Finding Our Voices

12 03 2017

My dad loves to tell people that I took my sweet time learning how to talk. But once I figured it out, I haven’t shut up since!

Har har, Dad.

But it’s no secret that I like to chat. Conversation is such a great way to connect with people. I’ve actually been trying to be more conscious of my listening skills so I talk less. It’s tough, especially because I yammer on when I’m nervous.

But recently, specifically beginning about November, I found my voice getting stuck in my throat. I listen to the news in astonishment at what is happening in and to our country. I stare silently in disbelief when one of my Hispanic students asked me what a rapist is, and if her daddy was a good one or a bad one. The boy across the street told her they should all go back to Mexico so he didn’t have to live by a rapist anymore. She’s 10 years old and has no idea what that means, but worries about her dad.

What do I say to that? What do I say to any of it?

January 20 brought a whole new round of feelings. I hadn’t been on Facebook for a while, so I logged on to see if I was missing anything. And I was. I was missing hate being smeared all over my feed. Many friends in Texas and the Midwest were posting and sharing things that I couldn’t believe would come from them – people I know to be good people! I finally closed my laptop with a depressed sigh of despair and pulled my 45-pound dog into my lap. What is happening?!

The morning of January 21, I met my bestie Ashlee in Portland and we headed downtown. We discussed the state of things back home but she was very reassuring. “I think we can make a difference in this,” she hugged me. Walking towards downtown, we started seeing more and more people headed the same direction. The signs, the cheering, the pink hats – we were gathering for the Women’s March on Washington.

And as we waited near the Morrison Bridge, listening to speakers and poets and bands and politicians, I felt hope blossoming in my chest. As I read the homemade signs around me, that hope bloomed outward towards my limbs. I saw two strangers hug and laugh as they noticed they had on matching t-shirts, and I saw men wearing pink hats, and children singing along with the bands. Hope filled my legs and moved me through the rain and mud and cold to the streets; it moved my arms to hug my best friend and wave to people on the sidewalks; it filled my lungs to move my vocal chords and suddenly I was shouting, “LOVE. TRUMPS. HATE!”

I had found my voice. It was there inside me, waiting all along.

women's march on washington - PDX 2017

Marching for the ladies!

I wanted to dance in those streets, sing with the joy of it all. Approximately 100,000 people showed up that day, in a city of only about 600,000. We marched through the streets to stand up for what we believe in – and it felt so good. I felt empowered and excited and surrounded by others willing to stand up together. Reports said it was the largest event of its kind Portland had ever seen, and it was entirely peaceful. Not one arrest, no violence, though lots of singing, chanting, and unity all around. It was incredible to be a part of.

Then I came home.

I stupidly checked Facebook again to be confronted with a backlash of more hateful comments and posts. “Get a job and you wouldn’t have time to march!” “Go home and take care of your families instead of rubbing your vulgar filth in our faces!” “Women are equal in this country, you must be stupid to think otherwise!” “Sit your privileged asses down and realize how good you have it!” “Women in Syria are facing real issues, you need to just shut up!”

I’m not making this up, these are real things I saw posted on Facebook. And I was utterly flabbergasted by what I read. Whhaaa … ? No, you can’t really think that… But wait, don’t you see… Wait….

But this time, I was not sorry for posting my pictures, I was not worried that these people might think differently of me because I had marched, I was not afraid that I might have to defend my actions to people like my own family. I was worried for them. And I was angry and upset. Of course we haven’t achieved equality in this country! No our fight is not over! Yes there are real threats to reproductive rights and women’s healthcare and yes I am damn upset about it! All the rights we do enjoy have been secured by those who stood up for them in the past!

Yet once again, my voice was paralyzed – how do I articulate my fears and defend my position? I get frustrated and don’t know how to put into words my feelings and opinions. And social media is a place of screaming, not listening; no one is open to conversation or hearing each other out. Everyone is shouting in capital letters to get their opinion to the top of the list…and the result is a cacophony of “I’M RIGHT AND YOU’RE NOT!”

