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Tag Archives | Maldives

a decade of caleb

This face of joy is Caleb, at one, at Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island.  He’d learned to walk at nine months, which meant that despite having a brain about the size of a walnut and a diaper the size of a basketball, he would climb up stairs, stagger along the curb, or waddle straight into the surf, utterly without fear.

This August, we spent our tenth summer on LBI and it’s Caleb’s favorite beach (which, given that he’s now spent time on beaches in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, is quite a compliment).  Our first summer on LBI, I was hugely, gigantically pregnant and wearing a maternity bathing suit that was so hideous it can be only excused by pregnantbrain. Why else would a woman in her last weeks of pregnancy purchase and wear a shiny teal maternity tankini? On the upside, I suppose I was responsible for any number of teen-age girls not getting pregnant  that summer. They took one look at my spherical teal body and told their boyfriends to back the hell off

But Caleb. My sweet, fearless Caleb, who still plunges into the ocean with the grace and abandon of a seal, he’s ten. He’s learning Arabic and computer coding and the trumpet; he wants to be an author, or maybe a spy, or maybe a mad scientist, perhaps a basketball player.  I think he might be headed for the stage, because the boy has never met a hat he doesn’t like:

calebinnurseryschoolnursery school graduation

calebindiaIndia – tiger safari (no tigers, just a hat)

calebsingaporeUniversal Studios Singapore: minion loot

This boy who loves hats and computers, who doesn’t read books so much as devour them, and who was as happy with his book about military history as he was about an envelope containing 300 dirhams (about 80 bucks, and okay, he was a bit more excited by the cash), doesn’t yet realize the strength of his own gifts.  He measures himself against his older brother, not willing to concede the difference that almost four years makes.  I think that might be why Caleb learned to walk so young: he wanted to keep up.  Now, however, with the dawning of pre-adolescent self-consciousness, he sometimes doesn’t try to keep up because he’s sure that he’ll never catch his brother.  It’s a funny trick of growing up, isn’t it, the way the confidence of childhood evanesces just when we need it most?

Caleb is our current-events child; he reads the newspaper and tells us what’s happening in Gaza, in Syria, in Ferguson–and then asks the hard questions that we should all be asking and attempting to answer: how do these things happen, why do these things happen, why do people care about the color of other people’s skin or the way they worship?

We moved to Abu Dhabi on the eve of Caleb’s 7th birthday and the traveling we’ve done since we’ve been here means that he’s been to more countries by ten than I had by thirty-five.  His passport looks weather-beaten, as if he were a career foreign services officer–and who knows, perhaps that’s where he’s headed.  I can’t even begin to predict what he’s going to be when he grows up–perhaps the stage, or maybe he’ll go concoct strange potions in some jungle laboratory. Who knows.

All I know is that our lives for the past decade have been richer and more joyous for Caleb’s presence.  I can’t wait to see what’s next on the journey.



Continue Reading · on August 24, 2014 in Abu Dhabi, birth, Children, family, Kids, Parenting, Travel

the invisible labor of vacation

Our vacation in the Maldives a few weeks ago was perfect, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

It seemed as if we were in a natural paradise…but “natural,” these days, isn’t always what it seems:

There were no mosquitoes:

The beaches were clean and smooth:

There were lovely palm frond shelters around the pool and along the beach:

Someone walked around almost every evening at dusk and fumigated for mosquitoes; teams of men raked the beach in the early morning and late afternoon; these women sat for hours one day and wove new “native” shelters for the poolside cabanas.

One of the divers, Sabu, who led the snorkel trips had worked at Kandooma for four years. He, and a number of other workers, live on the island directly across the channel from the resort:

Sabu likes the Maldives, loves the water. But when he looks across the channel from his village to the resort, I don’t think he sees Paradise.

I think he sees a job.

Continue Reading · on April 1, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Travel

vacation? family trip? yes.

So we took a family trip to the Maldives.

Yes, the Maldives. The islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean that are sinking due to global warming and where, just before our trip, they had an itsy-bitsy coup and ousted the president. The coup was fairly pleasant, as far as coups go (although probably not for the president, who now has to live in an ordinary place like the rest of us, instead of in paradise), and life along the atolls seems to have continued more or less as it has before.

Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, Husband and I daydreamed about a trip to the Maldives. We figured it could be his Big Treat for turning fifty (or maybe we call that a consolation prize?), an reward for moving the entire family to the middle of the freaking desert, a second honeymoon…we had all kinds of rationalizations reasons why we should go to the Maldives.

Then reality hit: we have children. And unless we planned to leave them in our apartment for five days with several boxes of Fruit Loops and a few computer games, we were going to have to bring them with us.

My visions of canoodling on deserted beaches and romping in azure water with Husband vanished, replaced by images of me sitting in a sweaty hotel dining room ordering yet another round of chicken nuggets while my children argued about how unfair it was that his portion of french fries was bigger.  My romantic vacation had morphed into…a family trip. Continue Reading →

Continue Reading · on March 29, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, family, Kids, Travel

revolution shmevolution, I’ve got travel plans

When Husband and I were first daydreaming about our move to Abu Dhabi, the idea of being able to explore this part of the world enticed me.  I figured from our perch on the Arab Peninsula, we’d be able to explore places with our kids that we would never get to from New York. What Husband and I didn’t realize is that we seem to carry with us some kind of revolutionary force field, which causes unrest wherever we go.

This summer, we were in London. There were riots.

We planned to go to Egypt last fall. Perhaps you’ve heard? There’s a revolution there.  And we figured that exploring Cairo with a seven and an eleven year old in tow wouldn’t be the best idea.  Friends of ours report that for tourists it’s all fine–just avoid the Tahrir Square bit, they say; just stick to the touristy bits, they say.  And I’m sure they’re right. But you know? If they’re wrong, even just a little bit, and Something were to Happen? Perhaps I don’t have the soul of a true adventurer, but I’m just not willing to risk it.  Yes, getting caught in a cross-fire would make for fabulous travel stories (and blog posts!) but on the downside, there’s potential blood loss and bodily injury.

So we went to India instead for our November holiday and that was fantastic. And perhaps there was revolution fomenting in the streets–but the traffic is so bad that who would know?

And now we have cashed in frequent flyer miles and discount coupons for a short family trip to the Maldives. Yes. The Maldives. We’re going to visit them before they’re awash in the Indian Ocean, the first inhabited landmass to be claimed by global warming. I’ve wanted to visit the Maldives for years and years, and when Husband was edging up on turning fifty, we decided we celebrate (mourn?) that fact by going to an atoll. Originally, of course, we wanted to go without our children but we’ve got nowhere to park them for four days while we travel, so we’re bringing them with us. Liam’s only comment? “Are we going to have to do anything like museums or anything? Or can we just go somewhere and sit?

Isn’t it great how his global expat life has broadened his horizons and made him a voracious consumer of world cultures?

So we’ve got our tickets, got our resort confirmation (resort with a “kids club,” natch, because I am not spending my Maldives trip breaking up fights or playing Crazy Eights. I’m going to try and make this family trip be an actual vacation), and I even bought a new bathing suit.

Yesterday in the Maldives? They had a revolution.

All I can say is they’d better sort out their revolutionary atollian selves, dammit.  Screw personal freedom and democracy and all that nonsense. I’ve got plane tickets.

image source

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Continue Reading · on February 7, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, expat, Travel

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