Saturday, December 18, 2010

Life in the Caribbean

The secret to the Italian good life lies in La Dolce Far Niente or the sweetness of doing nothing. Italians are famous for their never-ending meals, obligatory siestas and well, just living life at the right pace. Life in the Caribbean is pace-less. Here the sweetness of doing nothing can be elevated to a real craft. The meals will take you hours - guaranteed - because the chef will go fishing only when you order the fish. And your body will not budge from the warm sun when your eyes can feast all day on the most breathtaking clear blue waters.The first day of our vacation was the slowest, most languorous day I've ever spent. We all slept late into the morning before pulling on our swim suits and heading straight out towards the sea. The beach was glowing in the sun, inviting Talinn to explore its soft sands. Nana and Naresh mama had been very thoughtful about picking up beach toys for the kids during their grocery halt the previous evening. So Talinn settled into beach play while I settled into my beach lounger with a book.Our peace was shortly disturbed by the energetic lot in our group. Nana stomped onto the beach, untied the kayaks and egged everyone to go for a spin in the waters. Naresh mama, Chinna atta, and Nathan anna rowed into the warm still waters next to us. The kids were super happy with the proceedings of the morning. No school - check. Playing on the beach - check. Kayaking in the Caribbean - check. Spotting sting rays in the water - check.The water is so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom of the sea floor. We tried to chase a sting ray on our kayaks but they're way too fast. After a point, we just dangled our feet in the sea and sat in our kayaks singing and soaking in the hot day and the blue water all around us. We rowed back after a while and found spots to chill around the beautiful pool area.Lunch and drinks were flowing. The kids were having the time of their lives splashing in the water. A shallow water area with lounge chairs was the perfect splash spot for Talinn who can't quite swim yet. Nathan anna is a fish who can live in the water forever. No one could convince him to come out anytime soon. I also have to mention that Las Terrazas served what Nathan anna rates as one of his favorite meals of the entire trip - fried chicken and chicken quesadillas. Talinn, our more fussy party member, did good with the plain tortillas and home made paranthas.My book was the perfect prop that I never really read much. I was happy just watching the kids splashing, chatting with the adults, and staring around without a thought or care on my mind. Chinna atta and I must have sighed a million times that afternoon and said to each other, "this is the good life!" As we eased into one lounge chair after another, we finally found these round chairs that were most ideal for naps. Nana, our energetic team member, was all set for his first dive lesson in the pool. Not us. Talinn settled in for a nap. I was in a semi-haze of some sort. Chinna atta was half-dozing, half reading and the rest of the boys had retired to the villa for some mandatory rest and time out of water for Nathan anna.All this activity or lack of it and it was still barely 2pm. Time was moving at the pace of molasses and no one was complaining. What's different about a regular Saturday at home? It's 1pm before we even stir and get through breakfast! We were convinced there was something magical about this place. After completing his pool lesson, Nana left for his dive out in the sea. Mohan, Swati, and Tanvi arrived from their long journey soon after and quickly joined us by the pool. There was a new flow of food and drinks.Towards evening, we made acquaintance with the biggest peeve of our trip - the mosquitoes. They're a special variety in Belize. Microscopic, almost wasp like but with no passion for the sweetness of doing nothing. On the contrary they're the most industrious creatures I've met. Within minutes all of us were itching from head to toe. Chinna atta furiously sprayed us all with anti-bug stuff as we enjoyed the colors of dusk at the beach.Nana returned victorious from his first dive. The men negotiated for a speed boat to take us into San Pedro for dinner that night. A long shower and change later, we were all off riding the waves into the darkening night. Downtown San Pedro is a quaint little town concentrated around a few streets filled with shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Golf carts create the most amount of traffic jams here and are the most popular form of transport. The streets are very reminiscent of India, replete with stray dogs, street food, and vendors selling all kinds of bric-a-brac. The ladies were happy trying on the street jewellery, the kids were happy with their newest souvenirs, and Nagesh was throwing caution to the wind in trying out all sorts of local street cuisine.We stopped at a bar to pick up drinks and strolled around town with them. I really got into beer this trip and Talinn really got into Mango juice. After strolling around for a while, we sat down for dinner at Fido's by the beach. The food came when it came, but the live music entertained us somewhat. While waiting for our speed boat, Talinn put up a "show" to entertain all. The first of many more to come. And this was a truly terrific first day in Central America, the first of many many more to come!

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