RE-alizing this is now the Longest period of time that I have ever been away from my little village of Los Angeles /California, I decided to RE-flect a bit on what’s changed in these 8 years. Have I changed?
I grew up in Los Angeles in a big family. . . which was great. There was little time to be bored as a family bbq, gathering, birthday, or event of some sort was always just around the corner. My family at home consisted of Momma and my dad and one sister, although add to that an extended family of 6 aunts, 6 uncles, 12 cousins and my grandparents, and as I said, never time to be bored as we all piled into someone’s house to celebrate something.
My dad’s parents grew up in MÉXICO, and so did my mom’s father, in the states of Jalisco and Sonora. They lived in a completely different way and surely had more difficult life conditions. México, the neighboring country to the United States, saw good times and hard times, and its during those hard times that people emigrate to find better conditions and opportunities. My grandparents emigrated to the U.S. and made theirs lives in California and eventually Los Angeles, where they raised their children. The next generation started their lives in Los Angeles, California, my parents and their siblings all born in the City of Angels. In turn, this generation grew up and raised their children (including Me and sister) here too. And to this day, no one in my family has left Los Angeles (except for vacations).
The older I got, the more I started becoming interested in the world OUT THERE. . . dare I say, beyond Los Angeles.
In 2008, I left the North American continent and boarded the longest flight and the biggest plane (with 10 seats across) of my life to fly to EUROPE!!! The destination was Madrid, España (SPAIN) where I would live for several months during my Semester Abroad.
Back then: I was a wee-lass of 20 years who had only traveled to one other country (MÉXICO several times) and was taking a huge step toward growth and independence by leaving home. Although my family was very supportive and encouraging, I think the important thing for them was that it was a fixed amount of time I’d be gone. I had a return flight purchased afterall, and so they were relieved.
I spent 138 Total Days away from home and my family that year.
Was it difficult? Sure. Did I have the trip of my life in Spain and Europe though? Absolutely!!! I cannot put into words what the trip did for me, but I will try anyways. 4 1/2 months opened my eyes to many different things. I saw treasures, historic and natural, heard new languages, felt vulnerable in new situations, felt confident and strong as my Spanish improved, enjoyed the company, laughter and adventures had with my roommates and people met along the way. I lost the fear for quite some time while abroad (the fear of being foreign, the fear of being young, the fear of being a woman traveling, the fear of being wild, the fear of saying something stupid and incorrect (in Spanish or in another language). . . It was everything I needed at the time, and I couldn’t be more proud of my younger self for taking that leap.
Now: I am a woman of 28 years, who has traveled to many countries. I have seen more beautiful things, interacted with many types of people, immersed myself in different cultures, challenged my views, beliefs & values all because of experiences had during my travels. I have a thicker shell and I keep reminding myself that if I could be so free and FEARLESS at 20 years old, then this time around, I can truly fly. This QU-EEN has Wings and I know the Universe is in my favor.
I have now been away from home 158 Days, having arrived to España just before Thanksgiving in November of 2015. . . sometimes I still can’t believe it.
I leaped again. I took an opportunity to live in another country, employed, revisiting Spain 8 years after falling in love with it the first time. Just a few months ago, I signed on for another year of Teaching English here in the same town, O’Corgo in Galicia, España. I don’t plan on returning to the United States, to my lovely Los Angeles until summer 2017, so that Count of days will triple by the time I am packing suitcases sometime next summer. I’m so very happy with my decision. I’m so very blessed to have people who love and care for me, who raised me to be a strong woman who needs to fly, often. I’m sorry that I’m not sorry about following my heart these days, wherever it takes me. Will it be difficult? Sure. Do I plan to have the time of my life while I live here in Spain and Europe though? Absolutely!!! It doesn’t mean I love any one of those very special people back home any less. I have so much love for them, and I hope they know it everyday.
So now, for a little RE-miniscing. . . In 8 years, what else has changed?? Back in 2008 I spent my Semana Santa holiday traveling throughout Italia by Train with great friends. . . taking in all the history and sights, we were quite the adventurers.
We visited 5 Italian cities in 2 weeks:
This year, just over a month ago I spent an EPIC SEMANA SANTA HOLIDAY in Portugal with my Momma-san and sister. We traveled by car, starting in the North, heading down South and then back up again, drinking wine, eating all the sweets to our hearts content, and enjoying quality time together. The del Río women reunited and my heart was full to the brim, overflowing.
A lot has changed in these 8 years. . . and it’s been fun looking back at old pictures and RE-collecting stories from the past. Sometimes, it helps to put things in perspective. Don’t be afraid to look back and laugh at yourself. I did. RE-mind yourself of how strong and fearless you were and let that inspire you now. I have come a long way, and yet my younger self continues to inspire me LOTS!
THEN & NOW
My only sister, the one I love to love, the other princesa in “las princesas”, my partner in all things light-hearted and magical, full of that child wonder and silliness, traveled to see me in Madrid in 2008, and this year after our Portugal trip stayed in Spain to visit Barcelona and Montserrat with me. We are bonded for life. We have never had a perfect relationship, but we never give up on improving it. This trip taught us so much more about each other, the women we have grown to be, and I’m so grateful for it.
Loving to love Lisboa!!! The first country I visited after Spain back in 2008 was Portugal, when I traveled with the roomies to the Capital City. 8 years later, my love for Lisboa is still strong. What a dynamic city with great energy. Cannot wait to share with you all the things I got up to in Lisbon in a future post.
And finally. . . My love for Photography. I was the first in my group of friends to own a digital Camera, circa 2000. I have always loved capturing moments in a “forever medium” like photography. Throughout the years, I have never stopped taking pictures, and now have a gorgeous Canon camera to capture moments throughout my travels. Below is my favorite photo taken in 2008, Perseus with the Head of Medusa, by Cellini, from a unique angle. Here I see Medusa’s body from below and I look up at her severed head, with the city of Firenze as the background. The other photos are from my travels this March throughout Portugal.
I don’t now where I’ll be in 5 years. I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 either. But I’m not worried. I am learning more and more how to live in the PRESENT MOMENT, how to practice GRATITUDE AND LOVE each day, and how to be ME. . . just ME.
<3 All my love