Neal Freeland

Engineering/marketing manager, family guy. My personal blog with a few work thoughts mixed in.

Paternity Leave: Mexico Surf Safari

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Microsoft has an amazing benefit that provides one month off to new fathers. Even better, the culture of the place actually supports people taking the time. After the trials my family has been through with Amelia’s birth, this felt like a well deserved break. My wife especially needed my support to cope with Amelia’s constant late night feedings. Prior to the surgery Amelia’s weight had dropped off the bottom of the charts, but she has quickly caught back up and we’re delighted to report that she’s positively chubby now. But the effort wore us down some, and combined with 30 days of straight rain in Seattle our spirits needed a boost. So I did something I vowed I’d never do again: I spent 7 hours travelling with 2 kids under 2, and this time added immigration and customs to check-in and security lines. That’s right, we fled south of the border to Mexico.
We stayed at Julia’s cousin’s home in a little seaside town north of Puerto Vallarta named Sayulita. The town has a decent beach break and attracts surf tourists from all over. For six wonderful days we relaxed in the casita guest house on a small estate in the jungle covered hills overlooking the town and Pacific. From the hammock under the poolside palapa we watched whales migrate south, ate fish tacos, sipped margaritas, and read books. At least, that’s what we tried to squeeze into the time the kids let us have during their naps. My favorite part of the trip, though, was learning how much Mexicans love children. Everywhere we went people would stop us, touch the kids, coo, smile, give them some food, pick them up and carry them around the plaza. It only took one day to shed my city-bred protectionism and embrace the village community.
Somehow I also managed to find 90 minutes to recharge myself and go surfing. In the words of a fellow surf tourist and mother, I was easily recognizable as "the guy…who normally looks like he surfs with a wetsuit". At first I thought she was commenting on the stiffness of my paddling or stance, but I quickly realized she was admiring my hard-earned all-over monitor tan: I was definitely the whitest guy out there, and the reflection off my body probably blinded her and others. Still, it felt like a baptism, and I can’t wait to start sharing the ocean with my kids.

Written by nealfreeland

January 25, 2006 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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