Pedrata airport with skillet

You’re Only Ever Where You’re Meant to Be

Think about it. If you were meant to be somewhere else, you’d be there.

And yet we stress and stress about getting through traffic, rushing to get somewhere, and we miss the point that we’re already there – where we’re meant to be.

Today Pedrata and I got to the airport nice and early so we could begin our return journey home (thanks Mark for the ride!).

There was quite a long wait as the clerk tried to figure out why they wouldn’t let her ticket my last leg of the flight. After a few phone calls, she found out that the other carrier had slightly altered the departure time of the flight.

“Okay, no big deal.” I thought, “That’s why we come to the airport so early.”

Then we waited to board our flight. After a bit, I realized that there wasn’t the standard action. As in the standard, people with small children, business class, blah, blah blah . . . “Okay, what’s up?” I thought.

Waited in line and the nice guy named Alan assured me that I’d make my connection.

“Okay, Alan, I’m going to trust you on this” (knowing that it’ll all work out as it’s meant to).

After another half hour went by, and I only had an hour between flights at my next destination, I once again approached the booth.

“I think I’ll be booking you on that other flight route,” he said as he called the others to come up to the gate.

“Got it. Thanks Alan.”

And as the plane was being boarded, he called me over to another booth. Another phone call was made. My bag was taken off the plane. And Pedrata and I just watched it all thinking to ourselves, “Wherever we’re meant to be is where we are.”

Click, click, click. I heard the new tickets being issued.

“Okay, I’ll see you in about 2 hours,” Alan said.

“Okay. Hey, any chance I can get a voucher for a coffee?” (realizing that the 2 hour nap I had planned wasn’t going to happen.)

“Sure,” he replied, “I’d be glad to. Just give me a minute.”

So we rested our dawgs and set down our heavy pack that is carrying a rather LARGE cast iron skillet that my mother graciously gave me when I happened to mention sometime that I think I’d actually like to use one. It cracked me up how she remembered that (I didn’t remember telling her that), but then will forget other things that can seem so important to me.

No matter. If she’s meant to remember anything, she will.

. . .

Fast forward to being on the first plane of three.

I’m chatting it up with a woman sitting beside me . . . and lo and behold, it ends up that she knew my Dad. LOVED my Dad.

“I LOVED your Dad,” she gushed. “And my husband too; he really misses him. Your Dad used to help my granddaughter with tennis tips.”

Yup, sounds like my Dad.

Thanks Dad for that little shout out and hello.

Thanks for reminding me how you’re always keeping an eye on me. Ever present in my life.

I love you too Dad.

Boy, do I ever love YOU!


: )

✫ Sj out ✫

San Sebastián was a very important launching point in the 17 hundreds.

Highlights of San Sebastián, Spain (from Sj’s perspective)

Highlights of San Sebastián, Spain

as experienced through the eyes, ears, feet, stomach, and heart of Sj.

If you’re looking for a WHAT to DO, WHAT to EAT, WHERE to STAY type of post regarding San Sebastián, you’re in the wrong place.

Nice meeting you, and I wish you well as you search for all that data.

If you want to know how it FELT to be in San Sebastián, you’re in the right place.

Overall, it felt good; though at times it was quite cold for this Kaua‘i gal. And on two particular days, it was quite hot (37 Celsius or 98.6 Fahrenheit). It was amazing how the temperature could change by about 20 degrees Fahrenheit from one day to the next. Fortunately, I had my Mom’s silk long underwear; so I was ready for anything.

The following is a list of my personal fav experiences and/or thoughts.

  1. Of all the places I’ve visited during my life (and that’s been plenty), I have never before encountered a collection of people who were as consistently kind and helpful.

Yes, for real.

From the grocery clerk who was helping an elderly woman make sure some product didn’t have something in it that would harm a family member who had some particular food allergy to the tour boat captain who must have seen at least 5,000,000 visitors come on his boat and ask the same questions (over and over and over again).

I can’t promise you that that’s what you’ll experience, but for me, I did. Time and time again, I met kind people who looked me in the eye and really listened.

  1. Tricia Evy.     

She’s not from San Sebastián; she’s French and lives in Paris, but her performance in a quartet during their annual jazz festival was one of my aural highlights. Her talent, exuberance, joy in doing exactly what she was doing at the particular moment (singing!) was an incredible gift to all of us lucky folk who were there that Saturday evening in late July.

  1. Jesus on the hill

I just enjoyed looking at Jesus up on the hill. And I had the good fortune of residing in an apartment which faced the ocean (and Jesus on the hill across the way) during my four week stay.

