Living the life of an ex-pat you have to say a lot of goodbyes. There’s the initial wrenching goodbye to your old life, your old country, your family and friends. Then every time you visit ‘home’ you have to say goodbye again at the end of it. And every time your family or friends from ‘home’ visit you, you have to say goodbye again at the end of that too. A lot of goodbyes. And who can say goodbye without a sense of sadness? Not me.
On the flip side, if you know that your goodbye is just around the corner it’s a very strong encouragement to make the most out of the time you have together. These last few weeks have been all about that. (And hence my lack of blogging.)
With a January visit from Dan, Jack’s big brother, we did our best to cram a good few month’s worth of quality family time into a too-brief week. There were afternoons in the play park, football on the beach, board-games galore, and a now-traditional family visit to the fabulous wildlife park at Cabárceno. (Conveniently located just 20 minutes from Santander airport, where Dan flew into.)
Most importantly of all though, there was plenty of time for brotherly snuggles on the sofa and simply hanging out together. It always melts our hearts to see how close and strong the bond is between Jack and Dan despite their gap in age and the geographical gap that separates them most of the year.
January also saw another big goodbye for us as some good friends of ours embarked on their own expat adventure, leaving Asturias for a new life in Colorado. For Jenna it will be a return home but for her husband Pablo it will be his first experience of living life abroad. Exciting times but very much tinged with sadness for us as we will all miss them both.
Luckily we got the chance to spend a lot of time with them just before they left. They had already left their jobs and so were free to climb and hang out as much as they wanted. The weather was kind and we were able to get out cragging under blue skies as much as our own work commitments would allow.
We even got to celebrate Jenna’s birthday with her, taking her and Pablo for a surf lesson at our local beach. This was something we had been promising to do with them for the last couple of years but never quite gotten around to. With the threat of that big goodbye hanging over us we finally got our act together and did it. And it was perfect.
It was one of those days when you seem to somehow unconsciously slip into step with the universe and everything just works out fabulously. From bumping into the local surf board shaper in town on the morning and thus managing to acquire a wet suit that fit all six foot three of Pablo who would otherwise have
been very cold indeed spent the morning watching from the shore, to arriving at the beach to be greeted by the most perfect beginner waves possible. Some thoughtful soul had even built a little teepee structure from driftwood on the beach much to the delight of Jack who played in it for hours accompanied variously by his parents, brother and sand-digging greyhound.
Good times with good people.