Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Week Two - We still haven't left the compound

Dear sisters,

We are now seasoned ClubMedders, not looking up when new busloads of guests are clapped and cheered in at the reception. In fact, one could say we have succumbed and surrendered. Participation is no longer a dirty word. Our routine has been fine tuned since my last post and we have carefully branched out to activities which are not too strenuous, such as archery and sunset yoga stretching. Synchronized dancing is now just a small step away. You would understand if you were here. Everything works on a weekly rotation here, so we are back to the white dress code and fish buffet tonight. There is unrest amongst the bar personnel. It has all become warm and familiar. I would say it’s nearly time to go home.

Jip has developed a strange illness, called “being sick”, with unspecified symptoms. All he really wants to do is lie in our air conditioned room and sleep, he says. We feared a mild form of sun stroke and kept him in the shade for a day, but as there are no other visible signs - his appetite for pasta, pizza and fries, with ice-cream (ketchup has vitamins in it, doesn’t it?) has certainly not suffered from his illness - we now have a sneaking suspicion that the wish to lie in the room may have something to do with having been allowed to watch Cartoon Network while resting. I certainly hope his obsession with television is leading to a great career in cartoon writing. In the meantime, unfortunately, the TV in our room has mysteriously broken down and we are hoping for a quick recovery.

Rosie has taken the art of whining to new heights in week two. We have accordingly brought the hour forward of, and increased our alcohol intake around the pool and that seems to reduce the holiday stress to a perfectly acceptable level.

Will report back in SF,

Love sister 1, still in bikini

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Dear sisters,

The Dominican Republic, as far as we are concerned consists of two restaurants, a beach bar and a large palm tree lined swimming pool, that could use a touch up. We have arrived in resort land and have settled in.

The Club Med’s bracelets are securely fastened around our wrist and are showing signs of wear. We nod to The Shiny Happy People, also known as the G.O’s (Gracious Organisers, apparently), who walk briskly through the camp cheerfully shouting “bonjour”, allowing them their celebrity status as we should. We have even resorted to putting our beach towels on the deck chairs before breakfast to secure a spot.

I’d forgotten about the Beautifully Tanned Lean People (the French kind), who look like they have been on holiday forever. They are here too. We, a luminous, fleshy foursome wading through the pool, will not look like that even when we leave, but slowly at least we are not radiating greyness anymore.

We tried out the Kids Club, our main reason for coming here, I might just emphasise, and Jip thought it was alright the first two (half) days. He only attempted to escape twice, until they nailed him down. Then he was fine. Now he says he will not go to Kids’s club even if it means his father will not swim with him in the afternoon and he can’t have a pain au chocolat in the morning. So, he doesn’t want to go. Actually I don’t blame him, being herded around in groups of twenty mainly French speaking kids, of which at least three at any time are screaming for their parents, and being forced to shout “chocolat o’ la, la” very loudly. Allard doesn’t see why he shouldn’t like it, but then again he is a sucker for anything that is meant to get a crowd going. I am rather worried. A. is taking to the resort concept like a fish to water. He has mentioned the salsa lesson at least three times. I think I am safe this first week as he is still too exhausted to actually do anything, all talk so far, but he is gaining strength.

Rosie goes to the petit club each morning and only cries for ten minutes when we drop her off. In the afternoons she like to stand in the paddling pool and shout “hi” to eight year old boys who all look rather shocked by the apparition of a big white toddler in a swim diaper trying to stroke their backs.

Now that the Kid’s club issue has been settled, Jip thinks he has died and gone to heaven. He is in the pool all day and at morning, lunch and dinner the buffet gets him very excited. So many things to choose from, he might just have to have pizza, pasta and fries again. And would we like something? Because he would be very willing to get it for us.

Last night we got a babysitter and had a meal which lasted longer than ten minutes and involved us sitting at the table at the same time. Later we experienced a bar full of people exploding simultaneously, without warning, into synchronized dancing, under the firm direction of a G.O. “back , back, a gauche, a gauche, all together now, oooooo Ahh, step, step. These people had done it before. It was astounding, appalling, but quite appealing too. No, we did not join in, but speak to us at the end of the week. They have ways to make you here.

Got to run now. The lunch buffet has opened. Italian day today.

Sister 2, how was Casablanca?

Sister 3 , how is the second half of your summer?

Love from sister 1, in bikini.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Look to the...

we were also blessed by this most beautiful of auguries...need I say more?

And then there is the issue of the gummi bear..

You can imagine my perplexity at this little phenomenon in sister 3's kitchen. I puzzled over it for quite a while, then gave up. Could not decide what the marvelous thing could be. Sister 3 informed me that it was in fact a Gummi Bear!!! Someone had told her that if you put a gummi bear in water, it blows up and becomes really big! It had been there for some weeks. Now, people usually say to me that they have taken the word gullible out of the dictionary. But has anyone ever thought of telling sister three that this amounts to cruelty? Luckily it was soon disposed of and the poor creature (it must be said, not much larger than any other, healthy gummi bear) has been taken out of its misery.

Just had to fill you in on that; dear eldest. Other than that there were no peculiar sights in sister's surroundings. At least... nothing that we're not used to!

