Category: Spanish Life (page 1 of 6)

Our Beach Vacation

We had a great family beach vacation this weekend! It was nice to relax and have our vacation be about spending time together and not on what monuments, palaces, castles, cathedrals, cities or other places on Spain’s must see list.

We returned to a camping resort in Biarritz, France on the Atlantic ocean. I’ve been watching the weather for months and really wanted a sunny, warm weekend we could lounge poolside and hit the nearby beach.

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After having Jeff gone for three of the four weeks in May, I was excited to get away together.

Without having to spend hours planning where to stay and what to visit. Having been there before, we knew where the grocery store was, where the beach was and we knew what to expect.

The only part we didn’t expect was that we now know that Clara suffers from carsickness.  I could rephrase that and say we ALL suffer from her carsickness.

I had never heard of a camping resort, I assumed it would be something like a KOA.  Small cabins, a pool and some activities that few joined in.  But I was pleasantly surprised on our first visit with a nice little cabin, two pools (an indoor and outdoor), a free kids watch program, a bar with nightly themes and friendly staff that spoke English.

It’s a popular vacation destination so all the signs were in French, Spanish, Basque and English.

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The kids loved the pool, we enjoyed lounging poolside.  The pool was shallow in most places and had two water slides and two waterfalls.  We could grab a drink at the bar easily and have it there or to go.

Jeff and I tried our hand at archery while the kids got their faces painted in kids watch.

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The beach was 10 minutes away and had nice sand.  The girls played in the sand and surf for hours. I enjoyed playing in the surf with Amelia and Violet. We all got tossed in the waves more than once.

Realizing that we were at a shirt/bikini top optional beach was amusing.  I leaned over and whispered to Jeff that the woman two towels down was topless. He smiled and told me, “You’re funny.  She’s not the one.”  It was then that I realized that most of the ladies were topless….of all ages.

I lathered up the ladies and joined in. When in France!

Most of the women though only went topless while at their towels, they did not wander the beach topless. There were a few exceptions. Like the woman who came to body surf in the waves next to Amelia and I.

Amelia was a bit surprised when the wave subsided and she saw a topless woman jumping and playing in the same wave as us.

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Back at the pool, the adult women kept their tops on but toddler girls to preteen girls wore only bottoms.  And while I find toddlers in bikinis absolutely adorable; wearing only bottoms makes better sense. Kids play hard and they should have a swimsuit that is functional. An itty bitty bikini on a kid just doesn’t stay in place.

At the resort the girls danced at the bar the first evening and we did karaoke the last.

 

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We played cards together.

We taught Amelia how to play hearts and Clara is now old enough to play Uno on her own with us.

We ate Thai food together.

We tired the girls out everyday.

We slept in most days.

We choose spaghetti at the cabin over taking the kids to a nice, French restaurant.

We drank Sangria by the pool.

We played in the water with the kids. Clara even went down the water slide!

There was a bounce house at the playground for the kids.

We returned to the Caves of Sare to replace a  forgotten souvenir.

It was a great time had by all.

I was sad to leave. I really enjoyed the relaxation, the sand, the beach.

It was a great trip had by all. Now to find my discarded surf shirt before I return to the states.

 

We did squeeze in a quick return trip to San Sebastian so Amelia could get another pinxto in a seashell. We also returned to Pamplona. This time without the long, wandering, never ending car ride. We drank a beer at Cafe Iruna, one of Hemmingway’s haunts. Walked a portion of the streets where the running of the bulls takes place. Took pictures next to statues of Hemmingway. Tried again the find the Museo de Encierro but again without luck (side note: a quick look on google vs. my Lonely Planet guide says it is permanently closed.  And had ice cream cones in the blistering heat before heading home.

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Rhythmic Gymnastics

The girls finished their last class of Rhythmic Gymnastics this week.  It’s the beginning of a series of lasts for this adventure.

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Back in November we decided we should sign them up for something.   An active activity to keep them occupied, out of the house and moving.  They said no to soccer.   I don’t blame them; they haven’t years of experience kicking around a ball and Amelia doesn’t like the whole ball flying at your face part.

There was martial arts; which I though was actually an art class.  Glad I found out before I signed them up.

