Trip Start Dec 10, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Spain  , Valencian Country,
Sunday, March 1, 2009

Let's get the 'not-so-good' stuff out of the way .....   the economy is crashing. The NZ dollars not good, and especially if you're in Spain spending euros!  We are STILL looking for a car, because we can't bear to part with the money that is being asked for these 2nd-hand vehicles (remembering we're looking for a good 7 seater) - but something's gotta give, and undoubtedly, in the end, it'll be our wallet.   And just thrown in for good measure, Spain is experiencing it's coldest winter in decades - which on the flip side of that, makes us feel right at home. 

Onto bigger and brighter things ...    it's been a month of celebrations...  Greta & Brad were the first ones, out of the family, to be invited to a birthday party, which increased their status amongst the siblings, quite considerably.   After 2 weeks of "how many more sleeps?", the day finally arrived and we headed into the city of Jaevea (right on the point, if you're looking at your map).   This city is well catered to the foreigners (British in particular), and has many facilities, that we don't have in the smaller towns, one of which was the kids playland where the party was held.   For you New Zealanders, try and imagine a very small 'lollipops' or 'chipmunks' and you get the idea.  Trent was thrilled to be allowed to stay also, and Gary & I (very unsociabally), left them all to it, and spent a couple of hours, enjoying a fabulous lunch, down by the port.   

Speaking of birthday's, Renate (my dutch friend), conveniently had one herself this month, and so, with no need for any more reason than that, it was time for another lunch - this time just the girls (Renate, Jacquie & me).  We headed into the old city of Altea, and spent a wonderful Friday shopping - or at least I did, (I bought yet another hat!!), and then took our time enjoying some absolutely gorgeous morsels at a 'newish' cafe/restaurant along the waterfront.  The young guy that owns it, is Dutch and Spanish - so great combination, and good for my friends to able to chat to him in their own language - so all in all, a very successful day, and the birthday celebrations continued the next day, as our 3 families got together in the Campo in Moraira for a barbeque, and some quality time.  

The next weekend was just as busy, as we decided to head down and inland to the big city of Murcia.  Our plans were to show the children around this very old city so full of culture, but we only got as far as the Ikea store, on the outskirts.  Of course we had to stop here and have a look, and as they have really cheap meals, we had a big lunch, and the kids got to have 'eat-as-much-as-you-like' icecream for dessert!   All fully charged, we headed around this enormous store (like a shopping centre in its own right), and, yes, of course, we succumbed to the consumer hype, and bought the odd thing or two, while Tara & Harrison, headed up to the bedroom floor, to dream about what duvets they were going to get.... needless to say, we'll be back again.

That night the carnival was on in Benissa, which didn't start till midnight!   Was suppossed to be 11, but the Spanish aren't too much in a hurry to do anything, and it was still very, very quiet at this time, as everybody was still indoors eating dinner etc.  But sure enough, as the clock ticked over the midnight hour, they all started piling out of their homes and restaurants, fully dressed, it seemed, in whatever costume took their fancy - age was no barrier.  The band broke out in some sort of music, the stuffed scarecrow (think Guy Fawkes) was set alight, the lollie scramble was executed, and there you have it, a bone fide Spanish religious fesitval.   As we headed into church the next morining, we saw a few 'costumes' walking home.

You would think after that big day, we would just need to sleep, but after church we headed down to the Calpe waterfront for a coffee with friends.   The kids played on the rocks, built sandcastles, and although we did start with a coffee, we quickly moved onto the wine.... the sunshine and the atmosphere, called for it, of course.   Time ticked on, and we ordered food, which the children sparaodically came back for and by mid-afternoon, we suddenly realised we had to take Trent & Harrison to their drama class in Benitachell (their rehearsing for a show, beginning of April).  So with plans to meet back up again we took the boys, and then enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and evening, with a whipped up dinner, some songs (I have to polish up on my guitar!) at our friends place.  Their hospitality was awesome ... and as I said then, it was a great coffee. 

Of course, as with all fiesta time, the school gets very involved, and had spent the previous week in preparations.  And on  the Friday they marched through the Benissa town, representing different facets of the Spanish settlement - ie: farmhands, wealthy land-owners, robbers, peasants etc.  They paraded behind a large mobile music system, and literally danced down the streets - unfortunately, I cannot capture the atmosphere adequately enough to potray it to you, but we wouldn't have missed it for the world - it was lots of fun, and very special. 

Amongst all this 'partying' Tara and Trent have started an extra spanish class per week - Tara enjoys languages, and Trent certainly benefits from some one-on-one teaching, and of course, he loves having a couple of hours in the middle of the day just with Mum & Dad.  He gets a treat of chicken and chips for lunch, and a play on the small playground in the Benissa town square.    Also, we have been to Altea and submitted the childrens residency applications - fairly straightforward, although for some bizzare reason, they wanted every page out of their passports photocopied, even the blank ones.  Now just do the maths - 5 passports with at least 40 pages each!  Anyway, Gary went into town to sort that out, and I waited at the office.  It took an hour, but it was no problem, and we're just waiting now to hear from them, re the next step, ie; down to Alicante, for fingerprint, photograph, and ID card.  Just a process for the non eu residents, which is all good - something that just needs to be done.  Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for mine to be processed, as the last bit of paper they need is our marriage certificate 'authenticated' from the British Embassy.  But there is a delay in the system, while some legal wording 'stuff' is sorted between Spain and Great Britain .... nothing surprises us, and we're just playing the waiting game.

All in all, everyones really good - kids have settled into school well, Tara's started tap dance classes in Calpe, and is also rehearsing for a show, and we've got another busy month of birthday and anniversary's ahead.  Stay tuned. 
And by the way, if it sounds like we've been doing a lot of eating and drinking, we have, and we've resolved to cut that down a bit, before it gets to the point you can't recognise us!  One of the 'downsides' of Spain.

Looking forward to a warmer March this side of the continent.
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