Happiness Is Shared
Your mom and I are really enjoying our wake up routine. Throughout the day you are always on the move, wanting to discover the world around you, but for the first thirty minutes of the morning, you are as calm as can be. We love laying together and reading you stories and you love touching/eating the books and trying to make sounds. You turned seven months old today and you smiled as we sang happy birthday. We recalled the whole birth experience and how our lives were forever changed.
Our 1kg of oatmeal from home finally ran out but we easily found more to resupply. Though it is twice what we would pay back home, it is still a fraction of what a breakfast out would cost and exponentially healthier. Our days are starting to look very similar: reading, early morning walk, breakfast with the jolly jumper, ocean swim, nap, pre-lunch walk, ocean swim, lunch with the jolly jumper, nap, hammock time with the ukulele, ocean swim, dinner with the jolly jumper, ocean swim, bath and bed. But today our routine was punctuated with many great visits from the new backpackers staying at our hostel.
Today we met Juan, Julia and Luceneo, three gregarious Brazilians. The hot midday sun forced everyone into the ocean and it was the first time we have had a crowd during pre-lunch ocean time. While Juan did superman dives off the dock and Luceneo showed pictures of his morning shark encounter while diving, Julia chatted with us about life in Brazil and her transition to becoming a US citizen. Julia is a labor and delivery nurse and we bonded over our home birth story. Julia talked about how moving to the US was the ultimate dream, yet now she sees many of the limitations of the land of opportunity. Though she is trilingual and a working nurse, she still struggles to pay for a small apartment and save for the future, while having children is out of the question with only six weeks maternity leave (8 weeks if you have a caesarean section) and all her family back in Brazil. But her positivity is triumphant and she is trying to make the most of her life by seeing as much of the world as she can. Asher, you loved this ocean time the most since there were so many people around to look at and smile with.
Ukulele time in the hammock was a real hit today around the hostel. We belted out all the classics and any of the requests made by the guests. Luceneo and Juan were so impressed, they filmed us and danced around which made you smile even more. Afterwards we met Ofir and Andre, two Israelis who just completed their mandatory service in the military. After high school every Israeli, male and female, must serve at least three years in the military. It is common afterwards to spend a few months traveling before applying for university or a job. Though they are not Orthodox Jews, they talked about how comforting it is to travel around the world and find Jewish centers where everyone can meet, sing songs and have Israeli cuisine. They were impressed with your mom and dad for taking you backpacking and with how happy you appeared to be.
For dinner we polished off a rice stir-fry we have been eating for the past three days and we washed it down with a fruit smoothie to celebrate your birthday. Juan whipped up a nice rice dish with a Brazilian flare and served up a plate for us. We were very grateful so we returned the favor by buying them some of the famous cinnamon buns. The streets were alive during our evening stroll to the bakery and everyone smiled as they watched you joyfully bob up and down while riding on my shoulders. Mario, a local Garifuna who sells pineapples just outside our hostel, has loved you from our first day on the island and tonight he just reached up and pulled you right off my shoulders. He proudly showed you off to all of his friends who were sitting on some steps enjoying the cool evening breeze.
When we returned with the cinnamon buns, it was Luceneo’s turn in the kitchen and he whipped up a huge pot of fresh pineapple shrimp. We sat and talked with the Brazilians until 9:30pm, three hours past your normal bed time. We could not figure out why you were staying up so late until the Brazilians mentioned that you wanted to celebrate your birthday. We shared travel stories and laughed when your mom tried to take photos and the self-timer kept doing the ten second countdown. The Brazilians welcomed us to their homes in Brazil and Julia assured as that we always have a place with her in California. The international family expands.
Today was a reminder of just how social humans are meant to be and how happiness is found not in isolation, but when shared with others. Happy seven months my little man. We love you dearly.