There was basketball.  They said no.

There was dance.  I said no once I heard the price per month.

There was alternative sports.  I don’t know what this one involved, I just imagined this was the activity that parents of little Spanish boys who didn’t play soccer did.

So, Rhythmic Gymnastics it was.  It was $15 per month per kid and met twice a week for an hour each.

I envisioned graceful turns, hoops and ribbons waving through the air.  I pictured Amelia’s gymnastics class back home; the structure.  I pictures the Olympics (what was I thinking?)  I remembered my own rhythmic gymnastics ribbons as a child that I spent hours working with to make them ripple prettily.

After staying to watch the first few classes, I learned it was better to just go back home and not watch.

The chaos, the yelling (not the children) and goofing off (yes the children).  It was better to just let it be.  Let the kids get in some exercise, some extra Spanish language time and have fun.

Months went by and when I learned there would be a gymnastics exhibition, I wondered how in the world would they have a routine together for it?  I mostly remember the chaos of the earlier months and the after-class reporting by the girls on who misbehaved this class.

A routine was going to be performed?  I assumed only for the parents of our village.

NO, it was a big exhibition in another town with the rhythmic gymnasts from 8 other villages and lasted for 3 hours.

And you know what?  They did have a routine they could perform.  Without the instructor leading them what to do in the peripherals.  Which when you consider the age range was 4 years to 8 years old.  It was a good accomplishment.

The day of the exhibition the girls were nervous and excited to be wearing their new costumes.

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I had strict instructions that their hair should be in a bun.  With no FLY AWAYS.  You can see by the picture, this was not the case.  I just didn’t see the big deal and I haven’t used hair spray in years so it never occurred to me to slick their hair down.

They got to ride a “team” bus to the exhibition.

They got their hair glittered and sparkled and plastered to their head when they arrived.

They got to wear eye shadow and lipstick.

They were excited!

Clara and I sat drove down to the exhibition in a rental car.  Luckily, I decided to follow one of the team buses otherwise I may not have made it to the exhibition hall.  I was given the wrong address and I made the decision on a whim to follow the bus rather than listen to the GPS.

Amelia & Violet did a great job with the rest of their team.  It was fun to see it be an organized, big deal after I had been anticipating a hot, tiny gym with kids, parents and gymnasts running amok.

Nice job ladies!

(As a side note, I have spell checked the word rhythmic every single time I have used it in this blog post.  I didn’t spell it write once.  Grammar pun intended)

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Mud pies and hoping my kids stay young awhile longer

I will be sad when my kids no longer play for hours in the mud, trees and rocks.  I so enjoy sitting near as the use their imaginations to create out of nature.

Today, they worked to weave mats while we sat in the shadow of ruins and watched by cows.

The forest around where we live here in Spain may be the best part of living here.  Now, I know I there are lots of parks and green spaces in Washington.  And we take advantage of those as well.  But, here there’s not also the YMCA or the pool or the beach or the playgrounds or play dates to also occupy our time.

Over the last few weekends we have gone exploring, settled in and had a picnic in the woods.  And almost always, we see very few other people.

We visited a National Park one weekend for an amazing hike.  Sierra de Guadarrama Parque Nacional.  We went 5 miles round trip at an elevation of 6,600 ft.

We’ve been to forest on both sides of the river – although we’re always sharing the space with a cow or two.

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Craving Bacon and mourning cheap wine

With little over 30 days until we head home from our exchange year in Spain I have some things I will miss here in Spain and some things I am looking forward to upon our arrival.

Which should I start with?  Spain or Home?

Let’s start with what I am looking forward to upon returning.

Friends!  Specifically sitting poolside or around a campfire or around a table playing euchre but always with a cold Margarita in hand.  A homemade cilantro Margarita would be the bee’s knees.

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Grilling!  Oh how I have missed my grill.  I have been dreaming of grilling pizza on my pizza stone.  Kabobs! Grilled Kale.  Grilled baby bok choy.  Grilled Salmon.  It doesn’t even have to MY grill.  A charcoal grill at the park will suite me just as well.

