This is Part III of a seven part series – read Part I & Part II here, then follow the link at the end to keep reading. If you enjoy the journey, please support this blog by making a contribution to my Paetron Page.
TRAVELING WITH KIDS
In El Salvador the fever hit. Our little man was delirious, crying out and having trouble breathing through the congestion. It was two am, while I was trying to lull him back to sleep I kept wondering “what are we doing here? This isn’t what normal people do. why didn’t we just take an airplane?
“Tener perro le cuesta mucho” he said. “Le cuesto tiempo, dinhero.”
IF I WANTED EASY I WOULD TRAVEL ALONE, I TOLD HIM.
The truth is, traveling with kids isn’t about the kids. Traveling is, in and of itself, a selfish pursuit. There is no philanthropy in spending your money on plane tickets and hotel rooms. Sure, voluntourism exists, but traveling to a foreign country to build schools is hardly necessary when you could more easily donate your money to a professional nonprofit. No, you go for you, for your own personal experience.
Traveling with kids is the same. It’s about the parents. We’re traveling for us, our babies just happen to be coming along. That’s a bit nearsighted actually. Having kids means exposing them to the world. It means teaching them what this living this is all about. For me, that means showing my son the world. You see, each parent tries to bestow upon their children the knowledge they’ve gained in their time on this earth. Football players teach their kids football; engineers teach their children the physics of movement. Parents set out to teach their kids what they know. Traveling is what I know.
We stopped in the equivalent of a roadside motel somewhere in the lowlands of Guatemala. We had been on the road since 9:45 am, and per our driving “rules” it was time to find a place to bunk down and let the kids stretch their legs. They had been exceptionally good for pretty much the whole day, even through the days boarder crossing. Thankfully it was a small boarder; not the Panamerican one.
We made it another hour and a half in before we found some nondescript looking lodgings just off the main road. There was a large white gate, and semi- secure parking, and rooms with a private bathroom for 100 quetzals, or about $14 a night.
There was hardly a window, and the ceiling was low. The bathroom lacked fixtures like a shower head of any sort. But all we needed was a place to sleep, and it wasn’t too expensive compared to what we had seen online. Plus, my standards for accommodations had lowered since we stopped having steady income.
We had a few basic needs things to tend to, like a rash that Noa was developing on his nether regions and Brisas eminent need to find a place she could relieve herself. We divided to conquer, and while Douglas bathed and applied creme on the babe, I set to let Brisa stretch her legs, with a tiny hope of finding hot food I could buy with our remaining five quetzals.
We walked out of the hotel and across the street to the town football field. The end of the day was cool, and the streets and sidewalks were full of people enjoying the evening air. Kids ran and played; parents shared stories or gossip from the day. We stood out, me, tall with hair lightened from the beach, fitted clothes and shorts on. Brisas hot pink leash with duct tape accents didn’t help us fit in either. To be fair, it was a small town – small enough that everyone probably knew we were outsiders, even if we had been less conspicuous.
As soon as we entered the gate I let Brisa off the lead. She seemed happy to be out of the car and free of our tiny hotel room. She ran out to the middle of the field, and without hesitation, she shat.
There were at least two dozen onlookers, and I did my best to remove her feces using a discarded bit of plastic from the ground. My effort was half- successful, but I was hoping the show would keep me out of the towns bad graces. Meanwhile, Brisa had moved a few feet away, and shat again.
I looked around me on the ground to see if there was another piece of suitable plastic I could use to clean up. There was so much trash, so many discarded chip bags and food wrappers. It was too much. We would be gone in the morning. Let the townspeople judge. They had their own mess already.
When we got back to the room Douglas was treating Noa to a serenade. I walked out into the yard and picked ripe mangoes off the ground. We cut a few of them and blended the sticky meat into a smoothie. Fat drops of rain began to fall as the sun retreated from the sky.
Day broke with a ray of sunlight peaking through the tiny wrought iron window of our hotel room. Noa was up first, as usual, and we took him from his bed and added him to ours, in hopes of managing a few more precious moments of sleep. No dice. We had a fair bit of ground to cover anyways, so we rolled ourselves out of bed and went to welcome the day.
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Want more magic? Continue the journey with Part IV coming soon.