Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome to Portugal - You Suck As Parents

Portugal was our first big vacation with baby.  And we were quickly and clearly informed by the Portuguese as to the mistakes we were making as parents, as well as figuring out a few of our own.  After an easy flight to Faro and a 40 minute cab ride to Lagos, we checked into our hotel and went to explore the town in the last hour of sunlight.  It was cool but not cold, and we had Baby Oil in a thick fleece in the Ergobaby.  I was carrying his hat.  About one block from the hotel, we saw an elderly Portuguese lady. She took one look at us, pointed at Baby Oil, and started saying loudly, "Frio! Frio! Frio!"  This was, naturally, accompanied by a truly dirty look. Because only terrible parents take their baby out without a hat in 60 degree weather.

A few days later, Baby Oil took a nice public tumble at a little outdoor cafe in Silves.  I was watching, but in the split second when the plastic chair tipped over, I couldn't stop it, and he hit the ground.  In front of a table of six elderly Portuguese men and women.  They were not impressed.  Baby Oil was screaming (he's fine) and Mr. Oil was freaking out (first big clunk in his presence) and I was getting a tableful of dirty looks. One man helpfully stared me down as he patted the back of his head.  Yes, sir, I do know that my kid hit the back of his head on the pavement.  Got it, thanks.  Yes, I realize it hurt.

We also managed to miss the memo before arriving that Portugal is an hour ahead of France.  Had no idea on that one.  So while it originaly seemed manageable to participate in the hotel's Christmas Eve dinner (also, no restaurants were open) that began at 7pm, it quickly became unmanageable as our poor baby sat in his high chair, eyes drooping shut, half asleep, well over an hour past his bedtime.  Oh, and did I mention that he was sick?  Yes, we are awesome at this parent thing.

One morning I decided it was time to check out the beach. Having grown up in Oregon, chilly weather + beach is normal for me, and I was excited to be near the ocean.  We walked to Meia Praia, the biggest beach in Lagos.  Yes, it was a tad chilly and the sand was cold, but it was lovely.  Baby Oil HATED it.  Wanted nothing to do with the beach.  Yet I tried to make him enjoy it anyway.  Didn't work.
Baby Oil screaming his displeasure with the beach.

But in between these parenting faux pas (and I haven't even gotten to the Lisbon poop story), we truly relaxed.  Lagos is a cute place and in the off season, it is absurdly peaceful.  We explored the town, and the beaches near the town.  We heard Portuguese Christmas carolers. We swam in the (indoor) hotel pool.  We napped.  We ate cod (they are really into cod in Portugal).  We drank beer (Sagres, the Portuguese beer, is excellent). We rented a car for a day (turns out that they only have forward-facing child seats in Portugal, so then we had to debate whether we should even rent the car at all, but since we are terrible parents, we did, and I drove very slowly).  We celebrated our birthdays (which are two days apart).  We discovered yummy sticks (we think the actual name is lacos de mel), which are the second best pastry in Portugal, and the best in Lagos.  I can't even tell you what they are, or what they taste like, but they are delicious.  We ate at least one a day while in the south.  Every day was sunny and comfortably cool. 


Praia de Marinha

As first time parents, we of course fell pray to the souvenir monster, and felt it necessary to buy our child what every child who comes to Portugal wants and needs....a potholder that looks like a fish.  Aren't we the most generous, thoughtful parents around?  What actually happened was that we were in a store looking at a tablecloth and Baby Oil was really enjoying playing with this fish potholder.  Possibly chewing or drooling on it.  And it cost 5 euros so we said, heck yeah we'll take that potholder!  We named it Bobby. 
Baby Oil and Bobby

The beach made a comeback with Baby Oil, however, and by the time we hit Praia de Marinha - a simply gorgeous cliff-backed cove - he was down with the beach scene.
Who loves the beach now!

More to come as our love affair with Portugal only intensified once we got to Lisbon...though its unclear whether our parenting improved...

PS That beautiful blue-ish photo of Silves above? Mr. Oil would like you to know that he doesn't like the photo (which he took) because it wasn't supposed to be blue, but I insisted it on posting it because I think its awesome.