– Bacon! Just a little slice with avocado and tomato on a crescent roll.  A BLT. An egg sandwich with bacon.  Do I even need to say more?

the Library! With all those books…in ENGLISH!  I’ve tried reading on my computer and on the kids tablet but it’s not the same.  I want to feel the pages in my fingers, I want to relax in bed without the glow of a screen.

Clothes shopping! I’ll admit to having too many clothes; especially ones that don’t compliment me or make me feel like a million bucks but after wearing the same two weeks worth of clothes for the last 10 months I’m ready to shop for clothes that look good and feel good.

My own bed! Soft sheets (I’m buying one new set) and my firm queen-sized mattress.  Oh, how have I miss you!  The rough, hand-me down sheets on a squishy, sagging double bed just hasn’t cut it.

a Drug store!  The pharmacists here are helpful and friendly but EVERYTHING is behind the counter.  I have to ask for everything from fiber pills to ibuprofen to decongestants to UTI medications to pregnancy tests.  I’m over having the two pharmacists in this small town know exactly what is wrong with my family or myself.

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– Possibilities!  Time away from our usual routines and life have me excited about the possibilities of what is to come when we return.  The experience of turning our world upside down has me willing to take risks and allow opportunities to unfold themselves.  Please let me keep this feeling when we return!

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So what will I miss from our life in Spain?

Outdoor Seating!  I absolutely LOVE the plaza’s in Spain.  It’s not only outdoor seating at restaurants but the common gathering space for people to come to together and enjoy the outdoors (and most likely friends, but since i have none here I’ll just assume this is a perk).

Seville

Seville

Jamon! The trade-off to bacon is Jamon.  Thin, freshly sliced is the bee’s knee’s.  Jamon is a dried and cured Spanish ham.  (Here it is hanging on the walls of this shop)

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Madrid

Walking!   I have really enjoyed being able to walk to the grocery store, school and all around town.  I will miss the ability to literally run downstairs and buy that missing grocery item.  The time spent together walking with my kids to and from school has been nice (most days; not all).

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Cheap food & alcohol!  Oh, how I am dreading the sticker shock of my first grocery trip in the U.S.  I’ve blogged about food prices before but last week we made homemade, fresh-squeezed lemonade and a bag of lemons cost 1.19 euros.  I’ve found great wines for 1.76 euros and a fifth of vodka is around 9 euro’s.

Cheap medications!  I haven’t kept track of every medication like I have with the food and alcohol but I can buy a 30 day supply of name-brand Concerta over-the-counter for 33 euros.  The ibuprofen comes in 600mg and is around 3 euors.  Cough syrup around 4 euros.

No artificial food dyes!  I try to avoid them in the states.  I know I am using my dollars as votes when I buy non-dye food but I really do like knowing I don’t have to worry that my yogurt has food dye.  Yes, the m&m’s taste different but it’s not like I stopped eating them.

Six-speed manual, diesel  cars with hill assist!  While I have loved the walk-ability of our town, I have felt free and lightweight every time I’ve rented a car while here.  ALL the cars here are manual transmissions and most have been six-speed.  (One lone, Ford had no hill-assist and was a 5-speed).  I like not hearing the car whine at 75 mph and I LOVE not rolling into the person behind me.

Uninterrupted family time!  We have lived a fairly simple life here.  We spend the winter months hibernating together.   We watched maybe too much Netflix but we made it through several interesting series and educational documentaries.  The girls and I also learned how to crochet over the winter months.  While we have a few activities we committed to, we have mostly been free to make our own schedule free of busy work-life-school schedules.

Alumencar, Granada

Alumencar, Granada

 

Schooling this past year

While homeschooling in the U.S., I’d often have people comment how how they don’t know how I do it.  In reality, I couldn’t imagine how they did it every day.

Getting up every morning, going through the same routine everyday to get their kids to school by 8am or 9am and then trying to get homework done, extracurricular activities accomplished, family dinner, kids in bed and still have time to spend their spouse.

And I do hate the morning routine of getting the girls to school here in Spain. And, their school doesn’t even start until 9:30am!  A lot has to do with us never establishing a solid routine – in the states I would have created a laminated checklist and bought a timer clock.

