The contractors came back Tuesday morning, apparently with an electrician. By the afternoon they reported that the pump electrical issue was fixed, by which they meant they had plugged the same extension cord into a different outlet downstairs. We had running water again and our shower was no longer a form of capital punishment. Things were looking up.
That morning we drove into town to bring Erin to her office. Because of her concerns about internet access at the apartment, the owner had arranged for her to work at Jose's computer store as a backup plan. Tuesday was the test run for this arrangement.
We dropped Erin off and I introduced her to Jose in my broken Spanish.
"I speak English," he responded.
He pointed Erin to a folding chair in front of a full bookshelf in the messy one-room office. She set up her laptop on a corner of the shelf and I left with the kids for the cell phone store.
The only thing worse than trying to sort out cell phone plans in Spanish is trying to sort out cell phone plans in Spanish while supervising two kids under the age of five. Luckily, I had snacks and found a salesperson who spoke decent English.
He figured it all out and set me up with one sim card for the apartment's wifi device that we could recharge with 6GB packages for $15, allowing us to keep our phone numbers. After three temper tantrums, an overturned chair, and a pile of crumbs on the floor, I left feeling like a hero.
The kids and I picked up a few groceries and I checked in with Erin. She had originally planned to be at the office until late afternoon, but was now considering leaving early, thanks to my triumph at the cell phone store.
Earlier that morning Jose had asked her when she was planning to leave.
"I was thinking around four o'clock?" she said.
"No," said Jose.
"Oh. Well, when would be a good time for you?"
"One," said Jose.
I picked her up by noon. She realized that whatever arrangements had been made for her to work at Jose's computer store, it was clear that Jose was not interested in having a coworker. She would not be going back.
She got in the car and said, "I feel like I just got dumped by someone I didn't want to be dating."
That afternoon I took the kids down to the beach, and Erin came down to meet us when she finished her work.
The beach was long, flat, and relatively clean, except for the occasional bottle or spare tire. Interesting shells were everywhere, which kept the kids entertained on the long walk down to the waves at low tide. We started playing in the waves next to some rocks.
"GAAAHH!" Oliver exclaimed, and bolted back out of the water.
I looked where he had been standing. Through the clear water between the waves I saw a gray crab the size of my foot on the sand, not moving but definitely alive. I told Oliver that it was afraid of us and didn't want to hurt us, but we moved to the other side of the rocks to leave it in peace. And also because it wasn't afraid of us and wanted to hurt us.
I stood with Vera in the shallow waves while Erin swam a bit deeper with Oliver.
"Ow," Erin said, "I think I just got stung by a jellyfish."
"Are you sure? Touch it again," I said.
Then Oliver stood up in the water, holding his hand out. "My finger feels funny," he said, walking towards us.
"What does it feel like?" Erin asked. "Is it a scrape? Or does it sting, or feel tingly?"
"It stings a little," he said.
"Yeah, OK. Well, I think Mommy just got a little sting from a jellyfish, so maybe the jellyfish gave you a little-"
"GAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" Vera screamed, elevating out of the water. Erin grabbed her up and ran out of the waves with Oliver and me in close pursuit.
"It's all over her!" Erin shouted in distress. "I can feel it stinging me!"
"What do we do? Should I pee on her?" I said helpfully.
"Do not pee on your daughter! Look, her hand is all swollen!"
Erin sat in a tide pool and tried to rinse her, but Vera resisted, still screaming. Erin scooped her back up and hustled the quarter mile across the beach back to our house. By the time we got back Vera had settled down. Erin stripped Vera's float and swimsuit off while I googled "Should I pee on a jellyfish sting?"
Her left hand and forearm were red and swollen with visible lines where the tentacles had struck her exposed skin. With her suit off, we could see welts from stings that went through her swim shirt from her left ribs down to her hip.
"Vinegar," I declared, looking at my phone. Saltwater helps too, but we were off the beach. Pee, not so much, nor Windex, which had been my other suggestion. Fresh water makes it worse. We later read that you should scrape the nematocysts out of the skin with a credit card as soon as possible.
Erin had made a vinegar and water mix in a spray bottle for house cleaning the day before, so we sprayed it liberally on Vera's stings. She liked it, although it seemed like the stinging had already run its course by then.
Then Oliver had us spray his finger.
With the water now working, we all took showers, had dinner, flushed the toilet, and went to bed.
I got up around 11 PM to go to the bathroom, flush the toilet (because I could), and grab a bottle of water from the kitchen.
I turned on the kitchen light.
"GAAAHH!" I exclaimed.
I don't like bugs. I'm not gonna lie. When we get a spider or centipede in our house, I make a catcher's mitt out of paper towels to squash it. When a bee buzzes past my ear, I hit the deck. When a fly circles my food, I grab it with chopsticks.
But this was a bug I fortunately had never had the displeasure of meeting.
"La cucaracha," I muttered in disgust.
The large cockroach was at the base of the cupboard just below the sink, munching contentedly on some morsel of food. I put on both of my sneakers (yes, both), made a catcher's mitt out of paper towels, and steeled myself for combat.
I crept to within a step from it, then lunged at the vile beast with my sneakered foot. I thought I felt it beneath my toe, but when I stepped back it had vanished back under the cabinet from whence it came.
Defeated, I sprayed the base of the cabinet with vinegar and went back to bed.