Monthly Archives: October 2013

Team Kezmoh goes to Sevilla

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Beautiful hills on the way to Sevilla

Beautiful hills on the way to Sevilla

This weekend we made our first out of town excursion to Sevilla. The girls came home from school on Friday at 2:00 PM. We had a quick lunch and piled into the car with our overnight bags, cameras and backpacks.  Sevilla is 200 km from Alhama.  As we drove west the rolling hills gave way to a flat plain.  We played a game translating the names of the towns and signs we passed using the Babylon app on my iphone.

Chicken Hill!

Chicken Hill!

We passed Cerro de la Gallina (“Chicken Hill”), Moron (“small hillock”), Cuesta Blanca (“White ridge with a steep slope on one side and a gradual slope on the other” sounds like a hill to me) and Cuesta de la Palma (Ridge with a steep slope… of the grove of palms).  Are you noticing a theme here?  There are so many ways to say hill in this language!  I typed hill into the translator and it gave me ten words that are different types of hills: cerro, lomo, colina, alcor, altillo, altozono, collado, cuesta, monte, riba, moron…  It was obviously very important when Spanish was developing to properly describe a hill because each of these words means something slightly different but basically they are all hills.  When we arrived at Llanos de Antequera (“large flat area of grassland where few trees grow of Antequera) we knew that we were out of the hills!  The flat plain was reminiscent of the Central Valley in California.  Driving on the A92 toward Sevilla looks so much like California’s I-5.  It is even complete with the Oleander flowers in the median.  I was trying to find out how to spell Oleander and Mike came across an interesting post on Flickr.  Robert Couse-Baker claims that the Oleander was once incorrectly thought to have been imported from the Mediterranean regions of Iberia (Spain) and Northern Africa.  However, it was actually found much earlier in North America by the first nation peoples who arrived and found meandering lines of Oleander.  It was called in various dialects “that useless plant that goes in long pointless lines to nowhere”. Out of some perverse curiosity people followed these long lines of plants leaving trails in the soil. These trails would later become trade routes and over time, they were overlaid by European settler roads and eventually the state highways we know today.  Not likely true, but funny just the same.

Spain or California?

Spain or California?

Sevilla is the capital of Andalucia and the 4th largest city in Spain with 1.5 million people in the metropolitan area.  According to myth Sevilla was founded 3000 years ago by the Greek God Hercules.  The Rio Guadalquivir runs through the city.  Sevilla Harbour is 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and it is the only river port in Spain.  It was the most important trading port between Spain and the new world after Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492.

Sevilla, Andalucía,  España

Sevilla, Andalucía, España

Back to the adventures…We arrived in Sevilla before dark.  We checked into the Hotel Barcelo which is really quite nice.  The kids had a great time running around and exploring. There was a pool so they changed into their swimsuits.  When we got to the pool it was nearly empty but the girls were enthusiastic to swim.  They jumped in and jumped out, very cold.  We wrapped them in huge, fluffy blue towels and took the elevator back to the room. They played in the warm bathtub together to make up for not getting to swim much.  I consulted trip advisor and found a genuine Mexican restaurant that was highly recommended.   There had been a considerable amount of homesickness and we were wishing for some good black beans so real Mexican food was just what we needed.  The restaurant was difficult to find but very worth it.  We were greeted by the owner, Oscar, who is a young man from Oaxaca, Mexico.  He came to Sevilla 3 years ago for cooking school to learn to cook Al Andaluz.  Ironically, he stayed and opened La Cantina Mexicana and taught the Spanish to cook Oaxaca style. We drank Coronas and ate empanadas de verduras, fajitas and savored every bite of his wonderful refried black beans.  Mike’s tradition is to ask the waiter for their favorite thing on the menu.  Oscar brought him a dish called El Gringo. He said it was his favorite but I wasn’t sure if he was making fun of us.  Either way, Mike declared it delicious and ordered a second one.  We asked Oscar where he gets his beans.  Imported from Texas, of course!

Dig in Daddy!

Dig in Daddy!

