spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Quinceañera Trip Report Part 4:one day more

on January 25, 2017

I just reread the ending of my last post and cried again!  Jeez, I need to get it together.  OK, let’s continue…

Today was Saturday, our bonus day to do whatever we wanted before traveling home to Honolulu on Sunday.  We definitely slept in.  We had only one concrete plan for this day besides packing, and it was to eat at Olive Garden.  Did you know that Guayaquil, Ecuador has an Olive Garden, and the US state of Hawaii doesn’t?  I would like to enjoy overpriced chain-restaurant Fauxtalian food, too, you know!  There was a location planned for Kapolei Commons, but it is on indefinite hold.


“Patience, Iago.”

Anyway, we took advantage of the Olive Garden located about a mile from the hotel, along with DD’s father and his girlfriend, plus my awesome cousin.  Lunch was yummy, with the salad and breadsticks excellent as usual.  I had taken advantage of an Amex Offer in July that gave me a $10 statement credit for any purchase of $50 or more at Darden Restaurants (which include Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Yard House, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52,  and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood).  I checked the fine print of course, then hopped online to buy a $50 gift card for $40.  Free food is always delicious, wouldn’t you agree?  Lunch completed, we said goodbye to DD’s father and his girlfriend, who were driving back to Philadelphia that afternoon.  We headed over to my parent’s house, and spent a bit of time saying goodbye to some of the family that had come into town for the party.  This included the lighting of candles for my husband- his birthday was the next day, so he got some authentic Entenmann’s Coffee Cake and a bunch of Latinos singing “japi berdei tu llu” to him.


I have an excellent copycat recipe for this, since they don’t sell Entenmann’s brand in Hawaii.

The visitors then scattered to various transportation stations to make their way home.  The house was much quieter after that, with just the core group streeeeetching out the time we could spend together on this super-short trip.  My niece, having pretty much gotten over her illness, was willing to sit for a few pictures and play with DS, but still wasn’t ready for snuggles with me.  I tried to bribe her with M&Ms.  She ate some, but still no hug.  I was determined to succeed, so I just bided my time.

Random: my parents gave me the car I drive now in a series of well-timed events.  A few years ago, I took a job in Kapolei, 25 miles from our apartment (luckily, I don’t have this long commute anymore).  Right at that time, my parents were getting ready to buy my mom a new car, and had this late ’90s Camry they were thinking of selling.  I told my mom we were going to go car shopping, and she said no- just take the Camry.  I arranged for the shipping.  They drove the Camry to a processing center, and she made her way across to California on the back of a truck, then by ship to Honolulu.  Back to present day NJ- my father hands me a hubcap, and says, this is for the Camry.  I stared at him in amazement because a) now I had to pack a HUBCAP in my luggage, and b) one of the hubcaps on the Camry had cracked in the summer and had a chunk missing, so I needed one!  Weird coincidence.  Moving on…

I can’t remember the timing of it, but at some point we went to the local market to get Hispanic food necessities like a big container of Goya Adobo, a big box of Sazón con achiote, and some snacks for the plane.  I can get some this stuff here in Hawaii, but at nearly twice the price.  These items would accompany the 2# blocks of Tropical Queso Blanco Fresco and container of Ecuadorian crabmeat that were in my parents’ freezer.  No shame in my food-packing game.

Side note: I went Googling to find a picture that might represent my suitcase filled with Hispanic foodstuffs, and instead found this gem.  I literally laughed out loud, so without further ado….


Goya headquarters in Houston, Texas

Back at my parents’, it was around this time that my mom realized she couldn’t find the cake topper that we had (supposedly) brought home from the party venue.  You might recall that this was the same cake topper that had been used at my Quince- a highly sentimental item, and made of ceramic.  We looked all over, and wound up calling the venue.  They were very nice and professional and put me on hold while they asked the staff, but ultimately didn’t find it.  My mom was upset.  I was inwardly nauseated at the thought of having misplaced it somewhere amongst the mix of bags and people leaving the party the night before.  My father offered to go search all of our various parked cars.  He left to do so, and my mom and I continued to try to retrace our steps.  It was tense.  After 15 minutes, my dad came back- with a box that had gotten pushed to the back of his trunk, inside a black plastic bag, which had made it nearly impossible to see.  It was the topper, perfectly intact.  This was a miracle, because several suitcases had been shoved next to and near it that day.  Whew!!!

Time for another attempt at a snuggly hug.  I had progressed to sniffing the top of my niece’s head without her running away.  Love baby smell.  This little win may have been related to my lending her our copy of the The Lion King on DVD.  I continued to hover, sitting near her as she watched Elena of Avalor and squealed in delight as my sister and I danced to “Sister Time,” a song from the show.  I got distracted with something, and THEN!!!  She came running to me AND gave me a hug AND let me lift her up for a snuggle-twirl-squeeze-kiss!  I about died.  The whole trip was now a complete success.

As it happened, it was near her bedtime, and we needed to get going back to the hotel to pack and get a good night’s sleep.  So on that high note, we said goodbye to my niece, my sister, and my brother-in-law.  This was sad, but made better by the fact that my sister confirmed a 2017 visit to Hawaii from her and my niece (which we are currently planning).  A few moments later, we made a sadder goodbye to my parents and cousin (she wasn’t going back to Ecuador for another few days).  Unlike my sister and niece, we had no concrete plans for visits in the next 12 months.  Plus, I was blubbering like a baby, thanking my parents again and again for all their help with the party.  All this led to me forgetting the crabmeat in my parents’ freezer.  We were halfway to the hotel when we got the call from my mom, and I turned the car right around.  My aunt in Ecuador had sourced, purchased, frozen, wrapped, and packed that crabmeat in my cousin’s suitcase for me, and I wasn’t about to have all that effort go to waste.  I got my goodies, said goodbye again, and went back to the hotel.  I packed everything, including the hubcap!  My husband’s birthday gift from me was flying back to Hawaii First Class.  This meant free luggage for him, so I jammed that suitcase FULL.  I made sure the kids and I had everything we needed in our carry-ons, took a shower, and went to sleep.  The trip was almost over 😦

Next installment- travel day, including fun phrases like, “Are you going to need your motion-sickness bag?” and “Flight attendant, someone just smoked in this lavatory.”


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