My birthday is in early February, and on my birthday, my darling wife suggested she see if there were any birthday cards in the mailbox; we hadn’t heard the CTT Delivery man’s scooter stop, so I was skeptical. Mail for us is very rare. So she went out and I heard her laughing histerically from the mailbox.
Nearly two months late, we got a Christmas Card from a wonderful friend who still remembers some great times together while I was in the Air Force. Marleen worked with me and became a great friend in Arkansas, and we’ve stayed in touch over the years, even when she moved to her home in the Netherlands for a time. She is so wonderful! So I was very pleased to get her card and a photo newsletter summarizing her year. It’s been years since we’ve seen her, but we still fondly remember each other. Things like this make me feel really “warm and fuzzy!”
But that brings up one of the critiical questions friends from around the globe ask me about our decision to retire to the Portuguese Azores. Many things defy understanding, explanation, or indeed, reason here. Why it takes nearly two months for an Air Mail letter to arrrive from the states? Isn’t the Portuguese system Socialist? Is the island of Terceira run by their own version of a mafia? All possible considerations. In defferenece to family and freinds, I refrain from commenting.
Some things I don’t try to explain, I just accept; much to my wonderful bride’s joy. Her culture is different. Portugal, until 1978, was ruled by a dictator named Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. That’s less than one generation ago, many remember “the old days” which were vastly different from my experieinces growing up in the US and eventually becoming part of the federal government. I can’t relate to the stories my wife and her family tell about growing up in schools and local governments controlled by a dictator. So I try to not judge how this culture reacts to government decisions, procedures, and such things. Like many ex-pats, I sometimes have to bite my tongue and not compare my adopted residence to cultures I’ve lived in around the world. Sometimes, I bite my tongue till it hurts:)
So you have to balance the warmth of neighbors supporting us, accepting us into their families, beautiful scenery, great wine, good prices, etc., and try to decide when some things should be accepted, some suggestion might help, or just bite your tongue.
Then again, every now and again, you get a wonderful surprise letter or card from a dear friend!