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The best beans in Spain!

In Spain it is illegal to smoke inside any public place so we always choose to sit inside if we can.  It is still legal to smoke in an outdoor cafe but most smokers stand in the doorway so they can talk to their friends inside- not cool.  We already liked Oscar but when some cigarette smoke wafted by our table he smelled it too and scurried to the door to close it.  Ahh, a man after our own hearts!

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Savannah, Sky and Leslie on the Rio Guadalquivir

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Magical Sky at the koi pond

On Saturday we walked from the hotel to El Centro.  We walked along the Rio Guadalquivir on a bike path.  The path and the gardens along the water were all part of the renovations for the 1992 World Expo.  In 1992 Sevilla also celebrated the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ famous voyage.  There were lovely fountains, gardens and pools of water that must have been spectacular at one time.  The area has been sadly neglected in recent times.   The pools had murky water with small koi fish gasping for air.  The fountains were not working and the flowers were crowded with weeds, but one could still feel the magic of the past in this place.

We crossed La Puente de la Cartuja admiring the long, colorful  lines of kayakers out for their morning exercise.

From the Puente de la Cartuja: Kayakers on the Rio Guadalquivir

From La Puente de la Cartuja: Kayakers on the Rio Guadalquivir

By the time we made it to the center of town everyone was exhausted.  We stopped at the first Starbucks we had seen in 3 months.  We ordered our favorite drinks and sunk into familiar chairs for a rest.

Ahh, Vanilla Steamer!

Ahh, Vanilla Steamer!

So tired

So tired

Team Kezmoh at Starbucks in Sevilla!

Team Kezmoh at Starbucks in Sevilla!

We watched the parade of tourists on the street and played “guess where they are from”.

From Starbucks we walked past La Catedral de Santa Maria, officially the largest cathedral  in the world by volume.  It is 3rd by actual size after St. Paul’s at the Vatican and St. John’s in London.

There was a fancy wedding and we admired the brightly festooned guests who stood on the stairs.

Wedding goers in Sevilla

Wedding goers in Sevilla

Past the cathedral a line of horse drawn carriages stood, their drivers lazily glanced down at us as we approached.  When I was a student in Spain I romantically imagined returning with my children who would beg to go for a ride.  Sky pretended to be interested but as it turned out I was really the only one interested in a carriage ride.  No one else really cared about the carriage ride but agreed to indulge me.  The carriage sped down the busy streets with the cars.  We glimpsed monuments going by.   We passed the Torre del Oro one of the most recognizable features in Sevilla.

Torre del Oro

Torre del Oro

It is a 13th century Almohad watchtower by the river.  In the distant past it was covered in golden tiles and was once used to store the treasures brought back from the Americas.  Even then it was more than 500 years old!  Hard for me to imagine coming from a country who only just celebrated it’s bicentennial during my lifetime.  Today there is a small museum inside.  We also passed the Antigua Fabrica de Tabacos an enormous building which is now the Universidad de Sevilla.  Our tour ended in the Parque Maria Luisa where I once spent many hours running and sitting in the shade of the enormous elms and Mediterranean pine trees.

Sunny day in Sevilla!  Not really any other kind!

Sunny day in Sevilla! Not really any other kind!

Parque Maria Luisa

Parque Maria Luisa

Carriage ride in the Parque Maria Luisa

Carriage ride in the Parque Maria Luisa

There were beautiful canopies of trees, brilliant flowers, fountains and Sky and Savannah’s favorite – playstructures!

Parks are the best no matter where you are in the world!

Parks are the best no matter where you are in the world!

Daddy is so strong!

Daddy is so strong!

Beautiful Savannah

Beautiful Savannah

Sky defies gravity!

Sky defies gravity!

The park dates back to the mid 1800’s but luckily the play structures are most certainly from this century.  The park originally was the garden of the Palace of San Telmo.  Princess Maria Luisa Fernanda left the gardens to the city of Sevilla when she died in 1897.

Inside the park is The Plaza de Espana, my favorite site in Sevilla.

