Sweet sixteen.

16 years married. That’s longer than either of us has stuck with anything!

One certainty is this, on that fateful day, 16 years ago, neither of us would have predicted where we are today.

This life we find ourselves leading here has surprised us all. What began as a dream which took form during a much belated honeymoon, so to speak, has grown into our reality. We traveled to Switzerland 10 years ago, made possible by a wedding gift of flights to Europe by Manolo’s parents. We arrived, greeted by family who immediately felt like home.

I can still picture the moment when the dialogue in my head said “how can we make this more permanent?” Walking in Lugano, on a warm fall day, overlooking the lake.

The view that planted the seed.
We were all captivated by it.
The world awaits you, little one.
Oh the places you’ll go…
We were such babies! Who knew what time would bring.

Fast-forward 10 years and here we are, still somewhat perplexed by how this all came about.

It wasn’t through a detailed plan, set in motion and carefully carried out. Anyone who knows us knows that’s not really our style. The Garcia-gene has won over the Johnson-gene in terms of planning capabilities. We’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of pair.

But it did come about through a determination to not let the dream become a regret. To risk everything for an adventure. To trade in the everyday for for the “one day”.

So what toll does this take on a marriage? I can tell you, like all marriages, ours has had its highs and lows. (I kid you not, auto correct just changed “highs & lows” to “hugs & lies”. I guess both are somewhat true.)

For us, here, the highs have been higher and the lows have been more unifying than divisive. Our lows here have brought us closer, made us a better team. Our lows before did the opposite.

I would suggest that we like each other more here. We enjoy spending time together here. It’s not lost on me that this has a lot to do with the fact that neither of us really has anyone else to spend time with here. Isolation, it would seem, is good for a marriage. (No guarantee that this would be true for every marriage but it has been the case for ours. In fact I can think of marriages nearly torn apart by isolation.) For us, and for many, I think, the mundane is a greater risk to a marriage. Settling into a familiar routine which slowly finds you functioning without much thought to the person beside you. Our days here have been anything but mundane. The uncertainty at times has been enough to inspire a case of shingles, it would seem. But it has forced us to rely on each other, to trust each other, more than we were doing back home.

And, for a lack of any other option, spending all my time with my husband has been surprisingly nice.

We found ourselves child-less last Saturday so toasted our 16 years on a sunny patio.
A pretty view over our town.
Sipping wine from the grapes below.

Back home I was surrounded by the most amazing women; friends who stood in as co-parent at times. We did everything together and it made life such fun and so much easier. But it meant that the role my husband played was less, I didn’t need him as much. My girlfriends were my most favourite companions.

While I would give anything to have those women nearby again, it has been nice to let Manolo fill that gap. I am aware of the difference this has made for us. We are better spouses to each other here.

So, what is the gift for 16 years of marriage? Turns out in Switzerland it’s a giant Ford van. I’ll give him one thing, he hasn’t changed. He picked me up for our first date in an oversized Ford and we’re still being seen together in one.

She’s a beaut! Not quite the convertible mini-cooper I had in mind. Tinted windows in the back for that solid child abductor vibe. The children are horrified.

A vehicle has become a necessity this year. Diego’s hockey schedule no longer is possible by transit alone. And I’ll be honest, the novelty has worn off after 2 years. Last weekend was thankfully our last time taking 3 trains & 2 busses to get to the game. The fact that we now seem to be driving the team-van wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned but my other half had big plans. He points out often how great this will be for all future visitors. We can fit you all in!

Have van, will road-trip. Our first weekend with our freedom, we set out to explore places the train hasn’t taken us to.

Today that was Austria. It was a glorious day to go to the mountains. The hikers and bikers and general outdoor enthusiasts were out in droves.

A whole pile of flags. Some we know, many we don’t.

That sky! Such a great day to explore.

Pretty view in Austria

The boys. Someone is happy to be road-tripping again.

Pretty church, somewhere in Austria.

Gorgeous flowers still in bloom.

We went to the birth-place of skiing, St. Anton. I’m so excited by the potential these wheels give us for skiing this winter.

Crazy mountain passes today. The view was spectacular.
Perfect day for sightseeing. The Austrian facades did not disappoint.

We were offended that Banff didn’t make the cut.

Unfortunately for Helena, road trips involving mountain passes means she needs gravol. Poor kid is high as a kite here.
This gondola was massive. Serious gears working this beast. Manolo will be back.
A lodge, on the hill housing a museum of the town.

Turns out our lack of vehicle may have been the secret to our Swiss marital happiness. We did not get through this first road trip without arguing, irritation and squabbles over the radio, climate control and navigation. It truly felt like we’d never left home, setting out in our behemoth motor home. (I mentioned the van was unfortunately big, right?)

But there was also sunshine, laughter and happiness, so we just might make it after-all.

Just look at the pretty places we can show our next visitors! (Les & Avril, buckle up!)
The ski town of Lech. Can’t wait to return.
The church top has a newly shingled top. Pretty spiffy.
I think the Swiss have some competition in the window-box department. The Austrians are nailing it.
The ornate facades is definitely an Austrian thing.
Considering the cruelty of posting a photo of our drugged-up daughter, a selfie with D in mid-sneeze seems fair.

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