Almost every year, for the past 22 years, JZ and I have traveled back to his family home in San Sebastian. Located in the north of Spain, on the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastian is a small, elegant seaside town where his family has lived since moving back from London in the late eighties. The Zabala family is large and proud - numbering in at over 100 - there seem to be uncles, aunts, cousins and distant relatives at every corner. Our stay usually begins and ends visiting family - either on the farm or in one of the small villages that line the coast. Both of his parents grew up on farms outside of San Sebastian - so a visit to the place where the grandparents were born is required. All of the farms are still in working order - making everything from cheese to cidre to ma mia - a local yogurt. The Zabala's are also in the coffee business - roasting coffee and serving it up at all of the local cafe's and bars. Although neither Sofia or I speak Basque, we sit for hours listening to the aunts and uncles talk about the old days and laugh about how JZ ran away when he couldn't have a bag of crisps - was he 4 or 14? - no one can really remember.
Summer after summer we return, for Sofia, for Jon and maybe even for myself. Coming home to JZ's roots is a gift that we have given ourselves and now give to Sofia - so she knows where her dad is from and how to appreciate how the family has grown into the 21st century.