Yone’s summer job

27 08 2022

Yone has a summer job, a brief one but an intense one… 3 days during the anual Bavarian beer festival, right here in Puerto de la Cruz. He got home at 2 in the morning after last night and started this morning at 11 o’clock. Today is a long day and tomorrow is the last day until 8:30 pm.

He sells tickets at the entrance





Time

21 08 2022

Ten months between these two photos:





the summer of 2022

31 07 2022

This summer is all about reunions. Meeting friends and family. Spending quality time with our loved ones. There are birthdays to be celebrated, parties to be held, food to be prepared and we must dance! We swim, we bathe, we go to the beach and we eat lots of watermelon and ice cream! Oh what joy!!!





Back and forth

22 05 2022

Dácil has been in her new school for 2 weeks, was home for the weekend, and is back in Madrid again.

Her tutor, Ángel, has kept us informed almost every day of how she was doing, and she didn´t appear to have great difficulty adapting. As long as she´s kept active and entertained, she´s a happy sport. There were some issues adapting to the new feeding policies (no, you can´t only eat chocolate or sweets), but these were overcome. At some point she was offered a pear (which she usually likes), she refused hoping to get the sweets she asked for but they took her plate away as in “no pear, then we´re done”, and this was when she asked for the pear back and ate it.

And besides the new menu, she needs to adapt to the new rhythm of spending weekends at “school”, instead of being at home with Ama on Saturday. During the first weekend she signed that she wanted to go home. She was explained that that was not going to happen, and she seemed to be quite content with that. At some point she´ll understand that there are Saturdays which are spent at school instead of home.

Best to illustrate with images how she´s doing.

This was during the weekend there. It has been really warm, so everyone kept to the shade. They have outdoor activities, strolls to the park, etc… Music and food is pretty much all she needs to be happy.

They work a lot with food and household items, exploring them and learning what they look like before they are cooked and can be eaten. This was the fish. And there were peas too, in the garden, which were picked, opened and eaten. (the green overalls are still part of the COVID protocol…)

Most of the hassle for us is figuring out how to travel back and forth, public transport, cabify, taxi´s, the time it takes to get from A to B and how to manage the schedule and get to the airport on time. So I traveled to Madrid on Friday morning, got to the CRE by metro, picked up Dácil way too early, and took a Cabify with Dácil back to the airport. We were back in Tenerife by 7 pm.

And Jorge took Dácil to Madrid on Monday evening (Monday was a local holiday so school started on Tuesday) and slept at the CRE with her. He met a few people and talked to her tutor and left for the city, where he took the train to the airport. He was back around 5 pm.

Dácil was completely content and relaxed on both trips. She has no problems with flying or being wheeled from one place to another. As long as she´s in a good mood, has eaten enough and has some music ready, she´s the perfect travel companion.





Dácil is in Madrid

8 05 2022

No rest for the wicked… Best I recount the events in chronological order.

We flew to Madrid on Tuesday afternoon and took a taxi to the CRE, where we arrived around 7:30 pm.

We were welcomed by staff members who were expecting us and everybody approached Dácil immediately by taking her hands and signing, something she visibly appreciated. We were shown to the 3rd floor where there are a number of rooms ready for visitors and parents staying overnight. Dácil slept with us that night and was moved to her own room, which she shares with another deafblind girl, the next day. We had about an hour to freshen up and relax and were expected for dinner at 8:15 pm.

Dácil was fussy with her dinner; she didn´t like the salad, she didn´t like the meat… she wanted the things we have spoiled her with over the past year or so (she wasn´t always that spoiled…) and she wasn´t getting them. So I´m sure that she must have been already getting a good sense of what was lurking around the corner… We got to get a peak at what dinner must be like on a normal Tuesday at the CRE. We were separated from the other kids by a see through room divider, lots of noise and fun and voices and adults telling youngsters to eat their veggies and jokes and laughter. It looked like everybody was having a good time. We were introduced to Dácil´s roommate, who came in with one of the caretakers. A girl about Dácil´s age who also needs to be assisted with meals. We asked at what time we needed to be down for breakfast and went up to our room.

Dácil slept wonderfully.

On Wednesday we had breakfast and after that a number of perfectly coordinated meetings with staff and caretakers. We took Dácil to the meetings, with her tutor, and the medical staff, and after 3 meetings, while we were talking to the speech therapist and psychologist, Dácil got really upset. She was fed up with being dragged along to meetings and having to sit still in her chair and wait. So the psychologist called her tutor, which we had met previously and asked him to take Dácil away and keep her entertained. Dácil didn´t want to let go of me, so I had to step back, get out of reach, get in the classroom and close the door. Just like that.

Everybody at the CRE is ever so nice and understanding and willing to take Dácil´s skills to a next level. We were urged to brush up on our Spanish Sign Language (LSE), as Dácil is likely to get ahead of us soon. There were a few more practical things to attend to, and meanwhile Dácil went to lunch. After lunch, a staff member brought her to us in the lobby where we left her suitcase with her things to be taken to her new room, and we said goodbye.

It must have been around 3 pm when we left.

Despite all the mixed feelings and the hole in our stomachs and the vertigo we feel, we are happy and lucky that Dácil is offered this opportunity to advance and learn new skills. We just need to adjust to a new kind of family routine with Dácil coming home every fortnight, flying to Madrid to pick her up and take her back, and looking in her room and not finding her there…

step by step





Dácil is going to Madrid

26 04 2022

One can never prepare enough for their children´s step towards independence. You know it´s coming, since the day they´re born, it´s what you prepare them and yourself for during many years. And it´s what everybody wishes for. The fact that there is a place in Spain, in the capital, that offers education for children like Dácil was known to us and we anticipated and wished and dreamed that one day she could go to this special school and learn to be more autonomous and independent.

And now it´s upon us. Just like that. We were on a relaxing holiday on El Hierro (small island, 10.000 inhabitants, virtually no traffic) when we got a call: she is expected next week Wednesday, May 4th. Indeed, may the force be with us!

