Hello again! Long time, no write and it has been rather frustrating, not being able to blog. I've mentally written little entries most evening but with no internet connection and busy days organising schools for the children and unpacking countless boxes and suitcases, all my carefully thought out words have disappeared from my mind now I'm sitting in front of the laptop. (Still no internet at home, so I'm in the beautiful old library here in Alcala la Real, where I can plug in and connect to the outside world for free.)
The ups! We're in a fifth floor apartment - or piso - so we are up! And I am terrified we could be down rather too quickly everytime we venture out onto the terraces! I would have said I wasn't afraid of heights - as I can go up as high as anything and looking down doesn't bother me at all. However, I find I can't go near the edge of the terrace and its flimsy railing in case I lean out too far and fall, or worse, lean out to see how far I can go before I fall - and then it's too late! I'm equally terrified that the children will do the same. (Would they be so silly? Surely not.) So we're up but there are a couple of downers about that .. which I am adjusting to and will try really hard to control my desire to screech at the children if they go near the edge...(but I confess to feeling tense even as I write this.)
The ups! Wow - what a beautiful light there is around up, so blue, so clear, so invigorating. The people go around in the streets smiling and looking happy and friendly, which is quite a change from Valladolid. Up on the hill, visible from nearly everywhere, is the Fortress of La Mota - ancient, Moorish and totally dominating of the land around it. My eyes are drawn to it every time I leave the house. And in the olive groves that surround Alcala, there are numerous towers where hundreds of years ago, fires were lit as warnings against attack - again, ancient reminders of what a turbulent past this area has.
The ups! The children are enrolled in their new schools and are there now as I write. Mateo started on Friday last week and came back all smiles - everyone had been so friendly to him and he liked his teachers - and today, we took Ruy and Romy to their school where they were instantly greeted with great expectations by many excited young children - the new children had arrived! Romy's teacher came up immediately and took her off into her new classroom without further ado and a boy came up to Ruy, put an arm round his shoulders and led him off to join the queue for their class. I am so proud of how they are coping with all the change we are pressing upon them. I hope these new experiences help them to understand the world better and will help them to develop the confidence to deal with different situations.
The ups! The weather this week has gone from damp and chilly on the first two days to wonderfully sunny and bright so yesterday, we set off for the coast - allegedly just a one and a half hour's drive away. I'll get to why it took us three hours in a moment! However, the journey was so stunning and spectacular that I will struggle to describe it adequately. As we left Alcala and joined the road to Granada, we saw the Sierra Nevada in the distance - huge, snow covered mountains that I swear looked as big as I imagine the Himalayas! We are surrounded by mountains here but these monsters rose above everything that was nearer to us and seemed to float in the sky on top of the clouds. And as we continued south of Granada, we travelled though the foothills of the Las Alpujarras and past a newly created reservoir or 'embalse' and we just felt so very small. The valleys are so deep, the mountains so high - it was a wonderful journey. And there was the sea at the end of it - sparkling, blue and gentle. Salobrena is the first real seaside village you reach after coming down from Granada and I can imagine that in the height of summer, it will be unbearably busy but on this January day, it was full only of the local people, sitting on the beach or walking along the broad front or filling the tables at the bars and restaurants that were dotted along the edge of the sand. A few brave souls were swimming and Ruy and Romy stripped off their trousers to paddle and play and said the water was warm. With a few, not-so-subtle differences, we had a day that reminded me of one about six months ago - in Bridlington - where we ate a lovely picnic on the beach, played games and made things on the beach from the pebbles and shells we found there. Bliss!
The downs! Mainly little strokes of bad luck. On Thursday, we had the GPS stolen from our car as we visited the fortress; with hindsight, we didn't need to have gone in the car or taken the GPS. We'll walk there in future! Everyone, including the police expressed surprise at the robbery as it's not a town with much crime - but they got us! Fortunately, a garage just one minute away was obligingly quick to take on the job - though now it's 'fixed', the window won't open at all and Cesar has had to take it elsewhere to be looked at. And yesterday, we stopped for fuel on the way to the coast - and would the fuel cap open? Nooo way! One hour later, when everything possible had been done to open it without damage, a little additional pressure popped the thing open. It's now held closed with adhesive tape. And it's two hours to the coast.
(I KNEW we shouldn't have got a Volvo...!)
However, all the 'downs' have done has been to demonstrate how lovely, friendly and helpful the people are around here. (Perhaps with the exception of the window 'fixer' - who actually was very friendly, just a tad incompetent!) And we've already met a wide range of people, from estate agents to the police, from the schools to the people in the service station - everyone has been so kind, so obliging and so prepared to help. It is very reassuring.
There is much more to tell but now, I'm off to buy some food for lunch - my children will no doubt arrive home from school very hungry!