Two and a half days of no dishes, decision making, food preparation, laundry or phone calls. Now THAT is paradise. Because really, why do we vacation at the beach? Most of us just sit in a chair and read. We could, technically, do that at home. Instead, we spend too much money just for the privilege of sleeping in sandy sheets. And the afore-mentioned paradisaical reasons, of course. (Incidentally, I am of the lounge-chair beach variety. Though I love me some wave jumping, too.)
Brazilian beaches are truly in a class of their own. I already feel sorry for myself when we move back to the States. It's like mangoes. You haven't had mangoes til you've had Brazilian mangoes.
The sky is much bigger here - the beaches surrounded by rain forest-y, lush foliage - tropical birds waking you up in the morning - colors so vibrant and true you feel like you're dreaming. And the SERVICE, here, people. Did you know we don't pump our own gas? Ever? And there's valet parking at McDonald's? And the waitresses offer to hold your baby so you can eat your dinner in peace? And they call Brazil a third world country .... Sheesh.
Though I will say that I'm not a fan of masculine beach fashion here. Speedos with gold chains? Gag me. Forcibly, unwillingly reminded of the lounge lizard in "Only You." (In the words of Bonnie Hunt. "Arrrrrr.")
So usually when I'm on vacation I'm socially reclusive. I'm on vacation to escape from social obligations, after all. Add that to my definition of paradise. However, Little Prince and Ouro Branco made friends with some other kids playing in the sand (they had really cool tractors - my sons are nothing but social climbers) and conversation with the mothers was inevitable.
I had noticed these mothers. They were impossible not to notice - it is an inevitable fact that everyone checks out everyone else at a beach. You're always slipping covert glances at your next-umbrella neighbor to see if she has bigger thighs than you. (Sidenote: I was NOT the only one in a one-piece bathing suit. There was a little girl in a very cute pink number with ruffles around the sides. So there.) Anyway. So these two particular mothers were absolute Barbies - size zeroes with long, lean yoga legs, fresh manicures and fashionable wraps over their fashionable bikinis. One had two kids - a 2 1/2 year old boy and a 5 month old girl, and the sweetest arsenal of baby products known to man. Her stroller made me drool. The other mom also had two kids - 3 year old twins - and a nanny tagging along behind the family.
I should mention here that I'm kind of a reverse snob. I looked them up and down on the very first day and decided we'd never be friends.
But after small-talking these women for fifteen minutes, I need to ask public forgiveness. They were ... just like me. The twins' mom spoke openly about her struggle with post-partum depression (!!!!!!), and joked about battling over potty training and sharing toys. The other mom shared her trials about her son's health - he was born with a cleft lip - and was actually brought to tears when she spoke of her sensitivity and worry for him. Now her baby daughter has a (benign) tumor in her eye, and she mourned for her children's health and prospects of getting teased at school.
We are all alike - everywhere.
The latter mom was born and raised in Canada for ten years, then moved to Italy - she considers herself Italian. The twins' mom was Brazilian, and me - American. So there we were, three moms from three different continents, crying over the same things.
It makes me think of you.
Regardless of where we're from, how many kids we have, what God we worship or the state of our living room floor - we all worry about the same things. We all have good days and bad days, and we all put on pants the same way.
Really, does anything else matter?