How we came to Europe…

I am currently in Budapest, Hungary, writing this long overdue post.

WHAT?? I know! How did this happen? I will tell you. It is a long story and I have found myself in want of time and words to explain. I have the time now and have made it my goal to be ever more mindful of updating this blog.
In March, we had the opportunity to spend a month on the beach in Baja, Mexico. It was idyllic. The weather was wonderful and we met the most amazing people. I had many experiences and felt a continues calling to full time service and continued travel, specifically to work with refugees and displaced persons. I started researching what that could and would mean and the children were very excited and had more ideas to add to the plan. Things evolved quickly!

The decision was made - going to Europe!

The decision was made – going to Europe!

We were blessed with finding airline tickets for under $85 per person to Stockholm, Sweden and the call to act upon purchasing them. Because the tickets were specially priced for specific dates, we had only 3 weeks to prepare to leave! Our goal was to minimize our lives and live with only what we could individually carry in our backpacks. Another post on downsizing needs to be written regarding minimalist living and how to prep 8 people for long term independent travel!

We realized that we were unable to take our ever faithful and loyal service dog and family member, Mattie Ross, with us. The challenges of transporting her and obtaining the necessary documents for her was difficult enough, without the consideration of the transportation. We were blessed to meet a wonderful man, Doug, and his son Oliver, who fell in love with our girl and gave her a home and new life. I miss her terribly, but have no regrets , as she is so happy and well cared for by one of my dearest friends. God intervened and brought Doug into our lives and I am ever grateful for him!

Doug, Jacquelyn and Mattie Ross

Doug, Jacquelyn and Mattie Ross

We left for Stockholm on April 21, arrived the next day and learned what jet lag really is! For two days, I was almost non-functioning. The tiredness and body aches were unbelievable! Never has anything like that ever happened in my travels in Latin America! As my grandmother would say, “Lawd, have mercy!” .

On the plane to Stockholm, Sweden

On the plane to Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is all that an organization-loving nut job like me could hope for! It was clean, well designed, a bin for everything – except it was wildly expensive and people very reluctant to engage on any level. After 2 days, we wanted to leave! With few exceptions, we found the overall energy to be very negative. We were scheduled to be there for 5 days.
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Something happened to our family while we were in Stockholm. We were overwhelmed by negativity. It was like a cancer, with everyone on edge, arguing and yelling constantly. None of the activities we tried to engage in were fun, the children were angry constantly, and it was just an overall unpleasant experience. I do not blame it on Stockholm, of course, but something happened that shifted the excitement and exuberance of our family to anger and hatefulness.

Finding some love in Warsaw, Poland

Finding some love in Warsaw, Poland

Our intentions in Stockholm were to understand the refugee situation in Sweden up close and personal. It didn’t happen. My inquiries were ignored or swept aside and I could not locate any information on refugee camps. So I left disheartened and with no more knowledge than I had before I arrived.

When we arrived in Warsaw, Poland on Easter Sunday, there was a definite, immediate shift. Attitudes lightened and my family was once more a likeable bunch with smiles and happiness and a sense of excitement.

We loved Warsaw! Arriving on Easter Sunday was a bit of a mistake – there was nowhere to buy food! Every shop, store and restaurant was closed. We were hungry by late afternoon, but through the kindness of strangers walking down the street, we were directed to McDonalds. I have no love for fast food, but was never so happy to find a McD’s in my life!
Warsaw was what we loved – It was inexpensive, people were much more amiable, museums were free or almost and so much to see! I really wanted to stay, but was encouraged to move to Krakow, where we would find it less expensive yet. I also had some direction that I would find contacts who were familiar with Ukrainian refugees in Poland. I left excited that things were coming together.

We left after only two days for Krakow, Poland by bus. Krakow was lovely and had such a history about it. We visited the Schindler Factory museum and many other sites, including Wawel Castle, museums and the Jewish Quarter. We stayed for a week and, while enjoying it in many ways our stay there did not add to our knowledge of the refugee crisis as hoped and intended.

We arrived in Budapest, Hungary and have now been here for a week. It is a beautiful city, the public transportation system is wonderful and inexpensive and the CASTLES! I love the castles! It is less expensive for us as a family than Poland. Food is moderately priced, and with an Aldi’s Grocery around the corner from our apartment, we have fared extremely well.

Castle hopping in Budapest!

Castle hopping in Budapest!

Some of my children are experiencing some challenges in different ways than ever and unexpectedly so – two of my children are struggling with some issues that are having an effect on their opportunities to learn and grow. I know that teens express themselves differently and struggles are common amongst teenagers, but these things are little bit outside the norm and are likely relative to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, which may be at the center of many challenges my children face. I will address these things in more detail and often, as this is everyday life for us.

Tomorrow, we leave for Belgrade, Serbia by train. We will be there for several days. I am still hopeful that, as we get closer to the areas affected most by the influx of refugees, we will be able to engage more and find more information relative to our intentions than we have so far. My next post will continue on about our intentions in more detail.
We appreciate the continued prayers for success and direction, as well as health and safety!
Blessings to all~ THE CAVEMAN CLAN