This month began with Jason and I heading to the Sierra Nevadas for a day of skiing with friends. It was a beautiful, sunny day and we felt only slightly guilty for leaving the kids in school while we enjoyed ourselves on the slopes!
We followed up that outing with another day outdoors, hiking with other families from Matthews and Gabi’s school. It was wonderful to see signs of spring popping up along the trail to Moclín. We were also shown rock paintings that date back thousands of years.
Gabi’s 10th birthday was in February, and she was able to celebrate jointly with her friend Cecilia by ice-skating with friends at a local rink. Later our family enjoyed a sushi dinner at one of Gabi’s favorite restaurants in Granada. It’s hilarious to us that she likes sushi now, when we were surrounded by amazing seafood back in Seattle. She received what she thinks is the best birthday present “ever,” her very own cajón. She has been taking lessons and loves to annoy her brothers with her drumming. She plans to continue when we return to Seattle.
The first memorable trip this month was to Marrakesh, Morocco with our friend Scott, who was kind enough to pay us a visit. After an early morning flight from Granada, we made it to Morocco in time for lunch to be served to us in our riad. That was the first of several meals that all three of the kids enjoyed and ate without complaints (A mother’s dream – I definitely need to learn to cook Moroccan food!). In the evening we wandered through the souk and were somewhat overwhelmed with the vendors, the sights and the smells…not to mention the snakes that were thrown over Scott’s, Matthew’s and Robbie’s shoulders for a photo opportunity! Some “bargain hunting” also meant I came home with a Moroccan wedding blanket, something I’ve had my eye on for years. Jason didn’t even know there was such a thing. It will be a beautiful reminder of our travels this year.
The riad, which was our home for four days.
Scenes from Marrakech.
The next day was unforgettable as we hired a driver to take us outside of the city and show us how the local Berbers live. In the valley we visited the weekly market where families from all around the countryside come to stock up for the week. Anything from animals, to food (meat from said animals, vegetables, fruits, spices, nuts …), to clothes, to electronics can be purchased and one can visit the barber or doctor or dentist (historically, the barber and the dentist were the same person) at the market as well. Later we went to an argan oil cooperative, created to help women in the area be independent, similar to this one. Scott and I went a little over budget buying the “magic” oil. (We found other argan oil products in the souk in Marrakech for about 90 percent less!) The coops have great marketing skills! A quick camel ride for Scott and the kids followed and then after a nausea-inducing drive up the mountains, we stopped at a Berber family home and ate lunch outside with views of the highest mountain peak in the Atlas Mountains and North Africa, Toubkal.
Visiting the three valleys of the Atlas Mountains
After returning to Granada, Jason and I had fun visiting the Alhambra with Scott, taking him to the Arab baths, and out for tapas. He and Jason also did an eight mile hike through the foothills of the Sierras. We really enjoyed showing Scott around our current hometown.
Matthew’s 12th birthday quickly followed our trip to Marrakech, and he is lucky enough that Justin, his best friend here in Granada, shares the exact same birthday. The boys celebrated together by going bowling, playing arcade games and eating “American” food at a local restaurant. He was also fortunate to take a day off of school to go snowboarding with his dad!
Winding up the month, Lori and three friends took a road trip to Cadiz for a long weekend of relaxing, shopping, eating and drinking along the beautiful Costa de la Luz. It was a wonderful experience full of laughter and memory making. (If you are reading this girls, I will never forget WWBD, Who’s Charlotte? and the man with fake eyelashes!) Next month it will be the men’s turn to go away together, to a Madrid-Barcelona futbol match. We feel so blessed to have made such good friends here!
As we head into our final few months, we are naturally reflecting on what our expectations were coming in, and how our experiences are actually measuring up. One thing is for sure: we have really started to notice how much more independent the kids are becoming. We think Robbie is showing the biggest change. When his computer broke, after a bit of convincing and some help planning what he was going to say with his Spanish teacher, he went alone to the local Apple distributor to see if it could be fixed. Yes, all in Spanish! Matthew showed off his Spanish skills when we were coming back through customs after our trip to Morocco. The customs officer asked if he should speak English or Spanish and Matthew, rarely shy, responded “Español.” The customs officer then decided to interview Matthew in Spanish on behalf of the entire family. Matthew must have answered his questions correctly, because we all made it back into Spain. And Gabi, of course always hungry, loves to make quick trips on her own to the mini-market and often walks on her own up to the school. Watching our kids develop newfound independence and confidence certainly makes us feel like the sacrifices we’ve made to spend a year in Granada are well worth it.
Hasta proximo mes…