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.





Pocket Meadows and Campfires

27 07 2016

JBoo has to work some weekends. I don’t. Therefore, in order to spend time with him, I sometimes tag along.

Last weekend was one such tag-along situation. J needed to hike up and check out some areas affected by last year’s wildfires, and I needed time with my man and nature, preferably simultaneously. So we set out for an over-nighter, hiking up the west side of Adams, pretty close to the lovely section of PCT Simba and I hiked a couple weeks ago.

By now, it’s pretty clear that I like to hike. If you’ve ever met me, in person or just on the interwebs, you probably caught on that I love the mountains and forests of the PNW. I’ve only lived here about 6 1/2 years, but I feel this is the place where I most belong. I assumed that eventually, the amazement and wonder would dull, maybe even wear off entirely. Mountains would all start looking the same, a pine tree would be just another pine tree, and every trail was just another walk through the woods.

Maybe this will happen someday, but it most definitely hasn’t yet.

This particular trip was up trail #64, the Riley Camp Trail. J spent lots of time up here with the fires last year, and I expected lots of burnt, scarred forest. The climb started in nice old growth, just like the PCT, but the climb was steeper. Simba ran around like a fool, the little saddlebags of his backpack flopping up and down. I admire his optimism – he doesn’t care where we’re going, he’s just so happy to be out! And I think he knows the big backpacks mean a campout and sleeping in a tent with his people….

dog camping, riley camp trail, mt adams wa

I’M JUST SO EXCITED TO BE HERE

Anyway, the trail did wander through some areas of the burn, but not as much as I thought. The reason was a surprise to me: meadows! We laced in and out of these amazing open meadows full of lush grass and wildflowers. The lack of fuel makes the fire burn around them, and they become little green oases in the middle of the blackened remains of forest. Most are pretty small and J called them “pocket meadows.” I couldn’t help but be delighted with this – how charming! Like I could sneak one in my pocket and take it home, put it on the window sill, and act like I’d had it forever when J asked where I got it! (I’ve never done this…)

The “pocket meadows” also appeared suddenly, adding to their delightfulness. The terrain is rolling and the trail wound up and over and around rock outcroppings and ridges and the general bumpiness found up in the mountains. We would come around a corner or up over another “bump” and BAM! pocket meadow! So exciting. A couple times I stopped in my tracks to gaze a moment at the splendor and would feel a furry collision as Simba ran into the back of my legs. He really shouldn’t hike quite so close.

riley camp trail, mt adams wilderness, wa

Man-to-mutt discussion over lunch.

After 5ish miles, we left the main trail and I assumed we were just going to detour by the creek so Simba could get a drink. Instead, we crossed the creek and headed for the middle of the latest meadow. Finally, I noticed the square of logs and realized there was a campsite here. Yay! Slumber party with the pocket meadow! We dropped our packs and got right to work setting up camp. Simba scouted the perimeter, marking our spot just in case anyone got any funny ideas, and helped out where he could.

We set up the tent, hoisted our bear hang, and secured our packs, then set out back up the trail. J had some work to do, I had new scenery to gawk at. Up and down the trail we trod, through beautiful open forest complete with streams and wildflowers. So lovely. We stopped at a little lake and put out a campfire we found still burning (some people are such idiots…), then started back down.

But this time, we ventured off the trail. J’s expertise allows him to do such a thing, and I followed along merrily as we made our way down through another series of pocket meadows. Soon we were following the same stream that babbled along next to our own meadow camp. I was astounded by the natural masterpiece, though lesbehonest, it should be no surprise by now! Nevertheless, I ate a few bugs with my mouth hanging open and tripped more than once for not watching my footing.

Back at our camp, we got to work settling in for the night. JBoo started dinner as I gathered firewood. Soon I had a nice little fire a-blazing and J had gnocchi spooned into two bowls. We opened our special treat: a little box of red wine that turned out to be totally worth the weight of packing it in. (I can say that because it was delicious AND it rode in J’s pack…)

The evening was magical…except for one thing. Apparently, news spread and every mosquito in southwest Washington came to join our party. And they all brought a friend. Swarms covered Simba’s face as he tried to curl up in the tall grass. They bit through my pants, despite my deet-filled repellent. Even in the warm evening, I wore my fleece to protect my torso, sweating as I tended the fire. The smoke helped a little, but there were just so many of the little buggers! We fled to the tent while there was still daylight, just to escape the awful insects.

