Three people, two adults and a child, are standing near a riverbank, holding hands and looking out over the water. Behind them, the landscape features greenery and a cloudy sky.

We drove all the way up to my mom’s birthplace, with heavy rain. Close to four hours. Little one would not sleep, or shut up, the entire time. We played a lot of games. A LOT of games.

We had my father in the car, while my mother was riding with my brother and his family. He took part in most of the games too, and seemed to have a lot of fun.

A stone house with a red roof and a chimney, behind a black metal gate, with a driveway leading up to it. There are clouds in the sky and the shadow of a tree falls on the driveway.

We finally arrived, and got the house cleaned and ready. The place is closed most of the year, so there is always some dust around. We also got the fireplace going. tinyMovieStar hesitant to get close at first. It takes her 30 minutes to get used to everything: places, people, stuff. She studies everything, and when she feels it’s safe, she’ll engage. I, of course, love that about her. After that time, she would constantly ask me to get the fire going. It’s very cold up there. We were keeping our fingers crossed for some snow to fall. tinyMovieStar can not believe winter has gone by, and no snow at all. Fairy tales have it, cartoons have it, how can this country go through winter without it? Unbelievable!

We got back in the car and made our way to the nearest city, where one of my cousins lives. We were to have dinner at his very lovely home. He has three brothers and they’re all around our age. The six of us (my brother included) were very close when growing up. We had a blast every time we were together, and that still happens today. Dinner was amazing, all of us laughing the whole time. My parents love him, he loves my parents even more. His daughter was also there, and tinyMovieStar fell in love with her as soon as she saw her. Still no snow, but a very cool new cousin for our little one.

Dinner was brilliant, but it was getting VERY late, and we drove back to the village. Slept like babies, all of us. This, by the way, when tinyMovieStar got used to the fact that the house is built with huge granite blocks, and not the usual clay bricks. She was afraid the house might fall down. We told her the house has been standing since my grandfather was young, then my mother, myself, and now herself. It’s been standing for very long. She finally fell asleep.

A person standing behind a metal chain curtain, partially obscured but looking through at the camera, wearing a pink jacket and blue jeans.

The first words out of her mouth, as soon as she woke up the following morning, already in front of the fireplace I had started again, were “I’m glad it didn’t fall down”!

Breakfast was next, and then a walk around the village with her. It was her first time there, and she wanted to see all the houses. For us it’s nothing out of the ordinary but, for a first time visitor, I suppose there’s a cool element of oddness, as all the houses are made of granite, and very different from the ones we have in the cities.

Soon it was time to drive, again. This time we would be travelling a short 45 mins, ending at a restaurant where my father’s family has Easter and Christmas lunch. Around 30 of us were present. Most hadn’t even met our super daughter yet, and she was in no rush to greet all of them at once. Again those 30 minutes. We had lunch.

On the way to my father’s village after the meal, we made a quick stop in Spain. The border towns on both sides of the international line are ghost towns by now. Years ago they were vibrant, and we loved crossing the border. Toys, and candy (and later cigarettes) were much nicer on the other side of the fence. These days the fence is gone, but so is everything else. A highway has been built in the meantime, and there’s no reason for travellers to stop there anymore. Only gas stations do business as usual (gas is much cheaper in Spain), for those who live close by.

Temperature had dropped by then, to almost-freezing levels, and the rain was turning into ice. Still no proper snow.

We strolled around the village, had more food, talked to cousins and uncles, and moved back to my mom’s village again, for another quiet night. The final one.

Woke up very early on our last day. I would find out a couple of hours later that it had been even earlier, as we were now in summer time. Damn! Had the fireplace going, drank a couple of coffees, and soon my father joined me. He’s the only one who wakes up as early as I do. All others kept sleeping for hours. We talked for a couple of hours, while keeping the fire going.

A chocolate bunny wrapped in colorful foil is tied to a barbed wire on a concrete fence post, with a grassy background.

When everyone was up, and fed, we packed, loaded the cars, and drove 10 minutes to my cousin’s farm, where grilled meat and beer awaited. We ate that, drove around in the jeep, organised an egg hunt for tinyMovieStar, and left. Final treat for tinyMovieStar? Her now favorite cousin was riding home with us, she lives in town.

We had hours of traffic to deal with before we were back in the city. Gridlocked traffic on the highway. We drove by three accidents. It was a mess. But we were back home.

All things considered we had a wonderful time. My parents loved spending so much time with the little one, they don’t have full days with her too often. I loved meeting my cousins again. movieStar loves my extended family, and is surprised that, after all these years, she’s still finding out about some of them. She’s now lobbying to get us back in the village in the summer time. Since tinyMovieStar had such a great time, I’m sure we’re going.

A man carries a toddler wearing a pink jacket, on his shoulders, while walking on a path next to an old stone building with overgrown vegetation and a cloudy sky in the background.

Her words the following morning: “The cousins are great. The meat was delicious. The village is marvelous.