I originally started off my blog entry today rattling on about some more stuff that we’ve been doing. Little adventures here and there. Because I’ve been defining my adventures on the small things I’ve been doing. The little hurdles I’ve been trying to jump. Some have been successful and some have not, or have they? The smallest of things have been what I define as a success. But today has made me question success versus failure. In this country that I am trying to survive in, what makes me successful? I’m starting to feel it’s the small things – those little achievements each day. Finding my way around, communicating, trying to make a home away from home. But most of all, taking control of what I perceive as a difficult situation, facing the unknown and pushing myself to do my best because really that’s all I can ask of myself and I need to remember that.
Today I was determined to accomplish 3 things while Aidan was at school (in addition to getting him to school). Very simple things. I wanted to buy an ice tray (we have no ice machine in our fridge and I’m drinking luke warm tap water), to buy a night light, and to find a dry cleaner (we need desperately). I spent 2 hours this morning wandering the streets for these things. One could say I failed at my goals since I accomplished none of these things. However, I don’t see it that way now that I’m looking back. Sure, I didn’t get any of those things done, but I did find my way around the neighborhood, got some Looney Toon Pens for Aidan, and got some bread at the panadería (bakery). SUCCESS (sort of).
One of the things I have been stressing about has been how to get Aidan to and from school today. Now we’ve scheduled him to take the school bus (this is a fee service so you have to arrange it ahead of time) but the school had suggested to us back in November that we take him to school during the first week. Having spent 2 days here in Nov and really not having an idea of where everything is, I said, sure why not. But now that we are here, I’ve been looking at the maps and honestly, they are intimidating. I feel I can compare Barcelona’s layout more to Boston than to NY. This city is in no way on a grid – it’s an old old city that has many winding roads and pretty much every street is a one way street (more one ways than in Boston!!!). My options for this morning – take 2 buses and then walk, take the metro to the bus and then walk, walk the whole way (looks to be approx 3 miles using google maps) or take a cab. Now while it might technically be 3 miles– sure it looks like it will be quick but you know it can be a good hour of travel when you get down to it.
Got up at 6:30 as planned. Quick shower because don’t want to use all the hot water. Woke Aidan at 7 – he complained it was still night time and I had to explain that it doesn’t get light out here til after 8AM. We left around 7:50 hoping to grab a cab to school which we did. Aidan loved taking the cab, not to mention being car seat free. We got to school and there was a small group of people waiting in the main lobby area for Jane, the school assistant director. She took all of us to the appropriate classrooms. Aidan’s teachers Angie and Valerie both appear to be American. Angie definitely is, Valerie I didn’t really speak to so not 100% sure. This is where Aidan became ambivalent. The students had made him a huge welcome sign before school ended for the holidays. It was incredibly nice and a really nice way to start at his new school. Fortunately there were no other kids in his class when we got there and they slowly started to filter in – there were 2 by the time I left him. This is good for Aidan because he doesn’t do well in a crowd but will warm up with kids one by one. I worked out with the bus coordinator that he’ll get picked up by the bus tomorrow and dropped off by the bus tomorrow. So I only need to get there this afternoon to pick him up. I think once I get a lay of the land I’ll be able to pick him up more often but I just have no clue how to get there on my own which is rather frustrating.
I’m also on a mission to try to get to Aidan in the afternoon using public transit (or any way not to use a cab). I am not going to tackle the bus YET but I am going to do my best to find the equivalent of the commuter rail which should take me closer than I am now. At least then I won’t need to cab it the entire way (round trip this morning was about 22 euro or $35 or so – do I really want to spend that again this afternoon just on cabs?). But then I decided to check google maps just to see how far it would really be if I tried to walk. Basically like walking from Back Bay to Newton Corner I would say. I figured that the public transit might not be the most direct way and what better way to show avoidance at something I’m uncomfortable doing myself (why I just don’t know – I ride the T at home) than by avoiding it. And I didn’t want to spend more on a cab. So I print out my google directions and map and head out the door. It says it’s 5k (about 3miles) and should take about an hour. I’m a speed walker so I’m hoping for 45 mins. I’ve got about an hr and 15 mins to get there so I’ve got to keep my pace going. My trusty map with me, I set off down Travessera de Gracia towards Benjamin Franklin International School (BFIS). I made it what I think is about ½ way before I got lost. It does state on google maps that the walking maps are still in beta version. I wonder if I can get my GPS to do walking directions???? So I gave in and cab it – I wasn’t too far away… success or failure??? I’d say half and half. I have to say success because I TRIED. I did my best.