  1. El aula azul

This is the language school that I happened to pick. There are many. Each person who worked there that I had the opportunity to get to know (either as a teacher or as a guide on one of the many excursions they host) was kind, professional, knowledgeable, and just cool. Yup, you guys rock, Silvia, Ester, Gorka, Idoia, Concha, Nora, Sara, and Salva!

  1. The combination of mountains and sea.

Face it. I call Kaua‘i home and to find a place in the world where I could go for a hike and swim on the same day while learning Spanish . . . it just doesn’t get any better than that.

  1. The town itself. It’s not too big; it’s not too small, but it’s . . . just right!

I liked how San Sebastián is laid out, how you can’t get too lost because you just need to figure out where the ocean or a particular hill is and then which bridge you’re seeing . . . and voila! I’d realize where I was.

  1. Peaches (melocotones)

Okay, it was summer. And the peaches were dripping with yummy goodness. I love fresh, ripe peaches!

  1. Watermelon (sandía)

So refreshing. Delicious. I love watermelon!

  1. The Vino rosado or Rosé wine

For less than a bottle of water (which wasn’t necessary in San Sebastián, per my host, their water comes from the Pyrénées mountains and is very clean), you can buy a glass of vino rosado. I didn’t have it everyday, but when I did, I really enjoyed it. It’s not super sweet like we have the U.S., and the color is really beautiful.

And now for a random collection of photographs . . .


✫ Sj ✫

p.s. You’ll notice that Pintxos (Basque word for tapas) are not on my list. Most people go on and on about them. The locals love them. They were alright, but being a gal who really prefers vegetables over meat, they were just okay to me.

Pedrata en la escuela

Last day of school in Donostia

Heading home after my last day of school in Donostia,

I passed these adorable children who were putting on a show for their families.

What a perfect way to close this particular paragraph of my life, I thought.

If you’ve got two minutes and thirty nine seconds to spare, click play and be a fly on the wall in a moment in time.

And no, I really have no idea what’s going on. I just loved their energy and seeing how children are the same the world over.

✫ Sj out ✫

p.s. the particulars of this particular part of my trip are still to come . . . I’ll most probably write it on Monday while on the train from San Sebastián to Paris. : ) Until then . . . toodle-oo!

p.p.s. BUT I do have an encore video to post of those two guys who were playing music in the first street music video I posted; it’s coming soon! : )

Like the mix of the old with the new.

On the way home last night . . .

I got to hear these guys.

Here’s a very short sampling of what I heard.


p.s. I hit stop a tad too early, so please feel free to add your own applause!

Muchas gracias

✫Sj ✫

School with Nora

“What’s been happening?” you ask.

Or not. But in my little head that’s what I hear.

“What’s been happening, Sj? You’ve been in Spain three weeks now. You told us that it was a mind-+&^%$#k moving into another language. You sent us a short video of street music, but that’s it! Are you still alive? Still engaged? Still learning?”


“Kay, but what’s been happening?”

Loads. Bunches. Heaps. Muchas. All KINDS of things!

But what I’m finding is that what I most enjoy is simply being.

Being in Spain.

Being in Europe.

Being on this planet.

A walk to school is an adventure.

Turn here? Or there? Haven’t been on this street yet.

I stop. I look up. I love the architecture. The little balconies. The high windows. The clothes hanging on the accordian-like clothes lines which protrude from the base of random windows. The donging of cathedral bells. I love the city gardens. The green tomatoes I pass as I go down about 5,000 stairs when leaving the villa I’m fortunate enough to be living in while I’m here (in San Sebastián).

I love the random hazelnut in my muesli that I’m currently eating.

I love the view from this extraordinary top floor flat. That I can say hey to Jesus across the way. That I can watch storm clouds gather. See sailboats on the horizon. Barges. Rain upon the window panes. And lots and lots of green all around the mostly terra-cotta roofs to my right (which faces another hill where there are amazing hiking trails).

Yes, it sometimes makes it hard to get things done when all I want to do is stop and be silent. Observe. Feel. Smell.

But I’ve come to realize that that is what we’re really here to do. To be. To experience. To feel.

Sure, we have to do those odd things like go to school, get a job, and then work to earn money to feed and clothe ourselves.




The BEING, I feel, is the absolute most important thing.

The awareness of who we are.

That each and every one of us is a walking miracle.

A walking act of grace in the shape of skin and bones.

Each and every one of us.