Here, I have been repeating the same directions every morning for the last 8 months.

I’m tired of it.  It often ends in yelling.

I get frustrated.  Why, is it not clear that breakfast is not the time to play hide & seek?

It breaks my heart when they beg me to stay home for the day.  It breaks my heart when they ask “can’t I just do my schoolwork with you?” I hate having to decide if they are too sick to go to school for the day.

I hate that my now five-year old groans when I tell her it’s a school day.  School days at our homeschooling center was something that was never groaned at.  In fact, if one of us was too sick, they groaned that they had to miss.

Sending the girls to public school here in Spain was certainly the right thing to do.  They could have never learned the language as quickly from taking classes in the US or even attending a Spanish Immersion program.

Amelia has come SO far in understanding and speaking the language.

Violet has made a best friend that she adores.

Clara understands and responds in Spanish but rarely lets on that she can speak any.

They all have the experience of going almost anywhere in town and knowing other adults and/or children.  The small town has been a very nice change of pace for them.

I would have been even more isolated than I already am if I had tried homeschooling them here as well.

And there are not the educational opportunities here for us to access as in the Seattle area.

For one, we have no car and two, they would all be in Spanish.  No science center workshops or zoo naturalist programs for us.  No large craft store for us to get supplies to make projects.  No wonderful library to check out boat loads of physical books from.  (Digital loans from the King County Library have been great!)

Violet went to an overnight camp in November and a burros ride (last week) with her class though!  They participated in a carnival parade through town.  All things we would not have done homeschooling.

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I’ll admit, I expect them to be behind their peers in the States in regards to their  English writing and mathematics.  Clara can count better in Spanish than English and I haven’t even tried to teach her to read in English yet!  Amelia seems to have lost the mental math gains she had from her Singapore Math curriculum and now only uses math equations.

I hope they will be ahead in their ability to try new experiences, having faith in their ability to face unknown and their overall belief in themselves.  I mean, if you can walk into a place where you don’t know the language, the routines or anyone else …. you can do anything!

But I really enjoyed homeschooling the girls.  It wasn’t easy but I preferred it to any job I had ever had.  I miss it.

I really miss learning with my kids on a daily basis.  I miss teaching them.   I miss the connection we established.  I miss having fun ways to interact with them – read alouds, craft projects, schooling projects, documentaries, science centers, museums, etc.

I still have the same “business” to attend to with them.  Dressing, feeding, washing, cleaning, etc. but now I have less time to accomplish these in.  It leaves little room for more fun activities like playing a game, going for a longer walk or long read-alouds.

But most of all, I miss the rhythm we had established.  I am less connected to my kids now.  And I don’t like it.

Right now, for me, I feel like I have too few positive, fun interactions with my kids.

I know that a big part of this is me and the rhythm I’ve established.  I got used to having a quiet home and retreating into my own little computer generated world.  Breaking free into a noisy, messy household is difficult.  Life here has been difficult for me.

When I am able to get ahead of feeding and cleaning and we can spend most of the lunch siesta reading together or creating together…I feel great.  I rented a car one weekend and we went on an amazing hike together!

I’ve become unaccustomed to the whining and bickering of the kids.  Maybe they just got older and into a new phase of sibling rivalry.  Maybe, they are no longer in the rhythm of spending the entire day interacting together.

Regardless, the arguing and bickering is driving me completely bonkers!

And maybe, they got accustomed to needing to be loud to be heard in their classrooms.  Maybe, they got accustomed to the norm of questioning the directions of their teachers or the negotiating every request with them.

Maybe, they got accustomed to having more children than adults to be influenced by (the numbers are pretty close in a homeschooling center!)

One of the biggest reasons to my ever wanting to homeschool was that I wanted more time for our family to spend together; for us not to be splinted out by age into our own little worlds.  For us to build strong relationships within our family unit.

Coming here and not having them attend the public school would have been a mistake.  But I miss homeschooling.

I’m not sure what the fall will hold for us when we return.  There is a strong possibility (and a strong hope) that Amelia will get into the public Spanish Immersion school back in the states. There is also the possibility that some the girls will be homeschooled and others not.

