After five plus months away, we returned to our Vida Tranquila on Utila. In the meantime, we endured a Northeastern winter that witheld the worst of its punches, a hockey season, my Dad's heart surgery and a health scare with Hayden, which ended with a relatively seamless open-septo-sino-rhinoplasty at the Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia. Needless to say, we were all breathing easier when we met up with Captain David in La Ceiba Immigration and he said to the kids, "Would you like to see your daddy?" We were delighted to be reunited as a family, flying over the skinny strip of sea back to Utila.
We fell back into our old patterns easily. Piper and Bine had the cinematic reunion her mother and I have been anticipating, complete with momentary hesitation, full-on crushing hug, and then a thirty hour playdate. These two little alphas had one terse conversation about which one said the shells hurt her feet en route to the 'dream lot', and then quickly lapsed into a game of fairies on the porch.
I am fairly certain the only time they weren't holding hands was during their momentary spat and maybe during dinner. They dined a deux on chicken and waffles at Neptunes, chased the solar lights J installed on the dock, and I may owe an apology to Bine's mother for introducing her to the beingets with Nutella--sweet Bine picked up the plate and LICKED.IT.CLEAN.
Same old, same old
The reunion of Piper and Bine was only rivaled by the one of the kids and Amigo, the resident mascot and surrogate perro negro for the Hoffspring. After worrying for days about whether their dog would remember them (the jury is out in my opinion--he might be this glad to see everyone) they had a love fest in the marina. They have come up with a game of chase and fetch on the beach with their darling dog that I don't think any of them will tire of soon.
It is amazing also to see the changes in Lobster, the project's other dog. Abused as a puppy and rescued to become part of the crew out on the South Shore, (and the Frick to Amigo's Frack) Lobster used to be too skittish to be touched. Now, he patrols proudly with the watchmen and is eager to have our loving attention.
As before, and much to the boys' chagrin, regular Spanish tutoring is on the agenda. Piper will also be attending a bilingual school called Widsom Paradise with her friends in Town.
Neptune's! The former construction zone where the boys used to dash around playing tag has become an upscale restaurant. Neptune's at Coral Beach Village is an important part of the development we are here to create, complete with sandy beach, dock and marina, hammocks, palapa, volleyball and beach games and music.
We used to draw parallels between our life here and Little House on the Prairie. Now it's more like Swiss Family Robinson with an open tab at the tiki bar down the beach. Piper's sole vegetable consumption in the past week has been their hand-cut French fries and she has ketchup running through her veins. I am also in conversation with Jenny and Will and Brian about what we will be saying is "off the menu" when the little Hoffmans belly up to the bar (and by this I mean, the mac and cheese with the breaded topping Hayden can't get enough of, or the green bottled ginger ales Max and Camilo had me thinking were Salva Vidas complete with mock-stumbling on the beach.)
Their habanero and pineapple margaritas are to die for, the boys are crazy for their Buffalo wings and I felt a tiny tear in my eye when I saw a special on their menu of a caprese sandwich this week. Cheese and fresh, locally grown tomato and spicy tequila at sunset on the beach, and I just might be in heaven.
Because of Coral Beach Village's status as an eco resort, Neptune's only purchases fresh sustainable fish from local fisherman or the coast, and we cooperate with local law enforcement to put an end to reef poaching, because the true richness of this location is in the water out front.
To the end of enjoying the ocean, we are also loving the newly installed ladder at the end of the dock, which facilitates the ease of everyone being able to get in and explore the reef. We continue to do our daily snorkel, finding everything from an enormous horse conch to spotted eagle rays to the most delicately patterned flamingo tongue shells.
One week in -- we are excited to be back, reunited as a family and enjoying our Vida Tranquila again!