Plaza de Espana

Plaza de Espana

From Google Images

From Google Images

Beautiful Tiles

Beautiful Tiles

It was built in 1929 for the Exposicion Iberoamerica.  It features beautiful Sevillana tiles. There are tiles with maps and historical scenes for each Spanish province.   A canal runs the length of the building and for 5 Euros you can rent a little boat to row in the moat.

Savannah and Sky checking out the fish in the canal around Plaza de Espana

Savannah and Sky checking out the fish in the canal around Plaza de Espana

In the center there is a huge fountain where we posed for some photos.

Team Kezmoh in La Plaza de Espana

Team Kezmoh in La Plaza de Espana

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Savannah, Sky and an Arco Iris

We visited Sevilla on the Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day),  a Spanish national holiday, so the plaza was significantly more crowded than usual.  There was a contest going on in the plaza for the best tasting jamon.  Participants and judges tasted the entered pig legs and voted for the most flavorful. We were there as they announced the winners of the best HAM in Andalucia.  Have I mentioned the Spanish obsession with jamon in the past?

Checking out the ukeleles

Checking out the ukeleles

Cool trinkets!

Cool trinkets!

Vendors lined up in front of the Plaza de Espana selling brightly colored scarves, dresses, fans and magnets.  We bought fresh roasted chestnuts, which we peeled and ate. They tasted similar to potatoes.

Carolina, our friend/Au Pair who stayed with us in California this summer met us in the park just in time for a ride on a cool family bike.  We rode around under a canopy of green trees and Caro pointed out her favorite spots to play as a child.

In front of Plaza de los Americas

In front of Plaza de los Americas

Our next stop was the Festival de las Naciones which is celebrated for a month in Sevilla.  There were vendors selling everything from olives, hacky sac balls to wooden flutes (we bought each of these items! ). There were food stands representing France, India, Mexico, South Africa, the US and many more.  Sky chose a vegetarian samosa from India.  She announced that it was good but not as good as Ishani’s mom’s samosas!  Mike, Savvy and I ate in Mexico and drank wine from France.

La Bandera de Sevilla

La Bandera de Sevilla

No me a dejado

No me ha dejado

The girls noticed that all around Sevilla there is the symbol NO8DO.  It is like a hidden Mickey in Disney World.  If you don’t know to look for them you might miss them, but when we started paying attention the symbol was everywhere.  “NO8DO” is the official motto of Sevilla. It is even on the flag.  It is popularly believed to be a rebus signifying “No me ha dejado”. The 8 in the middle is supposed to be a loop of wool, a “madeja”.  Literally the meaning is:  “Sevilla has not abandoned me”.  However the feeling is that Sevilla is a city that will always stay with you.  Sevilla is a magical place and it is true that once one spends some time there it will stay with you always.

Artesania Alfaro

Artesania Alfaro

Barrio Santa Cruz

Barrio Santa Cruz

We made our way through the tangle of winding streets in the Barrio Santa Cruz.  We admired the beautiful tiles and I stopped to buy pottery in a store so colorful I could live there.

Metropol Parasol "Las Setas"

Metropol Parasol
“Las Setas”

Savvy on top of Las Setas

Savvy on top of Las Setas

Sky and a Spanish sunset from the top of Sevilla

Sky and a Spanish sunset from the top of Sevilla

We emerged from the narrow streets at Sevilla’s newest attraction, The Metropol Parasol.  It was opened in 2011 and was built by German architect Jurgen Mayer-Hermann.  It looks a bit like a honeycomb or a flying waffle.  It is in the Plaza de la Encarnacion and the Sevillanos think it looks like mushrooms, thus the local nickname “Las Setas de la Encarnacion” (The mushrooms of the Encarnacion).  We took the elevator to the top of Las Setas . We strolled the walkway under the purple and orange Sevillana sunset. The panoramic view of the city was breathtaking.  We took a deep breath of Sevilla and agreed it was a full day.

