Monday, March 3, 2008

Mommy and baby go to the beach!

At the end of February, with my consulting job finished and Dave in the States for 2 weeks, I decided to take Catherine to the beach in Bangladesh! She spent the few days before we left singing “mommy and baby going to beach”. The hotel arrangements were made (see separate blog on our ‘luxury’ accommodations) and the airline tickets were purchased (in cash, of course?!). We were packed and ready to go! Our flight left at 8:30AM, so I had to go in and wake her up at about 6:30. When I entered her room, she shot up and said “going beach?”

We got to experience the domestic ‘terminal’ and with the 5 national airlines, the waiting area is about the size of a good sized living room in the US! We get our boarding passes from someone and that SAME someone asked for them back about 3 feet away as you enter the real waiting area. Hilarious. Flight was as comfortable as it could be on a twin prop little puddle jumper. Only 4 others on the plane beside us. We stopped off in Chittagong and let EVERYONE off. So, the continuing flight from Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar was just Catherine and I and the stewardess, which made her elaborate instructions in Bengali AND Arabic all that more superfluous! We felt like we were on our own private jet! I had decided to accept the travel agents recommendation for a car to pick us up at the airport even though it seemed a bit extravagant and I thought we could just as easily take a taxi. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of the airport in Cox’s Bazar or the parking area. I think our driveway back home was busier. The only car that could be seen for miles was the van there to pick us up! Thank goodness I had reserved that or we would have been walking to our hotel! As we were the only ones getting off the plane and exiting the entire airport and the driver was the only person and car in the entire parking lot, the large placard with my name on it that he held ABOVE HIS HEAD seemed a bit much!!!

We checked into our hotel and were on the beach with bags and beach toys by 11AM! Catherine loved playing in the sand, but we got surprised by one wave that hit us in the face and then she was much more careful at the ocean’s edge. This was fine by me as the surf seemed quite strong.

We headed back to the hotel for lunch and then a much needed afternoon power nap. This was my first vacation with Catherine without Dave, so while Catherine napped a few feet away, my activity options were quite limited. This is why I brought the 900 page Tom Clancy novel! I read for awhile then fell asleep. I found that if I could nap and get to bed when Catherine did, then I felt rested enough to handle the little firecracker all day by myself! It was the secret to our success. Early to bed and early to rise. We got up from our naps and puts suits on headed to the pool! There was no baby pool, but one that looked like it. This turned out to be a hot tub without the jets on. This worked great because the big pool was pretty cold. We hung out at the pool for awhile and then went back and got cleaned up.

Not the kid friendly hotel one would hope for especially traveling ALONE with a little one, the only restaurant in the hotel STARTED serving dinner at 8PM! This is the Bangladesh way. People eat very late here, kids or no kids, doesn’t matter. People eat dinner between 9-10PM every night. We headed back to the room and ordered room service, complete with a vanilla and a banana milkshake for dessert! It was great fun and much easier than going out (at night in a rickshaw…I do NOT think so!). We got cleaned up and read books and Catherine was asleep in her little bed by 8PM. I devoured the Clancy at least until 10PM. Great day!

Next day, we were up early and eating breakfast by 7AM. There was not another sole in the entire dining room. It was a mix of traditional Bangladesh breakfast (rice dishes and others that were unrecognizable) and Western (omelettes, fresh apples, croissants). We left the hotel after breakfast and walked around town for about 45 minutes, came back to the room, got dressed and were on the beach by 9AM! It was a great time to get to the beach as it seemed everyone else was still in bed. Once the beach started to get more crowded, we became quite the local attraction! We were on a “private” beach, technically. Although, all that meant was that the hotel had hired a guard to shoo away annoying onlookers. The thing is that the guard was nearly as annoying as everyone else. With a HUGE beach and very few people he insisted on standing about 1 ½ feet behind our lounge chair. I can’t believe I was feeling claustrophobic on a beach that was about the width of 2 football fields! We stayed at the beach until nearly noon! Under the umbrella, Catherine could have made sand castles all day long. At one point, I dug a big hole in the sand and buried our little munchkin up to her chest!

