We are definitely entering a new era in our family. I just dropped off my 12 year olds at the local water park to meet up with friends and be unsupervised (except for the many lifeguards on staff) and my 14 year old just traveled by airplane all by himself, returning from his own 2 week adventure. My kids are definitely becoming their own people and I am becoming less needed, all good stuff as long as my anxiety doesn’t get the better of me.
Speaking of anxiety… need I say more? I will try not to be yet another liberal American expressing serious concern for the state of the union right now and I truly don’t want this blog to become a political one, but gosh. Everytime I catch up on the US news, I ask myself if we have chosen the perfect time to be an expat and live away or if we have chosen the worst time, neglecting our responsibilities as US citizens to lend a hand and a voice. It can be easy, living abroad and having some distance, to shrug off the stress that we read about and to thank God that we are not there right now. But the social worker in me feels like we have jumped ship and left many to suffer.
I hate to say it but living in Spain makes us sometimes feel like the American values and lifestyle are a bit backwards. Our home country is pushing out immigrants while Spain is welcoming refugees by the boatfulls every day, only minutes away from where we live. CNN has recently published an article on how one should never hug in the workplace while Spanish professionals with trusting relationships hug AND kiss on BOTH cheeks every day. American parents worry themselves silly about getting their kids to bed on time and keeping to a strict routine while just the other night at 1:00am, we were dodging baby strollers and kids with ice cream cones or lining up at the candy booths all to spend valuable festive family time together.
When we returned from Croatia, my aunt Deirdre was here visiting for a week. We had a great visit, painting, hiking, and cooking together. She even got Hadley in the kitchen with her and she took me to all these little foodie shops in town that I had yet to discover. Meanwhile, Quinton left on his own to spend two weeks at a rural retreat center north of Granada with 50 other teenagers from all over the world, as part of a program called Diverbo (www.Diverbo.com). Diverbo offers programs for adults and teenagers who want to participate in an English or Spanish immersion experience. In this case, Quinton volunteered as a native English speaker to help his Spanish peers strengthen their English fluency. His job was to be social and conversational, making sure that his Spanish peers only spoke English the whole time. George and I chose this experience for Q and lets just say, he was not very keen on the idea. But by the third day, we received silly photos, including one of him dressed up like a girl (it was Wacky Wednesday and the boys and girls dressed up like each other) and a text from him that read “I hate to say this but thank you for sending me here.” He made fabulous friends from all over the world, practiced some leadership skills, and is hoping to return in the future. Phew! Another parenting risk we took which paid off!
Our sweet Spanish home is practically all packed up and we are looking at the final days of occupancy before we head to northern Europe for the month of August. We are getting moments of family time in between packing, hanging out with friends and finding relief from the heat at the beach. One night we were altogether at the top of a ledge that looks out upon the whole town and we were each engaged in some artistic project. Quinton and George were talking photography while Q was taking time lapse photos of the sunset, I was painting, and Hadley and Davis were taking selfie videos and photos of each other. And speaking of artistic talent, George and I attended a tribute concert the other night for Michael Jackson! A group of Spanish musicians, actually, came together years ago and they tour all over Spain to perform Michael Jackson’s music and the main singer dresses, sings, and dances so much like the man, himself, that it was a little eerie.
We did manage to get a day of adventure in yesterday, running a couple errands in Granada and driving an extra hour north to see Montefrío, “one of the world’s most beautiful villages,” according to National Geographic. Well, it did not fail to impress as you can see from the photos below. You will also see the numerous photos of the Spanish landscapes which, for me, are like photographing a sunset. It just keeps getting better and I find myself with way too many photos. I realize this may not be true for everyone and you may think I am crazy for taking so many photos of “dead grass and trees,” as Q put it, or hillsides spotted with olive trees and more olive trees but I have to get it out of my system and post some of these. Probably the main reason I love the scenery so much is that my painting teacher paints the Spanish landscapes with such imagination and color and she has taught me to see the world through a new lens, so I kind of get entranced.
Our trip ahead includes Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden. We return to Almuñécar on September 2nd, move into a new apartment, start school and kick off our second year in Spain. We’re looking forward to many more adventures, growth and learning ahead.