Team Kezmoh from the top of Metropol Parasol

Team Kezmoh from the top of Metropol Parasol

We had a short break back at the hotel and then went to the home of Carolina’s family for dinner.  Carolina’s father, Jeff is originally from Singapore and her mother, Ana is a native Sevillana.  They met at BYU in Utah where they both attended college.  Her parents were kind and welcoming.  They hugged and kissed us as if we were part of the family already.  Sadly her elderly grandfather had died the day before and the funeral had been earlier in the day.  We felt awkward coming for dinner under the circumstances but Jeff assured us that our visit was a welcome distraction.  He had prepared a delicious Chinese meal. He scooped us delicious rice from his giant rice cooker. We ate tofu and vegetables and ginger chicken. It was our first Asian food in Spain and it was wonderful!  We all agreed that the dinner with the Koh family was our favorite part of the day.

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Carolina and her brothers with Sky and Savvy

Jeff and Ana

Jeff and Ana

We slept late Sunday morning and the girls did their homework in the hotel room.  Carolina came over at noon to walk over to Isla Magica with us.  Isla Magica is Sevilla’s pirate themed amusement park.  No one told us to have a magical day like at Disneyland, but it was a fun day just the same.  October is the end of the season for Isla Magica so it was nearly empty.

Does it get any better than this?

Does it get any better than this?

The 3D show!

The 3D show!

Las Llamas

Las Llamas

Las Ranas

Las Ranas

The Iguana

Iguazu!

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We never waited more than 10 minutes to get on a ride so the girls rode every ride, several times!  Our favorite was “La Anaconda”, a water roller coaster.  It had no line at all and we must have ridden it at least 5 times.   We discovered where the camera was and planned our poses.  We laughed and laughed at our sleeping pose.  If felt good to laugh so hard.

So Scary!

So Scary!

Sleeping!

Sleeping!

Sky and Savannah

Sky and Savannah

Savannah and Carolina

Savannah and Carolina

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Sky and Daddy

At the gift shop Sky and Savvy choose to make a stuffed animal for their souvenirs.

Making the animals

Making the animals

Sky makes a cat, of course

Sky and her cat

Filling the blue bear!

Filling the blue bear!

Team Kezmoh

Team Kezmoh

We stayed until the park closed.  We drove Carolina home and got on the A92 back to Alhama in the dark.   The girls slept the whole way home snuggled up to their new stuffed animals.

Team Kezmoh Runs!

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Alhama de Granada is an amazing running destination for the trail runner.  Mike and I discovered this area when we came in 2011 on a fact-finding-mission.  I typed trail run Spain into the computer at home and guess what? There is a website called trailrunspain.com.  Our friend Paul Bateson is the keeper of this site.  He organizes trail running holidays for people visiting Andalucia.  When we came 2 years ago we ran with him for 3 days.  We ran from village to village carrying all of our gear.  We each carried a small pack.  I brought a rolled up sundress, underwear, an extra pair of socks, flip-flops, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a comb.  We rinsed out our running clothes at night and stayed in hotels.   We ran 18-25 miles each day over and around the nearby mountains of the Parque Natural Sierras de Tejeda.  Recently Paul’s knees have not been behaving well so we’ve been having fun acting as his substitute running guides.   The first week we ran with Dominic, an English banker based in Hong Kong.   Last week we spent with Rob from Holland a computer programmer and a wicked hill climber.  They were both good runners so many days Mike would run on ahead with them and they would wait for me at the top of big climbs.

Team Kezmoh’s recent trail runs: 

LA MAROMA (10 miles): 

From near the top of La Maroma. Mike and Dominc

From near the top of La Maroma. Mike and Rob from Holland admiring the Mediterranean Sea

Mike and Leslie on La Maroma

Mike and Leslie on La Maroma

La Maroma:  We did this run with both Rob and Dominic.  It starts at 3000 feet and is 10 miles round trip. The top of the mountain is 6800 feet according to my Garmin altimeter.   I would like to make it 22 miles round trip and leave from home but I haven’t gotten to that run yet.  The trail starts on an upward sloping dirt path that becomes gradually more steep and eventually more and more rocky until we can only hike.

