Thursday, July 12, 2012

The NEST in NS: Hitting the vacation 'wall'.


There comes a point in every trip a traveller makes where the glamour wears off and you just want to go home. Marathon runners call this ‘the wall’: the point where your physical self says ‘No’, while your brain has to persevere and say, ‘Yes’. I hit my wall on Tuesday on this trip, and I suspect you’ll quite easily see why.


First brick in the wall was the mosquito bites. I don’t know what kind of German-swim-team steroids it is that Nova Scotia is feeding to their mosquitos, but these suckers swarm like plagues of locusts, and can apparently eat you through your clothes. After Monday night’s bonfire, where I sat for several hours perched on the bare metal frame of a patio chair, I had 28 mosquito bites on my backside. Despite my jeans, those suckers had managed to pierce my skin over two-dozen times on my ass and upper thighs. I showed Brian, and even Mr Unshakable bellowed out a curse. He hadn’t even yet noticed the grape-sized bites on my jugular, temples, and knees. I thought about my friend Graham, who is a tree planter in British Columbia and who is routinely savaged by bat-sized bugs…and I determined that my mosquito trauma is worse, because Graham is at least dressed for battle, whereas I brought cute little sundresses.

Swollen foot. Sad!


The second brick was the deer fly bite. Deer flies, for those who haven’t experienced these devils, are giant flies that actually bite a piece of you off; they make mosquitos look like benevolent pixies and mosquito bites look like freckles. I used to get bitten by these monsters all the time as a kid at our campground, but I haven’t had a run-in in many years; turns out, my body has developed some sort of hate-on for the suckers. I learned this when I swatted one, mid-bite, off the top of my foot, then watched in horror as my foot swelled up enormously until I couldn’t wiggle my toes. Aside from the pain, which was akin to the feeling of a black eye except in my foot, there was also this terrible tingling as my body fought the anti-coagulant chemical that the fly had spat into the wound. I hobbled around for the next two days, and here on day three, it’s now half as swollen but ten times as itchy.


The boys, heckling and totally NOT exercising.
These discomforts drove me to seek out a pleasant afternoon activity, so I changed into workout clothes, grabbed my yoga mat, and went out into the field behind the cottage for a good round of yoga. This, my friends, was the final brick in that wall of mine. As I began my asanas, my brother, brother-in-law, Brian, and the foreign exchange student all sat on lawn chairs drinking beer and watching me. After a while, my mother came to sit, as well. I kept my focus as best I could, until Dad came out with the dogs. Two of the pups became wildly alarmed by my poses and began circling me and barking. I stopped my routine and calmed them down, and returned to my mat just in time to see my dad coming up to me with my other yoga mat. He laid it down and we all stared in shock as we thought he was about to join me…when he pulled out his remote-controlled helicopter, and began using my mat as a helipad.

You want to test your ability to stay focused in a yoga routine? Try to bend yourself into a downward-facing dog while hearing the angry whirring of chopper blades as they slice the air just a few feet away from you.

The kite, mocking me.
At this point, the rest of the family became inspired to start an activity as well. I watched in dumbfounded awe as my brother picked up a boomerang and began learning how to use it just a few meters away from where I was. Brian and Jed grabbed—I kid you not—a croquet set, and designed a route that encircled my yoga area. Yeah, because there’s nothing as relaxing as trying to do a pigeon pose while rock-hard balls ricochet across the lawn around you. Then somebody unfurled a hideous yellow kite sporting a grin and a pair of sunglasses, and that mocked me from the sky as I performed my warrior poses.

Within ten minutes of me beginning my yoga, my entire family had armed themselves with clubs, balls, canines, motorized blade-wielding toys, and a kite string to finish me off like a garrotte, if all else failed. I lay on my back in resting pose and stared up into the mocking face of the yellow kite, and fumed a bit.

Eventually, I found my calm place and finished my routine. It was surreal to be deep-breathing and performing these slow, smooth motions in the midst of utter anarchy. Once I got my second wind, much like the marathon runner, I felt better and moved past my vacation 'wall'. I rolled up my mat and added to the familial cacophony by pulling out my guitar and trying to learn a new song. Because if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. 


I survived demon mosquitos, an anaphylactic foot caused by deer fly, and my family. I had pushed past my ‘wall’, and was ready for more vacation. Of course, I didn’t know what PEI had in store for us the next day…

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