It’s seems as if I just wrote last month’s journal entry. Time is flying by and we seem to be packing more and more into each and every day. This month gave us some outdoor adventures, some fabulous time with friends, yummy food and, unfortunately, some difficult goodbyes.
The first of our outdoor adventures was a bicycle trip with Matthew and Gabi’s school. In previous years long bike trips have been planned along one of Spain’s Vias Verdes, old railway tracks that have been renovated and reused for walkers and bikers. These tracks are mostly flat and smoothly surfaced, with water stations, bathrooms, even restaurants and hostels along the way. This year, however, the event’s planners decided not to do a standard Via Verde, but instead follow a trail that went from Moguer, in the Huelva province, to the Playa de Torre del Loro in Mazagón. However, because it was still being called “Via Verde” we were under the impression that it was similar to trails we’d seen in videos of years past. Let’s just say Matthew, Gabi, and I learned a lot about our mental and physical toughness that day, although many tears were shed before the 25 kms were done. The plunge into the ocean at the end of the ride was all the more enjoyable because of the difficulties we overcame on the trail. Jason went along on the bus ride, hung out with our friends’ son Toby, who had broken his arm just a couple days before, and then waited at the beach for more than five hours (we were told it would take about two) for us to arrive. Robbie had made the smartest decision to stay home altogether to dog-sit for our neighbors who were also on the ride. He had the BEST weekend!
The week after we returned from the bike trip, we had to start saying some goodbyes. Two families were heading back home to the States, so our friends threw a pool-party at their house to wish them well. Gabi finished her after-school circus class and showed off her skills at a year-end performance. Both Matthew and Gabi finished their after-school Spanish classes and said goodbye to their sweet teacher, Melody. Later in the month we said goodbye to Jason’s “Madre en Granada” Ana, and Susana, the amazing Spanish teacher of Robbie, Jason and me. All these goodbyes certainly made us realize the importance of the wonderful people we’ve shared our lives with this past year.
If the Via Verde trip wasn’t all we had expected, our weekend in the country with fellow expats more than made up for it. Jason’s Spanish mom, Ana, still owns her grandfather’s home in a small pueblo about an hour outside of Granda. The house sleeps 24 and we filled it to capacity with five families. There was a wonderful pool, a gorgeous yard with room for water-gun fights and badminton, cut-throat card games, amazing meals and tons of laughter. I love all the memories we made, but watching Dave dance flamenco during Game Night in a Can is one for the record books. Julie’s “mom” dance is a close second!
My friend Dani has said that her favorite way to learn Spanish is by taking a cooking class, and I have to agree. Unfortunately it took until our journey was almost over to actually take a class here, but I finally did. In fact, I took two! Given by a local nutritionist, Rocio, these classes put a healthy spin on some old Spanish favorites and some fun new dishes, and I’m looking forward to testing them out on friends in Seattle. I’m officially addicted to salmorejo, trying it in every restaurant that serves it, and am so excited to have found a recipe I can take home with me! Many thanks to Julie for organizing these classes for us guiris in her home.
Up next on the family adventure agenda was Matthew’s weeklong trip to camp with the 6th grade classes of Gomez Moreno. Located in the mountains of Cazorla, about three hours from Granada, the adventure camp included archery, rock climbing, swimming in the Guadaquiver river and even a dance party one evening. Based on the photos Matthew’s teacher took, it appears everyone had a wonderful week.
When Matthew returned safely from camp, it was time to start celebrating Granada’s yearly feria coinciding with the celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi. We went to the opening night with friends, enjoyed the rides, watched fireworks and admired the light displays throughout the fairgrounds. There were activities, music and events both at the fairground and in the city center all week, with Wednesday through Friday being holidays from work and school.
When we first moved to Granada, one of the things I really wanted to do was have family pictures taken. The last “formal” family photos of us where taken five years ago after we moved to Seattle. The kids have grown and changed so much since then, but I also wanted to have nice pictures to document our time in Granada. We had originally planned to have them done in May, but with Jason’s ankle surgery and all that entailed, we had to postpone them. With just two weeks left, we finally met up with fellow expat, Gomez Moreno parent, and photographer extraordinaire Kathryn Palmateer and the photos turned out so well! Here’s a sneak peak…
With the temperature averaging in the low 90’s for the past couple of weeks, and the three-day holiday from school, we decided to head to the beach for one last hurrah in Southern Spain. Mojacar was our choice because of its beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean, proximity to Cabo de Gata natural park and the fact that it was a relatively short drive away. Our friends, the McKendry family joined us at the Parador Mojacar and we all had a blast swimming, learning to play pool and perfecting our skills in the card game Hearts. Of course, the adults may have sipped a few cocktails poolside as well.
As I finish writing this entry, with only a little more than week left in Granada I’m already overcome with “homesickness” for this place. Its unique mix of history and architecture, its laid-back vibe, and the many friends we have made have burrowed themselves deep into my heart. I notice that I’m taking fewer pictures, even though we are doing more, because I just want to soak it all in. (So, many thanks to friends Kelly, Dani and Julie for allowing me to post some of their photos in this month’s blog!) I find myself simply wanting to wander the streets and absorb the sights, sounds, and smells. I’m not sure exactly what this last week here will hold, but I know that there will be some tears as we say goodbye to this special city that we have been blessed to call home for the last year.