A big, family/friends picnic and chocolate hunt have always been a key part of the Easter tradition in our family, reaching back to the days when Jeanette and my mother and Omi would pack a picnic lunch and hide chocolate out in the country at some park outside of the GTA for me and Rebecca and Stephanie and whoever else we managed to schlepp along. With Easter moving, sometimes the picnic falls on a birthday (last year was mine, in the past it's been the boys'), and there's cake to be had. This year, there were no conflicting birthdays. There were also no friends as one of our friends is currently in the US, and the other two make a living working at the market on Sundays and holidays. To make matters worse, Tats is away in Florida until May 1.
So, we were all alone. :(
Happily, the Easter Bunny as well organized. In addition to budgeting over the past several weeks for a few local treats, she had also arranged with a Canadian friend to bring some "real" Easter chocolate and jellybeans when he came from PEI last month. And miraculously, there were some familiar blue and pink easter egg papers with blank boxes in which to write something!
Thus, the night before Easter, I wrote clues and hid (and also sampled some) treats.
Clue writing for each boy is an idea I picked up from the family I used to babysit for when I was in high school. And later, once I became a teacher, and then when I had kids of my own, I realised what an excellent way this was to build literacy skills in toddlers and young children... I remember how excited Alex and Simon were, and how motivated to read, when they were little and found the (then very simplistic) printed clues the Easter Bunny had left them... heck, they're still excited!
Needless to say, the clues have become a tradition, and last June, when I was sorting boxes and packing suitcases for our year in Argentina, I made sure to pack our clue templates in the "spring" box.
The boys were not disappointed, and eagerly went hunting around the apartment and onto the balcony. (Unfortunately, they elected to do this naked, so photos here are limited, sorry, folks!)
And then it was on to San Isidro...
We had heard there was a train that runs along the coast, and which connects directly from "our" train (the Mitre), so we decided to check that out. The passage between the two train lines was itself worth the journey: the walls and ceiling above the escalators had been creatively plastered with sheet music and old LPs, and there was a plethora of antique shops lining the passage from the Mitre to the "Tren de la Costa".
The latter, as we had suspected, was a "tourist" train. That means that there were instructions and descriptions in English as well as Spanish, and the price -- instead of the $2.20 pesos round trip the regular (Mitre) train costs us -- was a whopping $40 pesos per person!!! Since there were few other options at this point, we quickly elected to cheap out on lunch, and I dug into my pants pocket and forked over the money.
We were soon on our way.
The outrageously overpriced train was at least as run-down as the regular BsAs trains, and had orders of magnitudes more graffiti sprayed on the sides. But it did indeed run along the Rio, which we caught glimpses of on the way to Barrancas station, where we disembarked, and walked through yet another antique market enroute to what we hoped would be the "beach".
As a summer Islander, my schema of "beach" is so very specific, and I keep forgetting that when Portenos refer to "beach" in the greater BsAs area, what they usually mean is "small patch of publicly-accessible grass from which one can see the murky waters of the delta".
Indeed, there were a few of these patches; some folks were fishing there; we had lunch (one order of chicken and pasta with salad -- all shared -- and fresh squeezed orange juice) near one of them, and could see the San Isidro Cathedral in the distance.
After lunch, we walked to the San Isidro train station, which in itself is quite a pretty place. Here we elected to hold our second Easter Egg hunt. (The boys -- although happy to get more chocolate -- noted that it just wasn't the same without the thrill of the chase. With no other contenders, they had no one to fight for the loot! I offered to fight them for it, hehe!)
Next, we wandered through the feria (I bought some pecans -- hard to find in the city!!), and stopped to watch a performer swallow fire and juggle a floating glass ball before heading up to check out the Cathedral up close.
Back at home, we dug into our "Kartoffelpuffer" and apple sauce, and all agreed it had been a reasonably nice family outing for our first Easter away from home and family.