We've done alot of traveling in our day across Europe and in the US. While we love to see new places, experience new things, eat new foods there is one old constant that remains. It sucks traveling with 4 kids! And, there is no way to escape the suckage. It's the price you pay being a parent with wanderlust.
Think about it. How can 6 people be happy all at the same time? Forget the 6, I'll go for 4. Cause really if the 4 little people are happy that's all that matters. Really. Think of how the odds are stacked against you. Now cram those 6 people in a small car (where touching is unavoidable, because minivans are scarce here) for a three hour tour. Are you singing the Gilligan's Island theme song yet? The suckage is under way!
First there is jockeying for just the right position in the car, but not next to your archrival sibling of the moment. This makes actually attaining your perfect seat in the car impossible! Then there's the radio. We get some arabic songs, horrible euro-pop, horrible american pop or I have one Stone Temple Pilots cd I brought because I almost left it in the glove box of ghia for 2 years. Thank god the kids like STP, but there's only so much "Flies in the Vaseline" one person can listen to at one sitting. So then there's the fight for what to listen to or nothing at all. Again not all 6 of us can be happy at the same time.
Then there's lunch. Now I would have packed lunch except that we have this transportation issue and getting to the store is a whole separate issue, so this complicates matters. So, we MUST stop and eat. There is no Wendy's, which in the states would make all my kids happy. So we stop at a random gas station because they have a restaurant and that was the only qualification at this point. Now in Germany rest stops have amazingly good food. So we give it a shot. What do we have to lose? Of course, the whole menu is in French and well we don't know that much French. From what I can discern, there is schwarma (flat bread with meat and spicy sauce) and a hamburger served with a fried egg on it (don't ask me...it's a Moro-cuckoo thing) and pizza. Of course the kids don't like the choices and they are complaining about the food situation. We order pizza for all of us which turns out to be the worst pizza known to man. Seriously, I'm not a picky eater, but it's really horrible. I think that they put green chilis in the scant bit of sauce and they topped it off with some sliced cheese on top. After finishing our truly disgusting lunch, we're back in the car and of course re-jockeying for seats again! Uggghhhhh.
All along the two way road we see kids riding donkeys loaded down with branches doing their chores. I don't know where they were taking the greenery or for what purpose, but there were donkeys are going in both directions all along the way to and fro. So here my kids are going on vacation to a beach none the less and bickering about all the little minut details along the way and the Moroccan kids are slaving away doing their chores moving the soylent green from one place to another, but strangely look a hell of alot happier than my kids. How can this be? This proves my theory....less stuff= less stuff to fight over and thus more gratefulness and happiness. That's it we're purging all their stuff when we get home and I'm getting them a donkey, we're not going to need that gardener at the new place after all.
So we get to our destination the beach town of Oualidia and find the apartment that we'll be staying at for the next few nights. It's beautiful! Definitely the most beautiful place I have ever stayed in my life. Great ocean view, three bedrooms, three pools and decorated with a tasteful, tropical flair. I tried to take pictures of the inside, but it just didn't do it justice. So does the whining stop now that they are out of the car? No. Lets let them get some play time. Beach or pool? It's split. It's gonna be the pool. More complaints. After some pool time we have to get groceries. Of course no one wants to do that. It goes on and on. One kid wants this and another one wants that, but no one ever wants the same thing at the same time. You know when they were little and we traveled I always thought it would get easier as they got older. Nope. What no one tells you is that they become far more articulate and can just tell you in excruciating detail and ad nauseum how much they don't like something. It sucks.
Then there's the question of what to eat (again). We ate out the first night and it was awful and overpriced. So today we'll go to the beach and buy some fresh caught fish while we're there. And then we'll get some simple ingredients at the market where they have meat hanging out in the open air. (I tried to take a picture, but I got scolded with the ultimate knockdown a madam instead of a mademoseille.) This is a small town, so they don't have much at the market here. Two things that are very good in Morocco are olive oil and capers. They will go great with fish with some fresh garlic. If I haven't said this before, I love to cook and escape in the little kitchen at the apartment. It's got windows on 3 sides and not only can I see the ocean, but I can open the windows and catch the ocean breeze. So the kids are kicked out and I'm cooking in my little happy place. Happiness further helped along by the wine we brought with us from "home", cause they don't sell it in the stores here. So I pour a glass (or two...but who's counting) and I cook a very simple, but very delicious meal. I feel like my Hungarian grandma.
The kids are excited for the fish. A truce is called and we all sit down to eat. (Or maybe that was the wine I had. I'm not sure and I don't think it matters really.) We ate alot of salmon back in the states, but I don't think that they have ever eaten a fish with the scales on before. I know for certain that they have never had one on their plate with the eyeballs still intact. So this reminds them of a Man vs. Wild episode in which Bear Gryllis eats fish eye balls. So, it's now survivor dinnertime. Who will try the eyeball first? Chew or swallow? Mix with food or fish eyeballs a la carte? So for 45 minutes at the table everyone is happy all at the same time and all because of a fish.
So what was Oualidia? A great photo op and a great meal? It was a beautiful place and I'm glad to have seen it albeit in whine-o-vision. I just wish I had more reserves to enjoy it, but as we all know that's how it is with kids. One day I'll be old and senile and look back at the pictures and time will have soften all the arguing, poking, yelling, discontent and exhaustion and I'll have the most vivid fond memories of it. I can't wait til that happens. Until then, I'll remember the meal, the wine and those magical 45 minutes when none of the rest of it mattered.
Bonus math problem:
You have 4 kids traveling in a small Peugot how many different seat combinations can you make? And if they are traveling 330 km at a speed of 100kph will they make it to their destination before they kill each other?