Not surprisingly, someone else managed to articulate some of the things I could not. The blogger Dina Leygerman wrote a post that made me yell THANK YOU! THAT’S WHAT I’VE BEEN TRYING TO SAY!

I get it. You want to feel empowered. You don’t want to believe you’re oppressed. Because that would mean you are indeed a “second-class citizen.” You don’t want to feel like one. I get it. But don’t worry. I will walk for you. I will walk for your daughter. And your daughter’s daughter. And maybe you will still believe the world did not change. You will believe you’ve always had the rights you have today. And that’s okay. Because women who actually care and support other women don’t care what you think about them. They care about their future and the future of the women who come after them.

Open your eyes. Open them wide. Because I’m here to tell you, along with millions of other women that you are not equal. Our equality is an illusion. A feel-good sleight of hand. A trick of the mind. I’m sorry to tell you, but you are not equal. And neither are your daughters.

Thank you Dina, for saying so directly what I was feeling, for giving me your words.

And after much thought and discussion and reading and listening, I have found what it boils down to for me. At the heart of my distress is the concept of “it’s not all about YOU.” Since when did we stop sticking up for those being bullied and oppressed? Since when did it become ok to sit idly by while others are unjustly treated, persecuted, stripped of their rights? Besides being a woman, I am pretty safe. I am white, American-born, middle-class, straight, educated, employed, Christian, and married. In a word, I am privileged. So why would I not use that to stand up for all those who are not?  Why would I not stand up for what is right, regardless of how I am directly affected? Already, I can feel my words stumbling and choking again, my passion and anger tripping my words as I try desperately to explain….

So let me just say the one thing that I have no trouble getting out: I still love you. For our differences, I love you. And I promise to practice asking questions and listening to your answers and trying to understand. The biggest thing I have learned out of this mayhem is that we have GOT to stop spewing hate at each other and start asking questions instead. Listen to one another and we’re a lot more alike than we realize. Ask questions to hear their side and what they’re afraid of and what they’re feeling. Practice pulling back judgement and listening instead of lashing back and attacking what they say. Try to have a little empathy and compassion.

Because right now, it feels like love is losing. But I believe love always wins. Love will always trump hate.

 

“We must always fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil that we must fear the most, and that is the indifference of good men.” (Boondock Saints)

 





Reminiscing Once More

31 12 2016

Here we are, sitting on the cusp of another new year. I’m not going to lie, I’m a little surprised we made it.

howIfeelabout2016

Whew, we made it. That was a rough one, girlfriend.

It’s weird to sit back and think over the last year. Partly because I haven’t had much time to sit back and think at all over the last 12 months. But being New Year’s Eve, I feel ok about allowing myself these few minutes of nostalgia….

This time last year, I was overflowing with all the feels – I had diamonds on my left hand that I couldn’t stop staring at while I shimmied into my gold dress to ring in the new year in the city square in Granada, Spain. We ate grapes and cheered and sang and kissed under the grand lights and I felt like this was going to be such a great year!!!

NewYears2016GranadaSpain

So optimistically happy ❤

And a lot of really amazing things did happen this year. Since my social media is full of lists of all the crappy things that happened in 2016, I’m not going to add my own. The future is unknown, and right now a little uncertain and scary, so I’m going to ruminate on the positive.

  1. I came home from an incredible adventure in Spain, engaged to my handsome beau
  2. Grad school did not kill me, and instead I graduated
  3. After lots of anxiety and applications, I landed my first teaching position
  4. During the first week of said teaching position, our 2 families gathered together and I married that handsome beau and made him mine
  5. I turned 32, and felt ok about it
  6. Teaching proved to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I made it the first trimester
  7. We bailed ship as soon as school let out and celebrated…well everything, on a delayed honeymoon in Costa Rica

And here we are! J and I are still unpacking and resettling after our adventures. We talk a lot about the coming months, years, but right now, its nice to celebrate the happiness we have right here right now.

