Wishing on A Star

Ever since late Winter/early Spring, our friends, Warner and Pepa, have been telling me about the night of August 12th. It was a night not to miss, they said, when hundreds of shooting stars could be seen. They, themselves had witnessed it in years past, and told of the spectacular sight that they had seen. Expectations high, I waited all summer for that day when we would be able to make hundreds of wishes upon the stars. And when August 12th finally arrived, David and I rushed the last lingering customers out of AlteArte so that we could see for ourselves what we had heard so much about. Exiting AlteArte at 3:00 am, we ambitiously set out with Pablo, one of our customers/now friends. We were going to walk to the river in order to get away from the lights. But we didn’t get far before we realized that, even in the darkness of the river, we would never be able to spot the abundance of shooting stars for there was an abundance of something else… clouds that outright blocked any view that we were hoping to have. Under this blanket of clouds, stars could be shooting left and right, but from our vantage point on the Earth’s surface in Altea, Spain, we never would have been able to tell. That night, we couldn’t see a single star – let alone a sky-full of falling ones – and the disappointment set in.

High expectations are good to have, but when things don’t work out quite as planned, it’s necessary to readjust your expectations to better coincide with a different reality.

Ever since we started considering buying AlteArte, we had heard about how busy the Summers were, how every day was like a Saturday, how Altea swarmed with people, and how it got so packed that you could barely walk in the streets. So, naturally, we expected that we would be slammed each and every day of the Summer. Well, Calle Mayor, the street just parallel to ours, did swarm with tourists and the square in front of the church buzzed as the grand terraces filled with people and the outdoor artisans market got underway each night and Antonio, the balloon maker, got to work making balloons of all shapes and sizes for the kids. However, our street, just slightly removed from the action got traffic but significantly less. And our small terrace, while it attracted good business, was restricted by law to 4 tables and 14 chairs (police conduct regular table/chair counts and are ready to give fines when there’s one of anything too many), and thus greatly limited the amount of business we could pull in. For us, this Summer hasn’t been months of Saturdays but instead months of unpredictability as a Thursday would be busy but the day after would be slow; or the electricity would go out, instantly leaving Altea in a blanket of darkness; or water would suddenly start sprouting from the basement of the restaurant across from us, flooding the street just outside. We expected to make lots of mojitos which we did but we didn’t expect that the bulk of our business would come from the locals and we didn’t expect to see so many stroller-pushing families navigating the climbing streets of Altea’s old town.

And when the month of August drew to an end, I expected that we had gotten through the worst of the Summer heat but when a heat wave swept through Altea, pushing temperatures past 100 degrees into the highest temperatures that this region of Spain has experienced in 15 years, I had to readjust my reality as I wiped the sweat from my brow. The Summer heat wasn’t over quite just yet.

The heat might be going strong, but the season is, indeed, coming to an end. Contractual workers hired just for the Summer finished up yesterday, August 31st. The streets of Altea are far less busy and my Norwegian friends who returned to Norway for the Summer are beginning to return to Altea. The art students will be starting school again and Altea will settle back into tranquility. And like us, the other business owners who have been working relentlessly day after day will all let out a sigh of relief as life returns to normal.

We survived our first Summer but barely. For even though we only had a handful of days where we got slammed, it has been intense. Late nights that often didn’t end until 4:30 in the morning; battling with the air conditioners and fans to keep AlteArte cool; moving the machines to try to get them to work more efficiently; keeping our supply of ice, mint, lime and lemons constantly stocked; running up and down the steps of our terrace; bruises, cuts and sore feet; coming home to find that Sushi, our cat, had fallen off our second floor balcony. (Rushing him to an emergency vet at 5 in the morning, we found out after a quick x-ray and 100 euros, that he was OK except for a slightly broken nose.) And, exhausted as I now am, I can only be grateful that not everyday was like a Saturday.

And, fortunately, weaved throughout it all and keeping us going has been the refreshingly positive energy that our regulars bring to AlteArte as well as some small details: sitting on our balcony at 5 in the morning, drinking horchata, resting our feet and enjoying the cool breeze – my favorite moment of the day; trying every single flavor of ice cream including banana split and mojito as David made his nearly daily visit to the seasonal heladeria just down the street; breathing in the sweet aroma of our neighbor’s Lady of the Night plant (“Galan de Noche” in Spanish) that let off its heavenly scent after dusk and greeted me every time I went outside to serve a customer on the terrace; and escaping from the heat with visits to the swimming pool with Luisa, my mother-in-law, who was with us for the month of August.

