Just a week following Jason’s surgery, he had an appointment to check his progress. At that appointment, with everything looking perfecto according to the doctor, Jason was told that he could have the option of a walking boot or a cast. It was a little confusing to us as to whether having the “walking boot” meant Jason was supposed to actually walk on his foot (previously we’d been told he would need crutches for six weeks), but what we gathered was that Jason could use a walking boot, but still not put any weight on his ankle until after his staples were removed two weeks later. What shocked us at the appointment however was that once the doctor removed the cast in order to have post surgery x-rays taken, he had Jason hobbling around on his crutches in the hospital and in and out of elevators, with no protection on his ankle or a wheelchair escort. THEN, we were told that we needed to go to an orthopedic specialty store in the city center to actually purchase the boot, because they don’t sell them at the hospital. Jason, broken leg and all, climbed into a taxi and then pulled himself on his crutches down the street (cotton from the previous cast still sticking to his leg and staples from his surgery exposed) to the orthopedic pharmacy where he was fitted with a walking boot and sent on his way.
Jason on his way to Spanish class two days post-surgery, and one week later, heading out of the hospital to find a walking boot.
Because of Jason’s surgery our plans changed a little this month. Instead of going to Madrid for the weekend of my birthday for a Barcelona FC vs. Real Madrid soccer game, Jason traveled two doors down with me to celebrate at a local restaurant that we can see from our front door. Gabi also helped me celebrate by buying me a henna tattoo from one of the local street artists here and joined me with new friends for pedicures.
We were able to keep our plans to visit Cordoba the following weekend, and while Jason didn’t get to hike on the Caminito del Rey, he did visit the Mezquita with us. The Mezquita is an impressive building, but it’s also odd to see so much Catholic iconography in the midst of the simple, yet beautiful Moorish arches. The kids and I were able to hike the 7 km Caminito del Rey, which was stunning. The original pathway was built for workers to travel between two hydroelectric power plants, but as the years went by the pathway deteriorated and it became a place for thrill-seekers to hike and rock climb. In 2015 it reopened as a tourist attraction and offers some amazing views.
The Cathedral of Cordoba is built inside what was once the Grand Mosque.
The Caminito del Rey used to be one of the most deadly hikes in the world.
May 3rd is a special day in Granada, Cruz de Mayo, where schools, parishes, and neighborhood associations get together to decorate large crosses and the areas surrounding them. It is both a celebration of Spring with roots in pagan traditions, and a representation of the discovery of the original cross of Jesus by Saint Helena. Over the years it has become a fiesta day that celebrates the typical and traditional items of city life, including guitars, shawls, pottery, bronze wear and of course, flowers. This year, Matthew and Gabi’s school, Gomez Moreno won for their cross in the schools category.
Mid-May brought my sister Kelly from California for a wonderful visit. While she wasn’t super impressed with the actual tapas served (being a bit of a picky eater), she enjoyed visiting the various bars on our tapas night. I force-marched her up and down the hills of Granada and we toured the Cathedral, visited the Granada Archives with fabulous old maps of the city from various years and traipsed in and out of various Carmens. Without a doubt we had one of the best visits to the Alhambra, on a cool morning, but with May flowers bursting in all the gardens.
Jason took Kelly and I out to a pre-Mother’s Day dinner to El Claustro, a highly regarded restaurant in a local hotel which used to be a convent. Sunday we drove up to the Alpujarras and all of us went horseback riding through the hills. Well, except for Jason who hung out at the farm drinking wine with the other horses, various dogs, a super friendly cat and some not-so-friendly geese.
Shopping and volunteering in English class rounded out Kelly’s last days in Granada, and then she, Gabi and I hopped a bus back to Cordoba to attend the Andalusian horse spectacular. We showed Kelly the Mezquita (seriously, I think it is almost as important to visit as the Alhambra!) and had some yummy Mediterranean food in the old Jewish Quarter. We even took a horse and buggy tour around Cordoba, which was a fabulous way to see the city, especially in the 80+ degree heat. (I’m starting to see a horse-theme going on here!) The trip was a great way to end her visit. The kids are already counting down the weeks until we see Tia Kelly again!
Jason did end up taking the DELE test this month, at the B1 intermediate level (meaning his Spanish sounds awful to anyone who is fluent, but he can generally converse to others in Spanish in typical day to day situations). It is an internationally recognized test for language learners composed of reading comprehension, writing, listening and oral examinations. It definitely wasn’t easy, and he won’t find out how he did for a few months, but it was great for him to even make an attempt, especially while he was recovering from his surgery. While my Spanish has progressed significantly this year as well, I didn’t feel prepared enough to take the B1 exam with Jason (especially since I had considerably less time available to study than Jason did). In November, I plan to take the exam back in Seattle.
Our love for Granada is considerable, as this is truly a magical city, but it is fair to say that with the experiences of Jason’s broken leg and terrible spring allergies (you can see the pollen clouds floating through the city), we are definitely starting to look forward to our return to Seattle. Ironically, the kids emotions are more mixed. Gabi cried the other night because she is so saddened by the idea of leaving her new friends and our life here in Spain. Robbie’s latest film project involves interviewing other expat kids about their own experiences living abroad. Through this work, he is starting to realize that there are some aspects of our life in Spain that even he will miss. Matthew has expressed some worries that he will lose some of the independence and freedom he has enjoyed here in the Albayzín when we return home.
Challenges have come and gone (okay, some haven’t quite left us yet). The emotional roller coasters have been ridden. Internal conflicts have emerged in each of us. But through all of it, we’ve tried to remain focused on those things that were most important to us…the things we hoped the kids would take away from their experiences this year, namely: 1) obtain a good grasp of Spanish, 2) develop increased self-confidence in their ability to meet life’s difficult challenges and 3) become closer to one another (and to their parents) because of our shared experiences. With only a month left, I can tell you that we are definitely on track!