Sky and Savvy hiking up the trail to La Maroma. We didn't torture them with going to the summit.

Sky and Savvy hiking up the trail to La Maroma. We didn’t torture them with going to the summit.

There is an incredibly rewarding view at the top. We live on the inland side of the mountain so it is a treat to be able to see the  Mediterranean Sea from the summit.  We expect that on a really clear day we would be able to see Africa!

Dominic from Hong Kong!

Dominic from Hong Kong!

The Rickety Bridge loop (8 miles):

The famous (will now it is!) Rickety Bridge!

The famous (well now it is!) Rickety Bridge!

This is an 8 mile loop from our door that is really nice.  It is full of rolling hills all of which are run-able.  We like to do this loop after we take the kids to school. The school is in the gorge so we just keep going after dropping them off.

The start of the rickety bridge loop

The start of the rickety bridge loop

We run into the canyon along the Alhama river  We cross a small foot bridge and shortly come to a little dam.  There is a guard dog who lives on the levy behind a fence next to the dam.  He has very little space to run so Mike feels bad for him.  He looks pretty ferocious so I am glad for the chain link fence between us.  Mike wants to befriend him so he carries treats in his pocket to toss over the fence for him.

Mike Feeding the Dog

Mike Feeding the Dog

Past the dog we take a dirt road mostly uphill to the “rickety bridge”.  The bridge is the midpoint of the run and  from there we climb up a lovely dirt path that rolls past cortijos (farmhouses).  Our favorite is Cortijo Bernardo.

Cortijo Bernardo

Cortijo Bernardo

Here is Bernardo himself.

Here is Bernardo himself.

The day I brought my camera Bernardo was in his garden pulling weeds while Stevie Wonder sang “I just called to say I love you” from a small radio.   His wife Francisca was concerned that I was so sweaty and came over to feel if I was as wet as I looked.  We explained that we were just running and complimented their lovely gardens and ran off down the road.

Next, we pass fields of tomatoes and corn with the sound of rushing water from the river below us.   There are a couple of friendly dogs who come out to greet us and usually join us for a short way.  They don’t need treats because they already seem happy.

Soft dirt to run on past the corn

Soft dirt to run on past the corn

Here I am running with my friend Kathryn!  Miss you!

Here I am running with my friend Kathryn! Miss you!

Trees are starting to change

Trees are starting to change

Eventually we loop back past the gorge and the school.  If we time it right we can wave at the girls during recess. Sometimes we try to spy on them but one of their friends always spots us and points.

The Cacin Gorge (8 miles):

This run starts by Lake Bermejales about 10km from Alhama.  The first 3.5 miles is along the top of the gorge on a dirt road that winds through tomato farms and olive trees.

Mike and Leslie after a run in the Gorge. Lake Bermejales in the background.

Mike and Leslie after a run in the Gorge. Lake Bermejales in the background.

The road crosses a Roman Bridge, El Puente Romano over the Rio Cacin.

Daddy, Savvy's butt and Sky

Daddy, Savvy’s butt and Sky

Just before the bridge there is a trail that drops sharply into the gorge.  There are boy scouts who spend the summer at a camp near here.  They keep the trail clear and set up ropes and bridges to cross.

Mike and Rob

Mike and Rob cross the Cacin river

Pretty steep climbs up and down

Pretty steep climbs up and down

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Leslie running down the the gorge

Running in the Cacin Gorge

Mike and Rob

Mike and Rob

The Lake Bermejales Loop (15 miles):

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One of our favorite runs back home is the Lake Natoma Loop so it seems fitting that we found another lake loop to enjoy.  Like Lake Natoma, Lake Bermejales is a man-made lake with a dam.   It is 15 miles around on a mix of trail and a bit of road.

The trail darts in and out of coves through neat rows of pine trees.  The trail is a soft cushion of pine needles, gentle on the knees.   It is stunningly beautiful.  The lake is very clear and in many places a surreal mix of greens and blues.  The unearthly colors seemingly change around every corner.

