May 4, 2008

Weekend in the Country

This weekend was kind of a long one. I still don't have batteries for my camera.

We went away for the weekend. It was a holiday weekend, 4 days, and we were gone from Thursday through Saturday. We rented a bungalow at a gated park for military and took Celeste. As usual, O invited his entire world to come stay with us. He loves to have all his friends around him. I prefer quiet weekends, and normally I have them, but not this time.

We went to the military hospital to pick up one friend, Jorge (who apparently loves his new digital camera), then stopped in Rimac to pick up Flover and his family. Flover had called us at 9 am and said, "Hurry! We're ready to go!" We packed our stuff up and got there at 10:30, after stopping at the store to get food for the day and evening, and gassing up the car. Then we waited for Flover and Rosa to bring get their stuff in the car. We waited from 10:30 am till almost 2 pm. Poor Flover, he kept coming out to the car, saying "Just a couple more minutes, just a couple more minutes," but Rosa was apparently packing up the whole house for the 3 days and 2 nights. By noon, O was whuffing down his shirt collar and Celeste was getting tired of being on the leash. Jorge had taken about a dozen photos of us with Celeste, himself, and Flover (running out to the car). By 1:30, O was gnashing his teeth and thinking about cancelling and Celeste was downright obnoxious. Flover had made about 25 trips to the car to tell us to wait just two more minutes. Jorge had filled his memory card with photos and changed out the card in his camera before posing himself and working out the timer thing. Finally, Rosa shoved her 3 squalling scuffling boys out the door and screamed at Flover to drag a 50 pound duffle bag, three garbage bags full of blankets, a soccer ball and a basketball, and 3 backpacks to the car. The three boys jammed themselves into the car, the two older boys picking at each other and squabbling over a 15 cent bag of potato chips and the youngest (6 years old) whined about not being able to pick at the older two. Rosa, short and stout, squashed herself into the seat and Flover squeezed in to take the youngest on his lap.

We were off. Jorge joked and laughed from the rear of the car, snapping photos of open-mouthed kids in mid-squall and open-mouthed Flover as he snored. Rosa sniffed and tutted when Celeste relaxed and released a small green cloud. O calmly rolled down the windows and turned up the radio another 10 decibels.

An hour's drive and we arrived just outside the park to eat lunch at one of several roadside stands that catered to travelers with hot food. Overcooked boiled chicken and rice wasn't the greatest, but it was cooked nevertheless and safe to eat. Well, mostly safe, anyway. Probably.

The park was fenced with chain link and the gate closed, so Celeste was released to play after we parked and unloaded into the bungalow. So began our weekend adventure.

The park is about 10 acres of grass and bungalows, with a small creek that runs through it, a swimming pool, a dining room that is only open once a day and I don't know when that might be, a mini-market, barbeque grills and a picnic area. The bungalow had 3 bedrooms and a huge living room/dining area, a nice-sized bathroom, and a small kitchen area with nothing in it. A generous herd of cockroaches thrown in for free.

Celeste was having a grand time, running free through the park, checking out the barbeque areas for sticks, bones and leftovers thrown on the ground. She found so much garbage to eat that she turned down her dinner of regular dog food. She also thought she had found friends! Three dogs from the surrounding neighborhood also spent their days hunting for leftovers in the park. One was a stout yellow male with a curly tail. Another one was a swaggering black Peruvian hairless female, about Celeste's height and about 10 pounds heavier, who couldn't keep her tongue in her mouth for some odd reason. The third was a smallish nondescript brown female. For a while they got on pretty well, until the yellow male began to try to come into our bungalow to eat Celeste's dogfood. Then the three began to corner Celeste in front of the bungalow and threaten her..."Hand over the dogfood, city girl!" Celeste tolerated it for the first day, but on the second day she'd had enough.

The little brown female hung around us while we were outside having a picnic that evening. Celeste was there, kids handing her food under the table. The brown dog pushed her way under the table and began to snarl at Celeste, who stood her ground. Growls grew louder and kids scattered, then a bundle of bristling hair and flashing teeth exploded under the table. The table overturned as Celeste got her butt whipped by the smaller, more experienced dog. No wounds, just a lot of vicious roaring and wrestling around. After the episode was over, Celeste retired to the bungalow and crawled under the bed to spend the night dreaming about her first fight.

That evening as well, Percy and his family arrived to squeeze into the bungalow, 4 of them sharing tow single beds. Sometime during the night, someone had gotten sick and puked in the sink. Apparently the over cooked chicken wasn't THAT safe. Did you know that they turn off the water at 5 pm there at the park? That makes toilet flushing impossible and we had a dozen people in the house on the second night. It also makes it impossible to clean the sink very well after someone has barfed.

On the third day, we ate a small breakfast of fruit and bread, then went out to walk through the park. The food at the roadside stand hadn't been that great and I had discovered just how many cockroaches there were in the bathroom at 3 am. The floor seemed to move with them...I kept my shoes close at hand after that. Celeste played through the morning, keeping a sharp eye on the three other dogs, who periodically challenged her. She continued to stand her ground, although it obviously stressed her out. Around noon, we all piled into the car again to find a restaurant for lunch. Celeste was content to stay inside the bungalow and sleep - on top of the bed this time. After lunch we loaded our stuff in the car while Celeste barked at us to hurry, apparently ready to go home. It only took Rosa an hour to pack up to go home.

The kids squabbled for about 10 minutes in the car before falling asleep. Jorge's camera battery mercifully was dead. Both Rosa and Flover put their sunglasses on and began to snore. Celeste hung her head out the car window and fell asleep there. We arrived home about 4 pm and Celeste went straight to her crate to sleep through the rest of the afternoon and into this morning.

Let's do this again sometime, shall we?

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