Kasbah Telouet, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco
June 16, 2008: Seven years ago today we moved full-time into our home in Mazatlán. We’d already owned the condo for a few years—chosen for its strategic location on the malecón, in the middle of the action and close to everything in the city we’ve loved since the 1970s.
Before we moved to Mazatlán, I often took our son with me when I travelled for work. He joined me on trips throughout the USA, Canada and Mexico; to Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague; and to Bulgaria and Japan, among others. I very much treasured these times together.
Moving here, however, surprisingly and sadly brought an end to our very treasured, shared international travels. The first couple of years, Danny was too busy learning the language and acculturating to life here; we couldn’t take him out of school. His summer breaks were only a few short weeks—time we felt was time best spent reconnecting with family in the USA. During high school, he also had very short breaks, and the curriculum was difficult enough that he just couldn’t miss school.
As with any major life choice, there are pros and cons. Moving to Mazatlán has opened new worlds for us, fresh opportunities, friends and perspectives. On the downside, it has seriously curtailed our joint travel time. Suddenly, Danny was ready to leave for college, and I realized that the three of us, as a family, had never travelled outside North America! How could that be?
A high school graduation trip didn’t pan out due to the tight turnaround between Mexican high school graduation and the start of new student orientation at the US college. A trip this year, however, spontaneously presented itself. I was traveling to Spain for work, and Danny would be coming home from school just two days prior to me leaving. Having not seen him since January, this really upset me! I didn’t want to leave knowing he would be here! But Greg came up with the solution. They would fly to Madrid to meet me after my work was completed. Together, we would travel for three weeks, after which Danny could begin his summer internship here in town.
I am so very grateful to have had this time and this adventure together. The three of us enjoyed three glorious weeks of 24/7 family time, of watching each other’s eyes light up at new experiences, or at recollections of prior ones. We ate so many new foods (including camel) and drank so many new drinks, we met some extremely cool and talented people, and we walked more than we’ve ever walked! I feel the trip brought us closer together and allowed us to transition out of treating Danny like a child and into a more adult family relationship. Thank goodness! Things could have, of course, gone terribly wrong when people are together 24/7 for three weeks.
The other very cool thing? You! Our family, friends, and social media community! So many of you accompanied us on the journey, telling us you were joining us vicariously via our photos, giving us recommendations on places to go and things to do, sharing in our excitement. Thank you, most sincerely! That sort of support and virtual camaraderie is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and was really a thrill.
Our first stop together was Spain. It was the first time there for both Danny and Greg, and they loved it: the ease of communication, the incredible architecture and art, the fun-loving people, the green spaces, and the tapas, beer and cava. I had lived and studied years ago in Salamanca. Madrid and Barcelona were both huge hits with our family, and my boys now join me in my love of Gaudí. You can view the slideshow below if you’d like to see a bit of the Spain portion of our trip.
Next we travelled to Morocco, where we enjoyed the warmth of the people, the depth of the culture, the artistry of the craftsmen, the gorgeous architecture, natural scenery, and the general foreignness of the milieu. We spent almost a week in Marrakech, and also a couple of days in the High Atlas Mountains with the Berber people. We rode camels in the desert, ate camel burgers, drank lots of fresh mint tea, and enjoyed ourselves heartily. There were so many commonalties between Morocco and Mexico, as well as, of course, so many differences. Below is a slideshow with some of our photos from Morocco, if you’d like to take a look.
Finally, we travelled to Italy. And, while we all loved Rome—the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the rivers and bridges and seven hills with their incredible views, the Vatican—none of us enjoyed the crowds and the constant need for planning and coordination that navigating throngs of tourists entails. A slideshow with select photos from the Italy portion of our journey follows.
Along the way we stayed in AirBnB apartments. I imagine most of you travel this way as well? If not, be sure to check it out. We stayed in some lovely, large, and extremely well-located apartments. The space was so much better than a hotel room would have been for a family, and much more affordable as well. And, usually we were able to be based right in the middle of where we wanted to be, so that coffee shops, restaurants, bars and sightseeing were just a few minutes’ walk from home.
So, readers, not much to do with Mazatlán in my post today. Rather, a realization that our trip was sort of a seven year anniversary gift, which provided us a renewed commitment to an intercultural life as global nomads and world citizens. I am most grateful to have a family that enjoys sharing these commitments with me, as well a community of family, friends, colleagues and readers who are like-passioned. Thank you so much for your willingness to join us!