June 10 – June 14, 2019
Seville (Ronda/Zahara), Spain – 4 nights
After having a few good days in Malaga with Henry and Kiki, we were definitely heading back down on our emotional teeter-totter. It wasn’t immediately obvious how sad Petra would be after our friends left.
On our drive from Malaga towards Seville, we stopped in Ronda, charming small town, where we had lunch in the park and hiked down to the bottom of the high cliff for the best view of the bridge this place is known for. Ronda was one of those places I tagged for my bucket list a few years back and it was wonderful to see it for real. I highly recommend it. It’s touristy but its charm is worth battling the crowds.
From Ronda, we drove by a beautiful lake by the town of Zahara de La Sierra. Zahara is known as one of the ‘white towns’ because the overwhelming majority of its buildings are white.
Zahara and Ronda are exactly the type of towns Pedja and I would enjoy more if it were just the two of us there. Kids did well enough but they didn’t appreciate all the charms of these two places as much as we did.
Seville was as great as everyone says. We stayed in a convenient location and walked everywhere for hours, in every possible direction. Kids did really well as tourists in Seville.
Despite our good experiences sightseeing through Seville, in down times, we were all starting to feel overwhelmed with loneliness. This is when I wrote the post about how not all travel days are good days (https://www.facebook.com/aleksandramr/posts/10156608503198353).
Petra was our main concern at that point. /*edit*/
We saw her reaching new lows from spending all of her time with just us. After seeing Kiki, she was missing her friends and our life in Seattle even more. I reached out to a mom of the fellow traveling family that spent years traveling with their 3 kids and was seeking advice on how they handled these low days. Colleen provided great comfort to me and some practical advice on what we could do next.
We decided that we would increase number of days we were planning to stay in each following location, reducing number of places we planned to visit. We needed to divide up more often and have Petra go out with one of us without the boys. We decided to spend 6 days in Lisbon rather than divide up that time between Lisbon and Porto as we initially planned. We also added a few days in a quiet place in a village in Portugal after Lisbon.
I felt like we were spending our days in family therapy, talking daily about emotions we were feeling. We understood her teenage views of her world but couldn’t see a good path around it vs. through it. Emotional state of all members of our family seemed to be pretty typical for longer term traveling families right around this time of travel. I had to remind myself that even if we were back at home, our world would be changing significantly. Kids were getting older and Petra was going to experience teenage world no matter where we were and not all days would have been good ones. Still, pulling her out of her world during this sensitive time of her development has been harder on her than I wish it was. She is a highly intelligent and sensitive soul that has always seen the world deeper than her typical peers.
We did not come up with any magic answers. We kept talking and listening, feeling at the same time torn by all of her sadness and encouraged by how much we thought we saw her better than we probably did at home. At least, all this intense time we have with each other right now will be more of a blessing than not.