Day 2: Thursday, October 2, 2008
A Day at the Beach
We learned early that John is an early riser. Whether by personality or by practice at the orphanage, he’s used to getting up about 5:30 or 6AM. We rose early on Thursday (the day after we met John) as well. He got his shower, brushed his teeth, put on clothes the orphanage was lending us (so that we wouldn’t have to use the new stuff we brought with us until we left Shekinah), and headed over to the main building for breakfast.
We had a delicious breakfast (the food at the orphanage was actually very good; traditional Ilocano in many ways, but vastly better than the stuff we ate in Laoag).
After breakfast, we all (Jeff, Faith, John-John, Jackie, and Sadiri) piled into the orphanage van and headed to the beach. Jackie had picked out a beach resort called Arinaya in Pagudpug (that’s the town where the resort is located), on the northern coast of the island. In our (read: Faith’s) research re: places to stay and maybe spend time with John within striking distance of Shekinah, we had actually discovered this resort online, and had considered checking it out anyway. So when we heard that they were planning a trip for us there, we were excited. We thought (as did they) that it’d be good bonding time for us and John to just hang on the beach.
The trip to Pagudpud was about 2.5 hours from Shekinah. John fell asleep early on, and ultimately ended up with his head in my lap and his feet on Faith’s. We were all thrilled as new parents that he seemed so comfortable with us. About 3/4 of the way there, we stopped at a scenic overlook to check out a beautiful view of the mountains, coast, a few villages, and a string of windmills. Check this out…
Unfortunately, the stop woke John us, and we hauled him out into the hot sun out of the nice shady, breeze-cooled van. A few minutes at the overlook, then back into the car, then winding roads down the mountains. By the time we got to the beach, he had thrown up all over me. Welcome to fatherhood!
Once at the beach, we rented a bungalow, and made it our base of operations. Faith was SO excited to get John into the water (looking forward to having a tadpole for a playmate), that she didn’t even consider that he might not like it. Of course, the crashing waves and the newness of it all (never been to the beach) scared him, and he wanted nothing to do with any of it. He stood in the bungalow and made it clear he wasn’t going anywhere. When she picked him up and tried to take him down the beach, thinking he would just run with it, he started to kick and cry and get generally unpleasant. Oh no! We broke him!
She let him go immediately, and he ran in the bungalow to Sadiri, with whom he was more comfortable. I tried to talk him into trying it out, and that didn’t help at all. Sadiri had calmed him, so at least he wasn’t crying. But he sunk into his patented withdrawl mode that clearly said, “Get away from me; I want nothing to do with you.” We’ve become much more familiar with that zone and how to navigate it, but we had no clue then.
So, Faith and I went out to the beach to play (hoping it would look fun and he’d join us). Meanwhile, Sadiri talked with him in Ilocano, and (I can only assume) told him how fun it would be to check this whole ocean thing out.
Eventually, he came down to the surf and played there with Sadiri. Mom and dad joined them. Sadiri was really good, not only this day but every day, at being in the background until he was needed, then calming things down and pointing John back to us. We both thought that was really a gift, and we were grateful. This was one of those times.
John never got to the point where he full-on jumped into the ocean. We had to hold him pretty much at all times. But he got wet, played in the surf, played in the sand, jumped around with us at the edge of the water, etc. Compared to where he started, he was now an olympic contestant.
It took me about 90 minutes to approach heat exhaustion. I was pounding water as fast as I could get it, had sunblock and a T-shirt and hat on, and was taking frequent breaks back in the shade of the bungalow, but it didn’t matter. By the time the 95 degree, 90% humidity, few-hundred-miles-from-the-equator sun was done with me, I was practially unconscious. I ended up taking a few as-cold-as-possible showers there just to try to regulate the temperature of my large mass. Faith’s indian blood plus a little sunblock and John’s Philippino blood put them in a position to spend all day there. It was just dad that was a total wuss.
