Among the many questions I have been asked upon our arrival to Portugal (asked by both Americans and Portuguese alike), two have been most prevalent: (1) The obvious: Do you speak Portuguese?? (2) The personal: TEN bags?!?! You REALLY brought TEN bags with you? What did you bring in TEN bags??
One may think that she would get asked, "Do you miss America?" or "How is marriage treating you?" or "Do you like the food?", and yes, I have gotten those questions. Many people, though, are curious and raise their eyebrows at
our my choice to bring so many bags. I have adopted the ability to take their surprise and open stares in stride, secretly believing that they too woruld bring just as many, given the opportunity.
I am sorry to say that the photographer in me neglected to shoot a photo of one of the mst noteworth items on our tirp: Luis and I trying to manage 4 suitcases, 2 roller carry-on bags, and two shoulder bags from the airport, into a taxi, into the station, on to a train, off of a train, into the station, into a car, and up 3 flights of stairs! We were quite the sight! Thankfully, Luis's parents and groomsmen each took one of our suitcases them post-wedding (first bag is free internationally!), otherwise we would have double our load and our cost!
Being the bargainer that I am, of course I thought it would be better to bring suitcases (paying only $200 total for 450 lbs of clothing, shoes, etc) filled with my belongings rather than purchase an entirely new wardrobe of clothing, shoes, jackets and coats over here! With that being said, I'm sure most of you are wondering what I couldn't possibly live without. (Don't lie to me... of course you were wondering!) The contents of the suitcases were as follows (and slightly categorized/abbreviated for brevity):
- Clothing: shirts, sweaters, jackets, pants, skirts, dresses, etc.
- Jewelry: self-explanatory. I'm female and most of it is pretty special!
- Shoes: self-explanatory. Being the exact same height as my husband without shoes, I find myself wearing more flats these days. Shoes are slightly expensive, and who knows what I would fit into over here?
- Books: A small selection of my ever-growing library... mostly books I believe I could use to teach/lead at work or in a potential ministry, others that are my favorites, and a small amount of Portuguese curriculum to study.
- Stationery: Did anyone think I could live in Europe without it???
- Personals: Facewash, makeup, sunscreen, etc that I didn't want to waste time and money sampling over here.
- DVDs: Rentals could get expensive with no Red Boxes in Portugal!
- Electronics: You may be surprised at how many electronics you own, even if you would never call yourself a "techie" person: Laptop, hard drive, iPod, iPod speaker/alarm clock, point and shoot camera, DSLR camera, rechargeable battery station, cell phone, and all chargers associated with said devices.
- Shoulder bags and clutch purses: I like them big and with two sections. Who knows what I would find over here?
- Christmas decor: The lack of Christmas decor here is embarrassing according to my insanely festive American standards.
- Crosses: I'm determined to hang at least some of this small collection of crosses I have in every house that I live in!
Now, your next question may be, "Do you regret bringing so much stuff?". Of course I regret it a little... mostly just the clothes. Now that I'm here, I just want to buy European clothing! I also wish I would have known how expensive cosmetics are over here... then I would have brought an entire bag of them! All in all, though, I donated a lot, threw away a LOT, and feel good about the choices I made.
Since the days leading up to the big move were a bit chaotic, it felt good to finally be on a plane!
As the plane landed in Lisboa, Portugal, we were welcomed with sunny skies, low humidity, and friendly faces!
We slept for almost the entirety of the overnight flight (rare for both of us!), most likely as a result of our exhaustion from the wedding planning, quick "mini-moon" travels, and all that went into moving one girl [with a lot of stuff] across an ocean! (Not to mention the fabulous ticket agent in Atlanta -- the same who had helped us the weekend before with Luis's parents -- who scored us two seats TOGETHER on a full flight where we were separated! The Lord is in the details, friends.) We also were surprised with mini bottles of champage, a gift from a British flight attendant... who may or may not have noticed me admiring how my ring sparkled in the sun as we waited to board our second flight.
It was so enjoyable to travel together when we had spent so many trans-Atlantic flights sitting next to strangers!
It wouldn't be appropriate to continue without thanking those who exercised extreme patience in this whole process! To my roommate, Margaret, thousands of thanks would not be enough for your help before/during/after the wedding and move. We would never had been able to do it without your help! You sacrified a lot of time and dealt with a lot to make sure we were happy... and we appreciate that more than you know! To the bridesmaids and friends who tended to my endless amounts of creative requests and slightly obsessive perfectionism, we are grateful. For the groomsmen who traveled across an ocean and sacrified finances, time with families, and a week of summer holiday, we are thankful. For the parents & family who also gave time, hands-on effort, and a lot of sweat in the Atlanta heat, we give thanks. To the Midwesterners that got on planes and traveled just to share in our most special of days, we thank you as well, and are so very glad that you came! For the former colleagues of mine who contributed to our gift of these infamous suitcases... we couldn't have done it without you! And for the friends who used their talents to be certain we had music and photos and video and who made sure that the decor would meet the Salewski standard, we stand up and applaud you. Your gifts to us will forever be remembered! And for all those we may not have mentioned specifically or by name, we appreciate your willingness to give!
As we settle in, I will do my best to keep you all updated on all the "pages from Portugal" that we are beginning to write... Many new stories await!
PS: There is now online curriculum available via Skype: Methods to Efficient Packing, taught by Luis Miguel Coelho Santos Almeida. Now accepting applications for the fall term. Reserve your spot now! [Seriously, he packed every single bag himself to the exact weight restrictions, or something 0.002 under. AND everything I gave him to pack arrived unharmed. Insert applause here].