Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Worries about International Phone Calling in Spain

10 days...

I must admit...the thought of not being able to connect to my family and special friends in America once I touch Spanish soil was a bit overwhelming.  There had been several times when I questioned the idea of using my cell phone or if I should buy a prepaid cell phone when I arrive.  The list of phone services in Spain is in my carry-everywhere-notebook, but I still had qualms.  

Speaking with Verizon, I was told about TravelPass - I used it when I was on a cruise to Mexico in December and it worked well, but I only needed it for three days.  Now, with ninety days on the calendar, the last thing I wanted was paying $10 a day for 90 days.   Did I want this hazy option?  No.
Oh wait...I learned that I am only charged for the day I use the plan.  


  • Take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you while you travel.
  • You’re only charged on the days you use your device.
Now your wireless plan travels just like you do. Take your domestic talk, text and data allowances with you. 
It's the economical way to stay connected. 
You’re only charged on the days you use your device while traveling.
To add TravelPass:  Text TRAVEL to 4004 on the device you'll be traveling with or select Yes, I want this option or 
Sign In button choosing $10.00/Day in Spain
1.  Rebtel - This is an International Calling APP that is $2/month
Help Section: https://www.rebtel.com/en/help/overview/ or via the Chat on the website.
2.  Prepaid Cell Phone in SpainOrange, Vodaphone, Movistar or Lebara?
My landlady in Calahonda suggested Orange, but I needed a bank statement in Spain.  
So, I am back to the beginning -- I will use TravelPass and walk into a phone service office for help.
Either way, I now feel comfortable because I will have Skype, WhatsAPP and email.  
Just think about the days before electronics...maybe I should just leave them all at home.
Except, of course, my laptop so I can post notes about my adventures and attach photos... 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Spanish Pearls Genealogy Blog - Catching Up

15 Days...

During my first trip to Spain in the fall of 2012, I was new to blogging and sometimes my techy knowledge let me down.  I had already begun www.onspanishsoil.blogspot.com because I wanted to leave a trail of voices in the wind as I lived through each of my days in Spain.  Unfortunately, my photos would not load properly during that visit, so I changed everything to www.patriciasteele.blogspot.com

Photo:  I am standing between Pepe and Jay (cannot remember Pepe's son's name in red shirt)

If you are interested in my 2012 trip, you can catch up through the blog link above.
At this time, my plan is to (now that I know a little more about it...) retain this On Spanish Soil blog for my 2017 travels. I am so glad you are coming along for the ride on this adventurous journey.

Today, I pulled out my "small" piece of luggage and yes, I still have the sundress in the photo -- it's the first into the bag.  It will be a change for me -- a small amount of clothes in a small bag along with a backpack for my electronics and a change of underwear...(always, my mother tells me).
Tomorrow, I start rolling clothes and stuffing it until the zipper won't fit anymore.  I promise myself I will not push any more than I need... although one of our cousins told me today that her sister is willing to teach me how to dance flamenco, and I will need that special dress for Semana Santa in Malaga and there's the fería in Seville.  Hmmmmm...  

Maybe I´ll just wear this sundress to all of them (except I need a flamenco dress for Seville...)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A Mystery I want to solve in Trujillo, Spain

17 Days...

One day a couple of years ago, I opened the Hawaiian Spaniards Facebook page (as I do every day because it is filled with photos, history and connections to other Spanish descendants) and it took me a moment for my brain to tell me what I was seeing.  It was during the time after Professor James Fernandez (New York) and Luis Argeo (Spain) were in Spain researching for their book, INVISIBLE IMMIGRANTS.  During their trip they unearthed a wealth of information and family photographs from the Spaniards that our ancestors left behind.  That day, when I looked at the Hawaiian Spaniards site, I saw the family portrait of my family when my grandmother (abuelita) was twelve years old.  I'd seen the portrait several times and I'd used the face in a locket for the front of my book, The Girl Immigrant in 2013.

This portrait was found in an old trunk in the basement of a restaurant in Trujillo named Mesón La Troya once owned by Diego Barquilla.  Its new owner, Elena Barquilla (I believe she is the great-granddaughter) found many photos that she shared with the authors of Invisible Immigrants and my family portrait was included.  I was so amazed.  (I think I have this history correct... if not, it is totally my error).

Elena Barquilla and I made a connection and we are trying to connect our families' history.  Were they friends in Hawaii?  In California?  In Spain?  It ceases to amaze me about what a small world we really live in.  During my sabbatical in Spain during March, April, May and part of June, it is my hope to visit with Elena and sit in her restaurant...to discuss our family history.

Maybe once I sit with her and chat, we will find answers.  I hope she speaks some English, but my son just told me about a translator APP for my phone where I can speak English and out pops the Spanish translation (sort of).

Next post: Spanish Pearls Genealogy Blog -- catching up.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why should I include the Spanish city of Algodonales?

