Travel is like real life, but condensed. The highs are higher and the lows are lower. One minute you’re skipping along, on top of the world and the next, a stranger is cursing at you while you wipe his spit off your face. Lady travel is a fickle mistress, she always has been, even before kids. Her fickleness did, however, seem a bit amplified with twin babies in tow.
In Panama we were up, up, up and down, down, down. We were two crazy tourists with their two crazy babies in the throes of all the goodness and badness that travel has to offer. In short, we were a spectacle.
Like I would imagine all parents feel at one time or another, sometimes the spectacle you create is a good one – one of feats of organization and well-oiled machinery and just generally having it all together. But then at other times you are creating a spectacle of none of the above. None of the above whatsoever.
This was particularly evident on the island – so much so that people who met us at one point might still be debating with people who met us at another point as to whether or not they were even talking about the same family.
People who saw us on a good day might say, “This family was amazing. I’m telling you, someone needs to write an article or something on their awesomeness. For example, one morning, on a beautiful spring day I saw them on Isla Taboga…”
The Scene: A warm morning at the island’s dock. People are milling around waiting for the morning ferry to take them to the city. An American couple approaches with two happy twins in a stroller and very, very little luggage. The wife purchases their tickets in
perfect passable Spanish. They stroll out onto the dock and enjoy the scenery and the ocean breeze. They even have time to snap a picture.
Husband: Well, the girls look a little out of it but that’s okay, they’re cute anyway. Let’s get them ready for the ferry ride, shall we?
Wife: We shall!
Twins of Taboga: (Happy babbling.)
The husband and wife team, who appear to be showered, dressed in clean clothes and sporting makeup and earrings (her, not him) proceed to strap on baby carriers and expertly transfer the jolly babies into them. Without a word the two parents fluidly fold up the tiny double travel stroller.
They snap another picture because why not, they have time and energy to capture a few of these wonderful memories.
Onlooker #1: Look how small that stroller folds up! Why, it can be easily carried with just one hand. How efficient!
Onlooker #2: And look how few bags they have! Just one carry-on size bag each, and a purse for her and a diaper bag for him. How streamlined!
Wife: Why don’t I double check that we have everything in the right place for the ferry ride.
She quickly glances into her highly organized purse and see everything right where it belongs.
Husband: Why of course we do! You always have everything so perfectly prepared, my darling.
Twins of Taboga: (Happy babbling.)
The boat arrives and with a baby strapped to each of their chests and their minimal luggage in hand they board the ferry, smartly choosing seats on the shady side of the boat. The boat fills with passengers and departs.
Husband: Aren’t we all so happy! Lets take a selfie so we can remember this wonderful moment forever.
Wife: I’d love to be in a selfie with you, sweetheart!
Twins of Taboga (to each other): (Let’s be silly and try to look angry even though we are actually in great moods.)
Husband: Everything is so calm and wonderful that while you prepare some bottles I’ll snap a picture of the scenery.
Despite the turbulent back and forth of the boat, the wife produces two clean bottles from the diaper bag. She checks the temperature of the water inside and concludes that it’s just right. Unscrewing the first bottle top she carefully pours in some powdered formula that she measured out earlier that morning. She repeats this task with the second bottle, thwarting each babies’ flailing arms, spilling nary a drop. The parents each take a bottle, shake them and serves them up to their respective babies.
Twins of Taboga: (Yum!)
The family sits back and enjoys the rest of the ride in peace.
All the other passengers on the boat: That family really has it all together; what a team! What a fun adventure they’re on that is in no way crazy or irresponsible!
I can hear it now, this story, being told to other folks on the island who are standing in utter disbelief. “No!” They say. “That’s not the same family we saw. We’re sure of it. You must be thinking of someone else, someone else entirely.” Then, those folks would tell the tale of the family they saw a few days before, on the ferry ride to the island…
(To be continued tomorrow…
And by tomorrow I promise it won’t be like all those other times when I didn’t deliver. Tomorrow’s post is already finished, I just wanted you to think, if only for a mere 24 hours that we really are always that family I described above. Tomorrow’s post will shatter that illusion, but for today, we are great!)