Was This a Vacation?
A serious question about the last 12 days.
We left the students behind 12 days ago and traveled through Spain. The students have been free to travel wherever they want (and can afford!). Dan and I are now in Lyon, France, where we will all be reunited on October 22. Then we’re off to Taize which is the place of pilgrimage I have most been looking forward to.
So Dan and I have been traveling through Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, side trip to Cordoba, and then back to France. I wouldn’t call this time a pilgrimage in any usual sense, although there are spectacular cathedrals in Spain. But was it a vacation?!
This has been one of the compromises that Dan and I have had to make over 36 years of marriage. My idea of a vacation is to go somewhere, stay put, hike a bit, sit and read books, eat out, and definitely have showers and hot coffee available. Dan’s idea of vacation always involves learning a lot and conquering challenges each day. In our early marriage, when we would spend days at a state park in the summer, it wasn’t enough to hike a few miles or take a boat out fishing. We had to help our kids earn their junior naturalist badges (a legendary thing in the Ritchie family!) which usually included a certain number of informative nature walks and presentations by the rangers.
So in Spain we took fascinating tours with guides in both Barcelona and Cordoba. We learned a lot about Spanish history and local customs (check that off the list). We conquered lots of challenges — public transit (one of Dan’s favorite challenges), learning the layout of each city, getting used to eating at 3pm for lunch and 8pm (early) for dinner, renting a car and driving up roads which are smaller than American sidewalks, and walking an average of 17,000 steps each day. Every day I would check in with Dan and make sure he had had enough challenges for the day.
And, after 36 years of marriage, he checked in with me about relaxation. We lingered a bit longer for lunch (though never as long as the Spaniards would!). We had coffee and pastry even when we hadn’t seen every sight on Dan’s agenda for that day. We even sat down once in a while to just enjoy the view by a river or at an overlook. We strolled (well,maybe more like brisk walking) through some lovely parks in Madrid and Granada.
So was this a vacation? Close to it. We aren’t returning to our home and our every day work week. But we are returning with some renewed energy to our role guiding 19 college students through the rest of our 8 weeks in England and on to Ireland. And we’re very grateful for the opportunity of a lifetime to visit a fascinating, scenic country, full of great food and rich history — Spain!