To say that there is an electrifying nervous vibe in our home since that call is an understatement. So much so that I booked flights for Jorge and me – return ticket – and for Dácil – one way – and accidentally made a mistake with Dácil´s second last name. I hit the confirm button, payed, received the tickets in the mailbox, checked and saw the error to my horror. I called Iberia but they were unwilling (I can´t imagine they were unable) to change her last name and issue another ticket: so I had to cancel her ticket, ask for a refund, got a fine which is the same amount as the refund, and had to buy a new ticket.

So yes, things are hectic here.

We received a list with things she must bring, clothes, shampoo, practical stuff, all clothes must be marked, so we need to get that sorted (embroidered). And we received the school calendar. She will be in Madrid until the 24th of June, which is the beginning of summer holidays. And she gets to go home every other weekend until then. So we need to fly to Madrid on a Friday, pick her up, fly back and take her back on Sunday afternoon. All of this strikes us as extremely confusing and nerve wrecking, but I´m confident that once we get the hang of this, of the travelling, of the distances, of the metro line from the airport to her school, things will ease out.

In the mean time Dácil is learning new signs like ´new school´, ´Madrid´, ´airplane´, and trying on her new sneakers and bathing suits. She knows something is coming…

in Tamaduste, el Hierro
with Boris
el Pozo de las Calcosas, el Hierro
Quesillo!




Abuelo Pepe is 89!

26 03 2022

The blog has been neglected. Well, no: I´ve neglected the blog. And I have some good reasons for it too, but those I will not share here. All I can say to my 2 or 3 faithful readers is I´m sorry, and I´ll try to get back on track.

One beautiful occasion to share here was abuelo Pepe´s 89th birthday. He was born on March 19th, also his name-day and also father´s day in Spain. And since COVID struck we haven´t been able to gather, not all his children and grandchildren together at once. So last Saturday, 19th, all of us had lunch together, outside, on a restaurant´s terrace, in the pouring rain and with 11 degrees celsius. His best gift!





Dácil is 14!

22 01 2022




2022

12 01 2022

To write anything more as a title would be redundant.

We jumped into the new year head first. Screw it all! Let´s do this! Let´s face every new day with courage, hope, confidence and love. We´re glad to just be all here. So that being said: let´s just do this together!





Yone. Just Yone

12 10 2021




Dácil in Piestany

2 10 2021

Piestany is our second (or third) home. Lots of family, lots of childhood memories, lots of nostalgia. I don´t imagine this applies to Dácil. Although she displays great memory, remembering signs and people, I don´t think she remembers people she´s met on short trips years ago. She does, however, thoroughly enjoy traveling, as long as she has periods of rest in between the moments where she´s just being transported to unknown places.

There was a fair amount of “Dácil-pilgrimage”, where she would be visited by others and shown off by Ama, who couldn´t be more proud of her granddaughter.

Reuniting with Ama after nearly 2 months was a happy moment!





Dácil´s first day back in school

9 09 2021

I had a talk with her teacher the day before. To explain a bit what we´d been up to during the summer months. Not much really… Leisure. Relaxation. That type of stuff.

Dácil slipped into holiday mode comfortably, falling asleep late, waking up late. Demanding ice cream, chocolate, cakes, and getting away with most of it. Table manners were forgotten, forks and spoons left untouched. There is nothing more leisurely than eating with your hands, I suppose. So I confessed all of this to her teacher yesterday afternoon. That she had slowly turned into a savage. A lovely and charming one, but a savage nonetheless. Like Nell in that terrible Jodie Foster film. I felt it my duty to warn the teacher.

This is what she sent me today:

Little Miss Sunshine eating with knife and fork. We´ve been had.





Yone´s firts day of his last year

2 09 2021

This was the photo I took on Yone´s first school day, September 6th 2010, 11 years ago:

And today marks the start of his last year at the British School of Tenerife. It´s the über-cliché: time flies and I´m getting old, the worst about clichés is that they form a conspiracy of absolute truths.

This morning was Yone´s first schoolday in Year 13, his last year at the BST, and possibly his last academic year here in Tenerife. He has big plans. And they all include 4 hour flights. He wants to study history at the University of Amsterdam. We´ll need to find him a room, a place to stay, sort out scholarships, passports, insurance… stuff… (to our Dutch friends: anyone want to exploit this cute little guy -he can paint, clean, sing, play multiple instruments- and rent him a room?)

Anyway. This was this morning. I was making coffee because I started working in the hotel last Friday after a 17 month COVID break. And I could drive him to school before going to work. “Mum, can I have some coffee too?” “Sure.”

Fuck. I´m really getting old…





Summer holidays 2021

14 07 2021

Here we go again: two months ahead without school and regular activities. It takes getting used to. Dácil usually starts off fine, enjoying sleeping longer, not having to rush with breakfast, lying in the garden listening to music and swimming in the pool every day. However, at some point, the lack of discipline and activities takes its toll and she´ll have fits and short periods of discomfort. So we try to get into some sort of summer habit: wake up/music in bed/breakfast/Ama/back home/lunch/pool&music/dinner/bedtime. This rhythm is complemented with visits to the supermarket, walks with the supermarket trolley down the aisles, visits to logopedia in La Laguna with her best friend Bea and subsequent beach visit and ocean swim.





Dácil takes a long walk

3 03 2021

Yone is usually very autonomous when going places; he has a bus card which he uses often. I normally drive him to school, and sometimes pick him up, sometimes he´ll take the bus home. He walks to his music and band practices and also walks to guitar lessons. However, his fencing bag is big and heavy, and very uncomfortable for a long walk, and the bus times in the evenings are not very convenient. So either I or Ama drives him, and we either wait or come back later to pick him up.

When Ama is busy gardening, I like to take Dácil with me. She loves the car drive. Today I decided to wait for an hour and a half and took Dácil for a long walk along the beach. The sports hall where Yone goes fencing is near the beach. Dácil first walked a long stretch alone holding on to the handrail alongside the ramp between the street and the beach promenade. Once on beach level we walked up to the playground with swings.

After some swinging we walked all the way back.

How lucky can you get when upon returning to the car we hear the chimes of the ice cream van playing ´lili marlene´! She sure deserved an ice cream and a van hug!





Snow!

