Random Musings, 2nd Edition

Get ready, I’m going to be all over the place

Let’s start with exercise or any physical activity for that matter. I broke my toe last weekend. It was an accident. I was lying on the floor doing side leg lifts and when I turned over to do the other side I jammed my foot straight into the wood leg of a side chair instantly breaking one of my toes. Frustratingly, most physical activities are dangerous for me. Here’s a highlight reel: I tore both my menisci while earning my black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I broke my ankle while playing with Sweet Pea. Won accidentally drove over me when I fell out of a golf cart once. It’s a long story. And, just last year I had a nasty biking accident in Germany when I was pitched off my bike and fell directly onto a granite walkway – onto my mouth. It wasn’t pretty and yes, dental repairs were necessary as well as plastic surgery for my upper lip. I’m going to give up on physical exercise and just get fat. I think its safer that way.

While I was raving about how wonderful the metric system is in Conversion Submersion, specifically with regard to weighing yourself in kilograms, because you are about 1/2 the numerical value compared to pounds, I’ve come to learn a few things. Kilograms are comprised of milligrams. When you are working hard to lose weight it takes a lot longer to drop a kilogram!! This means when I’m inching back up I’m telling Won, “I just gained 800 milligrams.” It’s rough when you have to use terms like “eight hundred” when it comes to your weight.

In other news…

Egg yolks here are a deep orange compared to a much paler yellow in the US. It got me thinking about why. A quick internet search reveals that the color of all egg yolks are influenced specifically by the diet of the hen. To learn more, read this. The following image is a good eggs-ample of what I mean. (Sorry, I had to do it.)

What is that incessant noise?!

Two apartments in our building are being renovated and one of them is above us. Grrrrreat. We woke up last week to the sound of a jack hammer that literally sounded as if it was INSIDE our apartment. Won went to investigate. Turns out a couple of guys were taking down a brick fireplace. They told Won that construction in that unit will be going on for at least 45 days. I’m not sure about the other one. Thankfully, the country is beginning to open back up so we can get out of the house and away from the constant hammering and construction noise. Oyyyy!

And then there was this…

Now that most beaches and the ocean-front promenades have been re-opened (but not for sunbathing – only walking and dreaded exercising), we’ve been taking Sweet Pea there as often as possible. The other day we were happily scampering on the beach when a golden retriever trots on over. Sweet Pea and this other dog did their typical circling and sniffing and then – all of the sudden! – the other dog lifted his leg and peed on Sweet Pea!!!! AAAARRRGGGHHHH!! Well, that’s never happened before. Funny enough, she didn’t seem to mind. I think urine is to dogs like perfume is to people. Guess who got an extra long bath when we got home?

Now for something entirely different…

I don’t know if you heard the big news, but Microsoft has made the decision to identify two spaces between sentences as a grammatical error in their applications. Personally, I’m relieved. I was taught that there should always be two, but these days I see both single and double spacing and I don’t know which one is correct anymore. Whew! Well, that conundrum has been resolved. I can finally sleep at night.

The practical side of life…

We continue to marvel at how great the bread and produce are here and how affordable it all is. Won ran to the little fruit and veggie stand around the corner and came home with the following: a loaf of freshly baked bread, 2 zucchinis, one head of broccoli, 5 navel oranges, 5 apples, 4 lemons, and a dozen white potatoes all for €10,34 ($11.17)! Almost forgot to use the comma in the Euro price… 🙂

We’re getting accustomed to drying our laundry outside. It’s particularly pleasant on a sunny day when the light streams through the windows and there’s a soft breeze. It can be very peaceful. The downside is the time it takes to dry our clothes, unless it is at least 21 C (70 F) outside, then it happens pretty quickly. The upside is that our clothes don’t wrinkle or shrink – at least not from air drying. We have to be careful we don’t accidentally shrink them during the washing cycle, though. There is no cold water option. So, we’ve primarily learned by trial and error. Small loads are the way to go, especially because the machine isn’t very big, making keeping up with laundry critical. And, never, never, NEVER, wash your sheets on a windy day. Hanging them out to dry is equivalent to raising a sail on a boat when its blowing 90 knots!! Yikes! (Oh, and be sure you don’t accidentally toss in a red cleaning cloth with your white bath towels. It takes buckets of bleach to get them white again.)

