Friday, March 23, 2018

España Experience: Finals

It seemed that on every one of these little excursions we made as a family, we would end up driving back into town when the sun was setting. And every sunset was so beautiful. I just soaked them in.

On this particular day, I remember being very pensive, as the sunset felt to me like the sunset on our adventure together. Spain had provided for me a place to see my daughter after a semester of being 6000 miles and 8 time zones away from her for the first time ever. It provided for me a place to be able to have all my chicks back together, even for a short time. It provided a place to wake up and read my Bible in front of the fire. It provided a place to be a tourist. It provided for me a place to experience a little culture shock again after living here for so long, things rarely shock me. It provided an adventure to wonder what things were in the grocery store and to hear a foreign languages spoken. It was such a gift to me. I knew another hard goodbye was ahead, but it was worth it.

I took this picture as we drove back into the neighbourhood that night. CC must have sensed what was going on in my head, because he said, "Here's your last chance to get that silhouette."

How would the kids spend their last evening and morning together? They all curled up in our bed to watch something together.

And then the four girls headed out to do a photo shoot together. No shortage of beautiful fences and mosaic tile backdrops to choose from!

And then I found these on my camera. And I knew they were holding on to the last bits of time together too.

Spain had been wonderful in every way. More than we ever imagined it would be. The next morning we would load the four kids and CC into the car, return the rental car, and get them off on their flight. I would stay on with Firstborn until her flight back to America.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

España Experience: El Torcal

CC researched and really wanted us to go to El Torcal and hike a trail together. The roads were not well marked but we eventually found the town at the base of this nature reserve in the Sierra del Torcal mountain range. It is known for its unusual landscapes, and he really wanted us to explore it. The town surrounding it was beautiful to see, too.

I entertained myself by snapping picture after picture. I loved seeing sheep!

So, El Torcal became a hilarious memory. Again, we packed lunch. I had stopped in the grocery and picked up some ready made sandwiches and sides. We wound our way up the mountain to this amazing landscape. But strangely, all the way up, our visibility got lower and lower. We were basically in clouds. When we got to the top, we opened the car doors to go sit at a picnic table and eat, but it was so cold, so windy, so cloudy, so misty, we could hardly see in front of us. The picnic tables were soaked, and it was freezing. We all darted back in the car, while CC was saying, "I think we can do this! Let's go gang!" There were a few other people around who were doing exactly what the six of us were doing, jumping into their cars. It seemed surreal up there. After we ate in the car, and he agreed there was no way we could hike in this weather, CC told everyone they would need to go to the bathrooms before we drove down. We took deep breaths, climbed our way through the fog and cold, and got to the welcome center. The man there said, "I'm sorry. We are closing." So we managed to get back to the car and slam the doors. For whatever reason, this entire scene had us laughing.

We did stop to get a few pictures on the way down from the hike that never happened.


I was determined to get a picture of the five kids, knowing in just a day or two, they would be separated again until late Spring....

....because this one would be heading back to college.

And just before I bolted back into the car, I took this picture.

The drive back down was beautiful as well.

And just like that, we were far enough down the mountain to get back into a normal atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

España Experience: Beautiful Cordoba

Cordoba, the town, was just beautiful.

One place I really wanted to see here was the ancient synagogue. Unfortunately, it was undergoing some repair. However, the little Jewish shops were open, so we peeked in a few. I spotted some castanets and asked CC to sneak back in and buy them for Miss Middler's birthday in January.

No, we didn't spot a torro on the hill. He was a giant sign cut out upon a huge hill. But he was so iconic, I had to get his picture.

Everywhere we looked we saw beauty! I enjoyed the drives as much as the tourist spots.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

España Experience: I'm BACK! And Mesquita

I'm back!!!! It was so sweet to see a couple of comments, "Where are you? Are you blogging elsewhere? I pray for your family!" Thank you. I tried to finish out our Spain adventure, but then February came. In February, my husband flies to the USA for several weeks, and I fly solo here at home. I would say that this year in teaching has been the most challenging to me. It's going SO well, but it is just harder than any other year of teaching for me. I took on three high school classes which I had not taught previously. Teaching Middle School English the last several years did help to prepare me, but there is still so much reading, prepping, writing quizzes and tests, grading. I ABSOLUTELY love high schoolers! I'm glad I accepted the challenge, but my little pockets of down time have somewhat disappeared. However, for me, writing is one of the things in life I enjoy so much. So, I don't want to give this blog up! I'm going to attempt to get caught up, and I thank you for being so patient!!! 

So, on to finish out our Spain adventures! Our time together as a family of seven was quickly drawing to a close! Oh, what fun days we had together. We wanted to do and see things together and enjoy this wonderful gift of hospitality to get to see southern Spain, but I believe it was the small things that we enjoyed the most. Christmas morning....watching each others' faces as we opened small thoughtful gifts. Digging into my cream-of-whatever-we-found-in-the-grocery soup! Early mornings by the fireplace. It just gave us a whole bank of memories together. 

But CC did want us to go see one more "biggie" in Spain, so we loaded up and drove to La Mesquita, the "Little Mosque." 

We tried to pinch pennies by packing lunches!

The mosque was originally built by the Moors in the 8th century. In 1236, it was converted into a Cathedral under the conquest of Ferdinand III. They just could not bring themselves to tear it down, which was the original plan, so they built the cathedral around the mosque.

 And it is really breathtaking. The traditional look of both remain. And it was MASSIVE. We just kept walking and walking and walking to see it all.

And just when I thought we had seen it all, CC found us (he tends to read the plaques more than the rest of us!) and said, "Just wait until you see the inner cathedral!" We followed him to this....

It was stunning and beautiful. My favorite part of the entire structure was likely this. Just before the altar there were two sculptures, one on each side. We quickly recognized them as the 4-fold prophecy in Ezekiel, which we believe is represented in the tone of the 4 Gospels which represent Christ Himself: human, lion, ox, eagle. I was overwhelmed to see these, as I had taught that very concept to my Middle School Bible students. Seeing Scripture represented in this place was my favorite part.

And just before we left, we saw another beautiful nativity.

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