Tuesday, October 9, 2018

How Our Life In Portugal Is Shaping Up.......

It has been two months now since we planted our feet in Portugal with no further travel on our schedule for a while. Our days have been spent getting settled into our new rental house, working out at a nearby gym, and enjoying our new lives.

Here is a video that Clyde has done on one of our adventures.  
Exploring the streets of Monsanto, Portugal




There is the stress associated with the residency process, which we knew was a given, since we had been through a similar process in Panama. There are appointments with the local government offices that issue resident permits, tons of paperwork being sent back and forth from here to the US, and lots of headaches. Someday it will all be behind us, but for now it seems like that "someday" will never come.

For the past two years when we were traveling fulltime people would often ask us, "what do you miss most about not having a home base?" My answer was always, "the gym." I missed my workouts, my tight abs, toned arms and sexy muscles that made it easy to stand, sit, and function in everyday life.

Then last year I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my left hip after my last bone density test was done in Spain. My hips hurt when I climbed stairs and my legs ached when I tried to sleep at night. Clyde was feeling the pains of aging also as he continually groaned whenever he would get up or move. Like they say, "if you don't use it you lose it, " and that applies to muscle as we get older.

When I looked in the mirror I no longer liked the person that looked back. Instead of the fit, strong woman that I once was I saw a hunched over, flabby, old lady. I was no longer that dedicated, body builder who was in the gym at 5 in the morning when they first opened up. And Clyde no longer had a house on a large piece of land, like in Panama to keep him in shape.

Something needed to be done and since we are somewhat settled here, we both thought it was essential that we find a gym and start working out again. The town that we live in has 4 or 5 gyms of varying sizes and equipment, so we toured several before deciding which one was right for us.

Being a former gym rat, I have noticed some differences between US gyms and the one here. While Portuguese women do lift weights they tend to be thin with long, lean muscle. American women like myself want to see shapely muscles as a sign that we are fit and strong. Even most of the men here are not huge, bulky, body builders like many I saw in the US gyms. But chatting to my personal trainer she said it's a different way of thinking. Here, they are more concerned with health and well being and not so much about the size of ones biceps. And they think that all Americans that lift weight take muscle enhancing drugs to achieve that bulky, muscular look. I did dispel that fact that it is not the norm.

As Americans we always heard about the healthy Mediterranean Diet along with the fit lifestyles of the European people as a whole. It's now been over two years that we have been living in various European countries and have the proof to share with you all.

Vegetables, fruit, and fish are abundant throughout Europe and more affordable than they ever were in the US. But Europeans do love bread which is commonly eaten with most meals. Add to that the double carbohydrates, rice and potatoes are served with most restaurant meals here.Not to mention wine which literally costs way less then water. Europeans also eat dinner late in the evening, typically between 8 and 10pm probably due to the fact that they work later than a typical 9-5 workday. And every community has a bakery that is the heart of the community where people meet to socialize on a regular basis.

So just like everywhere, there are people that frequent gyms and avoid the bad foods, and there are those that eat tons of carbs and live a more sedentary lifestyle. Throughout Europe and the United Kingdom though, people do love to walk and do much more of it than us Americans. Perhaps that helps to keep Europeans more fit than their American counterparts?

In our spare time we do manage to get out and explore this gorgeous country that we now get to call home. Everywhere we look there are villages, cities and ancient ruins to visit. The highways here are smooth, wide and easy to navigate although pricey since many roads have imposed tolls. But that is the price we pay for modern infrastructure

Shopping is varied from small markets in the village squares to mega shopping malls with brand names and prices to match. Sizing is a bit strange and something that I will have to get used to. For the ladies, bra sizes run in the 90's to 100's with similar cup sizes as the US. Instead of looking for 34 or 36 C, here there are sizes like 95C. Pants sizes are strange also and are listed with number sizing that does NOT coordinate to one's waist size. Sizes like 36, or 40 coordinate to US sizes of 6 or 10 in misses. Shoe sizes we had become accustomed to while living in Panama since they used European sizes there. Instead of wearing a size 8 someone here would wear a size 38 to confuse things even more.

Time is spoken as the 24-hour clock or "military time" as many of us have come to know it. When asked to meet at 1300 that translates to 1pm for the rest of us. And the metric system is used throughout the world, with the exception of the US. Yet still we convert numbers in our head each time we see them. "What's the temperature today," Clyde might ask? I answer by saying it's 15 which converts to 60.

But the most confusing change for us is to write the date which is written as day/month/year and screws with my head each and every time. Again, the stubborn US seems to be the ONLY country in the entire world that writes it as month/day/and year.

Then there is the confusing language that we are learning called European Portuguese. In Portuguese a dog is a "cao" pronounced, "cow,".....the word for "pull," is, "puxar," pronounced, "pushar," just to name a few. The days of the week are numbered according to "market" days. There is "segunda feira," second market day, "terca feira," third market day and so on. And many of the vowels are "swallowed" as they say or just thrown out the window. Whenever the letter "m" is last it is never pronounced as an, "m" but is instead a nasal sound that sounds more like "n". Our language teacher tells us that the best way to pronounce a nasal sound is to smile. Apparently by keeping ones mouth mostly closed is the best way to speak European Portuguese, which works for me. Perhaps I should just shut my mouth all the time and be thankful that so many Portuguese people speak English?

Regardless of our woes, we are loving our new life in Portugal. We are making friends, finding our way around and giving thanks that we have chosen this as our new adopted country to brag about......along the gringo trail.










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