Just in case I was somehow uncertain if I had actually arrived in Madrid or in the States, I was quickly greeted by a whiff of cigarette smoke. I know that the government is making strides towards curbing the Spanish smoking epidemic, and I definitely think progress is being made, but it's hard to change something so deeply ingrained in the culture. In my two weeks Stateside I don't think I smelled smoke even once (granted my smoking friends were out of town and my social time was mostly spent at house-parties, not bars...), but once back in Spain I was confronted with it before I even reached the passport control.
Once I reached home I was happy to see that my public health card had finally arrived. I would certainly have received any needed health care as I was officially in the "system," but possession of the actual card is reassuring. They'd said it would take about a month to get the card but mine arrived more than 3 months later. Perhaps it was delayed by the summer-time lag. I'm hoping my work permit and residency are not similarly delayed.
While in St. Louis I loaded up on American toiletries and drugs. I'm trying to break myself of the connection to those items that I am most familiar with, but I'm not there just yet, so I took advantage of the trip to stock up. My thinking in wanting to make that break is partly because of the price (5€ for Dove deodorant and 11€ for a 4-pack of razors?!?!?) but mostly because I think it's unhealthy to be constantly thinking of what I left behind. That being said, I've been working on a list of those items that I enjoy/miss most from both the St. Louis and Madrid. (I've chosen those instead of the States and Spain simply because I'm most familiar with them. But some of these things are available country-wide.) It's a work in progress. Can you help me add to it?
- Cloudless skies (a rarity in St. Louie)
- Eggs with the expiration date stamped on the shell (strange, I know)
- Cheap taxis
- The "Chinese" stores (like the dollar-stores in the States but sooo much better!)
- TJ Maxx & Marshalls
- St. Louis Bread Co. (known as Panera elsewhere in the States)
- Toasted Ravioli
- Day-quil & Ny-quil
- Expanded and HD cable TV
- House parties (really in South Florida since that's where my friends do it best!)