The next morning was a race against the tiny critters, and we broke camp faster than I’ve ever seen, including breakfast. The morning was warm and the ‘squeeters were ferocious. The trail offered movement that kept them at bay.

J had a search and rescue waiting before we even got back to the truck, so our mini vacay was over rather quickly. But that evening in the pocket meadow, playing in the campfire with my two favorites, recharged me for the coming week. Another “duh” moment of remembering that the mountains and forests are my therapy and should be visited as much as possible.

Here’s to the hope of another adventure just around the corner!





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!!!!

🙂





Marvellous Malaga

4 04 2016

It’s been about 3 months since we got home from Spain, but I had to immediately jump back into grad school, student teaching, and all that goes along with both of those. Now I`m on Spring Break so I have time to catch up on our adventure!!

After a rather epic couple of days in Ronda, I was sad to move on. I wanted more time – time to poke around the ruins, time to explore the hills, time to permanently etch this little white village in my brain forever. Instead, I got a picture of us in the daylight on the bridge in “our spot” and was back in the car headed southeast.

This drive was different. We almost immediately climbed into the mountains and started winding around the dizzying curves. Felt more like home! Instead of towns and orchards out my window, I saw mostly bare rock and short scrubby trees.

Finally, before I succumbed entirely to car sickness, I noticed a change in the houses and buildings starting to pop up: they were massive! Big estates and haciendas. Then I found the reason on the horizon: my first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea!! Malaga is more of a resort town, filling to the brim in summertime.

Thankfully, it’s not summertime and we had little traffic to fight. We ditched the car and headed to our next apartment. Malaga is a lot bigger than I thought! I also realized from  the cab driver that I’ve been mispronouncing the name all along. I had been drawing out the middle ‘a’ like Ma-laaaaaahhhhh-ga, when the accent is actually on the first ‘a’ like MAL-aguh. Anyway, I was glad to fix that right up. Welcome to MALAGA!

We had a bit to wait before we could get into our place so we grabbed a sidewalk table at a cafe down the street. The air in the alley that housed the door to our apartment was heavy with the aroma of urine, and I was stoked we didn’t have to hang out there. Before long, we were settled in and back on the streets. What shall we find today?!

We wandered the maze of streets through narrow alleys and wide, main, thoroughs. Activity bustled everywhere under the Christmas lights strung building to building across the streets. We crossed a couple plazas and found the mega huge Cathedral. Hard to miss, really, with the steeple piercing the clouds and the bells tolling every hour. We poked around the outside and wandered off….but soon returned. The beautiful plaza housed cafés and restaurants, and we were in the mood for paella.

Nestled into a table under the tent of the restaurant, I gazed at the monument built for worship, stuffed my face with incredible food, and fell under the romantic spell of the street musicians. I liked this place.

We took an afternoon siesta then explored more of the city. A gelato shop right around the corner from our apartment earned J’s business and stamp of approval. We ventured back to the cathedral to tour the inside, which completely took my breath. Boy the Catholics love to display their wealth. The alters and enclaves and tombs and paintings and sculptures – OH MY!

Back outside, we meandered the wide pedestrian lanes. Here, they were full of trinket vendors, almond carts, performers, musicians. The lights overhead lit the night sky, but the crowds pressed in from every side. We finally pushed through to the park by the harbor and to the cool walkway along the water. The sun was setting behind the big Ferris wheel and splashed colors across the horizon. The Mediterranean reflected the color and made quite a scene.

Mediterranean at Malaga Spain

I touched it!

We strolled down the lane and browsed the artisan market. We reached the beach and I touched the Mediterranean Sea. I collected a few shells and we drifted on. Back in the main pedestrian lane, we both got super irritated with the ridiculous crowds and ducked into a pizza stall to catch our breath. Munching on giant slices of pizza definitely made me feel better, and we took a zig-zag of back alleys back to our apartment.

