June 22, 2007

Island adventure at conference

On the second last afternoon at the hotel, six or so of the children I had been teaching appeared at my chalet door. The reason? They wanted to know if I would go to "the island" with them. Clearly, they knew that they needed adult supervision to venture to the small island off the edge of the river beach in front of the hotel. Noting that they didn't take to my idea of waiting until the sun was a little lower in the sky, I told them that I'd meet them at the hotel gate at 2pm.

Buttered with sunscreen, we headed for the beach. The adventure started just after we crossed the street. The staircase that heads to the beach ends about 2 or 3 metres above the sand. There is a nice staircase inside the nearby restaurant which I had taken a previous day when I'd gone to the beach. But the children saw no reason to take the "long" way around. I've noted that until you get married or hit 60, whichever comes first, you're expected to participate at least once in all sorts of activities, whether you like them or not. I was the last to jump down the gap, rather unexcitedly but like a good single girl should, following a group of children a fraction of my height.Before we even left the cement steps, we noticed that the tide was in, which meant that getting to the island would involve some swimming...if it was even possible to go there with six kids between the ages of seven and ten. When the tide was out, we could walk to the island. As we wandered along the beach, this responsible adult's mind was saying things like I should have asked someone if the tide was coming in or going out, so that we don't get stuck on the island or I really don't know much first aid, in spite of the course I took while her mouth was saying things like Please wait for the rest of us.The Swiss kids forged ahead. Fearless, they caught little crabs and scrambled up large rocks and through gnarly bushes. The Brits and I brought up the rear. The water crossing to the island was complicated slightly when it started raining. Tears sprung from one of our smaller members who almost lost his sandal in the water. Good thing Spiderman sandals float. The water was shallow enough that at least some of us could wade the 15-metre distance, but we had to walk slowly for fear of crashing into hidden rocks. With shouts of joy and a few whimpers of pain we did what I didn't expect: we got to the island. The small tropical island is a good place for dreams of the likes of Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson, dreams of makeshift housing and scrounging for edibles. Little paths lead to sandy beached areas, while much of the island is a rain forest with its accompanying insects. At high tide the island is ringed with brown river water. The children busied themselves with killing the crabs they'd found and burying them in a cemetery, collecting snails and smashing a glass bottle (I only knew about the latter after it had already happened). Thankfully, the children were content with a short stay on the island...and the tide was indeed going out, not coming in...so there was no need for us to eat our findings, or seek shelter.

The older children tried to coax me to let them swim a greater distance this time, rather than wading in the now-shallower water and climbing over so many rocks. I told one girl that I didn't think her parents wanted them to put themselves in danger. She said that if she died she'd go to Heaven.
(Was that answer supposed to mollify me, the Bible teacher?) Somehow, I didn't think her parents were wanting her to be promoted quite yet. Finally, I let the three older ones swim a shorter distance than they'd initially requested, and I clamoured over the rocks with the younger three. We passed a group of people who'd been collecting snails and fishing for shrimp from the rocks. It turned out that the older three got across the water much more rapidly than we got across the boulders.

Traipsing down the beach on our way back to the hotel, the boy with the Spiderman sandals found a soft, red clay-like rock. By the time I noticed his discovery, he had already drawn on his chest and was asking me to add some finishing touches to his face, to make him look like a native Indian. I got him to draw on my face as well, but by then the red was fading. In any case, my buddy was now a blue-eyed Indian with a blond bowl haircut. The next discovery was a substantial amount of white clay which ended up on my back and arms as well as theirs. Very knowledgeably, the children informed me that this kind of clay was good for one's skin. I didn't take my camera along, so I have no pictures of our island trip, and whatever clay the showers at the hotel pool didn't rinse from my clothes the washing machine did. But I returned to my chalet with a little more colour, and a few more dear tropical memories...to tide me over during long winters and rooms full of married people and singles who are 60-plus*. :)
*JUST JOKING! :) I have fun friends in both of those categories.

7 comments:

  1. yes! i love this... i love how you made it into a story instead of just saying you had a fun trip out to the island. :) yay. funny abt the stairs & your worries, etc. funny that you are now the adult supervision. ;0)
    and i love the 2 pix - the fly is amazing!!

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  2. I can't disagree with Hadassah...
    Captain Forr

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  3. Gostei muito das 2 primeiras fotos
    "creation" e a da mosca...
    Tô quase com inveja da sua habilidade e imaginação!
    Mulher, faça logo um curso (no mínimo básico) de fotografia e compre uma SLR...
    Vc vai arrebentar!
    Tenho certeza!
    Captain Forr

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  4. capitao, inveja naum eh presciso. :) nem curso de fotografia ;)

    obrigada vcs dois, denovo, pelos comentarios! gostei de contar da nossa adventura.

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  5. Tô brincando com o termo inveja!
    Tenho admiração pela sua hablidade e "arte de saber olhar".
    Sugiro o curso, não por necessidade, mas simplesmente, pra desenvolver seu Dom natural! Seria um complemento e tanto pra sua profissão, além de um provável "boost" na sua carreira!
    Acho um tremendo desperdíssio de talento não fazer um curso!

    Captain Forr

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  6. Julie, Very well written!! You have talent and heart. It was great to be with you in Brazil! Love, 'aunt' Vicki

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  7. I am glad you enjoyed it, aunt vicki. i was happy to see you too!

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