The first time in Prague

It would be so nice if I could keep this visit to Prague in a little bottle, keep it there, and take it out to look at whenever I am feeling blue. But I do not have a bottle that is large enough to contain the experience, nor do I have words that willingly catch it either. Let us say that the people in the czech republic, and in particular, those that my sister is in touch with, are wonderful!

It all began with a memorable puppet show on a boat (with a compulsory beer, you understand), in which puppeteers effortlessly slip from one frame to the next, as they become their puppets, even, and the city scape of Prague gently passes us by just above eye-level,and a very long lock, and the mosquitoes dance in the air before our eyes, placing another layer of vision on the whole, and marvelously manage to entertain us, be we Czech or otherwise, it was an old czech story about workmen building a chimney and falling asleep and then the chimney wobbles, you see; but in the meantime there is a harpsichord lesson by the master of the house to the three little monkey children who are always getting up to misschief and losing their heads when they are naughty; I was sitting too far away to get any decent photos.

Somewhat bewildered (me) my sister took me by the hand and showed me her city. Next day began well, with a feast of feasts, or should I call it The Breakfast of All Breakfasts, with friends downstairs, and our amazing host who has a light blue bedroom (I'd like one of those...) and a kitten or two, who kept handing us more plates of delicious food. "First salty breakfast, then sweet breakfast", rang the order. Both sisters were wise to pace themselves through this terrible ordeal. Ah la la. My mouth is watering at the memory of it all. The food just kept appearing. And then the hot chocolate appeared, steaming out of a huge pan! Since there is no better way to travel than by meeting people, I felt particularly lucky, that is on top of the luck to be in good company over such a memorable breakfast!

There was a puppet performance in a breadbin (try doing that at home!) somewhere on the outskirts of Prague, a great diversionary tactic by my sister designed to get me even more dépaysée. There was a walk through a magical park, during which I managed to leave behind a whole load of stuff that was trailing behind me like a shadow (kind of like in that great animation film
Spirited Away I recently bought for and enjoyed with my nephew) and with the humidity, oxygen and the palpable breathing atmosphere it just...melted off me. Most convenient for regaining one's peace of mind. (I believe it's called holidays)

A walk up a hill tasting cherries, a palace of mirrors, a hug beside a planetarium smelling the lavender, dancing at a wedding in the countryside, watching my sister perform (and perform, and perform), a multitude of interesting dinners, an exquisite day in the countryside, meeting a whole lot of puppeteers (as one does when in Prague)-and let it be said, they are a jolly fine bunch- a multinational evening singing songs in the rain under a parasol at the literary café, an awful lot of fried cheese, a first experience of chewing tobacco at the Castle (my absence of roaring enthusiasm for it confirms I am a girl, according to D. although I'd say it was more maladroitness at not knowing what to do with a whole lot of brown spit in your mouth when climbing a hill and trying to talk at the same time. I in fact thought it rather..intense..so what does that make me?) and then there was the romance at first sight, the CHARANGO ("everybody go OOOOH!!!" if I may quote Gilly)

Yes, this little instrument has enchanted my heart. One little pluck on its strings made my heart sing. More about this later when I get my baby safely home. For those of you who can't wait, here is a video of someone who can already play it: Luzmila Caprio

I shall leave it here. Let all the magic be inherently contained in the encounters that were made. There is so much more I could tell.

Let it be said, Prague is wonderful and thank you sister three and friends for making me feel so thoroughly welcome!
sister the 2nd

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lake Tahoe and Burger King

Dear sisters,

Last Tuesday, I drove up to Lake Tahoe with the kids. Our friend Laura had invited us to come and stay with her and her two kids for the Fourth of July week. The men joined us for the weekend.
For those of you who know not of Lake Tahoe, it is a beautiful lake in the mountains, on the border of California and Nevada, to the NORTH EAST of San Francisco; a popular weekend destination for the people of San Francisco in winter and summer. I am making a point of the location, so when I say I was, at one point, following the signs to Los Angeles, you will know that was not good.

It took me more than seven hours to get there, instead of the three hours everyone tells you about. That is with stopping at a desolate Burger King somewhere in the middle of Califiornia, where it was hot. Jip was delighted (read: Transformer toy with kids's meal and play structure). I was pleased to find a map on the wall. I am not relying solely on a navigator again. There are, I know now, two Squaw Valleys in California, of which one, my exit, is not really a place but a resort.

Anyway we had a lovely week swimming in ponds surrounded by huge Redwood trees, just like I imagined an American childhood summer should be. The relay tantrum-throwing by our children did not throw us and the fact Laura and I could not keep our eyes open after ten 'o clock at night was due to the fresh air of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The drive home went smoothly, We played the Pokemon game which entailed guessing a Pokemon character on the basis of some well directed clues. As Allard and I are not familiar with the wretched Pokemon characters, Jip would first introduce us to one and then make him guess. Jip won - this time.
Unfortunately I have had to disown my son for declaring the Burger KIng to be his favorite place on earth. We made a bad exiting move (only Burger King, no Starbucks), so Jip got his second Transformer toy in a week.

I understand sister 2 has been to see sister 3 in Prague. I am waiting for the news.

With love,

sister 1 x