Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Snooky and the Beach

So we just flew in from Grand Cayman, and boy, are our arms tired! Ha ha! Is joke!

Seriously, though. What a long, strange trip it was, if i'm allowed to say that outside of yearbook signatures. Some of the high
est and lowest points of the year, all smashed together into one crazy week. Like to hear about it? Here it goes!

The plane: Cleo is riled up in the airport and protests being oppressed on the plane. We hand her everything in our bags, trying desperately to calm her before she starts caterwauling. She grabs a Kashi granola bar and rips her teeth into it, immediately starting a horrible choking spree as the tiny flutter of wrapper dances from her windpipe to her gag reflex. Everyone freaks out, stewardesses included, as she alternately, turns blue, is given the heimlich by mommy, turns red, drools, screams, cries, coughs, and barfs. A doctor and 2 EMTs on the plane help us out, and eventually the item in question is swallowed, to be found the next day in a terribly nasty diaper. She's so hopped up that she can't nap, so the plane ride is possibly the worst 2.5 hours of our lives.

The island: Grand Cayman is amazing. The airport is pretty ridiculous (seriously, 4 exit gates in one room full of sunburnt tourists?), but then we got to the hotel, and it was awesome. Beautiful blue water, pristine white beach, huge room, enormous bathtub, you name it. We stayed at the Hyatt on Seven Mile Beach, and every particular was fantastic. Even the robes were great. We had lots of fun in the taxis and even the TV was good, for Luddites like us. Our friend Adrienne and her boyfriend, Evan, have great taste!

The food:
HOLY CRADOODLE. Best food i've ever had. I will think of the Ritz's champagne brunch for the rest of my life, especially the rack of lamb with coffee-vanilla saffron risotto, crispy calamari, and pumpkin and ginger mousse. I admit to lifting the sugar ban for a week, because, honestly, when am I going to get to try the champagne brunch
at the Ritz again? Not likely ever. The pistachio crusted chilean sea bass at Bed. The shrimp with black fettucine at Decker's. The duck at The Wharf. The dragon roll at Bamboo. The chiarroscurria at Hemingway's. Even the drinks were good!

The activities: We had so much fun, and many of my childhood fantasies became reality. That's right-- I finally galloped on horseback on the beach. AND IT WAS AWESOME! We even managed to find a riding establishment that practiced natural horsemanship and had happy, healthy horses, instead of the usual beaten-down, hard-mouthed nags that have humped one-too-many fat guys over the dunes. We went to a turtle farm and got to hold and pet tiny green sea turtles, or Chelonia midas, from my sea-turtle-obsession days. We also swam with stingrays at Stingray City, where our friend Evan rubbed chum on me when I wasn't paying attention, so I was totally swarmed by 5-foot stingrays hungry for squid. The sail there and back was also lovely, as i've never sailed before. My other favorite activity was just snorkeling outside our hotel-- a few hundred feet out, and we found amazing fish, a 60-pound lobster, brain corals, fans, you name it. Nothing fancy-- just a snorkel, some fins and a kayak. And it was tremendous, and it made me want to snorkel every day. What could be more fun to me than discovering animals and being in water? Maybe if liquified pumpkin and ginger mousse were poured down the snorkel. That's the only way it could be better.

The hard part: After the choking incident, we were very anxious, irritable, and skittish, as one might imagine. The experience really brought home to us how tender and fragile a baby can be, and we were taking that baby away from not only our favorite pediatrician, Dr. Kute, but our entire country and its phenomenal healthcare system. When I found the wrapper in a diaper, we breathed a sigh of relief. And then the cough started.

Cleo developed a wet, juicy, hacking cough, and her breathing rattled, and she could barely sleep at all for coughing, rattling, and crying. We grew concerned she had aspirated something while choking. Internet research only scared us more. We grew irritable and had trouble enjoying ourselves, not only because we worried about Cleo, but because we were emotionally and physically exhausted by caring for her in such a dangerous place while she was in such a bad mood and getting sicker. We contacted our insurance and saw the doctor they recommended, but he did little to inspire our confidence. No tongue depressor, no ear flashlight, no thermometer... he just listened to her chest and said she was fine, probably had an upper respiratory tract infection, even though she had no fever and no runny nose. Boy, was I glad to have brought my own thermometer from home! Sometimes it's good to be a conscientious mom.

Anyway, those last few days were tense, as she didn't get better but didn't get worse, and she was torture to be around. Grand Cayman is not at all like Disney-- it's a dangerous place for babies. Run in that direction, and you're right in the middle of 5 lanes of traffic. Run that direction, there's the ocean. Run the other way, and there's a 7-foot-deep pool, concrete corners, wild birds and lizards. No fences, no gates, no barriers. And all she wanted was to go "out, peas", and naps and nighttime sleeping were a joke. I got so tired that I started hallucinating, but I didn't let on, because I still wanted to ride horses that afternoon. We had to tag-team a lot just to keep up with her, as her energy level defied all illness.

The happy ending: We had a great time, in all. Grand Cayman is amazing, although I surely wish we had gone there in our pre-baby days for maximum enjoyment. It's really hard to enjoy an expensive, elegant meal and wine when one parent is constantly on the sidewalk jiggling a pissed-off snooky in the Beco. We are so thankful our friends Adrienne and Evan invited us! It takes a lot of guts to invite folks with a 16-monther, and I can only pray they had as much fun as we did. The plane ride home was uneventful, with a normal and calm Cleo falling asleep and napping most of the way. I was a bit annoyed that they ran out of Biscoffs, but that's a minor complaint. After 2 ridiculous hours in the dumbest international arrivals system ever conceived, we arrived exhausted at our beautiful new RAV-4, which was safe and happy after a week of parking. A trip by the grandparents' and then we were home for an amazing night of sleep in our own bed. Ahhhh.

Oh, and then it was Christmas....


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