In the wee hours after the eve of departure… which I suppose is basically departure.

Less than 3 hours before my flights leaves Barcelona and I feel like I’ve already experienced enough emotions and reflection-inducing experiences to make this the solid start of quite the adventure.

I’ll try to give you the in-a-nutshell version which as a write will probably turn into longer than you want…

We left Blacksburg much later than we hoped on Wednesday May 21st to head to Poquoson, home of Nana and Papa, aka my loving parents, aka those people who called me son until Jude came along, aka the dog watchers while the humans in my small family (Courtney, Jude, ??, and I) travel through Europe.  Thursday morning at 9 AM we left for Dulles to start the journey to Barcelona via Toronto.  Jude powered through DC traffic with no nap (parents get worried) and the whole family safely made it onto the plane from Dulles to Toronto… where a very excited Jude spent his first hour in a plane as an aware, excited, rambunctious, and incredibly mobile 2-year old stuck on the tarmac (parents get more nervous).  Play-doh saves the day and somehow we all survived with a pleasant (yet still nap-striking) toddler.  A short food-filled layover in Toronto airport and we are soon on the plane from Toronto to Barcelona!  Beneath the calm and collected exterior, the parents are ever more worried than before.  Despite the nervous looks of the neighbors on the plane, Jude somehow charmed them and eventually decided to go to sleep at a respectable 1130 PM… making it, for sure, the longest stretch awake he has ever had without sleeping… and giving him just a short 4 hours of sleep before landing in Barcelona at 10 AM.

I’ll try to speed up — we land in Barcelona, wake a sleeping toddler despite the adage “let sleeping toddlers lie,” and have 6 hours to spend before we can check into our apartment.  Through our tired stumblings through the city center of Barcelona, we managed to stumble on beautiful historical landmarks, good music, ice cream, and finally a taxi to take us to our apartment.  The apartment is simple but lovely and with beautiful views.   It also had a few issues that were unexpected on our part and that made us a little nervous.  Being the good jet-lag fighters we are, we immediately nap (in our defense, traveling with a toddler is exhausting…).  Upon waking up, a quick jaunt to a corner store for some essentials led us to a the-stove-doesn’t-work-as-expected-dinner (shown below).

This was followed by a jet-toddler refusing to sleep and ultimately staying up until 230 AM (his 830 PM EST bedtime…) at which point all three of us collapsed.  We woke up at 11 AM and then woke him up 1230 PM so we didn’t miss the day.  Did I mention we were good at fighting jet-lag like champion international travelers?  I’m pretty sure all the guidebooks say “pretend you aren’t in another time zone, it’ll be fun!”  Hence writing this post at 330 AM in Barcelona/930 PM EST… In my defense, I tried to write it a few times earlier, but no-nap Jude decided that a 830 PM bedtime (Barcelona time this time!) is best interrupted by a 11 PM-2 AM romp #jetlaggedtoddlers.  With that said, we still had a lovely day exploring Barcelona and feel pretty good about everything except circadian rhythms just in time for me to fly out to Zurich.

Let me quick sum up two reflective moments, sorry, they are both toddler related:
Home is where the heart is” is a phrase that gets used a lot.  Well, traveling internationally with your family would make one think that home can be anywhere.  Yet, it funny how place and community also make home in a way that doesn’t travel.  Every time Jude said “Jude home?” yesterday, I kept thinking about how homesick I actually was, even though we were together.  Part of that feeling was the nervousness that I think even seasoned travelers get heading to a new place, but part of it was also a bit deeper.  Just as we in GPP14 are to be learning through “windows and doors,” it is important to remember that some of those windows and doors in our own lives are left a bit… leaving us destabilized in that healthy comfort-zone pushing yet still a bit unsettling (by definition) way. Well Jude, I feel ya.  Dada misses home too… dogs, garden, etc.  But I’m excited to also be a little challenged and a little stretched.

The second toddler insight is “WOW!!!!!” and “Un mas…?” (his responses to everything he loves and wants more of… which is basically everything.  So, even amid some homesickness, Jude is living life and loving exploring.  Everything becomes an adventure.  While not everyone should probably be a parent, I feel like everyone should have to see the world through the eyes of a toddler every once in a while.  So… simply… here is hoping that I can balance missing both family and the good ol’ NRV and still live and learn in the GPP14 program with open eyes and a “WOW!!!!! Un mas…?” attitude.  See you soon!

Oh yeah.  I forgot.  Cute jet-lagged toddler photo…


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