I got to Aidan’s school and chatted it up with a couple I had met this morning. They are living here for a year with their kids and not working. Nice life… I have a feeling they aren’t the only ones at this school to do so but I won’t judge – so far everyone has been very nice and welcoming. I was a little early (thanks for the cab) so I saw that his class was going out into the playground. I saw Aidan briefly and he had a HUGE smile on his face. Ok, this is a total SUCCESS.
I decide that we are going to walk at least a little way from the school before we pick up a cab. On the way, Aidan decides he needs to pee (of course… because he didn’t go all day at school). We’re in a very classy area, upper class area, of Barcelona. We find one random tree on a busy road and away he goes. I suppose I should be thankful he’s a boy. We head down towards Bonanova. We were outside a café and one of the parents that I saw quickly by Aidan’s class approached me. I had met her husband this AM and their daughter Isa is in Aidan’s class. Adorable girl who speaks impeccable English (she and her family are from Spain). I’m chatting with the mom (Kiki) and talking about a playdate for the kids. She seriously just pulled me in like I was an old friend. What a great feeling that was! Then Liam told her that he pooped. Thanks Liam. So what does Kiki do? She takes charge! She says let’s go in that café, I’ll sit with the other kids and you can change Liam. Just so absolutely sweet! She buys Aidan a hot chocolate and the kids hang out for a few. Then she and I talk about our move to Barcelona and adjusting and the school. It was like I knew her forever. Just a sweet person and hopefully a future friend. She had to leave since it was nearing 5 at this point (school ended at 3:45) and Isa had music lessons. So I told Aidan, let’s just walk a little further and then we’ll get a cab.
Fast forward another 2+ hrs later and we are home. I kept pushing Aidan off again and again and again. I was determined that we could do this. The poor kid walked a good 3 miles or more this afternoon and other than one small breakdown, he was awesome. And we almost made it the entire way… as a matter of fact we probably made it about 85% of the way – we were finally on Travessera de Gracia which is the street that intersects ours (it’s a VERY long street but I knew where we were at least). After all that walking and constant guessing and just trying to get my bearings to figure out which direction we should be heading in and wow, we made it. Ok, sort of. Because when we got by the big open market (see Saturday’s post for images), I told Aidan we could go to the video game store that had Mario figures there. I could have sworn it was at the back of the market. I must have taken a wrong turn behind the market because before I knew it, I had no idea where we were. Over 2 hours of walking… I was so close I could practically smell home. And then LOST. I don’t ever admit when I’m lost, never ever ever. Because I don’t get lost. I explore. But tonight, after walking for over 2 hours (not to mention the hour before I picked him up and the 2 hrs this AM), I was too tired to fight it any more – too tired to look at the map AGAIN. Failure??? Not sure. I grabbed a cab reluctantly and he took us maybe 4 blocks. As soon as I recognized where we were, I said, Aqui, aqui! Here, here! I had him let us off 4 blocks from our flat just so I could finish what I started. Psychotic? Perhaps? Abusive to the kids for making them walk again… maybe a little, but the exercise is good for them!!! So what would you say, success or failure???
So at around 7:30, we walked in our front door. The kids had not eaten save for a small chocolate soccer ball that we got along the way. Normally they go to bed around 7:30 so that obviously didn’t happen. I think we will all sleep well tonight! Tomorrow is a new day and girls night – I can’t wait!!