Happy New Year!

honeymooninCostaRica





It’s almost NOVEMBER?!

23 10 2016

WHAT KIND OF EVIL SORCERY IS THIS?!

Oh, right, it’s just time, flying by at warp speed. Did it speed up? Am I just going crazy?

Wait, my sanity has taken quite a hit lately! Regardless, I guess I’m just busier than I have been in a while. Or, like ever.

Good news, though: I’ve been teaching 5th grade for a month and a half, and no one has died! Or even been majorly injured! (Except my sanity.) I gotta say, though – teaching is HARD, ya’ll. Not so much the act of teaching content, life skills, and social skills to 31 individuals all at different levels and with different learning styles and abilities – no, that part I feel like I have down. If only that was all my job was about. But then you throw in the other things…the bus duty, and cafeteria duty, and changing schedules, and parent communication, and tracking/documenting every little thing. Don’t forget to collect evidence for the yearly teacher evaluation, and remember your month for birthday snacks, and didn’t you know everyone wears blue on Fridays?? Well they do. And that kid that won’t get on the bus needs consoling so he’ll board and everyone can go home. Staff meetings every Tuesday, new teacher meetings on Mondays, grade-level collaboration on Wednesdays, weekly catch-up on Fridays, and someone is sure to stop by on Thursdays. Don’t worry, the adventures of being across a parking lot from the main building in portables only adds to the everyday excitement! It’s just a little rain kids, we won’t melt!

So yeah, time has left me behind. Thankfully, I have the greatest group of 5th graders on the planet, and the most amazing coworkers to pull me through on a daily basis. The struggles some of these 10-year-olds are forced to face would rip your heart to pieces, but they still push on. I require all my students to write in a journal, and turn it in once a week. Some write beautiful poetry, some create incredible works of fiction, some regale me with tales of their weekend adventures. When the threat of a bad grade is removed, and they aren’t focused on spelling or grammar, they start writing all kinds of things. And man do they love science! And history! We currently have jugs of mini compost habitats for red worms on the bookshelf, and our butterfly larvae just built their cocoons! We researched butterfly facts all one afternoon, after spending the morning lost in the rainforests of Central America searching for Maya ruins. It’s been a lot of fun. If they learn anything at all in my classroom, I hope it’s to use their imaginations to problem solve, and that finding information isn’t nearly as important as figuring out what to do with it.

And I even managed to sneak off one weekend and tie the knot with that handsome JBoo of mine. Our families flew in from all over, several friends drove in from Bend, and we had an epic weekend overflowing with love. It was pure magic. We all gathered at a big beach house on the Oregon coast and just relaxed together. The weather mostly cooperated and two families became one. Since we had all weekend, everyone got to spend time together, and we bonded over ax throwing, ultimate frisbee, long walks down the beach, rowdy games, and lots of amazing food. The collaborative spirit of our friends helped us pull the whole thing off, and the whole group contributed to make the weekend go without a hitch. Despite the incredible weather we were blessed with, it turned windy, cold, and foggy Saturday afternoon for the ceremony. Thankfully, it was a pretty short and sweet affair, though we didn’t quite get all the pictures I wanted. It was too cold to stand out there! But our awesome photographer, Jon, snapped quickly and captured some fantastic pictures. He was able to shoot all during the weekend and documented the candid fun beyond just the formal ceremony. So good.

married on the coast, Rockaway Beach OR 2016

Happily ever after.

Yep, I’ve been a little on the busy side. We’re settling into a routine, and life is chugging along. We just booked our honeymoon over winter break, so we have something big to look forward. My class size was reduced to 27, from 31, which has made a big difference in my classroom. I’m figuring things out and finding my way around my school, while trying to find a work/life balance. The next time I get a chance to blog, it might be Thanksgiving…or New Year’s…but that’s ok. I have found where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m meant to be doing, and I’m happy.

