A.k.a: Goodbyes suck! But we had a great time
Life after vacation has been in full swing now for some time already. We’ve unpacked all the bags – except maybe one. (Mine’s has just been propped into storage under the summer section, but I count that as unpacked). So much has happened in our lives since then, and the vacation memories have been tucked into a few times already. In fact, between Morgan and myself, I think we’ve dipped into those precious memories more than the rest. And for good reason…
Exit Mexico stage left mini-drama, and the last bits of family and the inspirational city of Houston:
With the joy of having experienced some of what Mexico offered, along with the slight sting of not doing many of the things I had planned on, we were still excited to pack it up and head back to my sister and fam.
Well, let’s just say, good ol’ Billy-Bob and Terry couldn’t help but do the happy jig up in the plane headed out of Mexico.
I’ve got to say, the airports in Mexico were pretty damn sorted, so checking-in and boarding was a breeze and there were no signs of the Griswolds anywhere! Which also meant that there was still time for some shopping. Nothing too extravagant though, as we only had hand luggage (check in luggage would have cost us 2k a piece – yowzers!!) So any of the awesome ceramics I wanted to get for my sissy, for myself or as a house warming gift for my darling buddy was just not going to happen. The rugs were going to be too big to manage with hand luggage AND two kiddies. So I put to rest any fantasies I had about kitting out a part of our home out with some local Mexican pieces. (we always bring home art or something for the home when we travel)
Anyhoo, travel was all fun and games, until we landed back in Miami. I then had my bag searched only a bazillion times, and all I could think of was ,”Mo-fo’s better hand over that bag soon -Parker’s sleep blankie is in there!!!” Reason enough to make my heart rate climb.) I was also “randomly selected”, with one kid strapped to me and the other holding my hand. I had that horrible sinking feeling when I double checked with them, if they really meant me. However, I had been through enough international airports to know to not panic – even though we got totally separated from Mike without him even knowing it.(This stuffs happens so fast!) Anyhoo, the result being I could feel the good ol’ Griswold powers-that-be were being summoned to the fore, as I was “released” and we grabbed our now ruffled-through bags and had to make a run for it to catch our flight. I smashed into the flight timetable board as the weight of the hand luggage followed through, pressed my nose against it to find our flight and realised we were late for boarding. Cue crazy wild running, with little baby limbs and backpacks pendalim’ing it once more.
Ok, so the last time I was in Miami years ago, I remember ditching the plane and opting for a road trip with some new friends instead. Now, had I not done that I may have been more familiar with the sheer size of Miami airport and probably would have been less bewildered about how the dickens I was going to get my family to the boarding gate on time. Our gate was D40, and we were at….oh, only A9! Crapstix, people, we ran like the crazy folk in Amazing Race, figuring it all out on the fly. It eventually took us three of the longest flights of stairs and a couple of 800m circuits to finally get to the board which said D40. Except, of course, that the board pointed straight to an empty glass wall. A little dumb-founded, I was trying to figure out if it meant that this was Life telling me I should just smash through the window now and commit suicide – you know, save us all the trouble and just get it over and done with already. Or, if the arrow was pointing back down stairs and that it wanted me to get started on my cardio fitness again. The subtle hints of life, eh.
Well, both of those options were going to kill me, so it was a good thing that a straggley traveller joined us up there and explained that the glass wall was actually a glass door to the Sky Train…that was on it’s way. A freaking Sky Train people! Yes, Miami airport is that big that it needs a freakin’ sky train to get you to your boarding gate. My mind would have been blown had I not been preoccupied with trying to not miss our flight.
After stumbling out of the uber cool sky train, we continued our sprint pace until we huffed and puffed our way to gate D40’s desk – as I watched them close the gates, like a bad dream. In my best charm-slash-can-hardly –breathe manner, I suggested they take pity on us and just let us in – we move really fast, promise! To my surprise, we were not late at all. In fact, they were running late and apologized to us.
Sounded like it ended well right? I mean, rather late than missed completely, right? Except it was all due to storms. Crazy storms. And all flights were grounded.
We set up camp right there at the gate and made peace with the fact that that we would miss the last day we had with my niece before she went on her Theatre Tour – meaning Morgy would miss her “Zombie make-up session” with her too. (My niece is also a stage make-up extraordinaire!) What was nice though was we got to chat with some Houstonites and they confirmed the Houstonite reputation – honest to goodness real nice folk! The girls also made friends with the grounded flight staff who face-timed and rolled on the ground with them.
Also, like a karmic mirror, we got to see at least two other families with kids and bags flying, doing a very familiar mad dash across the airport, with a little dust cloud following behind then. Complete with running back for something they dropped. I totally see the entertainment value there is in witnessing these.
Anyhoo, once the storms passed, we landed back in Houston well into the wee hours of the next day, and whilst Mexico rocked, it was so good to be back with family again. Also, we knew that we only had a few days left to make the most of it. So we hit the road running – well, as fast as you can with two kids who still need naps.
First up, it was Father’s Day – and my sister and niece made magic happen that morning! The spread they put out, the gifts, the food…just everything. (You guys were amazing – even I felt like a daddy that morning with all the spoiling you were doing!)
