"Get your motor running, head out on the highway, looking for adventure, whatever comes our way!" The words & music to "Born to be Wild" kept running through my brain as we finished packing up from our winter stay in our little village in Andalusia. It gets as exciting as any family vacation can, as we go from a fairly conventional winter lifestyle (albeit in a 15th Century Andalusian village in Spain), to the free vagabond life of traveling on a whim and following our bliss on long summer days where we have a hard time remembering what day or time it is. Every day will be a Saturday for 6 months and each new day an adventure!
I've been thinking of it as 7 months on the road and said so on Twitter and Facebook, but have realized that it will just be a 6 month road trip this year because we got back so late last year, thus are leaving much later. Six or Seven months sounds so long for a vacation, but it goes by so fast. We find it is just the right amount of time for us and by the end of it, we are as ready for 5 or 6 months of rental home and more traditional life, as we are ready to hit the road now. It is a perfect rhythm and combination for us.
It is my least favorite transition as we go from a 3 or 4 bedroom rental home to a small RV, so lots of sorting, packing, decisions and prep, much like a move. Even though we have MUCH less than most people, we have things that we store in Spain for the winter like warmer clothes and tons of books in English, most of it for Mozart.
We would have much less stuff without a child, but in order to give her a normal lifestyle while in Spain, we have extra clothes, English books (for her to enjoy and homeschool with) and some toys. When she has play dates and sleep overs, she wants to have the same kinds of things as the other kids, although she still has much less than she would have at home.
It is one of the compromises of this lifestyle, how to balance it all in a way that works for all of us and provides Mozart with a good upbringing. She is a material girl and would like to have much more "stuff", but that does not fit in with our lifestyle and in fact was one of the reasons we wanted to live like this. Have you seen this interesting video about "stuff"?
I did not want to raise her as a material child and saw how this travel lifestyle would support that and a life focused on valuable experiences and relationships over "stuff". Still her needs have to be met too, so we compromise some, although mostly with books and try to keep the focus on small toys like legos and polly pocket sized kinds of things. We sold tons of books when we left, but she still has one of the biggest portable libraries around and I wish we could take even more.
Our great friends who live in Malaga usually store are few boxes that we leave in Spain, but they are moving to London, so we found a new place this year. Mozart wears clothes forever because despite how big she looks in the pictures, she is quite tiny. I think it is hysterical that at 8 1/2 she still wears many shorts that are in the 12-18 months size and has quite a few T-shirts in the 24 months size. We still have quite a few things that we brought with us in 2006, but she does eventually outgrow or out wear things, so we sort though the new and old and always give piles away. Funny, that even as little as we have, we have too much!
One thing Mozart has missed is a birthday party since her birthday is in the fall, so always celebrated on the road. Thus part of our completing here was giving her a little unbirthday-going away-pool party with a few friends. She loves parties and likes the preparing, making invitations and planning as much as the party, I think. She loves her special birthdays on the road, but having her "day" with friends means a lot too and they all had a blast. ( Note she is wearing one of the dressed we brought in 2006 that is a size 4! )
We also celebrated DaVinci's real birthday, that usually falls on Memorial Day, but ended up this past weekend our "take off" weekend. We had a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in our village. It is a tiny place run by an English couple with great food and we love the Sticky Pudding which is a British dessert and very yummy. We enjoyed the little celebration and Mozart even snapped a picture of us smooching!
We walked around our village one last time this season and said goodbye to friends we ran into along the way. We stopped at one of our favorite little stores and bought some grapes to nibble on while we watched "RV" together later in bed. We kind of feel like the European style Gornikey family and like to sing along to "That ever lasting love song" as this is one of Mozart's favorite DVD's.
After a little last minute packing up and clean up on Sunday morning, we left our house keys on the table and jumped into our little RV, saying goodbye to our village until this fall. I took the cover shot to this post on the way out. The first is a nearby nook and the second is the view looking back from the Mediterranean Sea.
We headed towards Malaga, then Seville and then to the Algarve in Portugal, seeing our share of bulls, sunflowers, mountains, vineyards and eventually the river that separates these two countries in this part of Iberia. We have been on these roads before stayed at this same exact campsite last year at this time, but we are returning for the intimate Dolphin interaction and swim for Mozart.
Ever since we observed a similar program at Sea World in San Diego, we have wanted Mozart to have this experience. This is the only place in Europe where they do it, but last year did not work because of her age. Thus, we are back again and so excited to actually do it this year! I've read lots of reviews from people who have done it and said it was fantastic, so we will let you know soon what we think. Have you ever swam with dolphins?