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Last night and today have been a precursor to what I am in for in just 11 days. I have been out of the United states for nearly a year and not having certain products and things being done a certain way has become part of my everyday life. I have started to take little things as they are instead of a point of intrigue. until frank mentioned the roll down shutters that black out all light I didn’t think much of them but I remember how it was one of the things I noticed when I first got to Spain.

Frank’s friends decided along with us to just have a low key day and do a little barbecue. After Bisquick pancakes and Hungry Jack syrup I washed my hands with some Dial foaming hand soap soap and went searching for my toothbrush, paste and mouth rinse but it was left in Groningen i’m afraid, however ironically Jose’s wife is a dentist and had about a hundred tooth brushes mini toothpastes and mouthwashes so I was hooked up.

About noon we hopped in the car and drove to the Natex where a  German military officer took my passport and traded me for a visitors badge. We went into the NATO version of a military Commissary to drop off some bottles at the recycling center and pick up some drinks.

From there we headed to  Schinnen Millitary base on the Dutch side of the border to buy some things for the barbecue. This was my first real taste of Americana since I left in September, besides a few things I brought or I was sent; it was basically an american grocery store. I could read exactly what I was buying and could have bought a hundred dollars worth of groceries easily if it weren’t for having a backpack and having to fly back to Spain. They had my Newman’s own salad dressing, Cascadian farm and Kashi cereals, Chobani yogurt, Naked juices and Simply Lemonade and tons of other stuff I had the urge to buy just out of novelty.

Back home I killed almost an entire bag of Cape Cod salt and vinegar chips while the grill was getting fired up and the steaks and chicken breasts were marinading. Frank cooked Tostachos or Nachones, basically its Nachos but instead of chips you use tostones, which are plantains smashed into thin discs and fried. I think frank and I were due for a protein rich meal; I killed the biggest piece of steak I have eaten in about two years plus a chicken breast, yellow rice and some Nachones. I guess I can scratch barbecue meat off of my list of things to eat when I get back to Tampa.

The things I am looking forward to: friends and family, Chipotle, Taco Bus, good cereal, any plants that remain alive in my garden, , using American money and i’m sure countess other little things I will notice when I return. Having a place to call home for more than a few days, after this trip.

Things I am not looking forward to: heat, humidity, traffic, driving, understanding the conversations I don’t want to hear or understand, having to keep doors and windows closed to run the A/C, Paying for gas, pennies and change that no one expects you to actually use. My trans Atlantic flight home.

The days are clicking away…. within those 11days I will be in 7 different Cities: Heinsburg, Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Paris, France; Marseilles, France; Nice, France; Marid, Spain; and Segovia; Spain all before catching my flight on August 2nd.