We decided to venture out for lunch our second day and found a ‘local’ establishment that was right on the beach (literally on stilts) and looked like a shack that would fall over at any minute. We ordered rice and sauce and chatted with an Australian woman travelling through Bangladesh (in her mid-fifties and staying at $10/night budget motel in town-a trooper!) Food was hot and pretty good and then it was time to head back to the hotel for a little afternoon nap!

We headed out to the pool again after our nap and decided to eat dinner in the restaurant. They were going to ‘open’ early to serve us. We arrived at 5:45PM. They must have thought we were crazy to be eating that early! Catherine didn’t eat much at dinner and then went to bed of her own accord at 7PM. She felt a bit warm, but I thought it was good she was getting to bed early.

Catherine woke up around 9PM and was REALLY hot. No, I did not have a thermometer or children’s Tylenol with me!! I started thinking of a way to cool her down and in the back of my mind also a way to get back to Dhaka. I used a cool washcloth to wipe on her face and neck and all over really. She went back to sleep. Meanwhile, I got on the phone realizing that our flight wasn’t for another 2 days to see what alternative flights I could find. She woke up again about 11PM, and again was very hot. This time, I called room service and ordered a bucket of ice. I had plenty of Ziploc bags that I had brought her snacks in, so I loaded them up with ice and surrounded that sweet little body with bags of ice. I was thankful and also really scared at the fact that she did not fight having bags of ice all over her body. She fell back asleep and I started to pack. I was on the phone some more and found out there was a flight leaving the next morning on another airlines. I would have to purchase 2 new tickets (in cash, I later found out) and would only be on stand-by because somehow the flight was full.

Catherine woke up several more times throughout the night and a couple of times wanted to eat or drink, which I took as good signs. Nothing like having a little applesauce at 4AM! She slept again and I finished packing. I had not really slept and got into the shower about 6AM. Catherine woke up soon after that. We were all packed and headed to breakfast at 6:55AM. I had arranged transportation to pick us up at 8AM for a 9:30Am flight.

We made it to the airport and paid (in cash…it was all I had) for the new tickets. Catherine was cranky. Flight was delayed over 3 hours which was fun waiting with sick baby. Stop-over again in Chittagong and finally landing in Dhaka at nearly 1PM. I took Catherine to the pediatrician in the afternoon after her nap. They took her temperature (she didn’t even feel hot compared to the night before) was nearly 39 degrees (over 101 degrees!) The doctor said it was likely nearer to 103 or 104 the night before and it was a good thing I had packed her in ice. Scary stuff.

Well, despite the early emergency return, I think we had a great couple of days at the beach! I would do it again, only next time I would take some children’s Tylenol and a thermometer!

more pictures from this adventure in next blog!


Thisbe said...

cute photos!!! =-)

Aunt Jeanie said...

Your story makes me think of just how much that we here in the states take our medical system for granted. On our way to Saudi we had a stop over in Beirut, Lebanon. We were staying at The Phoenician hotel which is probably at least a five star hotel. And my husband Walt,Dave and I (Don did not get it) all came down with some variety of flu bug. We were so sick that we had to call the hotel doctor. And I can not say just why it is, but you just are not as comfortable with medical personnel when you are in a foreign environment. BTW this was Christmas - What a present!! We finally survived it all and our first dinner was at a restaurant owned by a Lebanese friend of Walt's. And he INSISTED we all eat everything on the menu. We tried to explain that we were just getting over being very sick - that did not matter to him. He still insisted we eat AND that we have champagne!!
Another episode was when Don broke his leg and we had to drive 200 miles down the escarpment road from Taif to Jeddah to a hospital to have it set. And then the technicians (no doctor) were turning his leg around, moving it so much that Don's eyes were rolling back in his head and we were screaming at the technicians!
Guess we scared them enough even though they could not understand what exactly we were screaming, they finally put a cast on; full ankle to hip cast for a broken tibia!!

Cold Spaghetti said...

Poor Catherine!! Glad she is feeling better. This is a good note for us to remember to bring Motrin everywhere. :-)