Wednesday, April 11, 2012

When Whities Go to the Beach…

…we shimmer.  Mostly we shimmer from the reflective facets created by layers of sunscreen clinging to our glowing whitey skin.  But shimmering is shimmering nevertheless.
            On Friday, Ivan and I joined a number of other SOs and their families to La Sagesse beach (about a 30-minute drive up the southeast coast of Grenada).  For two-and-a-half hours, we relaxed and enjoyed the holiday, Caribbean-style.  The beach is quieter and more private than Grand Anse, providing more natural shade with a nearby forest and standalone palms.  A cool freshwater stream feeds into the sea, like a miniature estuary, and cuts across the beach near the entrance.  The water isn’t as clear as Grand Anse, though, and it also isn’t as tidy.  Wading in to a comfortable depth means trudging through seaweed and debris with your fingers crossed, hoping you don’t dislodge a stingray.  Of course, in our case, we should have been hoping no jellyfish were lazing about.  Not that hoping would have done a lot of good since Ivan got stung on his foot.

           For many of the other beach-goers, this wasn’t a concern, since “going to the beach” means just going to the beach, not necessarily going in the water.  So while the tan folks soaked up more ultraviolet light than I hope to in my lifetime, I paddled around in the water’s wavelengths (which, for anyone who’s interested, is about a hundred times more salty than the Atlantic and Pacific combined, blech!).

            Unfortunately, despite my clever decision to bring extra sunscreen along, I did not reapply.  For some reason, I assumed two-and-a-half hours was not long enough for my initial application to absorb and/or rinse away, rendering my skin defenseless in a silent battle against the ravaging Caribbean sun.  My skin lost.  Big time.  The worst part is that this could have been avoided if I’d just looked at the label of my sunscreen.  Or, if I had paid attention to the new laws set in place by the FDA last summer.  For example, I remember wearing waterproof SPF80 sunblock as a child.  No part of that product is legal anymore!  Now I have to read the fine print on my bottle of SPF50 sunscreen to find out how long my lotion remains water resistant when I am sweating or in the water… or both.  Turns out that resistance becomes obsolete after 80 minutes.  So, for my last ten minutes in the water, then the ensuing sixty minutes traversing the unshaded shore, I was as susceptible as a beached whale.  And later that evening, I was as red as the cooked lobster that I have not yet tried on the island.

            If I keep this up, by the time I’m fifty I’m going to look like I spent my life chain-smoking in a tanning bed.  That is, if I don’t have skin cancer.  I promise I’ll do better next time.
            The time we spent out of the water was mostly walking along the shore.  At the far end of the beach (furthest from the lounging, shaded region), high-tide’s reach was measured with hills of seaweed running the length of the beach and the sand was littered with flotsam—the most notable of which was a perfectly usable Good Year tire.  Anchored to the adjacent tree line was a motorboat in questionable condition, but in apparent use.  Beside it was another moored boat, sunk to its bow in the sea, like lagan, ready to be resurfaced in some desperate future.

            After an impromptu treasure hunt turned up a nifty piece of fan coral and a bold snail, we settled on the beach to play a few rounds of rummy with some friends.

            Easter was a different experience for us this year.  We didn’t watch any Easter egg hunts with family or have ham and turkey dinner at my grandparents’ home.  We didn’t shop around for “healthy” treats to counterbalance all the chocolatey, marshamallowy goodies loaded in my nephew’s many Easter baskets.  We didn’t color eggs.  We didn’t pretend like we’re too old to get our own Easter basket, but secretly love that we still do, from Grandma and Grandpa.  (Yeah, yeah, we’re big into consumerism this time of year and celebrate the commercialized version of this holiday, I know.)  Instead of family fun and Cadbury goodness, I spent most of the day packing one of the suitcases that will stay on the island this summer and Ivan traded in his Happy Hat for his Overworked Med Student Hat.  The only bright spot was our nontraditional dinner of an altered version of Smitten Kitchen’s Mustard Beer Loaf and a tenuously stacked three-tiered carrot cake.

            For anyone who likes the look of the bread: if you don’t like the taste of beer, you can use water (the alcohol does cook out), though the beer gives the bread a sourdough flavor.  I added ½ lb. genoa salami to the filling.  I split the dough in half and made two loaves.  Instead of slicing and stacking, which is a tedious mess, I rolled it like a babka (think jelly-roll style, then curl it like a snail).  Also, when stacking a three-tiered cake with cream cheese frosting layers, allowing the layers to cool before assembling is in everyone’s best interest.  Having skipped this crucial step, I found my cake in the fridge to be less luscious tower and more leaning tower.  In fact, the whole top layer slid right off.  Hastily rearranged, it doesn’t look as lovely, but tastes as great!

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