We would like to stay in Sanlucar de Guadiana longer. There is no denying that we have fallen in love with our home here, but we also feel like we have pushed the Schengan issue as far as we can and we need to move on. Technically we are only allowed in Europe for 90 days without a long stay visa (which I’ve mentioned is difficult to obtain without a schooling or employment reason for an extended stay). We’ve been flying under the radar and counting on the fact that the countries don’t all communicate well, but it will be hard to argue we haven’t exceeded our time if we are sitting in the same place for more than 90 days. We are coming up on three months, which coincides with the end of the academic term, so we must say goodbye to classmates and friends, up anchor, dust our sails off (more accurately remove any bird nests) and head south.
When we enrolled the kids in school we weren’t sure it would work well and the results have far surpassed our highest expectations. All three children loved their time here. I don’t know if I’ve had all three of my children agree on anything, ever! It seems there is always a dissenter in the bunch. Zander had the hardest time academically, but he fully enjoyed the nightly soccer matches, he made several fantastic friends and I think he felt some pride in not giving up on something that was way, way out of his comfort zone. The Spanish came slowest for him, in part because of his age, in part because languages just aren’t his forte and partially because his best friends were native English speakers. That said, he is very happy we stayed and he wants to pursue an exchange program in Spain when he gets into high school, so that is encouraging. Ana did fine in school, although the highlight for her was the 4 other English girls she played with daily after school. While we were dockside she had the run of the river side of the village and fully enjoyed her newly acquired independence. She also took advantage of the full immersion to increase her Spanish vocabulary and we are happy with the outcome. Porter is the one that really flourished though. He made many friends (and a few frenemies, which is pretty normal if you know Porter). His teacher raved about him (they are now texting friends), which doesn’t always happen and the Mayor stopped us in the bar several days before after school was out and told us if we had a month and a half more he suspects Porter would be nearly fluent. It is a bummer we don’t have a few more months for their Spanish, but I’m grateful for the amount they have learned. And, Michael has promised to keep up semi immersion with the threat of divorce as a repercussion (which on given days probably isn’t much of a threat). If we are lucky we may find another way to supplement their Spanish in the future.....maybe a language school in Colombia is in our future!
Lastly, saying good bye to the friends we have made here is, by far, the hardest part. While it is wonderful to have friends around the globe, saying goodbye to friends you hope will be life time friends is always painful when they live so far away. While we have enjoyed friendly conversation with the locals, and the kids certainly made local friends, Mike and I made, what we hope will be lasting friendships, with mostly English families. We were lucky enough to be in Sanlucar the same time as two other English family boats; Carina of Devon and Spirit of Mystery. Both have a fantastic crew and we certainly hope our paths will cross on some distant voyage. There were also several English families that have made their home here after swallowing the anchor, as they say, bought farms and settled. Bob and Kate and their family, we hope, will also be lifelong friends. Maybe we can lure them away from Spain for an American experience one of these years!
|Last day on the dock in Sanlucar|