Passport to Poconos – Embracing our Differences

Dear friend,

I’m just flying home from my latest trip to Barcelona, Spain, and it’s the middle of winter. Each time I fly home to the Poconos is with anticipation of being home again mixed with a little regret.

I’m going away from the world I knew for most of my life. Although I don’t feel it is the place for me to live anymore, I do miss my friends and our social routines. Spain is not like the US where you have to plan ahead of time if you want to meet someone. One of my husband’s friends invites us months ahead and I tell him “who knows where I will be by then”. In Spain, if I want a quick chat with my friend Cristina, I call her at her office and ask her if she’s free for a coffee downstairs. My friend Rosa, who has twelve hour shifts as an ER coordinator, is happy to meet for dinner after work, because, as she says: “I have to eat, even if I’m tired. It makes my day to have dinner with a friend after work”. Nothing needs be expensive; friendship is the objective.

I also like how people enjoy life in Spain with less money. They will often meet in the park, or go for a walk, or meet for an inexpensive lunch. There are many places to meet for a cup of coffee or a drink. Years ago, I lived in Segovia, a beautiful city on the plains of Spain, close to Madrid. I had the chance to meet other single women who lived there and we would get together like everybody else, for a wine or soda after work.

We would stand around the bar and get a free montadito (small open-face sandwich) with every drink. It is welcoming (and tasty). The montadito enhanced the warmth of these social encounters and gave us something to eat for the price of an inexpensive drink. I had the chance to meet many people over drinks and montaditos, some of them became friends forever. I wish American bars would catch on to this custom.

Now my friends and I, from the montadito years, meet once a year with spouses and children. Those friendships are still priceless and I feel that it’s one of the gifts my Latin culture offers. However, when somebody asks me if I would go back to live in Spain, I respond: “I like to visit and I miss some things, but my home now is in the Poconos, where I have my cats, my new friends, my new house, my new radio program Tu Voz con Christina (“Your Voice with Christina”) on Pocono 96.7 and my Pocono Record weekly column and blog post. I have a lot of blessings to count and I keep adding new chapters in to my life in the Poconos.

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