About noon, we moved over to the main pavilion and ordered lunch. Faith and I had chop seuy, which I thought was just vegetables. We were already tired of the pork, and still reeling from the catfish experience two days prior. The Philippinos ordered some craziness that was dripping in pork (they ordered pork adobo and sinigang – which is Ilocano for “pork soup” – j/k), but I was all about my veggies. I think this is where I learned that in the Philippines, even an order of veggies is sauteed in pork fat. Chop seuy in fact has bits of pig liver mixed right in. O.O
After lunch, it was back to the surf and sand for Faith and John, and back to the semi-unconscious half-cooked sit-in-the-shade every 10 minutes zone for me. I kept running out to play with them for a few minutes and jump in the water to cool off, but then had to head back in almost immediately because I just couldn’t take it.
Just before we had to go (to get back in time for dinner), Faith and I were chasing John around the sand near the bungalow. At one point, he stopped, lifted up his foot, picked something off it, threw it on the ground, and kept running. I didn’t think anything of it, but Faith (who has better eyes than I do) stopped the presses. She picked it up and discovered it was an earring. John had stepped on it, and the half-inch post had dug itself into his foot. He had pulled it out and was ready to just keep playing. He didn’t cry. He didn’t even exclaim. I was amazed. I’d have cried like a little baby if that’d been me. We washed it off good, but it wasn’t bleeding. When we got back to the orphanage (where our first-aid kit was), we looked at it again and it looked fine. So we didn’t really do much. But that does lead me to travel tip #8: Always have a travel med kit with you when traveling abroad. If it had been bad, we’d have wanted the neosporin and a bandaid right there to patch him up.
John slept all the way home. No more throwing up this time, thank God. That also qualified for his nap, so we didn’t need to put him down. It was later than he was used to, but that just meant we adjusted bedtime to make it a little later.
Just as we were approaching Dingras, we caught the tail end of a typhoon that was blowing through. Rain came down in buckets. Lightning and thunder rolled. Streets flooded. Absolutely the gravel driveways, etc at the orphanage flooded. We got home about 10 minutes after it started (praise God for holding it off as He did), and Sadiri dropped us off at our cottage. John woke up when we got there, and played inside with little interest in what was going on outside. My parents would have wanted us in a bomb shelter, but it was funny to see how used to it he was. Not even phased! Even the loudest claps of thunder and brightest flashes of lightning had absolutely no affect on him. I was impressed.
Faith and I got our shower when we got home. John discovered a plastic bag full of cars that the orphanage had left in our cottage (we had sent the cars over ahead of us for the children to play with, and they had put all such toys in the cottage in anticipation of our arrival). He promptly dumped out the cars and played for over an hour with the bag they had been in. We immediately thought that he just didn’t need that many toys when we got home, so now we have to convince friends and family not to give toys for Christmas and birthday gifts.
We walked over to the main building for dinner after the rain subsided. Again we were grateful to God for his timing there. But it was pretty dark and the path we normally took was flooded. So we had to make our way around in squishy super-wet areas we weren’t used to … in the dark. At one point, Faith pushed back a bush with her left hand, and held it there while John and I (he was on my shoulders as usual) went past. After she let go, she started jumping around and shouting. I couldn’t see her, but I found out later that a bunch of big-ole’ honkin’ ants had taken the opportunity to climb on her arm and start biting her. Ugh. That sucks. To hear her tell it, they were like 4 ft long, had glowing red eyes, and were probably from Jupiter. But either way, I’m sure they were painful and freaky. So we were glad to put that moment behind us.
We had a great dinner at the main building. Afterwards, they drove us back to our cottage so we could avoid ants and flooded walkways (thank you!). We shot a video of John with our camera, and watched it together with him like 5 times. He absolutely loved that whole thing.
The next play toy discovered was the flashlight. He was all about shining it on the floor, while Mommy jumped around trying to catch the beam of light (like a cat with a laser pointer). It was quite funny. Got a few great pictures of that too.
Then we had snuggle time (a first, so we were ecstatic). We were amazed at how well he was taking too us. We never in a million years expected that he’d be snuggling on day 2. But he was. And we were eating it up.
Eventually, we dove into our bedtime routine – brush teeth, go potty, shower, jammies, Bible story, prayer time, then bed. He didn’t fight us at all. Rock on!
After John was down in his room, Faith and I got to pray together and talk. We revelled in the horrifically unrealistic thought that perhaps every night would be this easy / go this smoothly. And there was evening and there was morning the second day.