And while I’m on the subject of laundry, figuring out how to use our washing machine has been an experience all on its own. The image on the left is the part of the machine panel we’ve “mostly” figured out, but even Google Translate can’t help us with everything – check out some of those abbreviations. The other image is also on the front of the machine, but, but we’ve never used it because we have no idea what those buttons do.

A COVID-19 Update…

Many of you have asked how things have been going here with regard to the novel coronavirus. As of the date of this post (15 May) Portugal has lost 1190 of its citizens to COVID-19. With a population of 10.28MM that equates to 117 deaths per 1 million people. This is far better than our neighbor Spain with 587 deaths per 1 million people. For further context, Italy’s rate is 523, the UK is 501, France is 420, and Belgium is a whopping 773. Germany has an admirable 95 and the US is currently at 264.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is recognizing Portugal for early and decisive action which minimized the impact of the virus especially given its shared border with Spain. From the very start there was strong, aligned cooperative partnering across all party lines and clear, consistent, direct communication. The Government worked closely with health and science experts to develop and execute a plan of action. On 9 March they started with the suspension of events with more than 5,000 people and flights to Italy. On 16 March all public and private educational establishments were closed along with other non-essential businesses. On 19 March a state of emergency was declared which placed restrictions on circulation.

Early on, they also granted citizenship to anyone who was in any stage of the process thereby ensuring they had access to healthcare. They rolled out a “Fique em casa” campaign (Stay at home), constantly encouraged the population to practice social distancing, wash their hands, and wear masks when outside. They reduced the number of people allowed in necessary establishments like grocery stores and pharmacies based on the size of the store to limit exposure and spread of the disease.

On 3 May the country entered into a state of calamity, after three consecutive periods in a state of emergency. Among other things, the state of calamity requires mandatory use of masks or visors on public transport, in public services, schools and commercial establishments. Portuguese citizens are to be commended too as they took this situation to heart and did their best to comply with all the changes and restrictions. We did not personally experience a lack of toilet paper, cleaning supplies, meat or any other necessity.

Of course Portugal will suffer from the economic impact of these actions, but they are already rolling out plans to get things back up and running quickly. One initiative is focused on ensuring tourists have confidence when visiting Portugal once it is safe to travel. It is a certification program for hotels called Clean & Safe. Has Portugal been perfect in every action they have taken? I’m sure there are some who can find fault, but as far as I’m concerned, I think they have done a really great job.

A great big thank you…

I love writing this blog. It helps me stay connected to my friends and family, but it has also enabled me to reconnect with friends I have lost touch with, most recently Pamela and Caryn. It has also introduced me to new people interested in learning more about our experiences here like Leslie, Brenda, Isabella and Rod. I feel incredibly lucky to know so many people! In addition to loads of folks across the US, I have subscribers in China, Germany, France, Finland, Canada, Brazil, Australia, the UK, Switzerland, Spain, France, Portugal, Singapore, the Netherlands, South Korea, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, India, Peru, Italy, Panama and Greece! Wow!! Thank you so much for your support and interest. It is slightly nerve-wracking knowing so many are reading my blog and yet it is also exciting and humbling which inspires me to continue.

Up Next…

Here is a teaser on what’s coming in next week’s blog:

Until then, I hope you stay safe, stay healthy, and stay in touch!

From Portugal with love,

Beth

Published by Beth Thomas-Kim

After working in corporate America for companies like Mattel, Nestlé, and Johnson & Johnson, I retired and moved to Portugal in January of 2020 with my husband Won and our 12-year old wire fox terrier, Sweet Pea. We now live in Monte Estoril, a lovely seaside town just outside Lisbon. We spend our days happily exploring this beautiful country and learning about its fascinating history, engaging culture, warm and welcoming people, delicious food and wine, and stunning architecture. This blog was started primarily as a way to keep family and friends updated on our transition from the US to Portugal. Now, my subscribers include people from all over the world. Enjoy!

