Sunday, January 2, 2011

yipee! the beach

Ah, the beach!
We got to go to the beach from the 27th to the 1st.
Good times were had by all.

At first when we walked into our "hotel" (that term is used very very lightly), I thought "get me outta here".
I'm all for roughing it - but I was not prepared for it, and I was too tired to deal with it.
Plus Eric wasn't there - he couldn't come until the 29th in the late afternoon because he needed to work.

The teeniest, tiniest room for 5/6 people ever.
I still don't quite know how we lasted for that whole time.
Not to mention all the sand,
the mere two towels we got from the "hotel",
the "hot" shower spout,
the foam "beds" and,
no cleaning service the entire time.

Okay, okay, enough whining.
It wasn't the Hilton (don't think I have ever stayed at a Hilton), but it was fine.
I always say that I can be almost anywhere in almost any situation, as long as I am with good people.
And I was with very good people.
We brought our own food for breakfast, lunch and we (three families) each did a dinner.
The place had a dinning room with a kitchen where we could prepare food.
The kitchen was so clean that the smell of bleach was overwhelming.
(reread that sentence with as much sarcasm as you can possibly muster - 'cause that is how it was written....)
Lunches were sometime consumed in front of our rooms, like the picture above.

The water was great.
The waves were fantastic.
The sand was plentiful (in our beds, the floors, the shower, our clothes and bags.... okay, I said I would stop whining..... it was plentiful on the beach too!).
And other than many many plastic lids strewn throughout the miles of beach (who knows why plastic lids were the thing), was relatively clean.

Lucy boogie boarded.
Maddy boogie boarded.
Cade did too.
And so did Mia.
Eric did as well - once he got there.
And even I did, but only once.
I spent most of my time taking pictures,
collecting shells with the kids,
jumping waves with the kids,
watching/helping with boogie boarding and,
most definitely relaxing.

The match up of kids was great.
Lucy had a pal....
They were so cute together - and looked like twins half the time.
They had so much fun.
And I took approximately three thousand pictures of the two of them because they were so darn adorable.

Maddy and Mikayla were pretty darn cute too, but in a much more mature and beautifully cute way, of course.
Cade had three boys to hang out with, although, of course, he also enjoys his time alone.
Mia didn't have a "match-up" but she is so great.
She just gets along with everyone and had a good time with the boys close to her age, and with all the girls.
So thankful that she is good natured and flexible that way!

We had beautiful sunsets every night.
Every night.
But the week was not without incident.
Our family was spared the most, although Maddy did get stung by a jellyfish.
Maddy - takin' on the jellies....
The picture doesn't show much - looked worse in real.
She got a few raised welts that hurt her pretty bad.
She took an hour rest and then was back at it.

Every afternoon - from lunchtime until about 3:00 we took a break out of the sun.
The sun is pretty intense and there were a good deal of sunburns.
Although once again, our family was spared of anything too bad.
I must be a very good mother.....

There were lots of great critters to discover as well.
Lots of the jellyfish washed up on the beach.
They are fun to poke and squish.... just stay away from the blue tentacle thingies.
Lots of crabs.
Cade caught this one.
And even a stingray.
I found that guy during my morning walk on the beach.
I was a definite hero with Cade.
I was a definite villain with Eric...
Cade wanted to drag the stingray around with him every where he went.
Eric was non too pleased.

Cade had an uncanny habit of sitting and playing in the sand when most everyone was out in the water.
Then he would go out in the water when everyone else was playing in the sand.
He is his own person, without a doubt.
But he did have his times with the boys.

And the girls had their time together too.
And then everyone had time together.

We all pitched in building a big old sand city.
I made several attempts to make a crab and lobster army who were going to secretly invade the city.
My army never remained a secret and where snuffed out before I could make more than four at a time.

One of the boys that was along share the same birthday as me.
So we partied like it was 1999.
Or like it was our 9th and 41st birthdays.
The Surf Shak was the venue.
And pizza was on the menu.
(that even rhymes! sometimes I amaze myself!)
(and sometimes I amaze myself that I get amazed by such pathetic things.....)
Mikayla even gave me a birthday "card".

After a two days or so, the men decided to rent surf boards.
Eric took a whack at it.
Even Mia did.
And did pretty well.
My little California surfin' girl.
She did fine when she was on the board, but the board was a little much for her out of the water.

The last night we were there was New Years Eve.
New Years Eve is a pretty big deal here.
They like to burn things and blow things up.

One of the most treasured, if I may use that term, traditions is "burning the old man".
It represents getting rid of the old year.
And they really do burn the old men....
men made out of paper mache or saw dust.
Here is our man.
I named him Zacchaeus, because he was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.
But the hotel owners also bought a man to burn.
The man was President Correa.
They even put a sign on him that read
"¡Mátenme, Si Quieren!"
Which means "Kill me if you want!"
.... a quote from him when that whole coup attempt (or what they said was a coup attempt) happened.
They aren't exactly fond of their President.....
But all the kids where fond of him.... at least the paper maché version!

Fire works are a big thing too.
(From what we saw - they aren't as big as in Costa Rica, but apparently if we had been in the city it would have been different).
The fathers went to buy some of our own fireworks so we could have our celebration before midnight.
The pickin's were few, but we did set off some roman candles...
as well as a few other treasures.
It wasn't a big show - but hey, we had fun.
And I busted out the glow sticks.
I love glow sticks.

And then we burned our man.
We acupunctured him with sparklers first.
And the hotel people burned their President.
His hand remained raised in defiance until almost his whole body was burned.
Oh, I forgot to mention that Correa was also filled with fire crackers, so he was rather loud as he burned.
Perhaps that is symbolic as well....
The girls were not so fond of the noise.
(Notice the glow sticks on the kids?)
I love glow sticks.

Side note: On the drive home - through all the towns, big or small, and into Quito, you could see smoldering ashes all over the place..... the remains of the burning of the old man.
And we were fortunate (from all I hear) to only experience one "widow" of the old man on New Years Eve.... Apparently men will dress up as women (in a rather risque fashion most often) and then will hold ropes across the roads and intersections stopping cars. They will stop the cars that are driving with the ropes and then will dance (or what they might consider dancing....) for the cars and then ask for money. Once you give them money, they will let you drive on. Needless to say, if you are trying to get anywhere on New Years Eve, it could take you a while and could get rather expensive.

New Years morning we headed out, definitely pooped out from late nights, bad sleeps on bad beds (no, I'm not whining...... it's the truth!!), and lots of good times.
Just thought I'd leave you with a picture from the beautiful, lush drive home.
Lots of little (and big) waterfalls throughout the drive.

It was so great to get away.
But it was so great to get home!

Happy New Year.

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