11 02 2021

It usually snows during the wintermonths. Not steadily but it´s normal to have 2 or 3 episodes of cold weather: along the coast it will rain for a couple of days and temperatures will drop to around 10, 11, 12 degrees Celsius. The farther up you go the colder it gets. When I moved here in 1985 it was normal to have a period of heavy rain in November with the first snow covering the Teide, and another one around February/March. This has slightly shifted. The rains come a bit later now and we even had a couple of years with unusually warm and sunny weather all the way through December and January.

2021 Started out wet and cold. The rains and snow came somewhere mid January and when this happens the whole island just goes crazy. Covid no Covid… It´s similar to the Dutch skating craze. After the snowstorms people work 24/7 to clear the access roads to the mountain. And then it begins. One long line of cars, parking anywhere they can, instagram filling with snow white selfies of those who made it up (because there are lots who don´t, they turn around after 6 hours stuck in traffic…)

We let the occasion pass. I was hoping on some more snow to fall. And I didn´t even have to wait that long. Last weekend was extremely rainy and cold and once the clouds clear away, nature presents its gift: a completely white volcano.

So we decided to drive up on the first day after clearing the roads. A weekday. Yone was off early from school and Dácil was excused. I didn´t make up the excuse, everyone just assumes when a special needs child doesn´t go to school it goes to the doctor´s. So I just nodded…

Now Dácil doesn´t particularly like snow and cold. We had already experienced that on our previous winter trips to Holland in February 2018 and Slovakia in 2019. But we had food. So she was good. Yone on the other hand loves everything that is cold and wet. All in all we had a lovely couple of hours, enjoyed the beautiful scenery which is always breathtaking and made a couple of snowmen. We´re done this winter.





Dácil is 13!

22 01 2021

The fact that Dácil turns 13 today is quite unbelievable. Certainly very remarkable. And 13 years ago quite unthinkable. And yet here we are, celebrating life and perseverance. She´s unstoppable!





There we go!

1 01 2021




MMXX

31 12 2020

The past year has been one of change. Not radical change, but a shifting… not all shifts necessarily pleasant. It started off optimistically, Ama was quite happy to plunge into a new life year with us, which we welcomed with relief. After working our way through stormy and sandy calima episodes, witnessing the destruction of a big part of our garden, we sailed off for a weeks holiday in La Gomera where we slept, played, bathed, ate and drank, while hearing the word Corona more often with each day that passed. But we waved it away sipping Coronita´s on the beach. As if it were a joke.

Upon return we dove into garden restoration, cutting torn branches and trying to safe most of the trees but failing miserably. And then came lockdown. Confinamiento. Schools closed, and Yone appeared to be doing fine online, in his room, following all the subjects. But he didn´t. Troubled teachers, troubled parents, desperate Yone, all of us trying hard to safe his IGCSE grades which, lucky for him, were going to be predicted. But there wasn´t much to predict. All in all, he managed to straighten his back and finish the work. In fact his IGCSE marks turned out much better than expected. However, the shift had appeared. His cell phone started to become part of his right hand. The door of his room was often closed. We started knocking before entering…

There has been a change in his mood, his temper. There are things he doesn´t want to discuss. Things he will not talk about.

I keep telling myself it´s only normal. He´s 16. He needs to figure out who he is, what he wants. Jorge keeps telling me it´s only normal. But I feel left out. I can´t help it.

However challenging this past year has been, something really wonderful has come out of it: Music! The new family toy is an Ibanez RC320. An electric guitar which Jorge found in a second hand shop, with one string missing, but in great condition. Yone put on some new strings, moved the amp, cables and headphones to his room and is trying out riffs and licks he finds on youtube. The cell phone needs to leave the hand palm for him to be able to play.





Merry Christmas

22 12 2020

To avoid a complete lockdown in Tenerife, where COVID numbers are worse than on the other Canary Islands, there have been a number of restrictions for the holidays. Restaurants may be open but only with outside seating and only 4 persons per table. That leaves us out of the equation as there are 5 of us. Shops are also open but have to reduce their customer capacity to 50%. During the festive days, Christmas Eve, day, New Years, 3 Kings, family reunions may take place with a maximum of 6 persons. Etc, etc, etc…

So instead of having the whole family for dinner and lunch the next day, there´s the 5 of us, and luckily we are all healthy and present. This is exactly what I wish all of you. Stay healthy, be present, enjoy what you have and count your blessings.

Merry Christmas!





The year 2020

20 12 2020

A few days ago we went to a beautiful concert. A world premiere of a piece by Gustavo. Ama stayed with Dácil and I bought tickets for Jorge, Yone and myself. When we arrived in the concerthall, Gustavo congratulated Yone with his birthday. His birthday was two and a half months ago. This was when I realized that was the last blog entry…

I could blame Corona for many things. For (in)sanity, for not bothering to keep up with habits… Best is to just fix stuff straight away. The piece Gustavo composed was amazing. It was performed between Bach and Beethoven. We liked Trujillo best.

and here are some happy Dácil faces:





Yone is 16

9 10 2020

He came home from school yesterday with an A* for his descriptive writing essay in English. The assignment was to write a descriptive piece about a cruise ship arriving with a length of 600-800 words. Key was to not slide into narrative writing but keep it descriptive and interesting.

This is the piece:

Arrival

The mighty song of the Olympic´s whistle travels across the empty ocean as the hoards of young men rush to the decks in a massive stampede of green and khaki hues, cheering, laughing, singing. “Land! Land!” they excitedly scream as if they just discovered a new continent. The wooden floorboards of the main deck vibrate with the steps of their leather boots, still covered in mud and grime, and the memories of hell. Many of them still have wounds, crude bandages filled with stains of dry blood cover their faces, eyes, arms and legs, hiding the horrid deformities caused by gas and shrapnel. They all smile but I can tell when I take a look into their deep, dark eyes, that they are broken and all they really want is to be back home.

The reflection of the sun glistens on the water in odd shapes of bending light, the Olympic´s bow cuts through the spiked waves and a small, salty mist remains shimmering like stars in the night sky. She dips and rises riding the currents, the lady´s faster than she looks, her speed leaves an impressive wake behind her and the cold winter air hits my face with tremendous force. She is a real beast, a beautifully sophisticated beast. Her engine roars with tremendous power as she is fed coal, like a dragon she breathes fire and leaves behind colossal clouds of dark smoke.