12 thoughts on “Random Musings, 2nd Edition

  1. Good stuff! In fact I’m surprised it took you so long to injure yourself! 🙂 BTW, some of your images didn’t come through properly…

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    1. I was thinking of you the entire time I was writing that first paragraph because I KNEW what you were thinking!!! LOL!! I’ve fixed the problem with the images. Hope all is well!! Take care.

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  2. I smashed my toe into the stairs a few weeks ago- nothing more frustrating than not being able to walk properly! Get better soon!

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  3. Beth,
    Beautiful photos- even the raw orange-y egg yolks! Fascinated by the lovely moss covered structures you posted. I know what you mean about the cryptic icons on the appliances. We could only get one burner to work on the stove in our rental apartment in Porto during our 1 week stay. Wishing you heal quickly from your injury.
    Re-reading your early postings, had you ever visited Portugal prior to moving there? Our plan to rent an apartment this fall in Malaga, Spain and explore whether we’d like to live there part time has been postponed until 2021, at least. Did you & Won consider other locations and what prompted you to totally leave/move full time? If you prefer to answer me directly via email that’s fine.
    Keep posting – love reading all about your experiences!
    Leslie

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind note, Leslie. The moss-covered structures you mentioned were from an exploratory trip to Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, which we just visited on Monday of this week, and it the focus of my latest blog post. It was an AMAZING place! Won and I had only visited Portugal once before making the decision to move here. I cover our background and reasoning in Brave or Bonkers, my very first post. (By the way, I have added links to all my blog posts to the bottom of the home page of my site so its easier to access.) It was a trip to Spain in 2018 that got us thinking about moving there. If you read that and have more questions, don’t hesitate to let me know.

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  4. Beth,
    Yes,I did re-read your Brave or Bonkers post again. I was just wondering how/why you decided to relocate out from the USA? Expats have a multitude of reasons: adventure, wander lust, bucket list, affinity for a certain country/culture, weather, wanting a change from USA, cost of living/health care, changes in current USA, etc. We also considered South America, but want someplace with personal & financial security/consistency. I don’t think we’d ever entirely give up some residency in the USA, unless there’s a strong financial incentive to do so! 🙂

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    1. To be honest, we simply want an adventure before we have to really settle down. My husband fell in love with San Sebastian, Spain so that became our initial focus, but the tax situation wasn’t optimal. We had never considered Portugal, but loved it once we visited and did our research (food, cost of living, weather, safety, culture, ease of travel back to the US and to all parts of Europe, etc.). It all fell into place and we could not be happier. Are future plans are not set in stone at this point. We know we can live here for up to 10 years on a non-habitual residency visa. I can easily see us here for the foreseeable future, but we remain flexible. Hope that helps! If you end up in Malaga, let us know. We’ll drive down to see you. Or, we could meet up in Tavira. It’s one of the most charming towns in Portugal…and that’s saying a lot!

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  5. I truly look forward to your updates, they always bring a smile to my face and have moved Portugal up on our bucket list! So sorry to hear about your toe though, and hope it is healing quickly so you can restart your training for the Lisbon Marathon!:) Continue to enjoy your adventures of a lifetime. xo

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    1. Thanks, Mindy! I’m so happy you are enjoying my blog and that it is making you smile. AND! That my posts have piqued your interest in Portugal. Wouldn’t it be fun to sip a wine while overlooking a great view and have a fun catch up session? I’d love it. BTW, my toe is completely healed. I broke it 7 weeks ago today (June 25). There wasn’t much I could do when it happened anyway so I just buddy-taped it to the next toe and got on with life (marathon notwithstanding…LOL!). I’m loving the pictures you are posting on IG of you DARLING grandson, Wills. OMG. He’s precious! Give my best to Stephen and I’m hoping that once it is safe to travel again, you guys will add Portugal to your list of places to visit. Until then, let’s be sure to stay in touch!

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