I am writing to you from beautiful Portugal, my very favorite place to be! I hope this email finds you well and that May has been good to you so far.
Where to begin?
On Saturday my exams went well and I graduated, and that evening a couple of my friends arranged a birthday dinner for me and another gentleman from the course. I got there but didn't like the vibe, so I just made an appearance and two of my girlfriends and I left. I did something I've wanted to do since I was 15, and had been dying to do since arriving in India. I got my nose pierced! Isn't that crazy? At the end of my first month there, I got a tattoo. And at the end of my second one, a piercing! So far, I've experienced zero ill effects. And don't worry, I did my research and got several local and Western references of where to go.
Sunday I had to do some last-minute gift buying and I got to say goodbye to most of the friends I'd made around town. I packed and got ready for my trip, and by the next day I was emotionally ready to leave.
On Monday the manager of my school asked if I had any suggestions for how they can improve. Of course I said to start in the kitchen! I suggested he have someone come in for a short but thorough training for the kitchen staff. As I listed off things to be covered, such as not using a rag to mop the floor and then picking it up and using it to wipe the counter, I said it was such simple training that I could give it. He took me down to the kitchen right then to get started!
I'm not sure how much of what I said was really received, nor how much will change, but I will follow-up with them soon. I hope that they will make those improvements right away.
I was also invited to come back as a guest instructor in January. And an instructor from that school resigned and is opening his own school, and offered me a teaching position there as well, starting this summer. I'm not sure if either are really a possibility, but we'll see. If nothing else, it's very nice to be considered.
My trip to Portugal was very long and exhausting, but thankfully it went very smoothly. It took me over 30 hours to get here, and 4 flights. Once I landed in Brussels, I think I experienced culture shock for the first time in my life. Everything was impeccably clean. I couldn't believe how shiny the floors were. People formed organized lines and kept order among themselves without yelling, pushing, or shoving... they didn't speak to each other! People smelled weird and artificial - all of the different colognes and perfumes mixing together were enough to give me a headache - yet that was such an improvement to the overwhelming "natural" human smells in India. The strangest part though was how quiet it was. The near-silence almost felt ominous. As I sat down in a beautiful cafe during my layover, I realized I felt like I was inside the IKEA version of an airport.
Arriving in Portugal, however, shook me out of whatever funk I was in being back in the first world after two months in incredible India. I am beyond thrilled to be here! This place is really where I feel I most belong. And spending time with my sweet grandfather is the biggest gift!
So far in two days, I've eaten two amazing lunches: simple grilled fish, fresh veggies that are cooked just right, and the most decadent chocolate mousse for dessert. And don't get me started on the coffee! Just what I was dreaming of for two months! Lunch has been so good and filling that I've been content to just have light dinners. Last night for example, I had some kiwi, papaya, and goat cheese. It was refreshing and perfect. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day here, which I love because it's so well aligned with Ayurvedic eating principles. And garlic is used so liberally! I'm in food heaven and I'm not even being bashful about how awesome it is!
I hope I don't gain back all of the weight I lost after being so sick in India in just a week... but that might be possible!
Speaking of which, I was able to buy an anti-parasite drug before I left. I was instructed to take it a total of four times, one dose every three weeks. The really great thing is that it only cost 7.50 Rupees per dose, which in total was less than $0.50! Isn't that crazy? The same medication would cost around $10 if I had to buy it at home. Still not expensive, yet 20 times more than in India.
I don't have many plans while I'm here besides to practice yoga, get caught up on rest, EAT, and spend time with my precious family. I had a pedicure today, because my feet had never been so atrocious in my life -- I didn't know it was possible for them to look so bad. My heels had spots on them that were seemingly permanently black. I'm not exaggerating- I wish I were - it was a bad, ugly situation. Thankfully the pedicure helped and now they are much better!
The weather was pretty cool today, I think the high was just under 70 and it was pretty cloudy all day. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain and I plan to go to into the city and spend the weekend with my aunt, uncle, and cousin.
If it weren't for the people back home, I don't think I'd leave - at least not yet. I'm only returning this soon because I don't want to miss my graduation ceremony, though I've seriously considered it. "Real life" has to start again though sooner or later as well I suppose. The good thing is that this time away has really allowed me to think about what I want my life and work to look like from now on. I am designing my life to include as much travel as possible.
I have decided to lead a yoga retreat soon. The plans are still very much up in the air, which means that your input is super valuable.
If you were to travel to do yoga and relax in a beautiful place, probably on a beach, where would you most like to go? Would you rather stay closer to home and go somewhere in Central America or the Caribbean? Or would you be interested in southern Portugal? What about India?
Regardless of whether you think you'll actually do it, will you please let me know your thoughts, including what you would expect and how much you think is reasonable to spend for time frames of 3, 5, 7, and 10 days?
How is everything going there? How are you this week? You are in my thoughts and prayers always.
God bless you, Namaste, Hari Om, as melhores, obrigada, e muitos beijinhos e abraços,
w e l c o m e