Life is good. 🙂





Houses, Home, and Culdesacs

4 08 2016

It’s been over a year since that day J and I crammed some of my belongings into his truck and I moved out of our house. Not for lover’s quarrel but for higher education. After six months in a house with several very nice dudes, my friend and classmate N offered me a room at her house.

Thus began the saga of Big K, Little K, and Momma N. Over the last 9 months, we formed a weird little family, and it was amazing. Just having someone to talk to that was going through the same things made the grind easier to bear. We were able to rant about our days, laugh at the ridiculousness, and celebrate our victories. Couch parties and copious amounts of tea and editing each other’s papers long into the night – that’s what got me through grad school.

roomies

Well, that and a fiesty little red-head, 5 years old and full of sugar and sass. Sometimes, she would creep into my room to climb into bed with me, rooting around in my pillows until she found my old teddy. She would join me on walks, and shared my afternoon snacks, and drew me beautiful pictures. I know she hated how much we were always on our computers, but she did a great job of giving us study breaks. As an extra bonus, she helped me catch up on all my Disney movies!

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Little K: sugar and spice and everything nice

Last Friday, I had to drive away from my new little family. They said their farewells even before J showed up with his truck. I’d been so excited to finally get to move back in with J that the shock of my sorrow took me by surprise. I had been focusing on wedding plans and my summer job and pretending to prepare for the coming school year. It conveniently slipped my mind that moving back to J’s house meant leaving my girls behind.

I sobbed.

It’s a funny thing, the concept of “home”. I’ve lived in lots of houses, in different states, with different people. And for the last 5 years, J has been my home. But I also found a home with these two, and I felt a little less orphaned thanks to them. We had community in our little culdesac, where neighborhood kids knocked on the door to sell raffle tickets for little league and ask if Little K could come play. I discovered a sense of being “neighborly” reminiscent of the ’50s. I had my local haunts and my favorite parking spot at the grocery store, and a sense of knowing my way around in our little section of town. There’s a sense of belonging that comes along with all this.

 

I’ve now been at J’s house for a week. We’re still playing tetris with our belongings, trying to make everything fit, but it’s coming together. Just yesterday, I had a small epiphany that made me feel much better: I have a home and community here, too.

J is still my home, and hopefully always will be. It’s also a wonderful feeling to live in just one place again, instead of two. I love getting to wake up to J’s handsome face each morning, and tucking Simba into bed each night. We’re all blissfully back under one roof. And our little street has a nice, friendly feel, similar to my former culdesac. The houses are close together, and everyone seems to be outside at some point, offering a wave and hello. Simba has become acquainted with the other mutts of the street, and our neighbor we share a driveway with asked me yesterday if I could haul her trash can up today after it was emptied, so it wouldn’t blow away. There’s all sorts of neighborly-ness going on.

My heart still aches for my girls, but I do get to see Momma N this weekend. I didn’t move across the country, I’m just an hour away – we’ll have lunch next week when I’m in the ‘Couve for other things. Plus: SnapChat. Boom.

So despite still struggling with our housing situation, and anxiously awaiting the day we’ll have a place to call our own, I don’t lack for a home or a community. That makes me feel better, and gives me that sense of belonging I’ve craved. I no longer have a suitcase on standby for the weekend, and I feel much less nomadic. We live in a super rad town that I’m excited to get to know better. My hard-won friends are still just down the river, and in 36 days, J and I get to say I Do.

Life goes on. Thankfully, I have two awesome ladies that I got to share it with for a little while. Grad school would have been a very different experience were it not for them, and I’m so grateful to them for allowing me to adopt them for a little while.





Appointment with the Mother

4 07 2016

This is my mother:

amazing mom mothers day vancouver wa

She is one fabulous woman.

She added purple to her hair and flew half way across the country to watch me walk the stage and get my master’s degree. She has supported me every step of the way my entire life, even though I rudely moved so far away from her. On my list of amazing women, she fills the top slot.