The fog-covered town of Halifax slowly comes into view as the Olympic slows down, her roar becoming more silent by the minute but still holding true to her course, the men still frantically chatter on the deck and some even sit on her new six inch guns. The cold coastal air sweeps across the ship as she enters the thin fog, Olympic´s bells start ringing and her whistle bellows, the melody echoes for all to hear, orchestral and grand, Olympic has announced her arrival.

The silhouette of the ship grows with every passing second, a gentle giant slowly walking to its destination, the titan reaching mount Olympus, gliding gracefully across the calm harbour waters. The once grandiose hum of her engine is muffled as it is no longer fed and her boilers are cooled, small tug boats scurry towards the sleeping colossus and gently drag her along the final stretch of her voyage.

It´s hard to breathe on the cold and crowded pier, everyone waits excitedly for the arrival of the Olympic and its contents, brothers, sons, fathers and lovers all coming home. I tremble and wrap my arms around myself standing among the dozens of anxious souls on the small landing of the pier next to the snow-capped depot.

The loud and deep song of the ship fills my eardrums, a majestic song of arrival, the small local band starts playing as the giant lady mightily strolls into the harbour. She stands tall and proud, her four smokestacks still breathing, her whistle growling, the hull, an impenetrable wall of thick steel painted in the eccentric shapes of dazzle camouflage coloured black, white and blue. Two great masts grow from the stern and bow, decorated with colourful flags that peacefully dance in the mild breeze, she is truly as magnificent as her late sister Titanic. On the deck I can hear the roar of the soldiers as they wave down and sing along to the band.

Olympic finally comes to a peaceful stop and plays her last notes. She towers above me. I can see every last detail on the hull, the slight hints of rust emanating from the rivets, the steel plating overlapping each other and the out of place armour belt. The scent of oil fills my lungs, warm and sticky, I can almost taste the thick greasy substance. The heavy mooring lines are thrown overboard and violently crash on the dock, the workers tie them to the bollards with simple yet sturdy knots, holding the Olympic in her place.

At long last the low steel doors are opened and the boarding planks are placed, a single file of khaki, green and brown hues exit the doors, and walk across the seemingly unstable wooden planks, embracing their relatives and loved ones once they set their feet on solid ground, the Olympic gives one last sigh on her horn and bids her farewell to the brave lads she took with her.





Yone´s first scale model airplane

11 09 2020

Yone got a scale model Yak-3 for 3 kings. At that time, the owner of the shop where we bought the model, in La Laguna, offered to assemble the model in his shop, so we wouldn´t have to buy paint, cement, airbrush, tools to start with. For a small fee, he could go for a couple of hours, use all the tools and paints in the shop, and get some tips and guidance from a veteran scale hobyist. This sounded like a great idea. We had already planned a weeks holiday in La Gomera for carnival, so his half term holiday, around easter seemed like the perfect time for this. However we all got confined, easter passed and the box sat there unopened.

The perfect opportunity arose when Yone started taking typing lessons in La Laguna. By this time, the hobby shop stopped selling scale models and focused on the 3d printing of face masks and visors. But the paint, airbrush and other tools were still available and the owner was glad to have Yone fiddling away on his Yak 3.

The result is amazing. Even his mentor was surprised by Yone´s skill and patience. Next: a Mig, but this one he´ll make at home.





Dácil just loves a good swim

11 09 2020

Corona, Covid, the word just seems to linger and not go away. We didn´t have big plans for far away trips this 2020 anyway, so we decided to fit in one last long weekend in the south, just for some sun, bathing, relaxing, before the start of schools and possibly work…

We chose an airbnb in La Caleta, a small coastal village in the south, 2 beaches south of our previous stay in El Puertito. We had a nice enough apartment just by the sea, with lovely evening ocean views and it was a complete coincidence that our 18th wedding anniversary was on our 2nd day, so we reserved a table in a great dim sum and sushi restaurant.

The ocean was Dácil´s to fully enjoy.





Yone goes hiking

11 09 2020

We´ve been hiking a number of times, as a family. At times without Dácil, at times with her, searching for stroller friendly paths. Before now I didn´t think the love for hiking, freedom, nature, very much stuck with Yone. But this past summer he convinced his friend Sergio to go with him and they did some nice hikes. The last one they wanted to do got postponed because of high temperatures and fire alerts, causing all paths on the island to shut.





Summer halfway

1 08 2020

Everything about this 2020 summer is odd. Mainly because we´ve been in holiday mode since Corona Lockdown, March 15th… However, Yone (and I) struggled through school work and IGCSE´s, so with that period behind us, we can honestly say that July was a holiday month. Except that Jorge is now back to work, so we have less time together.

Yone, for obvious anti-apathy reasons, needed activities. His regular summer schools, the ones he enjoys attending, are cancelled: the week music camp in La Orotava, and the 3 week cinema course he did last year. I had to improvise. And I partly succeeded. Partly, because there are always days when one just doesn´t feel like getting out of bed… Otherwise, he´s quite content with what I´ve come up with: a typing course, 2 months, twice a week, in La Laguna, from 10 to 11 am. And when he´s done, at 11, he walks a few blocks and works on a scale model of a Yak-3 we bought him for 3 Kings. At the shop where we bought the model, they offer the possibility of assembling, using their equipment: airbrush, paints, glue, and some help.

Asides from these regular weekly activities, we rented a small place in the South, by the sea. Just for a couple of days, 3 nights in fact. This was wonderful! It happens to be the same house Babette and Aart rented many years ago, discovering a secret little spot without too many tourists.

Milka stayed at home with Ama, keeping her company and active. This was in fact a great solution.

The little house we rented was 3 metres away from the shore. On the picture there is a larger sandy beach on the left, then a rock formation and a smaller pebble beach, which has a sandy area with low tide, on the right where fishermen leave their boats. That was where our apartment was.