Mike, my brother and I also decided to do some kid-free city exploring –and holy crap, guys, they were’nt kidding about Houston being huge. I always thought that, as a Cape Townian, I’m a proper city girl. But I felt like a real small town farm girl in comparison to Houston – it’s just unbelievable. Unbelievable in the sense of it’s sheer size and what it has to offer. Food? The choices are endless – which is not suprising considering the melting pot of cultures that exist within Houston. Art lovers? The museum district will have you salivating. In fact, just about anything you can think of (except skiing), and Houston will have a bunch of incrediblly skilled people out there doing exactly that. They weren’t kidding in their slogon: “Houston is inspired”. It’s filled with people who have realized their gifts and talents, have taken and given influence on their immediate environment and are willing to share it with the world, and to see how far their gifts extend. If that’s not inspired, then I don’t know. And speaking of art…
It also shares an extensive lawn with Gerald D. Hines Waterwall…A sculptural fountain with 11 thousand gallons of water and is a surprisingly amazing architectural feature. I was really keen to see it, even though I was not sure what to expect, and was amply satisfied . (Blame my dad, but I have a thing for architecture.)
We later also tried to hunt down these giant statues of the Beatles and some past presidents, but it looks like those sculptures had been removed already. But hey 5 hours later, we racked it up to a fun little mini-road trip of discovery.
My brother in law treated us to a proper Barbeque, with a smorgasbord of deliciousness, including some proper Texan burgers.
My sister and my niece also arranged a really sweet and fun Lifetime Birthday party for the girls – for all the past birthdays they’ve ever missed. The girls lapped it up, every last bit. From the sweet little touches that my niece and brother-in-law did with the décor…
And let’s not forget the Sting Ray pools!! These guys were absolutely amazing to me they actually are very affectionate and LOVE you touching them – they will actually come to the same person over and over again if they enjoyed you the most. I know I got a real splashingly wet welcome just a minute into it -a cheeky little ray launched itself right out of the water and flapped it’s “wings” so much that it soaked my shorts and shoes. Which is a good thing as I got such a fright, I might as well have peed my pants.
Pax essentially hid in my armpit for the most of the Hibatchi opening act. I don’t blame her though, its quite explosive!
We had fun with the rice toss game – chef tosses some rice over to you, and you’re supposed to catch it in your mouth. Both girls were totally game for it, but Pax provided the most entertainment with her version of the catch with her head…(You can still see the rice in her hair here below before it bounced off)
There was also loads more swimming – it was summer, after all…
Ice creams too…
(Much like our local version, except some serious selections)
The girls and their uncle went to go hunt frogs…
They’re simply everywhere in the garden, and will sometimes welcome you at the back door…much to my one niece’s horror.
There were also moonlight family swims, during which, we were promised the view of bats…Yup, actual bats who then kamazi their way into the pool for a quick sip.
My sissy taught Morgy the art of S’mores…and even though whilst our girls are not big fans the actual s’more consumption, they, like their mommy, enjoy the process of it. ( Although, with our recent planning of a Camping party, we’ve discovered some awesome S’more combinations that have made us all huge fans it…Keep an eye out for that one!)
And then, just like that, it all came to an abrupt halt: The reality set in where we realised we’d have to pack up this Summer dream we’ve been living and head on home.
Sure the packing up of suitcases and memories and the flight back itself would still hold much adventure…but it was the sting of having to say goodbye to our loved ones that really hit us all in the gut.
No one more so than Morgan-Lee. Her desire to let it all be as just a vacation and return home was almost non-existant. In fact, it started a few days before we even packed up: I started talking to her about it to help her prepare, but no sooner had I done that did her eyes well up and she quietly protested any flights back home. The next day it had graduated to the fact that Houston was now her home, and that we needed to make it our home. Tears and sadness now became part and parcel of any discussion around returning home to South Africa. In fact, ever since then, the talk and task of returning home became a truly hard one for us all to navigate where Morgy was concerned.
It honestly broke my heart to listen to her…She was so driven by love for her family there in the States, she didn’t understand why we too weren’t agreeing with her. And when reminded about the dozen other cousins and family that were waiting for her back home, her answer was that they ALL moved over, and make Houston their home.
Her logic was simple and pure, but as an adult I know these dreamy moments come in tides…just as all of life’s tides. In fact, we all know vacations have to come to end. As I’ve said before, that’s possibly the great appeal that it actually holds – the temporary dreamlike state that enters your reality that holds such stark contrast with our usual daily grind. It provides much need relaxation and adventure. It recharges us, refills the tanks, and reignites our passions in life…In fact, to do life. And apparently that’s how Morgy chooses to do life now…in Houston. Can’t blame the girl though, she and my sister developed a strong bond.
Needless to say, the goodbye’s were very hard – from the girls’ side especially. And there’s no doubt that Houston has stolen a piece of each of our hearts. (Even Mike who can be the hardest sell at the best of times!) And of course, Mexico still holds so much unfinished business for us, so I don’t think it will be too long before we head that way again. And until then, Morgy has us counting down how many more sleepies till we jump back on that plane…ohhh, only forty-thousand-nine-hundred-and-twenty-five, darling..ok, maybe just one thousand… 😉