And while I am concerned that my feeling of disconnectedness will continue, I have faith that by being active, being involved and being connected  that my concerns will not be realized.

We will resume going to science centers, museums, libraries and parks regardless of the kids schooling.   And with the girls getting older, we will have even more opportunities to participate in activities as a family.

I’m looking forward to it!

 

 

 

 

 

Eating in San Sebastian, Spain

I wasn’t looking forward to going to San Sebastian over our Easter break.  I’ll admit it.  We’ve been to lots of gorgeous, interesting and historical cities.  I’ve seen castles, monuments, tombs, cathedrals, roman ruins, mosques, palaces, and museums.

I’ve felt the heat of car engines as they pass along narrow, stone-cobbled streets while I press myself and the kids flat against the nearest wall.  I’ve driven the very same roads.

And I’ve enjoyed seeing all of it.

Except maybe now, I was feeling a little done with the constant on-the-go of our vacations and instead feeling the real need to relax, enjoy some nature and just be still.

If Jeff had not been so excited about San Sebastian, I would have chosen a beach along the Mediterranean.  We would have seen a town or two but another city would not have been on the itinerary.

Which would have been a real loss.  It was a culinary delight!

The food of San Sebastian was amazing!

San Sebastian Food Collage

I had been saving our food budget dollars since December in anticipation of this trip.  We watched Anthony Bourdain’s travels to San Sebastian and Spain on Netflix.  I mapped out great Pinxto Bars in Lonely Planet.

But truthfully, I didn’t expect the sheer mass of food at every Pinxto bar we entered.

I didn’t expect to have the same experience as I saw on Netflix or read in Lonely Planet.

I’ve been disappointed by the food in so many other places, I really wasn’t prepared to actually experience of the full bar line-up of food in San Sebastian.

Pinxtos

Bar Nagusia

By and far our favorite Pixto bar was Zeruko.  It had great tasting and innovative food.  We found this at the end of second day and it was hard to leave.  It also ruined us to other places.  THIS place was THAT good!

The tomato looking appetizers actually were stuffed with a tuna-type filling.

San Sebastian Zeruko

Zeruko

Here are the places we ate or drank at:

  • Zeruko – See the collage above.  AMAZING food!
  •  Bar Borda Berri – We had Veal cheek and pig’s ear.
  • Astelena – A fried, pistachio encrusted Vegemite pintxo was our favorite.
  • Bar Nagusia – Amelia loved her a fried ham pintxo.
  • Bar Goiz-Argi – The stuffed pepper was great!
  • Sirimiri Atari Akademy – Wonderful, fresh pintxo’s.
  • Casa Alcalde – I had octopus here.
  • Jatetxea – Amelia had to have a pinxto in an especially large shell.
  • Museo del Whisky – Jeff had a wonderful (two wonderful) Old Fashions’

Bar Borda Berri

Bar Nagusia

Bar Goiz-Argi

Casa Alcalde

Whiskey Bar

Sirimiri Akademy

Jatetxea Amelia

 

 

These shoes are made for walking…

And that’s, just what we’ll do.  But instead of walking all over you, we are walking on rough roads.  And walking a lot.  Since we’ve been here the kids have worn out or grown out of several pair of shoes that were new in September.

And I have to admit, I’m pretty excited myself to have a new pair shoes on the way.

The back-to-school budget for shoes will be larger than normal this year!

Worn shoes night cobblestone street

Living Abroad – My Review

The experience of living abroad has been a positive experience.  One that I would and hopefully will seek out again.

One that I believe has been great for my children.

When I speak with people here I am often asked if we had been placed in a big city like Madrid rather than a small, rural community if I thought my exchange program experience would have been better.

Some facets of daily life certainly would have been an improvement for me but those same facets would have been a detriment to my kids Spanish experience.

Amelia Fresh Baked Bread

It was a big change for all us coming here.  For me, I went from homeschooling three kids all day and then leaving for work in the evenings.  I had play dates, field trips, Girl Scouts, school classes, exercise classes and a community of friends that filled my day.

I also had tasty take-out, a fully stocked big chain store, and a car we had fondly named “Sally”.  I do miss Sally.