The house is on the right. The top floor has blue window decorations and the bottom floor was our rental. We swam many times during the day, the water was delicious, clean, perfect temperature, not as desolated as what we remembered, but that was in January, this is July. Many people who live higher up the mountain come here to spend the day and swim. Low tide in the mornings and high tide in the evenings. Perfect.

And of course, we played Colonisten, enjoyed sunsets and relaxed…





Dácil is ready for summer

20 06 2020

Today, June 20th, is the official start of summer. During 2 weeks around this time, we can see the sun set in the ocean. Once it retreats towards its winter position, buildings block the horizon.

We went swimming in the ocean a couple of times. Nothing beats an ocean swim. We drove to one of our favourite southern villages, Alcalá, went for a swim and found a nice enough restaurant with a terrace on the main square for a meal. Some restaurants won´t open until tourists start to fly in, whenever that may be. Others have big enough terrace spaces and work with locals. But the rules are basically the same: wait to be seated so chairs and tables can be disinfected, face mask on when talking to the waiter, make reservations…

Yone was at home as he was still having online classes.

Monday 8th Dácil was back to her logopedia sessions with BFF Bea. The staff now wears uniform and face shields and children must also wear their face shields. They are picked up outside, where we wait, but other than this COVID protocol, sessions are as usual and Dácil was delighted to be reunited with Bea.

Yone went diving for the first time in many months and we gladly volunteered to pick him up and brought the basket with bathing suits along. Had a great swim on a rocky beach and nice fresh fish in a nearby restaurant.

I couldn´t resist myself and bought Dácil 3 dresses at Exota. King Louie, or for children it´s Petit Louie. The first dresses I bought her there came to us via Julia. She went crazy in the sale baskets and shipped us a box full of goodies. Some of these she still wears as t-shirts!! This was in 2013!!! So buying King Louie is well worth the money.

This is one of the dresses I received in the mail 2 days ago. The sandals are also new.





Corona week 10

25 05 2020

This is the last Corona post. Enough. No doubt there will be much talk of Corona in the future, and it´s a word that´s here to stay and linger. But I´m ready to write about the kids after lockdown. It has conditioned all of our lives greatly and hopefully there are lessons learned. But life moves on and we are on the brink of summer which we intend to enjoy to the fullest.

Fase 2 hits the Canaries: meaning movement, freedom, beach, socializing (at a distance)… The weather is warm and sunny, as if summer was waiting for this fase 2 Monday. I expect the beaches to crowd today.

Last week we too, as a family, started to adapt to the new normal. I took Dácil on her first walk and she absolutely loved being outside and on the move.

A few days later the four of us went to town, met friends and sat down on a terrace for coffee and ice cream.

Summertime brings summer fruit. Dácil has been quite obsessed with mandarins lately. But they are nowhere to be found. Mandarin season is over. So we shifted to watermelon. It was welcomed!

And yesterday Dácil officially inaugurated the swimming pool. Reluctantly at first, as it´s at a mere 23 degrees, but once she got used to the temperature there was no stopping her!





Corona week 9

18 05 2020

Spain will not be opening schools. Not this school year. This may come as a challenge to those parents who will need to start to go back to work at some point. Hopefully the (leftwing) government gets enough support to extend the state of alarm so financial aide will still be available to those who can´t work.

Last week we painted. And drew. Jorge painted our and Dácil´s bedroom, Yone painted Metropolis with Basquiat influences and I painted the sky and the kids.

And Dácil got Furby. A new one. Since Furby has been in our lives, for some years now, it has been a constant favourite toy. It interacts and talks and sings incessantly (it drives us insane). Furby is getting more difficult to buy. It´s popularity has passed its peak and Hasbro does not launch new models very frequently anymore. Dácil tends to abuse Furby quite a bit. She loves him. And then she doesn´t. And he´ll fly across the room and hit obstacles. Her last Furby was a Furbacca. A Furby with Chewbacca spirit (and songs)… Alas, Chewy went mute. Too much brain damage. He´ll still wink and shine his little eyes and even hop up and down. But he doesn´t say a word. So he´s become obsolete for Dácil. With stores shut, I recurred to Amazon and found a new line of Furbies. They are quite a bit smaller, don´t hop up and down, but still sing annoying songs. Perfect. Meet the Party Rocker:

Every day Dácil visits Ama after breakfast. This way she has to climb down the stairs, and climb up the stairs back home, which is good exercise. She loves being with Ama because she gets cuddled, and sung to, and tickled, and best of all: lots of chocolate and sweets. This is Dácil climbing back up:





Corona week 8

10 05 2020

Tomorrow, most of the Spanish autonomous regions will be entering ´fase 1´ (we´re currently in fase 0) of loosening corona lockdown. This means that shops, bars and restaurants may open to customers but with limitations as to client numbers per surface. And only those bars and restaurants with terraces. Relatives will be allowed to visit one another and there will certainly be a lot more movement on the streets.

Our past week has been filled with cocktails. I thought it was time to take out that shaker, buy some ingredients and get rockin´. Yone was eager to learn and at some point we just left it all to him. We started with cosmopolitans.

And then Ama reminded us of the fact that my father used to make Alexander Gin cocktails, which is the gin version of the Brandy Alexander, so with crème de cacao and cream and nutmeg. We combined the Alexander with a Blake Edwards evening: The Great Race with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood and Jack Lemmon.

So the question that arises is: is it good for a 15 year old to learn the basics of cocktail shaking and watch his parents and grandmother sip away cocktail after cocktail while he licks out the shaker, or am I being a terrible mother?





Corona week 7

4 05 2020

The weather has been just wonderfully sunny and bright for the most part of Tenerife lockdown. Besides some much awaited and needed rain in the beginning, we´ve had mostly blue skies and beautiful sunsets. As Ama would put it: Corona Paradise.

Yone seems to be back on track with his school work. This meaning that he was quite off track… not doing homework, not sending in essays, papers, assignments… hopefully he stays on track now, until IGCSE grade assessments are done.

Dácil is happily experimenting with new sounds and toys. I cleaned out the boxes where she keeps her toys and gave them all a good wash and new batteries. Every day we go to the box and she picks out a long forgotten toy (guitar, microphone, talking flamingo, all equally annoying for us) and enjoys remembering where the buttons are and what sounds they make.

