“Living abroad is an opportunity to reinvent yourself that rarely exists outside the witness protection program.” ~Karen McCann
From their first date, Karen and her husband-to-be, Rich talked about living abroad. Instead–after getting married–they moved to Cleveland, Ohio for two decades. Yet during a vacation en-route to Italy they stopped to visit a friend in Seville, Spain. One visit led to another and eventually Karen, Rich along with their dog, Pie went to live in Southern Spain for a year. But like many of us who have a notion our wanderlust will be curbed with one epic adventure—one year has turned into many. The couple splits their time between Spain and San Anselmo, California, USA.
Dancing in the Fountain gives a warm, humorous account of fitting together life’s puzzle pieces regardless of surface. Karen McCann slowly wiggles her way into a Spanish community where friendships are nurtured “since baptism” by befriending tapas owners (and attempting to understand what they are saying) along with reawakening her love for painting. She makes shopping for a screw driver sound like a grand adventure especially when language pronunciation happens to be slightly off; and adopts the local health care ways for lowering cholesterol —wine, chocolate and ham. Throughout the book you’ll not only come to know her expat town but also laugh at Cleveland snake wrangling and her dog getting drunk after sneaking a whole rum cake!
Karen encourages fitting-in by learning the local language and adorning the areas fashion—perhaps even down to a haircut. She also states that when you live in a destination city “people visit you” (though the trick might be getting them to leave). In her chapter “Culture Lag” she talks about the necessity of mentally unpacking when waltzing between homes splint by 9 time zones and a very different view on the beloved Spanish practice of a siestas.
So how did the title of the book come about you wonder…
“Late one blazing hot night, I was returning home from a club meeting and passed through Duck Plaza to find Rich and L-F sitting in folding chairs with their feet up on the rim of the duck fountain, sipping scotch from a little silver flask…After a while, we took off our shoes and began dipping our toes in the cool water. Then Rich planted his feet in the fountain and stood up…Rich, who can never resist a movie moment, swept me into his arms and began to waltz me around.”
Eventually a local “old curmudgeon” passed by and growled, “’You wouldn’t do that back where you come from!’”–which she found to be true. Traveling lends oneself to live out loud.