This is my other mother:

mother nature mount adams wilderness wa

She may be your mother, too.

Mother Nature may not have given birth to me, but she does help support me and my mental well-being. As my real mother is in Kansas this weekend with my broski, and celebrating my insanely fabulous niece’s birthday, I didn’t want to bother her. So I turned to my second mother.

The plan was spend several fun days hiking around and playing outside with JBoo. I took a summer job with WSUV, so I still live in Vancouver, but I was able to leave Wednesday night and come home to Hood River early. Five and a half days with JBoo!! We haven’t spent that much time together since winter break!

And I arrived to find him in the fetal position on the couch, buried in blankets, sick as a dog. Poor thing. So I took care of sick J and got other stuff done…but J woke up Sunday feeling like a human being, so we quickly started making plans for a fun-filled day of hiking and swimming and playing outside. Before I even finished getting dressed, our plans came crashing down around us with a single phone call: a climber on Adams fell and broke his leg. J is not only the Wilderness Ranger on Mt. Adams, he’s also on the search and rescue team. He immediately took the lead organizing the rescue, and I silently packed mine and Simba’s gear into my pack.

We hit the road for Trout Lake, making a quick stop for food in White Salmon. With all the rush, I hadn’t had a chance to sneak any food or coffee, and it was almost 10:30. I was hangry and caffeine deficient. And therefore silent. J coordinated all the various pieces of the rescue as we drove, me eating all the while, then gave me a map and a Spot device at his office. He showed me a trail where Simba and I could hike.

“Uh, I’ve been on that trail several times. And it’s like two miles out of town. Give us a real trail.” I was antsy to go hike and might have given a little more sass than was necessary. But J just turned back to the huge map on the wall and pointed again. “Ok, you could hit this section of the PCT at William’s Mine.” He gave some brief directions and several “stay right” and “stay left” instructions that I tried to pay attention to, then Simba and I bolted for the truck.

Even as I drove up the mountain road, my anxiety started to ease. I don’t need J to hike. Simba and I can do just fine on our own. You go save people, we’ll play without you! But as I parked J’s truck at the trailhead, I realized my grumpiness was from missing him, not because I was mad at him. Dang it.

The last of my moody funk melted away as Simba and I stepped into the shade of the old-growth trail. Simba fell in behind me after his initial spaz-tastic run-around, and off we went. I took a deeeeeeeeep breath and sighed. Hello Mother.

Not far in, we came to a little bridge over a creek where three men had stopped for a rest. As I walked by with a smile and hello, one asked me, “Are you out here all on your own?!” They were all a bit older and seemingly innocently surprised by my aloneness, so I gave a simple, “Nope, I’ve got my dog” and kept walking. I could hear their surprised conversation fading behind me. “A young woman out in the woods by herself? That seems dangerous. She didn’t even seem afraid…..” blah blah blah.

Really guys? Where are you from? Three men are about the greatest danger to me in these woods. Why should I not be able to go for a nice hike in the beautiful forest by myself? Sheesh. I put them out of my mind quickly and got straight to business: my appointment with Mother Nature.

This was long overdue. Have you ever had that feeling where you didn’t know how much you missed or needed something until you finally did it again? That was me. As I breathed the pure air and stretched out my legs I felt a familiar calmness setting in. An almost forgotten calmness.

You’ve been gone too long.

I know, I’m sorry. Things happened. Life got in the way. Grad school got in the way.

I could have helped you. You needed me. You should have come anyway. 

You’re right, of course. I should have come. But I’m here now. I missed you.

As my legs settled into a rhythm, my shoulders relaxed. The last lingering tingles of headache faded away. This therapy that I used to rely on had been canceled when I needed it the most. The anxiety that has been waking me in the middle of the night, robbing me of sleep and joy, was no match for the Mother. She took it from me, filling my heart with song and my soul with light. My mind cleared of all the noise clogging my thoughts and opened to the simple purity of the natural miracles all around me.