Shortly prior to August 12th, David and I spotted a shooting star while sitting on our balcony. It happened when I least expected it – as the best things often do – and, in that moment, I closed my eyes and made a wish. Never mind that I never was able to make a hundred more wishes on a hundred more shooting stars. After all, all I need is one shooting star to carry my wish far and make my dream come true.

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16 responses to “Wishing on A Star

  1. you survived your first summer which is an accomplishment in itself!

    i think your wish upon a star has already come true in magical ways!

    now i hope you have a chance to relax a bit!

    • It’s amazing to think that Summer is behind us. Thank goodness we’re still standing! I hope that we get to talk more now that things have settled down a bit! I miss you!

  2. Oh, Sara what a heartfelt blog! And talk about positivity – you guys are the real deal – it’s hard to keep your chin up when things don’t go as “planned” BUT you two simply re-adjusted your thinking and forged on. You really are an inspiration! I gotta second what Coral said, also hoping that you both now have a chance to relax a bit more and enjoy your wonderful surroundings.

  3. Sara:
    Our wish on a star was answered when you were born, and you have been a shining light to us ever since – despite all the ups and downs (planned and unplanned) that come with life!
    Keep up those wonderful adventures – and your uncanny ability to write about them and to entertain us!
    (We liked, by the way, the story with which you opened this blog!!! )

    • Dad and Mom, thank you for your super sweet comment. Though the distance feels great, your love and support is tangible. Thank you for being such loyal readers, for encouraging me in my writing, and for keeping me connected to Gaga and Gloria!

  4. I’ve been missing your posts. So good to hear from you again. I always love your positive attitude even in the face of all those tribulations and things going wrong.

    • Laura, knowing that you missed my posts is what keeps me disciplined to keep writing. Thank you for taking time out of your writing to read mine!

  5. I think there was an increase in temps again in the States too. Here has been good and not too rainy. Nice for beach activities. Sorry you weren’t so busy (cause profits are good), but it sounds like it may have been even too much to handle. I guess as you have owned it longer and longer, it will get easier and you will have more of a routine in place to make things move smoothly. Although with nights ending at 4:30 am, I think I would need much more sleep.

    • Honestly, I don’t know if we’ll ever get used to the Summer schedule. It’s a bit exhausting, but when I look around at the business owners who have been doing it for decades, I know that it can be done! In any case, now we know Altea in nearly all its seasons and know better what to expect.

  6. what a beautiful post…poetry is the balm over life’s bumps and bruises, both little and large and your blog is pure poetry. After battling numerous times with IKEA delivery, I finally received my bed, but realized too late that they sent the wrong size mattress and the box spring was damaged. Having just left Katy at the airport, I was so tired and sad that I burst into tears. Reading your blog made me realize that one must adjust perception to ride along with life’s little bumps…Thanks for the soothing reminder!

    • Sarah, you’re in the midst of your own adventure at the moment. I know that you’re dealing with all kinds of new beginnings, new friendships, and life transitions. It’s an exciting time for you and although parts of it are stressful and difficult, those kinds of experiences are what make us grow as people. Thank you so much for pausing long enough in all these new experiences to read my blog. I so appreciate it. Thinking of you!!!

  7. I was drawn to your blog following your recent posting on insearchofalifelessordinary.blogspot.com and I’m glad I made the effort. You completely capture the essence of what it is to move overseas, replacing loved ones and familiarity with uncertainy and what can be an emotional rollercoaster ride. I’m looking forward to following future insights into your life at AlteArte and visualising more of those delicious mojitos on the terrace!

    • Russell, thanks for visiting – and reading – my blog. May we both stay focused on our pursuit of a life less ordinary! Likewise, I look forward to continuing to read about your life adventures.

  8. Aaaahhhh….mojitos…what a crazy idea to sell those…also glad that summer is almost gone, now we need to prepare the winter…thanks Sara for making the BEST mojitos in Altea!!

    • I quickly realized at the beginning of the summer that the mojito was one drink I needed to master. Hard to believe that, at one time, I didn’t know how to make it. Now dozens and dozens later, I would say that I’m becoming a bit of an expert! 🙂

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