19 Days and still counting...

Why Algodonales, Spain?

As many of you already know, I write fiction books as well as my genealogy series.  One of the many reasons I am going to Spain (besides loving Spain, wanting to speak Spanish, meeting Spaniards, seeing cousins, photographing the fabulous villages, eating tapas, drinking wine, and, and, and...) I will also be researching how Spanish flamenco guitars are made for Book 4 of my Callinda Beauvais Mystery Series.  

Finding Algodonales:  One day a couple years ago, I was invited to record a video telling our immigration story and focusing on how my Spanish ancestors' immigration impacted the descendants (like me) and whether their exodus was a success for those of us carrying on their names, cultures and values.  It was exciting although I couldn't speak Spanish... I had never heard of the town of Algodonales.  Señor Jose Luis Sanchez Mesa assured me there would be a translator, so I did it, stumbling, stuttering and all.  

I just watched both of these again, recorded from my office in 2014  
My original recording was the best... https://vimeo.com/115398428 
Unfortunately, I pronounced Algodonales wrong...so Jose Luis asked me to re-record it.
In the re-make, I am near fainting and I forgot to smile...: so I am not attaching it (smile)

In Book 2 (Wine, Vines and Picasso) of my series, I´d already created friends for Pablo Picasso, a side venture in a Spanish vineyard in Andalucia and gave him a hidden cache of 70-year old brandy...

So of course, I'd found the Spanish town for my book...especially after I learned that there is a Spanish guitar factory in Algodonales. You can visit the Valeriano Bernal facility http://valerianobernal.es/ing/flamenco.html

Here in Arizona some months ago, I went to a concert by a local (Tucson, Arizona) flamenco guitarist named Domingo DeGrazia and the flame burned brighter.   Now, Book 4 will show how Callie aids Picasso´s dream of a Flamenco Art Colony to fruition - in ALGODONALES.     (photo: Wikipedia)

Domingo DeGrazia has agreed to an interview before I publish Book 4 (Flamenco Strings: Uncorked) and I am anxious to get it on my calendar after I return from Spain.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMBN8fRv2IM

Next post:  Trujillo, Spain and the mysterious Barquilla connection

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Spain, Wine and more Wine

22 days to go!

I love wine.  Many years ago, the drink never passed my lips, but when I was about twenty four years old, I had a health issue that required building up my blood.  My doctor suggested that I drink one glass of red wine every day to alleviate the problem.  Oh?  Okay...  Red wine has always been my favorite -- especially Tempranillo, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  When I started hot flashes in my forties, I was told it must be the red wine.  ("Really?" I cried).  In 1995, I began drinking Chardonnay and it helped a lot --- However, red is still my fave, so I switch back and forth with my mood.   I follow a FB site called Your Spanish Recipes (photo below).

My friend, Rina, told me the wine in the Ribera del Duero in Northern Spain was the best she'd ever tasted.  When my brother, Steven, and I were in Toro, Spain we tasted the wine from that region also.  And I heartily agreed with Rina.  I sipped my way through several types and did not find one I did not like.  I learned that Toro wine has been around a very long time:  Christopher Columbus carried Toro wine in the hold of his ships in 1492.  Again, "really?"

Now, that I am preparing for my second trip to Spain, I have contemplated how much I will enjoy the wine, tapas, Tortilla Española, and of course, more wine.  When a WLM friend posted this wine purse advertisement, I added visualization to my contemplation.  Fill a wine bag and access it through a tiny door in one's purse? To buy or not to buy?  I think I'll just wait for the bottle but this was so ingenious.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Creating my Spanish Adventure Itinerary

24 Days!
Leaving a home I love for three months isn't as easy as I'd imagined all those months ago when this craziness slipped into my head.  However, as the days pass by and my excitement mounts, it has been a grand journey already...and my house?  I've found a house sitter who will treat it with love...except for the two weeks she's flying to be part of my Spanish adventure!

My questions were:
1.  I know there are many Ex-pats in Spain who are members of the We Love Memoirs FB site. So, I moved just like the song in Ghost Busters, Who are you going to call???  I began methodically combing through the posts from forever ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find more than twenty of my WLM FB friends who either live in Spain full time or go from time to time from their "other" lives. I received great suggestions and lovely invitations.  I pulled out my hot-pink Plumeria Press notebook and started a list by town, person's name, their story and our connections.

2.  Then, I began thinking of the wonderful life connections I have accumulated through the Hawaiian Spaniards FB site and found a trove of information and willing Spaniards to help me there also.  With each conversation, I added names, places and their thoughts to my notebook.  I received bus schedules, train information and their help finding beds for all the nights I would be away from my house in Calahonda.

I found authors, vintners, restaurant owners, teachers and people like me... sort-of jubilados, retired men and women.   And it was just the beginning of my lists...  