From the bridge at the dam we see large fish swimming deep in the crystal waters.

See the fish?

See the fish?

We have done this loop with all of the visitors so far.  Most recently Colleen and Jeff from Toronto, Canada joined us.

Colleen at the Convent of the Ermita San Isidro just outside of Arenas del Rey

Colleen at the Convent of the Ermita San Isidro just outside of Arenas del Rey on the Lake Bermejales Loop

Colleen and Jeff from Canada

Colleen and Jeff from Canada

If anyone whats to come to join us on a run in Spain just send me a comment! We would love to have some company.   You can also e-mail me at LKEZMOH@gmail.com!

After the "loop"

After the “loop”

Cimex Lectularius

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I debated with myself about posting this part of our adventure.   I still would like to have some visitors and I really don’t want to scare off our family and friends.  But it is part of the adventure and adventures are hazardous actions of uncertain outcome.

Bed bugs from Google Images

Bed bugs from Google Images

The morning after La Feria Sky came downstairs and told us that she had a ton of mosquito bites. She had bites all over her arms, face and back.  Savvy pointed out that she had some on her legs. It dawned on us that many of the bites were under where their clothes had been. The bites also looked too small to be mosquito bites. Then I noticed a patch of bumps on my legs. Mike started thinking and came up with the answer: bed bugs!  We looked up pictures on the internet of bed bug bites.  Bed bugs typically bite in groups of three evenly spaced bites. They are referred to as breakfast, lunch and dinner bites. Who knows why they do this but it makes them easy to identify. Sure enough most of Sky’s bites were in lines of 3 about an inch apart. Uuugh!

So Itchy!

So Itchy!

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Bed bug bites 😦

So, we were able to tolerate that La Casa Azul wasn’t actually blue, we were able to buy a vacuum, massacre hundreds of spiders, scrub cat poop off of the decks and bleach pretty much every surface of the bathrooms and kitchen.  We even removed all of the coverings from the moldy, smelly couches, washed them and hung them out to dry.  But bedbugs??? This is stretching even my strong wishes to make everything OK.  The Casa Azul had a great view and looked awesome in pictures but the internet is unfortunately not scratch and sniff!

Cleaning and cleaning

Cleaning and cleaning

We spent the next few hours researching ways to fight bed bugs.  Eventually we e-mailed our landlord.  He answered back, “I am sorry to hear about your problem”.  OUR PROBLEM? Now we were furious!  He insisted that no one else has ever complained about bed bugs and he personally had stayed at the house without any bites.  ( Mike’s note: our landlord rarely bathes, lives alone with his three dogs, and reeks of body odor- not sure that a bug would want to bite him ) He also was certain that bed bugs couldn’t be a problem in Spain, because he had not heard of that.  Surely we must have brought them from America, he suggested!  We did find plenty of articles about bed bugs in Spain and in every part of the world, civilized and not.  

We did learn a few things from our research.  First, it is not recommended to just move out or go to a hotel.  The bugs will surely follow.  It is also not recommended to bomb a house with pesticides.  Bombs don’t reliably kill the bugs and the bugs will go to the neighbors and eventually come back.  We wondered why we didn’t see the bites right away.  We first noticed the bites a bit more than week after our arrival.  It turns out this time course is actually typical.  The bumps are caused by a delayed immune response.  Unlike mosquito bites, to which we react to immediately, it takes some time for our bodies to react to the bed bug bites.  This is especially the case if it is one’s first exposure to the antigen (bed bug saliva).  This means that if a person only stays in a place for a day or two, they might not notice any bumps for up to 7-14 days.  This information was pretty horrifying as it meant that the bumps we could see were probably just the beginning.  They did get worse over the next week, but with our efforts to decrease the vermin population we only noticed a few new bites each day thereafter.  Another interesting fact is that up to 50% of people don’t respond at all to bed bug saliva.  Initially Mike had none.   I had a couple on my arms and legs and one on my chin (yuck).  My bites did continue to appear and eventually I went around in long sleeves.  Savannah had many on her arms but Sky, dear sensitive Sky, was covered.  At one point she had more than 12 bites on her face alone.  The good news is that although the bites are really gross and very very itchy, bed bugs do not carry disease.  In addition, unlike head lice, beg bugs do not live on their human hosts.  They prefer to live in the creases of mattresses and in cracks in the walls.  This made living in the Casa Azul pretty much impossible.  The walls were nothing but cracks.  The ceiling in our room was made of bamboo and thatch, great bug motels. We decided then that the bed bugs were the final straw.  We just could not stay in the Casa Pesadilla (Nightmare).  We started looking for a new place the next day.