As I wound my way up the hillside, the old-growth gave way to burn. Mother Nature’s scars seemed harsh at first, in the charred snags and crusty, black, peeling bark. But the clouds gave way to sun as the air sweetened and I noticed that the whole slope was covered in blooming bear grass. I smiled and chatted with Simba about how cool it was to see the forest growing back after the devastation of the unnatural wildfire. The constant panting and occasional tickle of fur against my leg let me know my faithful companion trotted along with me.

bear grass in a burn, mt adams wilderness WA

Bear grass everywhere!!!

J had told me as we scurried out of his office that he expected 4-5 hours to wrap everything up, so I decided to hike 2 hours up and turn around for 2 hours down. My trusty fitbit kept the time for me and conveniently tracked my steps. It was hard to turn around. The trees were getting fewer and the rocks bigger as we approached treeline, and it was one of those perfect days that made me feel like I could hike on forever. Canada here we come! We had set a nice pace and the day was just so perfect. Knowing J would be waiting on me, though, Simba and I snapped a quick selfie with Adams and reluctantly turned around.

mt adams wilderness, PCT trail WA

Selfie time! Simba, Adams, and me 😀

The trip down did have me daydreaming about hiking the entire PCT one day. My imagination ran away on me and I dreamed up all sorts of good schemes. By the time I reached the truck, I had planned out classroom projects and management systems and blog posts. While my brain drifted in a meditative state on the way up, it went into full planning mode on the way down. The optimistic, excited, ready for world domination kind of planning mode.

I felt like I had received a full-body tune-up. My legs had that sweet ache of working after long months of too much sitting. My lungs felt fresh and clear of the city gunk collected from a year away from my mountains. And my brain felt recharged, rebooted, and revived. The anxiety locking up my shoulders was gone and my thoughts clear and unfoggy. Why had I waited so long? Why didn’t I realize that I missed spending time with Mother Nature.

No need to contemplate on bad decisions, I’ve resolved the issue. J was excited to hear about our adventures and we compared my descriptions to the map. Based on time and what I saw when we turned around, he guessed our round-trip to have been 6-7 miles. My fitbit said we took around 24,000 steps!! I felt powerful and strong and super ready to take on whatever comes next!

Mother Nature, I’m sorry I neglected you for so long, but fear not, I’ll be back soon!!!





Celebrating milestones

24 06 2016

Omg yall, I didn’t do anything yesterday. I stayed in my PJs and puttered around the house and did very little productive tasks. Ok, I did a little laundry and I bathed my wedding dress and I worked on stuff….but in the grand scheme of things, I did NOTHING!!

I’m not just bragging about being a total bum for an entire day, this actually has significance. I didn’t do anything yesterday because I didn’t have to do anything. For the first time in 14 months, there are no deadlines looming, no papers or projects or presentations awaiting completion. No articles or chapters are smuggly waiting their turn to be read and highlighted.

I HAVE FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO!!!!!!! I just need a minute to relish this moment…..

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If you ever have to do something difficult, make sure you do it with amazing people. It helps.

….because of course, that’s not actually true. I have lots and lots and LOTS to do.

For example, I have a wedding in two and half months that needs to be planned. My wedding. Like I haven’t even mailed out the invitations yet.

I also have a job! A professor asked me to come back and work for the program my cohort participated in last summer as part of one of our classes. But whereas last year I had to pay the university, this year they pay me! I get to be on the planning side this time, mentoring the new grad students and acting as lead teacher for the program. It’s only for about a month and a half, but I get PAID. I will collect a paycheck and have INCOME! Maybe I’ll even put a smidge of that money back on my crippling student loans!!

Speaking of jobs, I actually got another one of those money-making things, but like FOR REAL. Like a real real job, like a teaching job to begin my career with the degree I just got. I’M A REAL TEACHER YALL. September 7th, I will welcome my first class of 5th graders. I’ve already started attending professisonal development days with my district AND I HAVEN’T EVEN SIGNED THE CONTRACT YET. To say I’m excited would be like saying an atom is small. However, it’s all a bit overwhelming and stressful at the same time. So much to think about, and set up, and figure out. But it’s all perfect.