There were two towns in Spain I knew must be on the TOWNS TO VISIT list:
Algodonales = I must research flamenco guitars for book 4 of my Callinda Beauvais Mystery Series Flamenco Strings: Uncorked.  And Algodonales has a flamenco guitar making shop...and it is a town where another connection lives,  Jose Luis S. And lucky me - he knows the owner of the shop!  So, I reserved a room at an Air B&B, found the bus schedule and marked that done.

Córdoba = Just because.  http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/andalucia/cordoba/introduction
I've seen photos of La Mezquita and my mind has often lingered there.  I want to see it at night and of course, I knew to do that, I must stay in the city overnight... I found a hotel despite it being at the end of their annual fería.

Going solo is a bit overwhelming, but I am hopeful the city will feed my soul and starve my fears.  {Córdoba is a city in the southern Spanish region of Andalusia, and the capital of the province of Córdoba. It was an important Roman city and a major Islamic center in the Middle Ages. It’s best known for La Mezquita, an immense mosque dating from 784 A.D., featuring a columned prayer hall and older Byzantine mosaics. After it became a Catholic church in 1236, a Renaissance-style nave was added in the 17th century.} (Wikipedia)

Next post: I need to speak Spanish!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Derailed by a Road Scholar Tour

26 days...

How many times do we think we have all our ducks in a row and then our plans derail?
My rental house was secured, my passport up to date and I just needed to research plane tickets.
Of course, I knew that paying for my amazing adventure was going to cost money, so I was determined to break up the costs a little at a time, so when I flew away on March 11 the budget still allowed for some extras.  So far, so good.

It was like telling myself that today, I'm going to scrub the patio floor and then..."Oh, I see a book."
Derailing a little is one thing and I do it often.  But this time, I saw an advertisement for "Winter in Southern Spain: The Sun Coast."  My friend, Karen, traveled to Cuba on a Road Scholar Tour and her experiences weren't perfect, but I thought..."Oh, it's in Spain and look!  It's just a two weeks before I'd planned to travel there anyway..."

I read the advertisement and my heartbeat sped up.  The tour was in Estepona and I had friends through the Hawaiian Spaniards Facebook site from Estepona... When I continued down the column, my heartbeat got louder... it would take me to Gibraltar, Ronda and Jerez.  Impulsively, I clicked YES and I was off and running, quite excited with my decision even though I'd need a bed to sleep in for 13 days BEFORE I could get my rental house key on April 1st.

Very lucky for me, I had met a wonderful lady in Spain during my 2012 visit named Lyn M.  She and her husband bought the round house that my father built in Los Nuñez many years ago before he died.  I was delighted to walk through the house and enjoy their company with my brother, Steven, who knew them from his time in Spain on previous trips.  Since then, Lyn's dear husband passed away and so did mine.  So, hence the trip.  I am giddy to say I will be living with her for about eight (8) days after my tour and before I take off for two other villages. (I will talk about that in a future post)  I LOVE HAVING FRIENDS!

Back to my dilemma --- With the help of Marcos G. in Malaga, another friend through Hawaiian Spaniards, I learned if I stayed past 90 days in Spain I would need an Extended-Stay Visa.  Okay, I thought.  Let's do this.  Ah, not so fast.  Expensive, complicated, impossible.

I contacted my landlady, whose house I was renting in Callahonda.  Could I change my rental from April 1 - May 31, dropping one entire month?  She was charming and agreed.  So, I still had my Spanish homebase.  Whew.
Now, I needed a plane ticket, but first I had to build my itinerary for living in Spain for three months.

Next post:  Creating my itinerary and connecting with Spaniards and Ex-Patriots in Spain.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Así es la vida, This is life. Learning to speak Spanish

Now that the calendar is winding down to take me back to Spain in March...not for a short visit, but to live there for three months, my Spanish language skills are paramount to my success in the country of my ancestor's birth.  I've tried to learn Spanish over the years, but always quit because it was just too darned hard to master.  This reminds me when I was a consultant for Mary Kay Cosmetics in the early 1980s and we were taught the importance of cold calling prospective clients.  I hated cold calling and told my MK leader that I tried, but just couldn't do it.  She scoffed at me and others who tried to wheedle out of it by saying, "You don't try to call.  You either pick up that telephone or you don't."  Ah, therein lies the issue... Now, here I go again.  But this time, I am serious as a heart attack and this time, I will persevere.

Learning another language is difficult, no doubts about that.  And if I was younger I would surely master it quicker?  Understand the infinitives, preterite and imperfect endings more clearly?  Know when and where to put the little words like "lo" and "que" and "se" when necessary?  If I was younger, I would know when to use SER and ESTAR and automatically translate from English into the Spanish without a doubt as to which TO BE word to use when?  No.  I am not young anymore and I just ran out of excuses.  Lucky for me, I have a very patient tutor and a classroom group who is also willing to learn without any more excuses.  But...I must learn how to communicate in Spanish beyond first-grade level, using only the present tense!  I must!

