Granada Spain

On one of the private facebook groups I belong to, the question was put out, "Do you journal?" And I used to. I have boxes full of old journals. When I thought back to when I would sit down and put pen to paper purely as a mental dump, a thoughtless stream of words not really meant to be read back, well I realized I miss those moments. 

So while in Granada, I picked up this little cutie at a gift shop.

Can't help but love how well Rosie (my MacBook)  and new journal go together. 

Can't help but love how well Rosie (my MacBook)  and new journal go together. 

Outside the bus stop in Centro Granada, there is a colourful gift shop that goes on and on. 

Outside the bus stop in Centro Granada, there is a colourful gift shop that goes on and on. 

Diaz and I had hopped on the city bus to see where it would take us. We wound through the narrow streets I would never expect a small car to fit through let alone a bus. The driver impressively passed between buildings with only inches to spare on either side.

I had to add this image. We are sitting inside the bus and there is nothing but a window between us and the building outside. 

I had to add this image. We are sitting inside the bus and there is nothing but a window between us and the building outside. 

Our own "bus" on the narrow streets of Granada. 

Our own "bus" on the narrow streets of Granada. 

Here is little bit from my first journal entry:

At 11pm, the kids are finally asleep. I poured myself a glass of cold white wine, turned the flashlight on from my phone, and headed out to the porch where there is a small cushioned bench. 31°C and the air is finally starting to cool. Being a Sunday night, Granada is quiet except for a few street singers and drummers in the distance. A small after dinner crowd passes by on the street below, their chatter low with laughter in their voices. This is when I miss my girlfriends the very most.  

Flamenco class in Granada's city centre.

Flamenco class in Granada's city centre.

Of course my kids want to get in on the dancing!

Of course my kids want to get in on the dancing!

What a journey this has been so far. There are days when I think, what more can I do? And by the evening, I think, gad what a full day. The kids surprisingly don't complain about the heat, some days the temperature is as high as 43°C. We do our best at not extending them or ourselves. But there are times, always there are times when we are hauling stroller, suitcases, the kids, groceries, up to the third floor where the airbnb apartment is, we feel ourselves getting irritable, our internal temperatures exceeding our limits; yet the kids' energy is unending. They bounce around the new apartment excited to be in yet another new space.

Stairs and more stairs in a hot, stinky (think bottom of a bong) stairwell. All Diaz sees is that she's helping her Dad out by unloading the car and hauling as much as she can up to the apartment. I adore and admire her resilience. 

Stairs and more stairs in a hot, stinky (think bottom of a bong) stairwell. All Diaz sees is that she's helping her Dad out by unloading the car and hauling as much as she can up to the apartment. I adore and admire her resilience. 

We are a little over two months into our journey from France down to the South of Spain. We had booked the house in a town called Jumilla in southern Spain months ago. Nothing to do with the area but all to do with the price, size of the house and yard and because there is a pool. Our entire trip through North Spain, Portugal and across the South of Spain has been to journey to this house in Jumilla. Our stop in Granada is to break up the drive from Portugal to Jumilla.

Dirty window shot of  the miles and miles of olive groves all along the South of Spain.

Dirty window shot of  the miles and miles of olive groves all along the South of Spain.

The lifestyle is different here. It runs late. Lunch doesn't start until 1:30 at the earliest. Dinner at 9. Shops close from 1:30 to 4:30 for lunch and siesta. We thought the French lifestyle took time to get used to. Now it seems normal. 

I can hear that lifestyle below me. The guitar continues as does the singer and the clapping, Gypsy King style. Mopeds and scooters push up the streets. My white wine warms in the late night air. I can see headlamps wind slowly up to the mountain on a late night tour. One day, when the kids are older, we will do things like this. Even for a day tour through the Alhambra and Generalife, we would have had to book our entry tickets - just to get in! - a  month in advance. Make a note if you are planning a trip here during the high season (May until October).

View of the Alhambra.

View of the Alhambra.

The musicians let out a rapid drumming... is it in a restaurant? in the square? Suddenly people burst out clapping when the drumming stops and quite suddenly, everything falls silent. I can imagine the restauranteurs pack up their patios, stacking the chairs high. I imagine the tourists and locals alike take the last swigs of their drinks, collect their purses and hats to begin the stroll home through this labyrinth of a city. 

A little strumming in the cafe the next morning. 

A little strumming in the cafe the next morning. 

I close up my journal, turn off my flashlight and finish my now warm wine in the quiet, preparing myself for another day of energetic kids in scorching temperatures in a city we can do nothing but truly get lost in. 

 

L'Atelier du Chocolat

We left France at the end of June to make our way through the Northwest coast of Spain, eventually down to Portugal, staying at a new Airbnb every week. But before we left France, I had one small Mama-Diaz afternoon planned at L'Atelier du Chocolat Bayonne. Here we could tour the workshop with the promise of a tasting at the end.

In a way I'm trying to spoil her and fill her boots so to speak without just giving her needless toys and treats at her every request, which come often and always. We would have to tow a trailer to carry all the requests with us if we said yes every time. We're trying for the "give them the gift of experiences" approach, which honestly tends to last as long as a needless toy and there is always a request for more. 

Anyway, on this day, she was clearly struggling. She misses her friends. She misses the freedom to be a kid with other kids that she knows and whom know her. She misses the routine of school, even though she always wanted to stay back with me and Raph, but at pick up time never wanted to leave her social network. She doesn't understand why we are doing what we are doing. After a tough few days, I finally said to her: let's go out for a bit, just you and me. 

I say this was just for her, but let's keep it real. A trip to the chocolatier was as much for her as it was for me. And for us; we needed to connect. I tried not to rush through the historical tour to get to the tasting, and to the last stop where Diaz would have time to design her own chocolate.

Watching chocolatiers put the final design touches on rich chocolate caramel squares.

Watching chocolatiers put the final design touches on rich chocolate caramel squares.

At the tasting, there was an insane amount of chocolate to try, even for me. There was white chocolate, milk chocolate, various ranges of dark chocolate. It was heaven! We worked up from milk chocolate through the different countries and ranges of cocoa all the way up to a gloriously dark and bitter 90% cocoa. There was nuggets and broken up bars, some rolled in nuts some in dried cranberries or cocoa powder. Some mixed with sweet caramel, slices of dried orange peel, or chunks of almonds.  

By then end of the tasting, we couldn't have put another piece of chocolate in our mouth. We were done with chocolate. I never thought I would say those words. (That didn't really last long though. By the kids' bedtime, I was back to sneaking little nibbles of chocolate that I had brought home.)

Kids were still in school at this time and as we were finishing our tasting, a rambunctious and excited class of older kids came in for a field trip to do their own tour, chocolate making, and tasting. Diaz looked at me, her eyes wide and asked if kids in school got to come here normally. We asked the chocolatiers and they assured her that many classes from many schools got to come here. She gave a casual, non-committal shrug, but I am putting that one in my back pocket for when it comes time to head off to her new school.