Being here in a small town without a job or homeschooling, field trips, classes and kids to fill my day was a BIG transition.

A very lonely experience.  An experience that would have most likely been vastly different if I was in a big city.

Sshhh……I think maybe I like being in a small community!!

I’ve experienced life here.  And I can imagine life here….with a car and language acquisition.

Buitrago Collage

Last summer when we could only imagine our life abroad, I looked forward to walking more and eating more fresh foods.  And these two experiences alone have been so positive it will influence where I will choose to live in the future.

I have never eaten as healthy as I have here.  There are lots of fresh food options that are inexpensive in comparison to the U.S.  Fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, seafood and bread are all readily available.

There is also not food coloring additives nor nearly the number of junk food items in the store.

When I want a chocolate fix; a GOOD chocolate fix; I am forced to make my own chocolate chip cookies.

The inexpensive wine and booze are another story!

Back home the girls couldn’t go into a store on their own; let alone walk there on their own.  Here the girls have had the opportunity to go into stores on their own to make purchases.  We have sent them to get cilantro, bread, orange juice, etc.

They absolutely LOVE the opportunity and freedom to go to the store themselves.  (I remember going around the block to buy cigarette’s for my Grandma when I was a kid!  She’s send me with a note and cash and back I’d come with her goods!)

This would NEVER happen if we were in a big city.

I feel safe letting them go on their own.  Plus, from our apartment I can spy on them most of the time they are gone and I know that the store owners know who they are.

Ali's Fruit market

Violet's Cilantro

Another freedom that will be revoked when we return to the states is their ability to stay home alone.  Yes, I said it.  Sometimes we leave the kids at home watching a movie or playing Lego’s while we go grocery shopping or **GASP** out for a drink!

Grocery shopping, having a drink with friends or by ourselves while our kids are at home is a very new experience for us.  It’s a little bit of wonderful!

I will disclose that when we do have a drink out, the kids know where we are and even will run between our home and the bar to come check in with us.  There are two bars very close.  Neither require a street crossing.

You, yes you, in the states….CAN YOU IMAGINE!!??!!??

Jeff Jo at bar

In the states, the girls attended a homeschool program that was outside of our local district.  Still close, but not so much that we would often run into families we knew while walking around town, at the library or out on a hike.

We had begun to build a community with the Coal Creek YMCA.  We would run into other families from the Y in all sorts of places while we were out and about.  But, we also had begun to recognize those from my work or the Issaquah library or Parks & Rec classes.

But because the girls did not attend their neighborhood school we weren’t recognized as we walked around the neighborhood.  And to be honest, we lived in a large area.  There are 3 “neighborhood” schools within two miles of our house.

Here, we are well known in town.  The girls often have friends run over to them to say “hi” while we are walking to the grocery store or out for a stroll.  I think the sense of community they are experiencing here is a welcome change for them.

Admittedly, it can be odd as well.

Participating in celebrations on a smaller scale has been nice as well.  The girls Carnival celebration went through the streets and the Three Kings Festival was a manageable crowd.

The outdoors is the piece I appreciate the most being here in a small, rural town.  When the weather has been nice, I often go for a run after dropping the kids off at school.  There is beautiful scenery and a seemingly unending forest.

It feels so relaxing.

For the kids, the forest has been a great place to play and explore.  We have carved our own little spot in the forest and call it the fort.  The girls have tried to make a fort here and I’ve gathered rocks to weight lift with.

It’s really a nice quiet place in the forest.  The walk there is 20 minutes and we rarely see other people out there either.

Natural Area Buitrago Collage

 

Outside of our town, I have enjoyed the opportunity to travel.  To see new places and historic places.  We have all learned and appreciated our travels.  I hope our kids forever remember these experiences.

Through living abroad together we have learned to:

  • Explore together as a family.
  • Have more patience.
  • Have more flexibility.
  • Try new foods.
  • Be more independent.
  • Live with what we have.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Be courageous and brave.
  • Be more understanding.
  • Communicate despite language barriers.
  • Speak some Spanish (some of us more so than others).
  • Cuddle more.
  • Live together as a family better.