The Girl Immigrant book, the immigration story of my grandmother (abuelita) in 1911 has now been translated, cleaned up, edited and will soon be published in Spanish.  The Italian version is available, titled La Ragazza Immigrata...and the Spanish version will be called Historia de la niña emigrante. During this translation process, I learned that the titles to Spanish books are only capitalized on the first word.  And that The Girl Immigrant translated into Spanish does not mean the same as the English version, so with suggestions from my translator and her editor, it will be changed and hopefully, better understood.

As I progress slowly, in baby steps learning my ancestral language, I was happy to realize I was able to read that Spanish translation in bits and pieces.  No longer just trying, but doing...and the action makes my heart accept the truth this time:  I will learn this language even though I am nearing seventy years old.  It is never too late to learn, learn, learn.  Así es la vida.  This is life.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Researching Spain for my adventure

28 days!
To respond to a friend, whose interest lay in how I "put my adventure" together, I decided to go step by step with the thought others might be interested too.  I started my research in June last year...

Photo: September 2012 - My brother (Steven) snapped this photo of me in Ávila, capital of the Spanish province of the same name, is a city in the rolling hill country northwest of Madrid. It’s best known for its intact medieval city walls, with 80-plus crenelated, semicircular towers and 9 gates, including the arched El Alcázar, on the eastern side. Long sections atop the walls are walkable. At night, the lighted walls are a distinctive sight.

LENGTH OF STAY:  My original plan was to stay from April 1 - June 30.  I wanted to be involved with some of the Ferías and my good friend, Rina, told me that going to Seville to see it was a must. Of course, it will be such fun because she will be with me during that adventure...  There are many ferías in various cities in the spring and I wanted to go to as many as possible...

WHERE TO STAY IN SPAIN:  Secondly, I knew I would be traveling to different cities and villages, but since I was going solo, I wanted a home base so I wasn't afraid of hanging in the wind without a house key or hotel reservation.  I belong to a wonderful Facebook site called We Love Memoirs (WLM).  On the FB page, over the past 2-3 years, I have "met" so many wonderful people -- and many live in Spain.  So, of course, that is where I started.  I received many good ideas and suggestions about where to stay as I wanted to feel the local culture without the big city feel.  Unfortunately, I knew I was going to depend on public transportation so it limited me just a little.  

FlipKey:  https://www.flipkey.com/andalusia-vacation-rentals/g187428/ - I found this site and found many options (I didn't realize until much later that their fees are a bit high for me, but that's life).  The house I found to rent is located in the Sitio de Calahonda in Mijas - a 2 bedroom house with Wi-Fi and a washer and dryer (my two absolutes).  Once I requested the rental, the homeowner contacted me and approved my rental based on my bio and interests/reasons behind my request.

So, now I had a house, my dates of living in Spain and I'd put down money on both.
Next post:  What happens when you add a Road Scholar Tour to the mix and everything gets upside down?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

30 Days' Countdown to my Spanish Adventure

Day 30 - Today, I started filling my backpack and making my travel list.  As my friend, Karen McCann, promises...If I can pack light just maybe I'll spend more time enjoying my Spanish Walkabout and less time struggling with luggage...

My airline ticket to Malaga is confirmed.  My rental house in Calahonda, near Mijas, is an hour west of Malaga... paid for and waiting for me.

Road Scholar Tour packet is socked away for a week in Estepona along with the daily meanderings that will take me to Ronda, an ancient Spanish town.  I'll see the oldest bullring in Spain and ancient Moorish houses.  I'll head to a local winery near the old Roman city of Acinipo, which has produced renowned wines since the days of antiquity.  

Oh!  And I'll be led on a visit of the vineyards and cellars, followed by wine tasting and tapas.  

AND I'll visit the Rock of Gibraltar, a small peninsula on the Spanish coast under British jurisdiction and a major area of dispute over the centuries.  Of course, seeing "Gibraltar" as one of the tour stops peaked my curiosity because my ancestors stood on the pier and boarded a ship called the ORTERIC on February 24, 1911.  The tour will take me to the top on a drive to Punta de Europa to enjoy a helicopter view of the British-style streets of Gibraltar and in clear weather, maybe I'll be able to see across the water to the Morocco's coastline?  While I'm up there, I hope to see the famous Barbary apes (macaca sylvanus) that I pulled into THE GIRL IMMIGRANT immigration story about my grandmother...I'm told they freely roam around the peninsula and the pillars of Hercules, the legendary promontories that flank the entrance to the Straits of Gibraltar.  

And food of course.  I will join a local chef to learn about traditional Andalusian cuisine using locally sourced produce and learn the importance of the Mediterranean diet. (Road Scholar item).