As I write Mike is sitting next to me, he says that he is glad that I am the one who is writing because he wouldn’t be able to write about this without swearing a lot and suggests that I throw in a couple of F-bombs!

While we stayed at Casa Azul we did everything we could to decrease the population of the pests.  We ordered Diatomaceous Earth ( DE ) online which sounded very promising.  It is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock that is ground to a powder.  It is actually fossilized remains of a type of hard shelled algae that acts as a non-toxic insecticide that can be put on mattresses and around the bed.  It is deadly to the bugs because it dehydrates their exoskeletons.  The fine powder absorbs lipids (fats) from the waxy layer of the insects’ exoskeletons causing them to dehydrate. The arthropods die as a result of water pressure deficiency.  Unfortunately, the DE never came and by the time we contacted them to find out why, we already had a new place and a plan to move.  I may still try to get some DE for any trips to hotels to sprinkle around our stuff like garlic to ward off vampires!  We bought alcohol and a spray bottle as alcohol is supposed to kill the bugs on contact.  We sprayed dilute alcohol in every crack. We took the beds apart and completely doused the mattresses and bed frames with alcohol.  We sprayed the beds with permethrin (flea, lice, arthropod insecticide) that we bought from the veterinarian.  We put all of the bed legs in little bowls of baby oil as recommended on the internet. We also bought double-sided sticky tape and put it around the legs of the beds to catch any bug that might make it past the oil.  I became obsessed with inspecting the seams of the mattresses and studying the sticky tape.  We had a jeweler’s loop that my brother Russell had given to Sky and Savvy so we used that to study any bug dead or alive that we encountered.  We did catch quite a few little bugs but none that looked exactly like a bed bug. Very disturbing as we continued to get new bites until we moved.

The Casa Azul came with a washing machine but no dryer.  When we first arrived I was happy to carry the clothes up 4 flights of stairs to the roof to hang them in the sun.  However, as part of our exit strategy, we needed to assure ourselves that we didn’t bring bugs with us.  A dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill bed bugs at all stages of the life-cycle including the egg.  So, we drove to Granada and bought a clothes dryer to do battle with our tiny invaders.

Despite the rough start we wanted to stay in Alhama mainly because the school is really nice and this has been hard enough for the girls without having to change schools again.  We looked at many places in our search for a new home.  We looked at everything in town that was available.  In the end we traded interesting with a view for just plain clean.  Our new apartment is just down the street from the old place and it really is quite lovely.

Apartamentos Salmerones

Apartamentos Salmerones

Our new place is an old family home that was converted into 3 apartments.  We are on the middle floor. We have 3 clean bedrooms and unlike the Casa Azul, the ceilings and walls are all finished.

Entryway

Entryway

Living room

Living room

Sky and Savvy's room

Sky and Savvy’s room

On our first day in the new apartment Sky and Savannah spent hours in their new bedroom playing on their bunk beds, making forts and just relaxing.  It is really nice to see the girls playing on their beds without fear.

It was a lot of work but we wiped or sprayed everything that we moved to the new house with alcohol and dried everything in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes.  We have been in Los Apartamentos Salmerones for a week.  Most of our bites are either gone or are scabbed over. I still wake up some nights worried that I feel something crawling on me but for the most part we are all feeling much more relaxed.  I no longer have the urge to bleach everything in sight but I do keep my spray bottle of alcohol just in case!