After nearly six weeks of nonstop rain, someone flipped a switch this past week and decided that now, it is time for sun. Yesterday was our fourth day of sunshine in a row, which is great for my mood but terrible for my work ethic.

Being inside feels very wrong somehow, as the blue sky reaches in my window, takes me by the hand, and says, “Come outside and play!” What it really makes me long for is a long run in the springtime redwoods or a bike up the coast in the weak March sunshine, both things I love to do at home after a long, wet winter. But I can do neither here, so instead I compromise by working at an outdoor cafe and then going to the gym when the day cools off.

As it turns out, that is exactly what we did yesterday. We went up to the cafe at the park across from our flat, which is one of our favorites, as they have outdoor seating and free wifi — a rarity indeed. I am also a big fan of the petite blond waitress’ outrageous outfits, which I have started to collect with great interest.

This time, she was wearing a tiny turquoise skirt with black tights and a black off the shoulder shirt, which revealed tattoos that perfectly matched the color both of her skirt and the scarf around her neck. Her shoes were canvas sneakers printed with a snakeskin pattern, well worn from working many shifts on her feet, and her bleach-blond hair was swept up off her face, then adorned with two small white flower clips.

With her leather jacket, eyebrows plucked into thin high arches, and a lip piercing just below her nose, she reminded me oddly of the flapper character in the book I was reading — kind of a modern day, punk rock version. I am totally fascinated by this creature, who greets most of her customers as old friends and spends most of her time sitting outside and smoking.

Despite her innovative stylistic creations, neither she nor her equally bepierced coworker are the fastest or most astute of servers (see our earlier adventures with the three cups of coffee.) But we weren’t feeling rushed either, so it was no problem — we were happy to soak in the semi-warm sunshine as we waited for our coffee and tea to arrive. Apparently water takes longer to boil up there, you know?

The big sliding glass doors were thrown open to the breeze, and jazz wafted out of the little CD player, cleverly disguised as a miniature 1950s style radio. People drifted in and out, getting cafezinhos or toasted sandwiches, playing backgammon on a portable set outside, taking off jackets and putting them back on again. I couldn’t think of a better place to work.

After rousing ourselves for a quick trip to the gym, we wandered home via the corner market (a tiny place crammed with an improbable amount of goods, run by an Indian man and a Russian woman) and the bakery. We didn’t even need bread, but I wanted to say hi to the ladies, to maybe earn a glimpse of that crooked smile. Once again, I felt an increased warmth and familiarity from these fixtures of our neighborhood, and even though I couldn’t understand a word they said, I smiled and nodded and laughed with them anyway.

I continue to be enchanted by the sense of community here, which I have never felt in the States. We lived in the boonies while I was growing up, with our closest neighbors probably a half mile away. Now Gabe and I live in a quiet, totally residential neighborhood, where we know only our immediate neighbors. In fact just yesterday I opened a letter forwarded to me from one of our neighbors down the street, soliciting donations to the American Heart Association or some such. We’ve been gone for six months, and she didn’t even notice. How sad is that?!

But here, everyone is always in each other’s business. While I was hanging up laundry in our front window yesterday, I watched the drama of our little street play itself out. The restoration artist across the street helped his grandson toddle his way shakily down the cobblestones until his grandmother came out to fetch him. She swooped him up and took him into the workshop, but soon ducked back out again to consult with the fish lady, her head elaborately wrapped as usual. The little old lady who lives next door wandered by to throw her trash into one of the communal trash bins, and of course had to weigh in on the day with the restaurateur’s wife. And all this in the span of about five minutes! It’s a never-ending parade of life lived in the open here, and I am growing to love it. Life in the States is going to seem so tame when we return.

Even with this glorious afternoon, the best part of the day was yet to come. How could such a day be improved upon, you ask? Why, with taxes and zombies, I say. Nonstop excitement, I tell you!

We originally had plans to go out, but Gabe had gotten so absorbed in doing our taxes that I figured it was best just to let him get them done. And finish he did, which we celebrated by watching a movie he’d found for me the night before: Dead Snow, a movie about Nazi zombies attacking a bunch of rich, spoiled German med students on their trip to the snow. We’d seen the trailer a while back, but somehow missed it in the theater. Hard to believe, I know, as I’m sure it was a huge hit. So Gabe was thrilled when he stumbled across it on Netflix, and presented it to me as a surprise. Que romantico!

Just as I’d suspected, it was gory, disgusting, hilarious, and totally fantastic. I loved it. What girl wouldn’t like spending her Friday night watching people get disemboweled? What a romantic husband I have! Doing my taxes and then surprising me with a zombie movie. Wow. I am one lucky girl!