Even Trini (all freshly washed and perfumed) is back and they got matching hairstyles.

As from last week Saturday 25th April, children are allowed outside to go for a walk, play with bicycles, skates and get some fresh air. So I took Dácil for a walk around the block:

And we´ve been learning some new words: ¨suave¨, softly, gently, soft… She tends to get rough when she doesn´t immediately get what she asks for, probably out of frustration thinking she hasn´t been understood. She can pinch, bite, scratch or hit. So now we say ´suave´ and we gently stroke; either we stroke her or we make her stroke us. This new concept has been accepted with enthusiasm! She even started saying it, something very unusual for her.

Yesterday was Mother´s Day in Spain. With no possibility of going out and getting a gift, we improvised some DIY surprises. Isn´t the greatest gift to just be together in health, have a nice meal together and watch a romantic comedy in the evening? Ama got to choose the menu and the movie: she chose Pretty Woman.

Happy Mother´s Day for those of you who celebrate it next Sunday!





Corona week 6

27 04 2020

We´ve had an emotional week. Some ups and some downs. The 23rd of April was Jorge´s nameday, St. George, San Jordi, San Jorge, which is also International Book Day, on the occasion of Shakespeare´s and Cervantes´ deaths, and it was also the day my father passed in 2012.

On the evening of the 23rd we watched a slideshow on the big screen with family fotos, when Yone and Dácil were babies, their baptisms, our holidays here in Tenerife, Ama and Apo´s birthday celebrations, family gatherings with Paul, Jetty, all very nostalgic.

And we´ve been trying to keep Dácil busy. Playing, bouncing, making music…





Corona week 5

19 04 2020

It´s hard to imagine how we first felt about this lockdown, 5 weeks ago, when the word lockdown was not even in our vocabularies and we thought this would only last for a couple of weeks…

Five weeks have passed, we´re still inside, locked in our private little paradise, enjoying the sun, the garden, each other…

For Yone, the past week should have been a whole week off, primarily for study. However, teachers were online between 10 and 12 am and students were meant to attend, register and follow the tasks and work.

Online music theory continues and so does online timple class. He somehow gave up on his saxophone and his teacher is beyond frustration, ignoring him.

Jorge built a little ´meditation´corner in the garden, with a bench. From where we can enjoy the sunset.

Dácil has been quite happy all week. She is very picky with her food. She´ll eat about 5 tangerines a day, and some 3 or 4 pears, so lots of fruit. But no veggies, just meat. For breakfast cookies with warm milk, but her favourite is pancakes, anytime, breakfast, dinner, no matter when.

She goes to bed at around sunset: 8.30/9-ish, but doesn´t fall asleep until midnight and sleeps till 11. In bed, she entertains herself, and us, with songs:

However, today, Sunday, was the first time we noticed her getting tired of the home situation. She repeatedly kept signing ´tomorrow / school´and the sign-name of her school friend ´Marta´. I took her out on the street for a short stroll, but she only signed ´car´ and ´swimming pool´ and was very unhappy. Maybe I can incorporate a little street stroll routine for her.





Corona week 4

12 04 2020

It has been a month. No school. No work. At home. Not too bad actually.

This past week was Semana Santa. Holy Week. Under normal circumstances there is a 100% hotel occupation during the easter holidays, hotels are full, and with the exceptionally beautiful weather we had the past week, the beaches would have been full too.

We feel absolutely blessed to have a big outdoor space and to be able to enjoy the sunshine. The boys did a thorough job cleaning the swimming pool and we have officially opened the swimming season.


Ama is super happy to have us all at home and together and she´d wish this to be always so. Jorge cooks us all wonderful meals and Ama eats with us every day.

We shifted the movie themes to a more contemplative easter vibe and Ama has joined us every evening to watch Franco Zeffirelli´s Jesus of Nazareth (originally a tv series so we watched it in 4 sessions), Spartacus, the 1960 version with Kirk Douglas, and Quo Vadis from 1951. Coincidentally in all movies Peter Ustinov played a major part.

As Semana Santa with its many processions has been cancelled, the Puerto de la Cruz Band decided to record one of the processional marches from home, every musician playing individually and all edited together. This is the result:

Dácil is starting to get used to not going to school. She will ask about it every day but accepts the fact that she´s not going. We take her to Ama every morning after breakfast. Sometimes breakfast is in bed. Pancakes are a favourite. Pancakes in bed are a terrible idea, the dough sticks to skin and hair like glue..





Corona week 3

5 04 2020

We´re starting to get into a morning-breakfast-Yone school online-Dácil no school-working in the garden-preparing lunch-eating with Ama-leisurely afternoon-7 pm clapping-evening film kind of routine…

Our favourite part is the evening movie part. We are all cinema lovers and like to introduce Yone to cinema classics he´ll not likely run into in your average cinema or Netflix evening at friends´sleepovers. So the evening movies are not necessarily Corona related. However, we have more time now to watch movies and this we celebrate. Our screenings since lockdown have been:

Yone has experienced a downward swirl in terms of energy. A frustrating amount of apathy and lethargy has invaded him. Especially frustrating since he has soooo much work to do. His IGCSE´s may not come in the form of exams, but there will certainly be a lot of testing and evaluating involved and he won´t get his marks just by lying on his bed staring at his mobile phone.

He didn´t feel like doing his online timple class, he didn´t feel like playinig the saxophone… he didn´t want to do my daily yoga practice with me… He did help around the garden, reluctantly, and cleaning out the pool.

At some point there was no escaping music theory online:

The turning point came yesterday when he was about to hit the deadline for submitting his saxophone part to his band: as the Holy Week with all its processions and religious activities has been cancelled due to Corona and confinement, the band, which was going to play in nearly all processions, decided to edit a video with each player playing his part of one of the pieces they play, and post it social media. So Yone sat down and recorded his part.

This morning, Palm Sunday, there was a whole different vibe about him. He helped with Jorge´s workshop,

started a workout routine in the garden,

and displayed an overall more positive attitude

It´s Palm Sunday. The beginning of the Holy Week of Easter. Love and peace to you all and remember to stay home!





