A small tradition has grown over the past few years in the dispersed Berger family – a one week get-together somewhere between the USA and SA where there are no work or normal domestic demands and where we can really do all the things that families do: kiss, play, squabble and makeup and pass on words of wisdom from the older to younger generations when allowed to do so (infrequent!!).
Michi in JHB generally takes charge of finding the right place. She has a great affinity with computers (I suspect because they can’t answer back) and is able to search out the hidden gems (and the occasionally lurking disaster) better than anyone else. With some additional input from the family the choice is made and, barring last minute anxiety attacks about the number of toilets for 10 people (including 4 kids and 2 “seniors” with unreliable plumbing), the die is cast in the form of a substantial cash payment.
This time it was a tiny Spanish village, Almachar, nestled in the coastal range of Andalucian mountains about 25 km NE of Malaga on the Costa del Sol. The village was approached via a pincer movement from the USA in the West and from SA in the SE.
The smaller USA contingent Gregory (our son), Laura, and the two kids Rachel (7 years) and Jessica (4 years) had the easier trip and arrived before us on the morning of the 30 Oct. The rest of us, Sheila and me plus Michele (our daughter), Richard and the two kids, Thandeka (just pre-5 years) and Ayanda (late 2 years) took a much longer and harder route. The actual trip is best passed over in silence but suffice it to say we were badly stretched.
We picked up a 10 -SEATER Mercedes bus in Malaga to accommodate the Berger family members on joint excursions. Our first encounter with the narrow, donkey-scale lanes of the village was a disaster requiring much reversing, swearing and placating the driver, Michele. But park we did, a few hundred meters from our villa. So the final straw was to lug all our luggage – suitcases, car seats, presents, children’s backpacks, and various unidentified objects – along the narrow, steep twisty lanes to our final destination. But we got there!
Naturally, no trip would be complete without a medical problem (generally involving me) and so I arrived with a nasty earache and ENT infection which plagued me throughout our stay. But by some mysterious alchemy of memory, the discomfort recedes and the memorable occasions remain – well memorable!
Last point: I had resisted taking my relatively bulky camera but Sheila insisted on a point-and-shoot (naturally without a viewfinder). So most of the pictures were taken with me peering at my own image in the LCD screen on automatic settings. Just bear that in mind!!
Almachar was to be our base for the next 7 days whence we explored the local area, beaches and Malaga itself and undertook a couple of longer excursions to Cordoba and Granada. At the end we all dispersed, Greg and family back to the USA, Mich et al to the UK to spend time with Richard’s family and mutual friends and Sheila and I to spend a couple of days with our wonderful friends, the Magids from Copenhagen.
PS. Just one thing more: everywhere we looked were 5 m dropoffs, ideal for active, mischievous, unsteady 3-5 year-olds. After 2 days acute anxiety had settled into a watchful wariness and the kids no longer sought to terrify themselves and us by tempting fate.
SEE PHOTO ALBUM ON RIGHT FOR THE FAMILY PICTURES.
Next Episode – The Village