“Where the world is quiet…”
So promised the website of what appeared to be an impossibly quaint horse farm in a remote reach of the Sierra Arcena in southwest Spain. www.fincaelmoro.com
A quiet world. That sounded pretty good, as I sat in my K Street office, nearly a year ago, trolling the internet for trip ideas during a lull in an afternoon otherwise littered with conference calls. Traveling to this quiet world to explore the Andalusian mountains on horseback, sampling the region’s wines and tapas, reading quietly in the shade of the olive groves, ending the day with yoga in the farm’s meditation shala … This pretty much epitomized my vision of what life would look like if Brendan and I actually summoned the nerve to step away from our decidedly unquiet world and take The Trip we’d been ruminating about for months.
Now, if you had pressed me, back then, on whether the 4 children we would bring on this adventure (aged 14, 11, 9, and 4) would be down with long leisurely wine lunches, the farm’s meditation shala, the yoga, the quiet, I probably would have at least paused to consider.
But I will confess that, back then, as I ate up the calm images of the Finca’s website, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about that. Instead, I excitedly sent the link to Brendan, who probably did wisely raise an eyebrow, and immediately inquired with the charming British couple who owned the Finca whether they would have us. It was that day that we decided, for good, that we would make The Trip happen.
Fast forward to two weeks ago. Six weeks into the trip, and many reality checks later, seven days on a farm in the middle of nowhere during which we were supposed to keep our four kids “quiet” loomed large.
As it turns out, leaving the US for a trip around the world didn’t magically transform our children into budding yogis, fascinated by grown up conversations about the history of the Moors in Spain, and willing to live on bread, olives, and Iberian ham for a week. Nor had it transformed us into consistently calm, patient parents, able to deftly turn simple experiences of other cultures into enlightening learning opportunities. They still teased, fought incessantly over who sat where in the car, picked at their food, and rolled their eyes–dramatically and usually at me. And we still got cranky, aggravated, and tired, yearning sometimes (lots of times) for the peace and quiet of school hours and the relatively orderly world of the law office.
But now, off the farm and back in Seville for a few weeks, I’m happy to report tbat, just as The Trip has delivered a lot of reality checks, it has also begun to provide those moments I envisioned before we began. And that was definitely the case at Finca el Moro.
The experience was not perfect by any means. But our time was actually, mostly all good.
William happily, and quite effectively, took on the role of Phoebe’s Pre-K teacher, as Brendan and I began our home school program for the girls in earnest.
Holly wrote a beautiful essay about her experience shopping for and preparing a gorgeous Salmorejo, which Brendan and I then enjoyed.
Coco reported toward the end of the week that her favorite thing at the farm was “starting school and how much I got to read.”
And Phoebe spent a lot of time at the meditation Shala! Not meditating per se, but instead mostly doing cartwheels, and headstands, and “playing yoga,” which I think is how yoga actually started in the first place.
Phoebe also loved the nature walks we took most evenings, when the Finca was really quite quiet. And on those walks, perhaps no surprise, she found many treasures and saw many things that Brendan and I surely would have missed had she not come along.