December 19, 2011
We are leaving the glorious beach resort at Koh Phi Phi.
Susie is mourning. Not quite “wearing all black and smearing her face with ashes” mourning, but mourning nonetheless. I love seeing her this happy, though it is slightly strange to me. Usually, we are so similar with our passions that I can assume that what I love is what she loves. Nevertheless, there are some exceptions. Merchant Ivory movies (the Jane Austin, period-costume films) are one. I do not mind them. She loves them. Clams are another. I really like clams. Susie’s feelings toward clams, however, borders on the obsessive. I will not tell you that she would trade me in for 1000 pound of fresh clams, but I am glad that she does not face that decision!
Of course, I have some passions that she does not share, mostly sports related.
But beaches are perhaps the clearest example of our divergence of passion. When she can hear the surf and feel the sand between her toes, she is literally blissful. I am not exaggerating. I have seen yogis meditate successfully who look downright downtrodden compared to the expression she gets on the beach. I like the beach. I love the sun and the warmth. But it is not the same. I see sand not as blissful evidence of a perfect location, but instead granules that might end up in my clothes or bedding if I am not careful.
As a child growing up in New England, Susie kept her hair long so that she could suck the salt water from it when she swam in the ocean. As a Midlander, I have a mild distrust of any body of water larger than a swimming pool and a preference for fresh water. When I think of salt water, I picture eyes red from salt and skin crusty/sticky from dehydrated seawater.
Nevertheless, I embrace places like this simply because she loves them so much. I have reached that point in my life that a joyous look from Susie, or our children (or our campers) pleases me more than the things I traditionally enjoyed.
This morning was our last to enjoy the exceptional breakfast buffet at the resort. The buffet is particularly pleasing because it is incredibly international – German veal sausage, American bacon, Thai glass noodles with seafood, Korean dumplings, French toast. I have looked forward to it every morning.
What I do not look forward to is the morning wake-up call. Susie and I wake with the sun. We are canaries that way. The kids are different. Those of you who currently have (or have previously had) teens know that “sleeping in” is an Olympic sport. They also rise with the sun, except they prefer the sunset.
Each day is a minor battle. It is worth noting that Susie negotiated free breakfast for all of us, so not only is the food great, but the price is right. Heck, the buffet does not close until 10 AM. Getting up was not like milking the cows at sunrise.
Yet, the big kids still felt like each wake up was the Batan Death March. [?????]
I will not subject you to the mediocre logic of half-awake teens except for some bizarre logic from Wiley.
Before I share his comment, please allow a tangent.
Those of you who read my European blog or my regular camp blog know that Susie and I are believers in the importance of sleep. In particular, sleep is critical to children going through growth spurts, especially those who are either 2-6 or teens. Yes, the sad irony is that at the very age when teens believe they are bullet proof and sleep-resistant, their brains are growing rapidly and require extra sleep (like 9 hours a night).
Our 14 (almost 15) year old boys know about this research. They do not like it, but they know about it.
When the evening grows late, they insistently deny the research. Maybe other people need sleep, but not me.
But this morning, Wiley suddenly displayed unequalled recall. He quoted the research. He reminded Susie of the importance of filling the “sleep bank”. He worried about Liam getting enough rest. Everything he said was true, but they had not been true 9 hours earlier. This is what I would call a “situational fact”.
[Note: it is a cruel – and virtually inexplicable – aspect of the teen mind that it has an altered melatonin (the drug that induces sleep) cycle. At the very moment when extra sleep becomes developmentally critical, the teen body is not sleepy until at or after midnight. Left to their own devices, teens will go to sleep between midnight and 2 and sleep until 10-noon. They will function extremely well with this schedule. The cruel joke is that they must awaken at 6 or 7AM for a school start time of 8. Schools that have moved their first classes from 8:30 to 10:30, for example, have shown a significant increase in student performance. Sadly, it is hard to create a schedule that matches the teen need for sleep and their bizarre melatonin cycle.]
As you might guess, Wiley’s situational-fact (“sleep is important in the morning, but not at night”) ran aground on our absolute-fact (“breakfast is now; come or go hungry”).
He is the One
Yesterday, we rented a long boat for a half-day. These boats are perhaps 25 feet long and 4.5 feet wide. They are powered with an outboard motor with a propeller that extends 8-9 feet beyond the motor on a long drive shaft. The pilot steers the boat with a combination of a rudder and moving the direction of the propeller.
We wanted to go to the National Park used in the film “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio, visit a snorkeling area and ride around Koh Phi Phi island.
We had made arrangements with a large man the day before to meet him between 7:45 and 8AM. We arrived promptly at 7:45, only to learn that the man had already left with another group. Just as we were starting to make alternative plans, a young, capable man walked up and explained that he would be our pilot.
He was the One.
More accurately, he was “One”. We thought he said “Juan”, but he quickly corrected us by spelling it. I cannot help but think his parents named him after seeing Keanu Reeves in the Matrix. While naming someone for a post-apocalyptic hero is bizarre, but it might have been appropriate in this case.
One is like Keanu Reeves, except a lot cooler.
We passed every other long boat on the way to our destinations. We got the best moorings. He tossed food into the water to attract the fish. He was unfailingly positive and smiling.
He was the One.
His boat was called the Pornsunee. I will not even start to comment on this. The boys wanted to crack wise about it, but Susie and I deterred them. “It is One’s boat, please do not mock it.” Had we said “grow up”, they would have continued. But invoking One stopped them.
Here are some pics from the Beach:
And the snorkeling:
And the drive:
And here is “One”.
We will miss Koh Phi Phi.