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Carnival in the Streets

Carnival turned out to be a big deal.  Students and teachers were dressed in costumes they had been working on in school for weeks.  Each grade cycle (a two-year span) was a different ancient civilization. The parade though the village was much bigger than I had envisioned.  I pictured something similar to my grade-school experience of the Halloween costume parade that snaked through the school and while a big deal, not all that exciting.   But this school parade had a crowd of parents and people following them through the village snapping pictures and cheering.  The student body, teachers and the crowd of parents ended the parade at the school and each cycle presented a song to the crowd.

Our day, however, began with Violet vomiting and Amelia complaining her socks were wet because she had stepped in it.  *Sigh*  And of course, I had volunteered to help in her classroom that afternoon.  She rested an hour, felt as good as new and began counting down the minutes until her sisters returned home for lunch.  The carnival celebration was in the afternoon.  After experiencing the carnival, I would have been really sad for her to have missed it although I’m not sure the girls would have been as sad.  The major feedback I heard about being in the parade was that “It was really squishy!”

Clara was Greek.  Violet was an Aztec.  Amelia was an Egyptian.??????????????????????????????? IMG_3132 IMG_3130 IMG_3111 IMG_3121 IMG_3122 IMG_4538 IMG_4530 IMG_4567 IMG_4580

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Carnaval!

I attended a party with high schoolers tending the bar and got locked in a bathroom stall while at the city sponsored Carnival Fiesta last weekend.  Like so many other of our experiences it was tinged with both the familiar and the novel.

Carnival is not something our family usually celebrates.  I know its celebrated around the world and in the U.S. the most famous carnival is Mardi Gras celebrated in New Orleans.  The girls were familiar with New Orleans thanks to Tiana and Disney.  But more familiar to us is making and exchanging Valentines Day cards, a nonreligious holiday and therefore still acceptable in American schools.  While Carnival itself is not a religious holiday, it’s roots are in Roman Catholic countries and is most decidedly celebrating the religious season of Lent.  Carnival occurs in the week (or so) leading up to the beginning of Lent.  The festivities include dressing in costume, eating, drinking, dancing, parades and celebrating before Lent.

Here in Buitrago there was a city sponsored Fiesta for children and another for adults last Saturday.  On Thursday, the kids school held a parade through the village which each grade level dressed as different Ancient Civilizations.  They have been working on their costumes at school for quite some time.  Amelia is Ancient Egypt.  Violet’s class are Aztecs and Clara’s class are Greeks.

An hour before the city sponsored Carnaval Fiesta last Saturday, I read the flyer the kids had brought home from school.  Come dressed up!  So the girls dug out their Angel and Cowgirl costumes from Halloween, put on their wings and cowgirl hat and off we went.  There was face painting, crafts and a magician for the kids.   For the adults there was a cash bar that was supporting the city soccer team.  The high school athlete’s themselves were tending bar.  It was quite out of place for us to see a bar in the school gym, cans of beer alongside crafts being made and even more odd for the high school sophomore and juniors to be tending the bar.  Jeff wanted to order a mixed drink just to say he was served by high schoolers.  And the bathroom stall I was locked in?  I should have known better, Amelia warned me of the pitfall of this particular locker room toilet, but modesty got the best of me and I wanted the door shut.  I went in, I shoved the door shut only to then realize the handle didn’t actually work and I was no unable to open the door.  There was an eight inch clearance at the bottom so up and over I climbed!

At the end of the celebration, all the kids were called up on stage in groups of 1 or 2 to model their costumes.  Amelia & Violet went up on stage.  The MC was so confused by English speakers in Buitrago.  A couple of the moms I know, yelled up on stage “They don’t understand!” in Spanish.  To which the MC laughed and said “Ingles en Buitrago??”  I felt a like maybe I was the butt of a joke.  I probably am more often as well…I just don’t know about it!  We do stick out and we do live in a small town and I was climbing over the walls in the locker room bathroom.  We ended the evening with the task of carrying home wet, glitter glue craft projects several blocks in the cold.   At home, we all clamored in bed together to watch yet more Netflix.  There was also an adult party hosted by the city at the school gym that started at 11:30pm featuring disco and dancing.  Jeff & I stayed hibernating in bed with our three little girls.

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