The Huffman crew wakes up on a beautiful, sunny, warmish day in Spain. I decide it is the day we absolutely must do our family photo, and zero in on one tiny village 'nearby' that looks like the perfect scene for the backdrop. We hang our clothes in the bathroom, hoping the steam from the shower will sub in for an iron. Mixed results, although nobody cares but me, so we head out with our GPS, guidebook, tripod, camera, and remote in hand. This is where things start getting dodgy...
The car we've rented is a hybrid in two senses--power source and transmission type. We can control whether it's automatic or manual, but apparently that's about all we have control over, because as we attempt the death-defying act of pulling out from a 5 foot entrance ramp onto a 70mph highway, the car decides it is going to stay in 1st gear on battery power, which puts us pulling into fast moving traffic and being stuck at 30mph. Two times we have to pull off an exit, wind back through the resort and try again before the car finally gets itself together and we are on our way to Mijas, my ideal spot for family photo goodness.
Despite the guidebook's insistence that Mijas is "in the hills just above" the town where we are staying, we drive forever without seeing any signs. We stop near some decrepit dog race track to ask a local where to go. Through a combination of hand signals, mouth-made car noises and rapid Spanish, we figure out that we just need to follow the road we are on and we'll apparently magically land in Mijas.
Let's just say the road we are on isn't really a straight shot to anywhere.
Twisting, winding up through the hills, making sudden turns when we think we see a sign pointing us in the right direction---these are the things that motion sickness is made of. We enter the oft-endured cycle of: Keller moaning and groaning, me asking if we need to stop the car, him moaning and groaning louder, Dave making a sudden stop and reversing into a spot on the street, Keller taking a few deep breaths and insisting he's okay, Dave pulling back out onto the street, Keller moaning and groaning--lather, rinse, repeat.
At one point, I get into the trunk and take out a beach towel ('borrowed' from our air bnb host) and the one airplane barf bag I had the foresight to shove into my backpack. We get back on the road, finally see signs for Mijas, and as we wind our way uphill on narrow switchback roads, there is the sudden sound of water, as if someone has turned a faucet on full blast. In the second it takes me to realize that it's the sound of Keller tossing his churros, I sneeze the most violent sneeze of my life and feel a pop in my abdomen. I put my hand on the knuckle-like lump that is now protruding from my abdomen, push it back in to wherever it escaped from, and twist around in the seat, where I'm treated with the sensory delight of seeing, hearing, and smelling Keller unleash another stream of liquid death.
Dave puts all of the windows down and we just keep driving, because dammit, we are finally on the way to Mijas.
We get lucky enough to find a tiny parking spot to squeeze into, give Keller a Wisp to brush his teeth, drop the bag of vomit into a trash receptacle that may or may not have been meant for glass recycling, and head into the village on foot, looking for a path to a tiny church with a view that is supposedly to die for.
We spend forty-five minutes wandering streets and trails, bickering as we climb over giant cactus plants, stopping to mime and gesture and point to our guidebook in an effort to get directions from locals, all with the background music of me saying "This is the one thing I ask for from you guys every year, stop complaining and don't get dirty" over and over, and . . .
you guessed it folks, we never end up finding the church. Instead, we end up with gems like these, which just aren't quite cut out for the annual Huffman Christmas card.
"Boy secures guarantee of future revenge photo-bombing by mother"
"Can't you see the pride in this dad's eyes?"
"Family pleads for safe return of wife/mother who was abducted by aliens while on vacation"
"Small Chinese child emerges from man's backside"
Fortunately, our Thanksgiving in Spain wasn't all comic relief for our readers.
We spent a day in Gibraltar
We walked across the border from Spain, which involved walking across the airport run way.
That's Africa in the distance. Cool, right?
This freeloader hitched a ride up the rock on our tour van.
Sit on my head, you must.
What're you lookin' at?
And because you can never have too many random monkey shots . . .
Cool cave in The Rock
Back in Spain, we checked out paleolithic caves in Nerjas, where the coolest picture I took was of this stray Siamese, chillin' like a villian outside the cave entrance.
We spent a day in Malaga, checking out the local scene.
I love you, aging hipster with your tiny dog and green New Balance kicks.
Goodies from the local panaderia took the place of turkey and stuffing. The kids were cool with the substitution.
Beyond the museums and the markets, the cathedrals and castles, the simple things are what we tend to enjoy the most on our travels. Quiet time on the beach, everyone doing their own exploring with the ocean as a backdrop and sound track, ranks pretty high on my list of awesome family memories.
Even though they make me crazy 99% of the time, I am so dang lucky.
On our last night, we were rewarded with the most breath-taking sunset on the beach.