Corona week 2

29 03 2020

We´ve just finished our 2nd week of confinement in our homes. Not much has changed for Yone and Dácil. As for me, my last day at work was last Thursday, 3 days ago, and now the weekdays seem to merge with the weekend days. As if it were vacation. Good thing Yone still has regular school hours; this keeps us in some kind of rhythm.

Bea has been sending little videos over whatsapp for Dácil to keep practicing her signs. Dácil loves to listen to the cell phone but has a hard time keeping her fingers off the touch screen. We incorporated Bea´s videos into Dácil´s daily practice:

Yone had his first timple class via whatsapp. A new experience for both Yone and his teacher Carmelo.

And we´ve been busy in the garden. Working and chilling.

And then there was earth hour on the 28th at 20:30 local time: lights out.

Lovely to be able to connect via video conference with dear friends all over the world. Lots of zooming and skyping and whatsapping going on, and urging everybody to stay home, sit this one out and stay healthy and kind to each other.





Corona week 1

21 03 2020

These are crazy times. The world has come to a halt. In some places more strictly than in others, but it´s everywhere.

In Spain, schools were shut in Friday 13th and a State of Alarm was effective as from Saturday 14th midnight. This means: shops are shut, except those which sell food. Only supermarkets, grocery stores, chemists and petrol stations are open. All non residents must leave the Canary Islands as soon as possible, hotels are closing as soon as they are getting rid of their guests. Only one person per car, only one person can walk the dog, only one person can go shopping, exceptions are children accompanied by parents and the disabled and elderly. You must have a good reason to be out on the streets otherwise you get fined.

Yone started online classes immediately. It works quite well, he has to sit behind his computer at 8.20 am, which is when his regular school day starts, and he works through his normal weekly school schedule.

Dácil has vacation. She signs that she want to go to school but we can only explain to her that she has vacation. No logopedia with Bea, no swimming with Israel… She´d rather go to school but is content with the situation as long as she gets what she wants: food and music.

Jorge practices on his new guitar and I have new choir songs to learn. In the evenings we watch cinema. Not a single dull moment.

We´re ready for the coming months.





Valle Gran Rey

19 03 2020

Valle Gran Rey is a municipality on the south western coast of La Gomera with some 4000 inhabitants. We chose La Gomera for our week long half term vacation mainly because of the short boat ride. Between islands we like to travel by boat and take the car and Milka with us. Once we decide on the island we filter accommodation for dog friendly. That narrows down the possibilities quite a lot.

Our previous visit to La Gomera was in 2016, in the south, in Puerto Santiago (we didn´t have Milka at the time). This place, however, Valle Gran Rey, we liked better. There was a beautiful big beach just in front of our apartment, we just had to cross the pedestrian street to get to the beach.

the view from our apartment balcony

There was a jeu de boules area just in front of the house and restaurant with terraces on the boulevard, with a festive but relaxed evening atmosphere, people having dinner, chatting, strolling, hippies making music, playing drums, guitar, a french pianist with a piano on wheels would give a concert every evening at sundown. We enjoyed the beach, swam every day, played kolonisten, read, walked Milka and even found a few geocaches.

Looking back now, it was the last true corona-craze free week.





Yone likes vintage

14 02 2020

School discos are for the littluns: year 7 and year 8. Yone’s first school White Party was on the day of his 11th birthday.
Now the bigguns attend the school disco (today is the Valentine’s Edition) to help the teachers maintain order and, in Yone’s case, perform bar duties.
The barman is wearing his fathers wedding shirt.





Dácil is 12!

22 01 2020

One could get used to aging. I know we, as a family, are getting used to keep celebrating Dácil´s birthdays every year, when at first, we would be more cautious with our expectations.

Screw it. She´s 12. And next year she´ll be 13! Keep going, princess!!!





2020!

1 01 2020

Keep going y’all!!!





Merry Christmas!

25 12 2019





Yone still has no tv

23 12 2019

Nor do any of us, of course. We watch cinema in our living room on a big screen with a projector. We choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it and in which language we want our subtitles.

We made a list for 2019. There were 17 films. Of which 8 were war films. And some I vetoed. Like Shindler´s List and the Deer Hunter. And Stalingrad. When he´s 18 he can make his own list. Shindler´s List is a great movie. But I definitely don´t have to watch it twice. Same with the Deer Hunter (which he saw with Jorge when I was out singing one night) and Stalingrad. One time only movies.

Besides the list, there were a number of alternative lists… The list is not sacred and does not have to be followed religiously. We watched many movies which weren´t on the list. And many movies on the list weren´t watched. We watched only 5 films from the list. All other 2019 films we watched were extra-listed.… That´s how it goes. There are 2 miniseries which were worth including: After Life from Ricky Gervais and Hierro, a Spanish series about the island of El Hierro where we spent a summer week. I didn´t include GOT although all seasons were watched.

There is one missing: The Doors, Oliver Stone. We watched it yesterday evening. And yes, it was on the list.

Important: all movies were enjoyed. And: there will be a 2020 list!





Dácil makes music

12 12 2019

Buying toys for Dácil is always a challenge. One never knows how she´s going to react, whether she likes it, whether it´s too soft, or too hard, or too difficult to figure out, or too simple. One thing we do know: it´s never too loud.

So we bought her a melodica. We tried to get one here, locally. Impossible. So sadly I had to recur to Amazon. Anyway, she really liked her melodica, and understood immediately that it won´t play if you don´t blow.

However: the harmonica is still favourite. And not any harmonica: there are a number of  harmonicas in the house, a really cheap brandless made in China one, a green toy Hohner, my Tombo (Japanese, bought in Slovakia many years ago) and a nice not-toy-Hohner Jorge got his hands on. She´ll toss any of the cheap ones right away if she knows she can get her hands on the Hohner…

 





Yone in cinema

14 11 2019

Yone attended an 11 day workshop over the summer at the CajaCanarias foundation in La Laguna. Together with 20 other kids between 13 and 17 years old he developed and created a short film. They had to work as a team, writing ideas, voting for the best idea to turn into a film within a short period of time, write the script, act, film, record and edit sound… And they even had time to go on a biking trip and do some paddle surfing.

