ziplining: expert level

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Yesterday we played in the park, for we are tall six-year-olds.

J didn’t feel up to going into the city, so I decided to hang out with her and explore O’s neighborhood a bit. In the early afternoon, we walked to the local supermarket and had a food adventure. Those apples above were miraculous in my mind, because the apples in Japan are priced more like diamond-encrusted Christmas ornaments than fruit. I was especially enamored with the olive oil – the Spanish stuff is some of the (or maybe the) best in the world, and because we’re in Spain, it’s almost flatteringly cheap. I bought two bottles as souvenirs for myself.

On the walk back from the supermarket, J and I made a detour in a park very clearly for children. Caring not one single whit for this fact, I took a ride on the zipline, my favorite playground attraction ever since I was three and saw Home Alone for the first time. J gave it a try, and as she was flying down the hill, a little boy and his mother walked up. The boy looked concerned for us, while the mother just smiled, deeply amused. J handed the T-bar to the boy with a grand sweeping gesture and he took off without further encouragement.

The playgrounds around here, I’ve noticed, are pretty damn innovative. They’re complex and imaginative and pretty numerous around Barcelona and the surrounding areas. Their best feature, however, has nothing to do with the playground equipment. What I like best about what I’ve seen in these playgrounds is that, more often than not, both parents are with their kids. If it’s a weekend especially, I’ve seen countless fathers with their kids – with or without the mother. Living in Japan, I’ve gotten used to seeing predominantly women with their children, thanks to an unfortunate combination of culture and a male-dominated work force. It’s been refreshing and heartwarming to see so many fathers not only with their kids, but elated to be with them.

As we walked back to O’s place, I saw a group of people gathered near a shopfront. A girl around four tugged on the sleeve of a man holding the leash of a medium-sized white dog, and he gave her a wide smile. She pulled him away from the group and they quickly segued into a game of trying to step on each other’s toes, dancing away and around the white dog, who seemed to want to play but didn’t quite get the point of the game. I don’t know anything in detail about parenting in Spain, but purely based on observation, I’m glad I’ve seen so much obvious love.

O’s parents, I should mention, are especially wonderful. I’ve seen a few couples in my life that click with each other and feel like an ideal example of what marriage and parenting can be like, and they’re definitely one. They genuinely enjoy each other’s company, they travel extensively together, and they still go on dates even after thirty-two years of marriage. They’ve been the kindest hosts, too. ♡

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In a courtyard near O’s place, signs of spring sashayed about. (Pardon my parade of pedantic alliteration.)

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J and I made a new friend. He sniffed both our hands, decided we were terrifying and backed up behind his owner. Then he snuck forward for another sniff, ran away, and then paused halfway to his owner and seemed generally conflicted. His owner seemed deeply amused. He had a cute name, too: Jaumet, I think. I looked it up and it’s like a pet name for the Anglican name James.

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We got back to O’s place and I made some macaroni and cheese for the three of us. I had a better photo of it, but this one has the best grape juice on the planet in it, so I’m substituting photographic quality for tasty quality.

Today, our last full day in Spain, I plan on an excursion to Mt. Tibidabo.

I salute you, citizens of fine grape juice.

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