I don’t know if I will be able to continue with this series of The Sunday Currently. Depending on how you look at it, Sunday is either the start or end of the week. For me, it’s the end of a week/weekend, and today, I started my morning by attending the online streaming of the Catholic mass officiated by H.E. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in Rome.
I planned to go to Nice to explore the shops but I feel lazy going out in the hot weather, plus some of the shops that I want to go are closed today. So I decided to focus more on my blog by posting some travel stuff and scheduling some short stories that I wrote a few years ago.
I had the chance to trek the mountains surrounding Mt. Pinatubo in 2017 with my friends/colleagues from Bangkok and Manila. I went to the Philippines in May to conduct a training to a new team in the office and during the weekend, we decided to explore the mountainous area wherein the last recorded eruption was in 1991. I was still young that time, but I could still remember the seemingly endless ash fall raining down upon us and the dark skies that covered the major part of the main island of Luzon.
Moving to Europe was an entirely new adventure for me, and one of my dreams would be to visit Spain, whatever region, whenever. It came true when one of my best friends went for her annual European business trips during autumn season in Portugal, and we decided to hit the streets of Spain this time. The last time we met, we were in Paris. This time, it was the chance for España. It was in 2019 BC (before Covid19).
We chose Barcelona because it was the easiest place among the options that matched our schedules and budget. We were both busy at work so we also did not have the time to plan an itinerary for a week of adventure.
When the lockdown started in France last mid-March, I was thinking of so many ways to do inside my apartment. It was the period of uncertainty. I had enough books, Netflix, a box of 1000-piece puzzle, drawing pads and watercolors. And in my kitchen, I was able to stock up on 2kg of flour and eggs, just the right amount that did not equate to hoarding, okay? 🙂
I believe that most people here in France was tuned in on TV last Easter Monday, April 13, a French public holiday. President Emmanuel Macron has scheduled a speech at eight in the evening and we anticipated that an extension of the lockdown would be announced. Indeed, the confinement will be extended until the 11th of May and at that point, I told myself that I can still manage. Sometimes, it was taking its toll on me mentally and emotionally. I have to reach out to my family and friends, and it was difficult. In those first few days that I was confined here in my apartment, I had my firsts with the things I have been wanting to do.
I was able to bake my own bread. I am not a professional baker, so the bread that I made was not perfect. But I am willing to try again, and hopefully, the yeast would be my friend soon.
To start with, Chicken Afritada is a Filipino chicken stew cooked in tomato sauce, with carrots, potatoes and bell pepper.
In my version, I cooked it as a “slightly” adobo first. Meaning, after sauteing garlic, onions and chicken (I prefer the thighs and wings because it adds more flavor), I put in a bit of soy sauce and vinegar, and simmer for a while to cook. This is to tenderize the chicken, add more flavor and extend the life span of my afritada because of the vinegar. When the food is tomato-based, it has the tendency to get spoiled in a span of a week. Also, in my version, I added some chili powder that was always supplied to me by my Thai friends from Bangkok to add some kick. Hi-yah! Since I love vegetables and I still have some of it in my fridge, I added string beans in it, too.
According to Wikipedia, the Île Sainte-Marguerite is the largest of the Lérins Islands, about half a mile off shore from the French Riviera town of Cannes. The island is approximately 3 kilometres in length and 900 metres across.
Last October, me and my colleagues decided to visit the islands as there was an ongoing exhibition about the Man in the Iron Mask. The mystery that surrounded this unknown prisoner has brought us to the island. Also, this island has a forest filled with guided paths and areas for picnic. It was a calming respite from the crowded scenes of the mainland.
What can I say? Time flies when you’re having fun. And I did, still do. I have always wanted to go to Europe and the opportunity given to me by my job to move and work in France was something that I could not pass. It has been a year since that momentous move. I’m still trying to cope with the culture and language, but I’m enjoying it.
One of the things I enjoyed doing was traveling. As a resident, I can go anywhere within the Schengen countries without worrying about visa since I’m a Filipino passport holder. Within a year, I was able to travel to Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Spain, and some parts of France. I have my favorites but that will be in another post.
Living in France is a challenge for an expat like me. Not only with the language, and the culture, but also with the bureaucracy. French offices love papers, a lot. I made sure that I accomplished all the forms that HR sent me before moving here last year. The company hired a third-party team to help expats get settled easily. In less than four months, I finally got my resident card. Before the year ends, I finally got my health card and social security card. By the new year, I finally had my own general doctor, dentist, ob-gyne – which are all very important to me.
Now that somehow, I’m settled here, I want to focus on the things I want to do on the side when I’m off from work. I want to be re-acquainted with the arts, say hello to my brushes and paints again. Also, to dedicate time to finish writing. Hopefully by the end of 2019, I was able to complete one original story and make it a book. I’m in the process of one right now. Perhaps when I have the time to share the progress, I will put it here. Right now, I’m trying to put my presence back in social media, starting with this blog, and then Twitter, Facebook Page and Instagram.
Before 2017 ended, I was contemplating a decision to try my luck in applying for a position in our office in Nice, France. I even remembered telling this to my Dad over a bottle of wine and some nuts. After my Christmas holiday in Manila, I went back to Bangkok, invigorated. My manager called me to his office and, surprisingly, asked about the position (as it was still open), and if I’m interested. He factored in my strengths and weaknesses, aside from the fact that I’m single and it would be a great opportunity for me to grow and experience more. I told him that I was thinking about it. There were two positions open, one in Miami, FL USA and the other was in Nice, FR. While the cultural adjustment in Miami would have been easier, I have always wanted to go to Europe so I said, sure, why not? I tried for the position.
After two conference calls within three weeks, I got the position and soon, I’m bound for France. It’s going to be a new chapter for me. I remembered my sister said that if this decision made me feel excited and scared, then I should go for it.
I will definitely go for it.
From tom yum to a croissant. The comparison might not be the same but hey, the transition is happening. I’m moving out of Thailand and off to France. And it’s going to be soon! 🙂