Living in Spain
Follow our family travels and travails and life changes while living in Spain and traveling throughout the Mediterranean for a year.
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In the summer of 2007, while camping in the Colorado mountains, we decided to seize the day, make big life changes and move abroad. My husband was dreaming of warm, sandy beaches and learning to surf. I think he was really dreaming of a career break, a change to his daily life and the routines we had fallen into. I could hardly contain my smile in the dark starry night. I had been dreaming of moving abroad for years. Experiencing another culture, family travel to exotic destinations, writing, and spending lots of time with my daughters and husband. We went home energized and committed to making it happen.
About Life Changes & Family Travel
Almost a year later, after much research, discussion, planning, selling our house, packing or giving away our stuff, we moved to Spain. We wanted a Spanish speaking country, warm weather and the opportunity for great family travels. We had also traveled to Spain in the past so knew a little of what we were getting into! While the year was to be about journeys and finding new paths, they were not all to be of the traveling kind. It was also an opportunity for life changes, a career break, time… to step back and evaluate our careers and plot our next course. We were excited; our daughters, who were six and nine at the time, had their days of excitement, sadness, and a little fear of the unknown.
From Malaga to Valencia, Spain
Throughout that first summer, we spent several weeks in four places in Spain in the Malaga and Valencia regions, scouting out each town to determine where we would be living in Spain.
Living in Javea
The three weeks we spent in the idyllic Spanish village of Benimeli, about 352 people, took us into nearby Javea for the beach. We really enjoyed Javea, which had a bigger population of about 30,000 and was on the Mediterranean. It reminded me of southern California without the attitude and sprawl! The arenel felt like a beach town, the port more Spanish and lively. We heard a lot of Spanish being spoken, though German, French and English too. There were two international school options, great weather, close proximity to great beaches and mountains, and we eagerly committed to a rental house and schools. We also had Denia, Valencia and Barcelona near for family travels by car or train.
Family Travel to the Mediterranean
Our adventures took us beyond Spain as well. Some of our most memorable experiences were from family travels to Italy, Morocco and Turkey. Our family travels in Morocco and Turkey were highlights for many reasons, but I think mostly because they were so foreign and new to us. Traveling beyond the USA and western Europe was an eye-opening experience and a wonderful way to learn about others.
In many ways, living in Spain was nothing as I expected. Learning a second language was difficult and more so perhaps because we were not immersed as we thought we would be. Many English-speaking expats lived on the coasts of Spain, and English was a common language among many Europeans. We still learned a lot, but we didn’t come home fluent by any means. I also felt that to really immerse in a culture, make friends, experience the ways of life, we needed more than one year. We were just beginning to make friends and share experiences when it was time to return to the States. Our family vacations more than met my expectations and those were the weeks that I enjoyed the most. Living on the road, spending days and weeks with my family, relaxed, out of our routines and trying new things.
All in all, it was a year of amazing ups and downs. The ups I expected; I didn’t realize how hard the downs would be and how much stress and isolation I would feel at times. But I grew; I think we all grew. I know we lived, learned, cried, laughed and had an unforgettable journey, one we’ll do again some day in another way, shape or form.