). I’m up to 37 books read or in progress this year!
I’ve become a cheese addict recently. And who wouldn’t, when you’re surrounded by all kinds of amazing local fresh cheeses? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to eating Swiss or Cheddar cheese after living here. In Extremadura, I tried local goat cheese with pimenton or paprika on the outside. This cheese has won plenty of awards and is known as among the world’s best. Made with raw goat milk, it’s soft, but not runny, and tangy. Perfect as a plate of tapas on its own.
In the current situation, I’m not going out to eat very much at all – only while on vacation in places like Robledillo de Gata. However, if you happen to be in Aragón in the pre-Pyrenees and want some nice grilled food, I can recommend El Pajar Bar & Asador in the tiny town of Margudgued. It’s owned by three siblings and they have a huge outdoor grill where they cook meats and vegetables. There’s plenty of space to eat outside and the prices are definitely reasonable.
What’s making you happy?