The things we learn

This was never intended to be necessarily a homeschool blog, or a travel blog. I meant to use the space as a place to track our progress–for lack of a better word just a quarter into the day’s first cup of coffee–in this expat experience. To follow our evolution from the little hayseeds we were then to the slightly better-equipped rubes we are now.

What I could not have known when launching was how many transitions there would be in such a short time. A long year in Dubai with the kids enrolled in a huge international school, followed by a long summer in Wisconsin, the social demands a balm against the loneliness that had built up, and then a new year (really only eight months) in Abu Dhabi, enrolled in an online school, studying at home, and moving about in the circle of homeschoolers in our new city. From farm to villa to apartment. From a 7-year-old second-grader to an almost 10-year-old young lady, and from a sweet, naive 10-year-old boy to my still-small 12-year-old curmudgeon of a youngster. Kids who have seen the site of Jesus’ baptism and dipped their hands into the Jordan River. Kids who watched a pride of lions devour a cape buffalo during a precious pause in unrest and violence in Kenya. Kids who are beginning to understand human trafficking in ways they never could have imagined on the farm.

They are miles, year and light-years, from mastery of Arabic, but the phrases slip here and there from their lips, worldly little asides, sometimes accompanied by the accidental head-bobble that somehow made its way from India into the branching neurons of their own systems.

French: They are now in their second year of study and claim not to know how to ask for a WC, which we will attempt to remedy this year on our sojourn back to the Arabian Peninsula. A stop next week in Paris, just two days, for sight-seeing, bread-and-cheese eating. Chocolat and café crème. There are more than seven hundred stairs in the Eiffel Tower. Train B3 on the RER connects CDG airport to Luxembourg, the stop closest our hotel. The Pantheon, Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Bastille, because when we wrap up the travel, there is a fourth grade history unit waiting to remind us of the American and French Revolutions. Just a few weeks ago, as school began for Stateside friends and family, there was a trip by train into Washington, DC. The pump will be primed; the places and people will be real.

After we wear ourselves down on old streets, we will jet across Gibraltar and reunite with their father in Casablanca to spend a few weeks on a family visit in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, where there is a construction project to assess–the retrofit of a WC into an old ksar–and then a family wedding, and then the biggest holiday of our Muslim year, Eid al Adha. We will gorge ourselves on sheep’s liver and heart and skewered meat cooked over wood or charcoal fires, traipsing from house to house, always failing to remember the names, recognize the particular mustaches. A million tiny glasses of unspeakably sweet tea will wash down crumbly cookies and roasted peanuts gone soft in the cool and damp. Autumn rains will wash  blood from the lanes and streets, and by the time the meat is beginning to turn and flies multiply, we will be on our way to the sands.

We will arrive several weeks behind in school, our science and French units flashing red on a school dashboard. We will poke at our jet-lag with afternoon coffee and early sleep. We will scratch at flea bites and swallow yogurt and laban, doing our damnedest to repopulate our intestines with the friends we still always lose to the pathogens of mountain poverty. We will walk to the mosque on Fridays. We will reconnect to the wi-fi. Pump the bike tires. Meet up with the homeschoolers for park day. Sleep in the sun. Eat shawarma. Practice yoga in the park, on the beach. Skype and email and Facebook with loved ones. Send postcards. Be so grateful for the time spent with friends and family on our visits to our homes.

Watch for your postcards. We will be in touch.

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