The next morning, we prepared for our day’s grand adventure. Malaga is very strategically situated on the Mediterranean and was thus a desirable stronghold for whoever held the city. The impressive and nearly impenetrable fortress, alcazaba, and wall are still watching over the city. Off we went to explore! The Spanish built on top of the Moors, who built on top of the Romans, so there are ruins on top of older ruins on top of ancient ruins. We started at the bottom, wandering an ancient Roman theater. I could scarcely breathe I was so taken with the history. The whispers of the past were almost overwhelming…

Roman ruins at Alcazaba, Malaga Spain

Roman theater found under the castle ruins. Civilization on top of civilization!

Farther up the hill we entered the first part: the Alcazaba, the castle first built by the Moors and added onto my Isabella and Ferdinand when they finally managed to conquer Malaga in a massive siege. We poked through rooms and passages, popping through the keyhole doorways into little courtyards with gardens and fountains. Once we finally had our fill, we headed to the Castillo de Gibralfaro, the fortress up the hill. A trail led us along the wall, up and up to the top of the cliff.

Not accounting for the Mediterranean weather, I had dressed in a cute but fairly heavy sweater, thinking I could wear this and not have to haul around a coat, too. We were barely a fourth of a way up the steep path when I started sweating. By the time we reached a loookout over the city, I was dripping sweat, cursing my sweater and J the mountain goat, and ready to sell my soul for a damn hair tie. Determined to overcome, I pushed on, trying to focus on the cool wall and the flowers growing along the path. The view of Gibralfaro finally rising just ahead of me nearly made me weep, but I had already sweat out all moisture reserves in my body.

hiking to Castillo de Gibralfaro, Malaga Spain

Practically panting…ugh, stupid sweater

We climbed the walls and I had trouble remembering what time period we were in. There were far fewer people up here and we roamed and played in the towers and stairs and gardens in the middle. But the walls were the best, giving views and fueling my imagination. I’m reading “Outlander” and can’t help but imagine myself in Claire’s shoes, transported to 15th century Spain instead of 18th century Scotland…..

Castillo de Gibralfaro, Malaga Spain

Defending the castle!!

After a quick tour of the little military museum, we strolled back down the formidable hill to the crowded, noisy 21st century below. We found a table at El Pimpi, a much-talked-about restaurant in the plaza next to the Alcazaba. Enjoying the cooling evening air, we ordered wine and some amazing fish dish to prolong our visit. We were entering the time period when the Spanish seem to come out for drinks and maybe tapas. It’s too early for dinner but perfect for socializing. Joining in, we decided to do a tapas hop. First stop: Central Beers, home to 15 taps and over 150 bottled choices. A big screen on the wall showed the choices, and we each picked a beer. I love how most places have a small glass, like a mini beer, so I didn’t have to drink a whole pint of one kind. We were soon chatting happily with a really nice Swedish man sitting next to us.

dinner at El Pimpi, Malaga Spain

Dining in the shadow of the Alcazaba. How cool would it be to live here?!

We stopped in a little place called Nacalu next, sitting under the awning on the sidewalk. More delicious wine and incredible tapas. I only remember one: the most delicious calamari I’ve ever had! It took all my will power not to grab the plate and stuff it all in my mouth but to enjoy my half and let J have his half. A large family sitting at the table in front of us kept me vastly entertained, and their little mop of a dog was adorable.

Back to the streets once more, we made a final stop at a little place called Taberna el Mentidero. We sat inside among really cool matador decor and J ordered a traditional dish we had been looking for: espetos de sardines. Six little sardines on a plate, whole and salty. The old, bent waiter motioned how to eat them: nibble nibble one side, flip, nibble nibble the other side. They reminded me of eating chicken wings…little bits of meat, watch for bones. I was skeptical but they were pretty good. After a bath with the wet wipes, we finally decided we were full and headed back for our lofty bed.

The next morning we packed to go. With so much walking around, I feel acquainted with the streets and shops right around our little temporary home. I say a silent farewell as we walk away, to the super stinky alley and the little gelato shop, the restaurant with wine barrels as tables and the shop with beautiful gowns in the window. Dragging our suitcases behind us, we popped into a little cafe for tea, coffee, and a croissant…and wifi. I couldn’t help but watch this cute little couple near us. The man held the woman’s held and stroked the back of it with his thumb the whole time they were deep in conversation. It was just the sweetest. Then we grabbed our stuff, hailed a cab, and off to the bus station we went!!!








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