The result is Zombie.

 





El Hierro

2 11 2019

Summer is but a memory. On this 1st of November it seems far gone, and as we´re nearing the end of the year I can´t help thinking how extremely fast a whole year passes, watching the seasons fly by while we run round after round, like Ben Hur on his quadriga in the Roman Circus.

We spent a short summer holiday week on El Hierro. A short week, because we went by boat, with car and dog, and the boat leaves in the late afternoon and departs back to Tenerife around 3 pm. It´s a 2,5 hour boat trip; we arrived at our holiday house on Monday at 9 pm and departed on Sunday around noon, that leaves only a full 5 days on the island.

El Hierro used to be the smallest island of the Canarian Archipelago, up until recently, when there were 7 official islands. In June 2018, La Graciosa was added as an official 8th Canary Island with a permanent population of 730 inhabitants, making it the smallest island. El Hierro was long thought to be the western most spot of the known world and the zero meridian passed through the island until 1884 when it was established in Greenwich, UK.

El Hierro has a population of 10.000 inhabitants. It was our honeymoon destination in 2002. We spent 4 days in one of the smallest hotels in the world. It used to be in the Guiness Book of Records as it had only 1 room. When we stayed in 2002, it had already lost that title as they had expanded and added 1 room.

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On El Hierro everything has a slower pace. People know each other. Traffic is scarce. The landscape is almost prehistoric. It´s like Tenerife but tiny and say 70 years back in time.

This is the Charco de la Maceta, very near to where we were staying, in fact Yone and I hiked there once, a 25 minute walk, a swim, and a 25 minute walk back to the house.

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Our house was in El Golfo, near the town of Frontera, on the North-Western part of the island.

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We visited the village of Sabinosa and payed hommage to Valentina at her tomb, one of the most important figures in Canarian folclore:

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We visited a lava tube:

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And some dear friends who decided to pace down their lives by moving to El Hierro, Marianne and Jimmy:

It was a beautiful, peaceful holiday and we´re definitely going back!

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Dácil & Bea

10 10 2019

Dácil misses Bea and Bea misses Dácil.

Luckily they meet twice a week in the afternoon for an hour of logopedia, which has lately turned into half an hour of cuddling and kissing and half an hour of logopedia. Lately, since Bea isn’t Dácil’s intervenor anymore and they don’t work together in school. We’re still waiting for answers.

Meanwhile;





Yone is 15

9 10 2019

No fancy celebrations on this regular Wednesday in the middle of the week. However we all travelled to our island´s capital to attend the Experience 5.0 Presentation Gala. The short films in which Yone participated last summer during a cinematography workshop were ceremoniously presented this evening, all parents, siblings and grandparents invited.

There were two groups of around 20 kids who both filmed and edited a short movie, which they wrote the script for and starred in. All team work.

And they did some sound experiments: dubbing a scene from Notting Hill and another from Inside Out, and creating a soundtrack for an animated short.

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Dácil goes back to school

12 09 2019

For most children and parents, going back to school is fun. The first days of school are joyous moments where kids tell each other their summer adventures. New pencils are bought, a new rucksack maybe, blank notebooks with immaculate pages. Maybe there are new children who need to be shown around. Maybe there´s a new teacher…

Exciting. Fun.

For us it is the most stressful time of the year. We are kept in the dark by the ONCE and the FOAPS (organizations for blind and deafblind persons respectively) about how many hours the intervenor will accompany Dácil at school for the most part of summer. At some point we get a notification with way too few hours, we complain, we wait, we usually lose…

This year is special. What is going on right now is unprecedented. Dácil has lots of changes at school. Classes have been rearranged to fit all disabled children in 2 groups max. That means that teachers have been sacked or relocated. Her teacher from the last 2 years has left. The assistant to the teacher is also new. Neither of them sign or know how to communicate with Dácil. The teacher who practiced walking with the cane has retired. He too has been replaced by a new teacher.

Today is Dácil´s 4th day in school. There is no intervenor. Bea received a phonecall this morning that she will no longer be Dácil´s intervenor. Nobody is answering our phonecalls. We are quite lost. I imagine so is Dácil. She still has logopedia with Bea (outside of school hours and in a different place) and when she first encountered Bea last Tuesday she signed ´school´ and ´class´, as if asking why she wasn´t there in the morning.

It doesn´t look good. It stinks of institutional incompetence and people not doing the jobs they are paid to do. I wonder what they think to achieve separating Dácil from the intervenor who has been at her side for 7 years and with whom she has a strong bond. What crap they propagate telling the world how they improve people´s lives and do everything possible to include the visually impaired in society. Well, not here. For Dácil it´s definitely not working.

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Dácil explores the coast

28 08 2019

And while Yone is out exploring the depths of the Ocean, we took Dácil on a tour along the hidden gems of Tenerife´s coastline.

Yone´d have his diving course in the afternoon. We´d drop him off in Buenavista del Norte, the far most western town along the north coast. From there he´d join instructor Borja and ´classmate´ Miguel and drive in Borja´s van to Teno.

Meanwhile Jorge, Dácil and I would find a ´charquito´, a natural lava basin, for swimming and chilling. There are a number of charquitos in the area which I had never visited.

On day 1 we went to Playa de la Arena, near Buenavista Golf course, with a sand beach, an area with rocks and little ponds and a restaurant with spectacular views:

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The next day we swam in ´El charco de las mujeres´. As it was low tide and not much fresh seawater comes in, the water was quite warm and very salty. After a leisurely swim we visited the town of Buenavista del Norte, waiting for Yone to return.

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Day 3 was the last day. Jorge was working so it was just Dácil and me. Yone and Borja went on their last dive to Los Silos, home to an impressive sculpture by Portuguese artist Bordalo II :

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Dácil and I took our first swim in the ´charco de los chochos´. All of these natural lava pools are a challenge to access with Dácil, but once there it´s worth the trouble of hauling towels and daughter down rocks and steps…

For Dácil, 1 swim is not enough, so we jumped in the car and drove along the coast and found these little pebbled beaches, hidden away, without people…

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