Monday, February 21, 2011

We Win! A Week at the Beach

I am an INFP, and my lovely wife is an ENFP. Those of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality type indicators may recognize that our matching last three letters make us well suited for happy marriage. And though the first does not match, my Introverted tendency doesn't then compete with her Extroverted tendencies. That's mostly good. Mostly.

But when she so generously relives her day for me as if it were a scripted and memorized performance, she understandably wants to know what happened in mine. How was your day? she asks. Good, I say. It was good.

Very good?

Why are you looking at me like that?

Turns out, "how was your day?" is meant to illicit more in the way of a treatise on what actually happened in my day, or at least one or two complete sentences. Grunts and syllables, it seems, don't count as legitimate marital communication.

And so it is with my blog (which Diana promises to remedy with her own): though people, she tells me, want to know what actually happened on our sabbatical, I am compelled to related what happened only in relation to what it meant to me. You may have noticed. But we just returned from a week at the beach in Canoa, and 310 million Americans (less however many are in Florida) have been experiencing one of the most wintery winters in memory. I'm sure those people would like to stick a vicarious toe in the sand, and I'm sure they are all reading this blog.

So for you and my marriage, here goes the F. Scott Fitzgerald treatment...

The dust swirled behind the the long passenger van whose smooth treaded tires bore it to the winds, themselves wrought from the kinetic mass of impeding leisure...

OK, maybe no room for Fitz.

We rented a van and driver for the trip, which at $250 per family roundtrip starts me rethinking this automobile asceticism. Thank god our Canadian friends here who were shameless enough to invite themselves along on the trip. Two sets of parents are better than one, and I approved only on the condition that we trade date nights. They have a four-year-old daughter, which is harder than having two kids, in that you the parent must be the constant source of diversion, in lieu of a sib. So the multi-family vaca is an all around winner.

The van ride is eight hours, which is better than a nine- or ten-hour day on buses with transfers, but at least on a bus it's not so easy to satisfy your perverse sense of curiosity to know what killed you by looking out the windshield every 30 seconds after a sudden swerve or break or acceleration. How, in a country of insanely aggressive drivers, can it always feel like you got the worst one? That he pulled over to use his mobile phone just seemed like an executioner disinfecting his blade. Maybe he was getting directions, but it didn't prevent two confused detours. For that you can't blame him too much. Maps are an oddity in Ecuador, and perhaps that is because even some major roads can seem improvised. And the construction signage for the massive upgrades happening on the coastal roads comprises large rocks instead of cones, and intuition and telepathy instead of flaggers.

Still we arrived just after 9p.m. at the only adequate place I could get reservations in Canoa. Sometimes it's good to arrive at a place tired. You might otherwise be tempted to prejudge the night of sleep you're going to get, and your night of sleep needs no additional discouragement. La Posada de Daniel is a fine place for backpackers up till 3a.m. who are unlikely to notice the stiff surface beneath them as they sleep, or the distorted speakers thumping out (reggae?) all about them, or the bats crawling and brawling above them in the ceiling, or the mosquitos getting drunk off them. And all those things were, for us, more amusing than bothersome. We figured the next day we could find other accommodation, and we did.

After a tranquil breakfast beachside (party towns are soothingly peaceful in the morning) we moved ourselves over to the Hotel Baloo, which is close enough to the town center to be convenient and far enough to be peaceful. We had the only children there, but being fenced in with a large, sandy courtyard, having a single cabin with a kitchen, bathroom, and a room with bunkbeds for each family, Baloo was a far and welcome cry from Daniel.

The beach at Canoa is remarkable for two things: It has great waves for surfing, and a shallow shore that grows about 100 meters at low tide. We happened to catch a receded swell on our week, so the waves were only about 5 feet high (commonly 8-10 feet, we hear) and too frequent for decent surfing for novices like me. But that meant they were really good if you're only 40 inches tall. And the shallow beach means that 40-inchers can get waaay into the water as well.
There are worse places to work
It seems almost a shame to waste a beach like this on just vacations. Nothing short of a giant hamster wheel is better suited to exhausting kids than play, play, playing in the surf, while a parent sits idly by reading, napping, hey even doing work (if you care to risk sand in the laptop).

We managed to catch most sunsets, which was nice as one last nightcap for the kiddies to be sure they hadn't a gram of energy left. With grownups sitting in the warm, dry sand with cool breezes blowing off the surf, cuba libres in hand, and kiddies stripped down to their WonderBread buns, as Richard put it, "We win!"
Nice suit!

And as I said, it only takes one grownup or couple to watch over sleeping charges, so each of we couples got date nights. Di and I spent ours trying to work on our new fight club (more on that later). We also met a young college grad who was eight months into a two-year Che Guevara-style motorcycle trek from Canada through South America. He may take us up on our offer of a crash pad here in Cuenca, so probably more on him later.

Our worst experience during the week was the return van not showing up to take us home, forcing an extra night in Canoa. So...we won again.

Did I miss anything, Honey?


  1. wow, wow, wow! Can we come along next time? OK, so I've emailed you both but I haven't heard back. We are headed to Doha, Qatar in August. Plenty of sand there too if you don't get enough in Ecuador. Altough our sand may be a bit harder and may harbor lethal stone fish. Ah, life is an adventure! Thanks for the posts! Love 'em. Tell Diana she is going to miss a PC lovefest this week as we will be having our first "official" meeting since she left. We are lovin' PC these days! xo Lisa Isom

  2. Oops, I meant hotter sand, not harder sand - but maybe that too.