Did you miss me? Even notice my radio silence? I have not written anything more than a sentence-long Instagram post in two weeks, so I am rusty. Super rusty. I’m a little worried my writing may well sound like my high school-level Spanish did while we were in Spain, which is to say like a vinyl record playing at a much slower speed…. Hiiiiiiiiiii. Puuuuuhlllleeeeeeeeaaaase, Iiiiiiiiiii waaaaaaannnnnnnntttt tttttttttthhhhhhhheeeeeee waaaaaaaaaaateeeeeeer wiiiiiiiiiiittttthhhh iiiiiiiiiiicccceeeee, puuuuulllleeeeaaaaaseee. Thhhhhhaaaaannnnk yoooou.
Which would explain why more than one native speaker asked us *not* to speak Spanish. Seriously. I was always told that people in foreign countries love for you to attempt the language. Not so much. I blame my husband’s mildly aggressive version of gracias — grathASS! — which sounded more menacing than a magic word should.
Anyway, so, yeah, we went to Spain. Before you envy me, I will point out it was a family trip, with a loooooooot of 24-7 togetherness in a foreign country. Two out of three $350 plane tickets were pretty much wasted on teens who were more concerned with downloading TV shows and movies to watch on planes, trains and a Citroen during the 14-day adventure than seeing Marc Chagall’s greatest works at the Guggenheim*. Also, I did mention I was traveling with teenagers, right? Honestly, we could have just left out extra water and food and put down some puddle pads and paid for their own personal Netflix accounts, and they would have been fine left at home alone.
What we saved on airfare, we blew many times over paying for water in restaurants and for train station bathrooms. The United States may be sucky and divisive these days, but I do appreciate water automatically served in eateries and readily available toilets you don’t have to pay for. America, land of the free … pee.
I’m still trying to process and get accustomed to people speaking to me in a language that I automatically understand. I’ve jumped right back into the old routine with summer camps, basketball practices, doctor’s appointments and assorted kid shuttling. I’m spinning in so many directions I don’t have a lot of time for a truly coherent post, so until I have more time (and non jet-lagged brain power) I’ll just share some important tips that could be useful for anyone else traveling for the first time to Spain with their children:
*If you are a family of more than four people, offload those extra kids now. You’ll never get everyone into one taxi.
*It is worth investing in those “sorry about our president” shirts.
*If you’re going to drive there, you should know that a red light doesn’t end when it turns green — it ends when drivers decide they’ve waited long enough.
*Good luck, vegetarians — they really love ham over there.
*Museum docents don’t really like it when your teenage son falls asleep on priceless artwork.
*Spaniards know how to live — ice cream and beer are served at 10 a.m. and you better believe people are sitting in cafes and indulging in both right then.
*OK, gonna ‘fess up: I was nonplussed by Chagall, too, mostly because when my husband said this was the featured exhibition, my rusty recollections of a college humanities class were very off course. “This isn’t Chagall,” I whispered to my 13-year-old as I looked at all the unfamiliar paintings and then immediately started Googling “which artist painted a silhouette with stars” and discovered my mistake. Whoops.
If you remember about as much of art history as I do, that would be Chagall’s work to the left. The right is Henri Matisse. What can I say? I was always more of a Monet gal.