A totally different world, that is the best way to describe it. Living in the United States, we have no concept of structures that are 500-1000 years old. But there we were, driving through a city in which you can be in a modern office building and walk across the street to a Gothic Cathedral or an ancient Roman wall that was built before the Spanish Inquisition. Imagine seeing a wall still standing that was built-in the 1300’s or a Cathedral that still holds mass and has been standing for 563 years. That would be our life for almost a year as my husband took a job implementing a software system near Barcelona, Spain.
I will never forget the day we left. Our children were 3-years and 5-years old at the time. It was the Saturday before Easter and we were getting ready for the biggest, most daring adventure that we could imagine. We tried to keep everything a normal as possible for the children. We took them to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in our community and then came home for lunch. Our bags were already packed, two per person and our carry-on bags. It was an overnight flight with hopes that the children would sleep through the majority of the trek overseas. The children got a bubble bath with bubbles overflowing and then put in clothes that were comfortable enough to sleep.
We would need to be at the airport by 5:00 pm for our 6:00 pm flight. Needing to leave home by 4:15 pm, my nerves were starting to show and I felt jittery all over. Would we be able to adapt to living in a foreign country? Would I find any friends? Would the children fit in to their new surroundings? I took French in college, would I be able to learn Spanish and communicate well? These were just a few of many questions I had. But there was no way that I would outwardly show my fear. I needed to be strong…
As we drove through the downtown area of Barcelona, tall buildings towering over us (we made a wrong turn and were lost), we drove past statues celebrating, or in memoriam, of someone or something. We would eventually have the time to learn about all of those statues but that night, we just wanted to get to the flat. We had left home 19 hours earlier and we were dealing with a seven hour time difference. As we drove past the Barcelona Zoo, I remember thinking how appropriate it was that this adventure begins on our 12th anniversary, the other great adventure of my life.
Finally we arrived to our flat. It was beautiful, the 5th floor of a six floor apartment building. We would live across the street from a high school on one side, a garden nursery on another side and the Mediterranean Sea was our balcony view. In fact, we were only 200 meters from the sea. In the evening we could sit out and look at the cruise ship lights in the distance and hear the crash of the waves. (This becomes significant in my story.)
Because we knew that our stay in Spain was temporary, we took as much free time as we could to visit the sights, see all we could see. My husband worked long hours and many times he left before the children were awake and home after they were in bed. As we would arrive in the spring, the children and I would have adventures during the day or go to the beach or pool and many trips to the zoo. They would eventually go to an English/Catalan school but the spring/summer was ours.