Luke's South American Diary
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May 1996

3 May 1996

Over the last few days, the Caracas rains finally arrived, significantly earlier than last year, but very welcome - the novelty of water-rationing wore off long ago. Of course, it still remains to be seen whether it has been just a flash in the pan, (or, I suppose, a drop in the ocean).

According to the specialist at her last check-up, Elena is walking with one foot slightly turned out, and if this does not correct itself in the next four months, the threat of a brace or a special shoe still hangs over us, and knowing Elena's temperament, I can well imagine her reaction to such an imposition. According to her other favourite doctor, she has hardly put on any weight or height in the last month, despite consuming what seems to us like vast quantities of food. However, she is still around the average mark, and so there is no reason for concern (considering the amount of running around she gets through in a day, it is actually not too surprising).

She is turning into a good Venezuelan, and now has two cellular phones (do not mistake me: they are toys - we are not that Venezuelan yet!), which she has learned to hold to her ear, more or less, although she also holds TV controls to her ear, and also, bizarrely, her red fluffy crab.

7 May 1996 Back to top

OK. So the novelty of rain has taken an even shorter time to wear off. It has rained at least once or twice a day for the last week or so, hardly clearing in between, and the garden is now quite green enough, thank you very much. With the rain has come a plague of mosquitoes of Biblical proportions. Mind you, the luxury of water all day long still has the sweet taste of freshness, and would be difficult to give up.

Julie has been off working in Peru and Colombia again, and because she has had so little time in the office recently, she has been working some ridiculous hours (like 11pm and 1.30am!) to try and keep abreast, especially with a two week holiday coming up.

31 May 1996 Back to top

Florida, USA (yet again)
Another two weeks in Florida under our belt, and we are becoming more Venezuelan than the Venezuelans. This time we met up with my sister and her family, and their 5-year-old and 7-year-old kept Elena amused for hours at a time (and vice-versa I would say). We trailed round Disney World again, as well as other places like Sea World (which I quite enjoyed despite my aversion to zoos), and the totally naff Jungleland. The older kids had a great time, having never been abroad before and having never imagined anything on the scale of Disney, and all for the entertainment of kids! My sister and brother-in-law have also not travelled very much, and were totally in awe of things to start with, but ended having a whale of a time.

We spent the second week by the Gulf Coast, and made forays to some nice beaches and to some State Parks and other attractions in the area to see, among other things, a manatee sanctuary at a warm spring, and the naffest-of-the-naff mermaid show at Weeki Watchee Springs (which everyone but me really loved!). It was the first time we had really let Elena loose on a beach and she was in seventh heaven, playing in (and eating) the sand, and splashing in (and drinking) the sea, and we took a selection of those "baby-on-a-beach" photos which all families seem to have.

Although she started off eating well, after a week or so Elena discovered the annoyance value of dramatically spitting out her food, and towards the end of the holiday we had all but given up trying to get anything but biscuits and juice into her, in the hope that Maritza would sort her out when we returned. There seemed no point in getting upset about it (and the books backed us up on that). Having seen how my sister's kids had survived to the ages of 5 and 7 by eating very little else than Coke, plain pasta, and plain rice in one case, and microwave chips, pears and ice cream in the other, we felt a little easier, calculating that Elena had probably already had more healthy food than the two of them combined. (Apparently, both kids ate well for the first year or two, before nose-diving to their present antics, so we should be sure never to get cocky in this respect).

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