So, obviously I have things to do. Like a lot. But it’s different – the crushing weight of grad school has lifted and the light of employment is shining down. I’m planning the weekend when I get to marry the man of my dreams and wear the fanciest dress ever. I’m hoarding supplies and books and plans for my first classroom and pouring over my curriculum materials. It’s all so scary and magical and stressful and thrilling.

Also, in case you missed it, I FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL!!!!

🙂





Really Ronda

5 01 2016

Despite a few hiccups with the rental, we made it to Ronda in one piece.

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The countryside was once again just lovely. I sprang up in excited surprise every time we would pass a castle or a ruin. J lost count of how many times I squealed, “There’s another one!”

Then we pulled into the little town of Ronda, a white-washed village high on the cliffs with a deep gorge slicing down the middle. I was stoked to jump out and explore every inch of this paradise….but we had to park the car. And that turned out to be quite a challenge due to the insane amount of people EVERYWHERE. We finally found a lot and parked without running over any pedestrians or going the wrong way down all the one-way streets and checked into our place. Wow! Our patio looked straight the gorge!

We couldn’t wait to get out and about. We headed across the Puente Nuevo, the “new bridge,” to poke around the “old” city. I lol’ed all over the place when I realized the “new” bridge was built in the 1700’s! But the “old” bridge went back to the days of Moorish rule, possibly even Roman times, so I guess it’s all relative. 

New or not, the bridge is beautiful. It spans the Tajo gorge and is just under 100 meters from the river below. Being American, I had to convert that – over 300 feet yall! Great views, of course, of the valley below and much of the city. Once in the old city, we found walls still erect that we could clamber about on. The remains of the castle still stood quite tall and a church steeple rose high to complete the skyline.

I tried to keep my jaw off the ground as I gaped at everything around me. The town might have modernized as the years passed but it was basically still a little medieval village! We found our way down the hill to a cool little restaurant where we enjoyed a cerveza and people-watched while waiting for a table. We headed to bed pretty early (especially by Spanish standards!) to rest up for our next adventure…

VIA FERRATTA!! It’s not even our anniversary and J tried to kill me. We met our guide that next morning and geared up with helmets and harnesses. Routes have been placed up the cliffs: metal rungs that make it look like a ladder running up the cliff wall. The sport of via ferrata is like rock climbing; clip into the cable and climb the ladder. Easy enough….

Sort of. It wasn’t bad but still a bit nerve-wracking when you’re clinging to the side of a cliff, way high, with just your trust in the rung and your cable. But it was super fun – we hiked to the bottom of el Tajo, under the puente nuevo, and climbed up. After surviving that, we hiked along the bottom of the gorge, next to the river, and got a very different perspective.

I thought our day was done but when we piled back in the car with our guide, Ivan, we headed out of the city….? Oh no! We’re being kidna– wait, nope, just to a neighboring village to climb a second route. This one was a bit harder and included a monkey brjdge!!

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Such a thrill!! Afterward, we gathered around a table at the little local bar of this tiny village. There were 5 of us: our guide Ivan, his lady Sophia, and another woman that joined us for the 2nd climb. Beers, snacks, a shared plate of a potato salad-type dish and we had ourselves a true local experience. I almost waved to the group of old men on the patio as we left.

I didn’t think the day could get any better, but after freshening up, we explored the nooks and crannies of the old town a bit more. Many of the old streets can’t accommodate cars and we found some surprises tucked into some back alleys: churches, towers, walls, etc. We crossed the old bridge by lamplight and looked down on the ancient Arab baths. This place was magical!

Back up on the new bridge, hungry and near-bursting with the overdose of excitement crammed into the day, we paused to look down into the gorge again. Then J did the only possible thing that could out-do all the rest.

He proposed.

All I could say was really?!