These last few weeks in our overseas experience have simply flown by. I had hoped to document them along the way but life is what happens after you make other plans. My back went out for a little over a week and I was completely non-functional. Meanwhile the kids had a few days of sports camp before heading off to away camp. Today, the morning of our departure, I woke up at 5:30am and haven't been able to fall back asleep so here's the last few weeks in short.
Morgan went away to camp in Barria for a week. Here away camps are by lottery rather than first come first serve. The camp Morgan attended is run by the government and she signed up with a good friend. We arrived at the bus in Bilbao and all seemed fine for her. She climbed aboard the bus and then a few minutes later when all the kids were on, she came running off. Morgan had never been away from home for that long and wasn't so sure she could do it. In the end, she had a really good time, went swimming, did lots of crafts and sports , made new friends and loved all the counselors. The food was horrible but that's to be expected. Apparently they had a nightly dance that ended around 11:30, long after Morgan can usually keep her eyes open. All in all, I think she might even go away to camp again...
Maia also went away but she went to Pedernales which is a camp run by the bank, also a lottery. In her case she was not able to sign up with a friend but since she has been away before that was less of a concern. Her camp is near the ocean and in walking distance to our friend Marina's house, for those of you who knew Marina, the high school student that lived in Madison last year. Pedernales was a boarding school and it is very organized. Each child's bed has a number that matches the wardrobe and the towel hook in the bathroom. There are 2 swimming pools, lots of animals, ocean, biking, hiking, sailing, horseback riding, gymnastics, and a variety of other activity options. Needless to say, Maia had a great time and liked it better than horse camp in the states.
What I learned is kids are a bit more catered to at camp here. I have been told children are sacred and I'd have to say I agree with that in how they are treated. That isn't to say that they are all princes and princesses. The community is really built around children and making sure they have the parks, activities and the experiences available to them that the society deems important. That means all children regardless of socio-economic class or disability have access. The lottery is one example and the price of the camps is another. A week of day camp in the states is far more expensive than even overnight camp in Spain. Camps are for the kids to enjoy and learn both activities and values. The kids are responsible for their own things, but they are served. They don't have regular jobs of hopper and scraper at meals, they don't have to clean the bathrooms, and if they don't feel like making their beds, they don't have to do that either. Sheets and bath towels were provided for Maia while at Morgan's camp the kids slept in sleeping bags but bath towels were provided.
Our trip to pick Maia up included a visit to Mundaka to see Marina and her family one last time. We spent a bit of time at the beach with Morgan and then enjoyed lunch and the company of Marina's family before heading to the camp.
Despedidas, Until We Meet Again
For as beautiful and sunny as our day in Mundaka had been on Saturday, the following day when I had planned a "See you later" get together including beach and BBQ picnic, we ended up with rain, wind and cold. We had a last minute change of location, still outside but under a roof at Cevecera El Molino near where we live. Everyone survived the cold and we all agreed that this is what happens when you try to plan something. Hard to believe it was the 17th of July and we were in long pants and jackets. Regardless the company was great and that was what we were there for. Our friends from Vitoria came as well as Marina who traveled 2 hours alone to join us. Of course my exchange sisters, their families and many of our friends were also there.
In the short two days remaining the kids went to sports camp while Dean and I worked, packed the house and did as many of those last minute things as we could. I decided to bike my run and take pictures. Here's what I have been looking at for the past 7 months, although there weren't always leaves on all the trees...
Our last two nights were late ones as we got together with friends in the evenings which turned into night.
Dean and I spent late nights/early mornings packing and cleaning the apartment. Today is the morning of the end of our seven month adventure that flew by. We would all like to stay longer and we know we will be back, hopefully sooner rather than later...