When I lived in Spain, for a few months in college, I had some friends who jetted off to the Canary Islands for a holiday. Actually, one of the Spanish girls living at my “residencia” was from there. It seemed like a dreamy place to go, made only dreamier by the fact that I couldn’t afford it. When Brett visited me in Madrid he said, “I promise we’ll go there one day”. Fast forward about 15 years later to “one day”.
This was a fun-in-the-sun vacation, because everybody needs one every now and again. When we tell the kids we are “going on holiday” (as they say here in the UK) they often ask if there will be a swimming pool. Sadly (for them) the answer is usually no. We are typically on the hunt for something with a little more culture and exploration. We always make a point to find aspects along the way that also interest them. (Plus we stop for ice cream a lot, which they appreciate.) However, they are sometimes skeptical when we say we are going to go and explore “a little town”. In their minds, that seems to be code for: there won’t be anything for kids, Dad will read a lot of signs about historical stuff and Mom will take a lot of pictures. Thankfully, they always (okay, usually) have fun anyway.
This time, we stopped in a “little town” completely by accident. We drove to El Teide National Park to take the gondola up to the observation point of El Teide volcano (which the girls were pretty excited about). Unfortunately, it was closed due to high winds. It was still worth the drive, for the scenic landscape and the bonus of stopping in Vilaflor.
Besides all the time they spent in the pool, I think it would be safe to say their favorite part of the trip was horseback riding.
This post is going out on Thanksgiving. Obviously, it is not celebrated here in the UK. Still, I had several friends and neighbors wish me a “Happy Thanksgiving” today, which I found very thoughtful. (The most frequently asked question I’ve had over the past few weeks, is if I will make pumpkin pie. Yes, I will. And if it’s any good, I might have to take some over to neighbors, as they seem so inquisitive about this particular detail.) We are thrilled to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving (on Saturday) with my sister and cousin and their families. I’ve also been reflecting on the last few years, when we have shared a turkey dinner with friends – sometimes even people we didn’t know extremely well – other expats, making similar life choices. It has made me realize that although I do tend to miss our far-away-family-members during this holiday, the intention behind Thanksgiving is pretty clear: reflection and gratitude.
Yes, it’s lovely to take vacations to sunny destinations and I am thankful to have the opportunity to do that, because it gives us a chance to relax and focus on each other. But more importantly, I am so very grateful for the hand I was dealt in this life, the choices we’ve made and the risks we have taken, to make it what it is. But “this life” would not be what it is without the people. The ones nearest to me every day, the ones loving and supporting us from afar and the ones we are meeting along the way.