I've always taught my daughter to not look back because that's not the way she's going. An 8th grader who's shared many of my adventures with me has now graduated to high school. Graduation is the mark of a boundary on life's scale. A travel journey should reflect a similar confirmation.
My daughter Coley's seven years of learning the Spanish language were about to be tested. I wanted to immerse her in an area of the world where she would have to apply what she learned, so we rented a cozy old house for eight days in the heart of a small fishing village in Northern Spain. My little translator became an instant local of Cadaqués. Negotiating art purchases, ordering meals, getting directions, purchasing souvenirs, and making small talk with the Spaniards came naturally to her (not to her dad).
When we'd stroll through the narrow alleys of whitewashed buildings I would frequently hear "Hola Coley, cómo estás?" followed by her "Estoy muy bien!" Me, I just waived, afraid to further embarrass my child with horrible attempts at speaking the language.
Each hour of Spanish rain was met with an equal hour of Spanish sunshine. As the weather transformed and the days changed, so did my little girl. Graduating in a Spanish classroom from travel passenger to driver right in front of her father's eyes.
Ted's Top 5 Things He Learned About Travel On This Trip:
1. Cadaqués is a quaint seaside fishing village in the Costa Brava region of Spain that apparently has "no cute teenage boys" to be found during the first week of June. (Dad-1 Coley-0.)
2. Once a year for 3 minutes the locals say you can see a "Dalí Sky" before a storm. The colors of the sky are unique to the area, and they're said to have inspired several of Salvador Dalí's paintings. (We witnessed one.)
3. If you eat 200 little minnows with their heads still on – just to be funny – you'll still get an upset stomach. "I have 400 fish eyeballs in me, dad!" (High schooler = still a kid.)
4. If you find a hidden cove on the Mediterranean to swim in, keep in mind you're in Europe and, without warning, it can become a nude beach from the passing hikers. "I don't feel like snorkeling now, dad."
5. Fishermen bring their catch in every day around 6:00 pm, and the restaurants adjust their chalkboard menus for dinner accordingly. Have them throw it in a stew and enjoy.
The difference between school and life? In school you're taught a lesson and given a test. In life you're given a test which teaches you a lesson. Coley passed hers, but we both learned many things we'll never forget.
"Sir, what would you like to drink?" -Waitress
"I'll have a beer, please." -Me
"And for you miss, would you like a beer as well?" -Waitress
"She's not old enough. She'll have an aqua." -Me
"OMG! How cool is that? She thinks I'm old enough to drink. Probably because I have makeup on. Isn't that awesome, dad?... dad?.... dad, are you OK?" -Coley
Additional photos from this journey can be found by clicking here FlickrTravelWithTed (Coley took many of them.)