So . . . Sj, what’s been happening in Spain? you ask.



Mountainous piles of everything.

Next time I’ll fill you in with some particulars.

But for now, enjoy wherever you are. Feel the air on your skin. Notice your breath.

Ain’t it delicious?


✫ Sj out ✫

p.s. Muchas gracias Silvia por los photos!

Hawaii in San Sebastian

Take a minute and listen

Just one minute

to watch what I taped today on the way home from school.

Want more now and then?

Pedrata with skull

The mind *$%*k has begun.

Yes indeedy, for real. The mind *$%k has begun.

I’ve landed in San Sebastian, and it’s extraordinary.

The city.

The people.

The climate.

BUT . . . my mind hasn’t quite caught up yet.

Simple little words in Spanish that I’ve known for years are having fun playing hide-and-seek. As of now, they’re not out in the open.

My job?

To get a really strong flashlight, heavy duty broom, and start sweeping the heck out of my mind.

Meanwhile, I’ll just enjoy the process. : )

There ain’t no way around it . . . sending a hug to all of you.

✫ Sj ✫

Lyon museum blue curtain

Sj’s Take Away from Lyon

Hmmm . . . what to write?

Number 1.

I really enjoyed my time in Lyon.

Number 2.

It was exactly the right length of time to be there (3 weeks).

Number 3.

I’m still amazed that I can converse in French at all!


The school I attended, Alpadia, is really a great school for folks like me wanting to get some input after learning on their own. The variety of ages and nationalities attending the school made it interesting. Bottom line. We were all there to learn French. Some because they had to (for school or work), but most (it seemed to me) because they wanted to (be there).

And this time around, I really got how spoken French is so very different from written French. I don’t mean the absence of sounds, like the s at the end of many words, but rather that they just don’t say what they write. They leave so many things out. And it seems that there’s an *unofficial way of talking that has nothing to do with what one reads, a spoken vocabulary that a non-native like me really has to search for. (Unlike spoken German which matches what we’re taught in school.)

So . . . my biggest take away is that I have to continue listening to French, spoken French, like in movies. This Harry Potter fan will continue to listen to JK Rowling’s books in French, BUT I’ll make sure to add a heaping dose of actual French conversations.

At times learning a new language seems insurmountable, with two steps forward and three steps back. BUT this gal, moi, has a tenacity that surprises even me.

I will continue.

One step at a time.

Both the forward ones.

And the backward ones.

This includes the next four weeks, which I’ll spend in San Sebastian, Spain attending another small language school (this time for Spanish) while residing with a Spanish family.

Where am I at the moment?

In Germany, not too far from Heidelberg, spending a most wonderfully relaxing week with dear, dear friends.

And . . . believe it or not, speaking in German is actually giving me a most welcome rest from intense mental activity. My girlfriend, who I call a walking dictionary and grammar guide, corrects me when I say something a little wacky. I welcome each correction and celebrate as I also recognize that they’re coming less and less frequently.

Meanwhile, here are some photos I took while in Lyon.


✫ Sj✫

 *Dear Non-native English Speakers,

I’d love to know about some of your experiences in learning English. What are some specific challenges?

Thank you very much in advance for your replies.

Artist Clyv

Parc de la Tête d’Or

Pedrata Lyon view 3

Pedrata’s Take on Lyon

Pedrata portraitThat’s me, Pedrata. I’m a rat. A Mexican rat.

Why Mexican?

Because I came from Mexico. On a boat.

All the way to Hawaii from Mexico. On a boat.

Darn tootin’ that was fun!!!

But I’m not just any rat. I’m a rat who loves to travel, a bit like my gal pal, Sj. We two females love to travel. Si!, I’m female. If I were male, I’d be PedratO, but I’m not, I’m PedratA.

I enjoyed Lyon. To da max. Here are some of my fav memories.


✷ Pedrata ✷

p.s. for whatever reason, these 4 pix didn’t want to be part of they gallery . . . so they’re here all by their lonesome. : )

And especially a concert . . .

And especially a concert . . .

Pedrata at flea market

I’m not sure why Sj bought this old briefcase for all of 4 Euros.

Pedrata Penguin 2

had so much fun together !!!

Pedrata wall art 1

Hmm . . .

Lyon lightning

School’s pau …

for the moment.

Leaving Lyon tomorrow for Germany. Gonna hang with good friends and change the channel on the language network.

Time to really mess with my brain. ;-)

Coming soon:

Pedrata’s Take on Lyon

✫ Sj ✫

pau = finished