Estie’s Journal – Issue 32

by Rochel Larson, age 14, from MA

Sunday, June 10 – 20 Sivan 

My family and I are in the town of Wellfleet on Cape Cod! Cape Cod is the tip of Massachusetts. We flew here early this morning from Florida and rented a car to drive up to our rental house on the cape. The cool ocean air is a nice break from the muggy heat of a Florida summer. Cape Cod is supposed to have the most beautiful beaches and sunsets, and We get to stay for a whole week! Dad found the rental house on the internet. It’s a cute cottage with a bright pink door, a gravel driveway, and garden tucked away on a lonely looking road. Dad seemed surprised that Joan, the owner, wasn’t there to greet us. Instead, we found a note taped to the cottage door. It included a key, along with a list of things we needed to supply – even paper towels and toilet paper, if you can believe that. At the end of the list there was a little note too: PS: Please water my hydrangeas each morning.

“Let me get this straight. First she makes us bring our own toilet paper, then she asks to water her plants?” my brother Daniel said.

The house smelled like what I imagine an old attic would smell like. It was decorated in ship-themed items. A life-preserver hung on the wall above the couch and a fishing net was draped over the staircase railing. The whole place looked pretty tired. Quaint 3-bedroom cottage, ocean view, walking distance to the beach, was the description of the house. “I wouldn’t exactly call this ‘quaint’”, Shifra said as we walked into the front room. “More like, ‘tacky’”. The wooden balcony on the second floor was rickety, but hopefully stable. When I looked out through the tangle of trees behind the house, I spotted a tiny triangle of blue, which, if you squinted enough, could have been the ocean. And that was right about when we heard the screams from downstairs…

“ANTS! There are ants all OVER!” Mom brandished a fly swatter. My eyes popped when I saw the trail of big black ants scurrying across the counter in the kitchen. Then I looked down at the floor. More ants. And I looked up at the walls. More ants. Mom desperately swatted the line of the ants on the counter. Yuck. Everywhere we looked, there seemed to be more ants. So Dad called Joan who told him that there was a bottle of Raid under the kitchen sink. (Raid is poison you spray around the house to kill the ants.) This did not go over well with Mom who had been trying to go organic with everything. Like our sheets. How can that even be organic? Isn’t that word usually for things you eat? Mom did not look happy about spraying ant poison in our rental cottage. But after a while we were able to kill the ants, clean them up, and air out the house.

Monday, June 11 – 21 Sivan 

Today we all set out to see the nearby beach. Except, it turned out that the beach was 3 miles away. I don’t know about Joan, but I don’t call that “walking distance”. By the time we got there, my feet were killing me, and my brother complained about schlepping the umbrella. Shifra did not want to walk back to the cottage, so Dad jogged back to get the car and picked us up. Nice Dad, huh?

This afternoon we ventured to the town center. There’s a library, gift shops, antique shops, used-book shops. So maybe I went overboard on the souvenirs. Ahhh… a day of shopping can sure tire you out! It’s a good thing we brought our own sheets (as instructed) because the sheets in the closet had “JOAN’S SHEETS – DO NOT USE” written on them with black marker. What kind of person writes on her sheets?

Sunday, June 17 – 27 Sivan 

I’m writing on the plane back to Florida. Our vacation ended in a little catastrophe on Shabbos. Well, more like a big catastrophe. We were all playing a game of checkers in the family room shabbos afternoon, when there was a knock on the door. Of course we were not expecting anyone and there were no neighbors, either. I jumped up and peeked through the curtains. I saw a van parked in our driveway. A man and woman started taking luggage out of the trunk.Then four young kids piled out. Oh, no. A bad feeling hit my stomach. “Uh, Dad? I think there’s a problem”, was all I could say. When Dad opened the door, a man smiled and announced that they were the new tenants. It didn’t take too long to figure out that there was a mix-up. A big mix-up. The man showed Dad a rental agreement that began Saturday. Of course, we were all set to leave tomorrow, Sunday. That’s when Dad realized that Joan had made a mistake and thought we were renting the house Sunday to Saturday. And here was this family with all their luggage and no place to go. They looked a little lost when my Dad tried to explain that we couldn’t use the telephone on the Jewish Sabbath, but in the end they called Joan for us and explained the situation.

Joan was not happy. She insisted that Dad had agreed to a Sunday to Saturday rental, which, of course, he would never do. Joan wanted us out of that house and fast. She even threatened to call the police! Luckily, the new family agreed to let us leave all our stuff in the cabin. So, they started unloading their van while we tried to figure out how to get out of the way.

Since we had nowhere else to go, we walked the three miles to the beach to hang out there until after Shabbos. I was thinking about how much I complain about our mile walk to shul (synagogue) back home in Florida. Sure puts things in perspective. No one said much. I could tell Dad was brooding and Mom was mad.

We had quite a bit of time to pass on the beach before shabbos would be over. After a rest (everyone fell asleep except me), I started a game of charades which kind of lightened the mood. And then we just talked, and laughed, and recalled past vacation mishaps. Then we watched a spectacular sunset. As the sand and air cooled, Shifra and I huddled together. The sky turned inky black and the ocean shimmered with the reflection of the moon. Three stars twinkled above us, and Shabbos was over. Dad jogged back to the house to get the car (again) and loaded up our stuff, then drove back to pick us up. We couldn’t find any hotel vacancies in Cape Cod, so we stayed in a hotel near the airport. Farewell, Cape Cod.

Shifra says that one day we’ll look back on this vacation and laugh. I’ll keep you posted.