A Letter From Home

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

            It has been more than a year since we said goodbye to Los Angeles and returned to Valencia with the intent of being here on a permanent basis.  All in all, it has been a good decision.  We have improved our quality of life.  Having most things in walking distance means that we are certainly more active in all aspects f our life.  We walk a great deal and we probably average a good 20 miles a week as we make our way around town.  We do take the occasional taxi, but I have not been behind the wheel of a car since last July. 

            Having the Central market a block away from the house has been a gift.  There is no fresher source for fruit, vegetables, fish, meat and charcuterie that what one finds at the 900+ stalls at the market.  We have, in our opinion, discovered the best vendors and they are the ones we consistently patronize.  We visit with Solaz for charcuterie and cheeses, Concha for the most amazing fruit I have ever tasted, Amparo for vegetables, Basilio for meat, Javi for fish and the ever-popular chicken lady whom we tend to visit twice a week.  Our diet is a much healthier one and I can’t remember the last time that we ate a prepared product.  The microwave’s main function is popping corn.  We are not warming up the equivalent of Trader Joe’s prepared specialties.

            We are visiting restaurants less frequently that before and part of the reason is that I have been on a diet since the end of July.  Dieting is easier when you eat at home.  I have lost fourteen pounds and I have many more to go.  The good news is that I have not set a goal for myself other than to continue to eat sensibly.  My alcohol consumption is reversed for those times I or we eat out and sweets are rarely part of our meals.  When we do go out, we tend to frequent The Ginger Loft, La Fórcola and Carosel.  We also try and discover new places and those include Mood Food, a small 24-seat restaurant on Calle Comedias, and Zen, an Asian restaurant where we had lunch today.  Sunday we had lunch at Appetite, which happens to be the highest rated Valencian restaurant on Trip Advisor.  The food is Asian influenced and it reflects Bonnie’s time in a number of cities around the world.

            Sunday’s menu included a soft tortilla filled with grilled chicken and other goodies, clochinas, a shellfish that resembles cockles and are native to Galicia, duck in a curry sauce, grilled Galician veal served with a salad with Korean spices, Malaysian-style fish baked in a banana leaf and for dessert a butterscotch trifle made with cocoanut.  As it turned out, that was the meal of the day and supper was simply a piece of fruit.

            We continue to take advantage of Valencia’s cultural offerings.  We get our classical music fix at the Palau de Música where Valencia’s symphony orchestra offers two programs a month.  There are also a number of concerts held in that space that run the gamut from visiting orchestras, to world-famous soloists to the stars of jazz.  Jimmy Glass is Valencia’s preeminent jazz club and attracts some prestigious jazz artists.  There are a number of theaters in town that range from 99 seat theaters to those large enough to accommodate a well-attended opera.  We saw the Spanish production of GREASE last month and have tickets to see the Spanish version of LES MIS in December.  November will afford us the opportunity to see our friend, Rebeca Valls, in Ibsen’s THE DOLL HOUSE.  We do catch the occasional movie, but most of them arrived here in their dubbed version and that is always a disappointment.  There is one theater that shows all films in their original version and the Yelmo multiplex has a reduced number of showings of films in their original language.  The good news is that we have Apple TV here and we can catch up on those films that do not make it to these shores.

            Exercise has become part of our weekly routine.  Susan does Pilates twice a week and will add swimming to her exercise routine in the near future.  I have found a new gym, Health City that is a good fifteen-minute walk from the house.  I do my cardio there, as well as those exercises that I cannot do at our in-home Dynamic Strength Training circuit.  Susan and I both work out three times a week at home.

            There is no lack of magic activity both here and nearby.  I have my weekly Monday and Thursday get-togethers.  Last month we were in Vitoria for a magic weekend and at the end of this month we will be in Cuenca for three days attending a convention that focuses on magic for children. We will travel to Granada the week before thanksgiving for the Hocus Pocus Festival.  There is a national convention in June and I am sure that there will be other magic opportunities that will pop up here and there.

            I continue to do translations for Genii magazine and EL MANUSCRITO.  This spring will see me doing proof reading for two books that will be published towards the end of 2014.  One of them is the long anticipated revised and expanded version of Juan Tamariz’s THE MAGIC WAY. I continue to work on developing my magic and I end up doing something for friends over dinner on a weekly basis.  I have not set up any performances of my kids show as of yet.  I think that will have to wait until December when we will be home for an extended spell.

            Non-magic travel is also part of the bill of fare here.  Next week we head to the Canary Islands to visit with Juliet Henderson and her family.  Juliet is a former Westridge colleague who is currently on a year’s sabbatical courtesy of the Hotchkiss School.  We will be spending a week and we are looking forward to discovering what Las Palmas has to offer.  This past weekend Susan did a quick trip to Guadalest and points east along with Zahava and Klaus and Celeste, a friend of theirs from Toronto.

            Health-wise we are doing well.  We have medical insurance through a company called Sanitas.  It costs us close to 1,000 Euros a month and it covers everything except prescription medicine.  The process here is very simple.  You show your card.  They swipe it and that’s it.  There are no bills that arrive later.  Prescription drugs are piece-controlled here so my blood pressure medication, which cost $60 in California, costs me 11 Euros here.  The Spanish health care system is one of the top three in Europe and Sanitas is a private health care organization and that means that there is no long wait to get an appointment.

            We are still adapting to what has been a dramatic change in our life. It is a given that we miss friends and family, but Skype is somewhat helpful in that respect.  We have made a number of friends here, but there is a lack of history with these friends.  We are newcomers to friendships and we have not been privy to their past history.  We have not celebrated their past successes with them nor have we comforted them when sadness was a part of their life.  We understand that our friendships here will deepen with time, but, at the moment, we feel that we are on the surface of the culture and the passage of time is one of the only ways that will allow us to settle more deeply into relationships.

Today’s photos include some food shots from Appetite where I also did some magic and Susan’s weekend trip.  Enjoy them!!

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2 Responses to A Letter From Home

  1. Marilyn Sell says:

    Wow, wonderful pictures…. Thanks for sharing. So glad you are doing well and enjoying life. And, congrats Marty for the weight loss….the older we get the harder it is to get off. Hugs to both of you. M. S.

  2. Melissa says:

    Senor Kaplan! I love your writing voice. The imagery and rich descriptions of your life, the places you travel to and the foods you eat are all painted so well. I am happy for you that you are really savoring such beautiful moments and times and that you are working on being even healthier. I hope to one day move out of the US and experience cultural immersion like yours! Excited to keep up with your blog and follow your journey.

    Melissa Kil

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