Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Husband Makes Me Want to Throw Up, and Other Thoughts

My Husband Makes Me Want to Throw Up.  Literally, that is. When faced with an island offshore to Dubrovnik, Anthony decides we will all kayak out there. He really lays it on thick: This is the one things he wants for himself in this vacation -- physical exertion and adventure, so how can I refuse? We pair me with Pippa, under the assumption that even though Gigi would be a stronger paddler, they will both be nearly useless out there, and Pippa is lighter for me to cart around in the double kayak. Anthony enjoys himself tremendously, but I am unable to go far enough around to get to the port, so we just pull up at a small dock and swim instead. I find it a slog and am feeling a bit woozy, though not as sea-sick as Gigi.  It really does not look far, but it turns out to be a bit choppy, against current (both ways? is that possible?), and not so easy.  For me, and for 6 and 7 year olds, at least. For Anthony, it's a breeze. Still, there are moments even I can appreciate, looking up to the fortress walls on the cliffs. Very impressive.

(An aside: Some of you may remember the story about when Anthony and I were dating, and we went sea-kayaking outside of Monterey Bay on a whale watching trip. I got horribly seasick and ended up vomiting in my own lap, mostly because I knew for a fact that if I turned sideways and aimed into the sea, Anthony would take a picture of me. How was I so sure he would do that? One of Anthony's prized photos -- up on his refrigerator, and taken by his brother Jeremy -- showed him in mid-stream, projectile vomiting off a boat in rough seas. We saw no whales in the open waters. But as soon as we re-entered the calm bay, my stomach settled immediately and a huge gray whale surfaced just meters from our little kayak, so close we could see the colors on his barnacles.)


I have come to realize that we are not so much a family as four people with drastically different motivations who all happen to sleep in the same hotel room. Anthony, as you know now, wants adventure and activity. I want cultural experiences and walking around villages. Pippa wants to eat treats and play. And Gigi wants to go into every souvenir shop and figure out what she can buy with her birthday money. The fact that we all enjoy our vacations together is rather startling.

Late this afternoon, we walk the ramparts of the Old Town of Dubrovnik. It's quite a hike for the girls, up and down the serpentine wall. In my mind, this is a near-perfect activity: it's cultural and architectural for me; there is running, playing, climbing, and hiding in the sentry posts for Pippa; it's a lot of stairs and resembles exercise for Anthony. All we need to do is buy a souvenir along the way, and it's a vacation hat-trick.


This place brings history to life. In the war in the 1990s, sentries stood guard up here, on these ancient, crenellated ramparts, to protect Dubrovnik, just as their ancestors did a thousand years ago. You can see the sections of new roofs, where the bombs took them out.  The canon in the photo, below, however, is of the much older variety.  And in other photos, you see what the generations do to each other when given the chance.


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