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my philby family history

Philby family tree, Iowa

While rewatching the entire run of Downton Abbey, Rafa brought up an interesting topic: did I ever visit the town my English ancestors came from? The closest I got was Manchester, but Oldham is still on my list. In the meantime, I couldn’t help digging out copies of genealogy research passed down to me by family members & scouring the internet for more details.

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year in review: 2021

year in review, 2021
● Where was I? Spain & briefly the USA

Here we go again! As always, I write this for personal reasons but you’re welcome to revisit the past year with me. Due to the ongoing pandemic, much stayed the same as 2020 with the exception of some big personal changes. I think we’ve made the most of another odd year, but only time will tell…

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personal: places lived 13

places lived, Spain, El Pedroso, 2021 to present, España

When I wrote this series of posts last year, I never dreamed another entry would be needed so soon! Such is life. A friend & I began house hunting online during the height of the pandemic, mainly as a way to pass time. Without trying, we learned a lot about the real estate market in Spain. So when our landlady decided not to renew our lease for 2021, I put all that research to work & became a first-time property owner.

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spain: nativity scenes

Since early days of Christianity, representations of the birth of Jesus appeared all around the Mediterranean. But on Christmas Eve of 1223 a new trend began which has endured to the present: St. Francis of Assisi placed an empty manger with a donkey & an ox —combining imagery from the Gospel of Luke & the Book of Isaiah— inside a cave in central Italy. After Mass, St. Francis told of the coming of Christ to an awestruck crowd. They could finally see & experience what had only been words before! Soon people began to portray Biblical figures as actors, & a more practical version with figurines carved of wood or sculpted from terracotta developed in time. From these medieval Italian origins, the Nativity scene would become popular centuries later in Spain…

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personal: places lived 12

places lived, Spain, Sevilla, 2016 to present

As I wondered if Seattle would be financially feasible in the long run, I met Rafael between work assignments in Spain. We shared similar interests & even the same profession… not to mention Rafa is one of the kindest people I know. Visiting me in Seattle in 2016, Rafa learned that his father wanted to sell the family apartment in Sevilla. Suddenly he was looking for a place to live & so was I. Although I’d never considered living in Sevilla before meeting Rafa, the universe steered me to Andalucía once again.

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personal: places lived 11

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places lived, Seattle, 2015-2016

A return to the US made the most sense after a quick departure from Argentina. Sure, I could have gone back to Memphis… or even tried my luck in a new city. But the majority my friends lived in Seattle, & that’s what I needed most. Familiar faces, familiar territory, a sense of comfort. Several burning questions begged to be answered though: How do I afford Seattle? After not owning one for 20 years, do I break down & get a car? How do I navigate the health insurance system? How long do I stay? I knew I’d figure things out, but first I had to decide where to live.

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personal: places lived 10

places lived, Argentina, 2013-2014, Esquel

Moving to Patagonia had been in the air for a long time but became reality in 2013. With one of few airports in the south, I could make it to Europe for work without too much fuss. Plus I’d already spent a lot of time in Esquel, so I knew what to expect. Although I had doubts about living in such a small city —population around 46,000 people— I dreamt of summers that weren’t insanely hot & humid, seeing the occasional snowfall each winter & having a view of the foothills of the Andes. A lower cost of living proved to be another benefit, as did a break from all the politics of Buenos Aires. Let’s head down to -43º latitude!

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personal: places lived 9

places lived, 2009-2013, Argentina, Buenos Aires

Back in BA, some big decisions had to be made. What neighborhood to live in? Would I have much work in Europe? How do I pick an apartment when my income was anything but certain? The global tourism decline of 2009 had everyone in the industry second-guessing, including me. I toyed with the idea of producing my Buenos Aires guides as quickly as possible then moving to Lisbon, but that would be expensive. Luckily with the help of friends, I weathered the storm.

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personal: places lived 8

places lived, 2008-2009, Australia

Remember Susan from Seattle? She made an international move too, not long after I left for Buenos Aires. Sooz also fell in love & went south, but on the other side of the Pacific to Sydney. I’d visited once before although never saw myself living in Australia until a mini-personal crisis had me searching for inspiration. Buenos Aires had become increasingly politicized, things I’d grown to love about the city were disappearing fast, planning for the future seemed unstable, good friends moved away, & I couldn’t get past a creative block to design my own guidebooks. Susan steps in with an offer I couldn’t refuse: live with her & Sybil in Sydney to get back on track.

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