The real truth behind the Facebook-perfect family fieldtrip

NOTE: This post was originally written and published on a now-defunct web page on October 5, 2016.

I just posted a couple of pictures on my Facebook page of what I had planned to be a really cool “seize the moment” homeschool fieldtrip.  If you look at those pictures, you’ll assume that all went as planned, and that the trip really was perfect. But we all know that Facebook is a terrible instrument for propagating those “perfect family” myths, and I decided to tell the truth of that field trip here.

It all started years ago, before Ade and I ever had kids, and before the Pan-American Highway built all of the bypasses around the many tiny towns along the Pacific Coast.  (Yes, that’s actually an important bit of information… keep reading.) It used to take us a full 8 hours to make the trip from our mountain town down to Lima because of driving through all of those little towns.  In fact, it usually took even longer, because it was pretty much guaranteed that we would be stopped in a couple of the pueblos by police officers hoping for a bribe.  Over the years we learned how to deal with that situation, but I’ll have to save those stories for another day.  

Balcón de la Independencia – Huara, Peru

Anyhow, back in those early days of our marriage, I remember Ade mentioning the “Balcony of Independence” every single time we drove through the little town of Huara. 

San Martín – El Gran Liberador

San Martin, the Great Liberator of most of South America, stood on that very balcony and gave the “first shout of independence” for Peru.  It always bothered me that we drove right past that balcony on so many occasions but never stopped.  However, when you’re only a little over two-thirds of the way through an 8 hour trip, you just don’t feel like adding an extra hour to the drive.

Fast-forward a dozen years, add two kids to the family, and also some really nice bypasses along the Pan-American Highway.  Now the trip takes only 6 hours, and we rarely have problems with the small-town police, so there actually is a bit of extra time to make a few stops along the way.  So a couple of weeks ago, in the interest of appreciating Peruvian history and turning the trip to Lima into a homeschool field trip, I convinced Ade to get off the highway at Huara and take us to see the Balcony of Independence.  That’s where I got the nice pictures to post on Facebook. 

But the real story…

Well, it was high noon when we pulled up at the Huara town plaza and paid 2 soles per person to see the little museum.  (That’s a grand total of $2.38 for all of us to visit this important historical location!)  I didn’t realize that everyone was hungry, or we would have eaten our picnic lunch in the plaza before going to the museum.  First mistake!  (I should have taken the cue when the little old tour guide showed us the first room and then ditched us so he could go eat lunch.)

San Martin’s sword

The second mistake was handing the camera to Danny and telling him to take turns with Luis.  I was imagining some really nice shots worthy of a field trip photo album, with all the pictures taken from the boys’ perspective.  But as the hunger kicked in, Danny stubbornly refused to share the camera, causing Luis to retreat into extreme grouchiness. 

And to make matters worse, five minutes from the end of our self-guided tour Danny managed to delete every single photo on the camera!  (The pictures you see here and on Facebook are the handful that I managed to take at the very end, demanding that everyone smile and try to look nice.)

The third mistake came when we went to the truck and I couldn’t get the cooler out of the back because the hatch was locked.  Even though we were in a nice little town plaza, Ade told me that we should wait a few minutes until we found a better picnic spot.  (I should have insisted; we could have averted the impending lunch disaster!) In reality, Ade just didn’t want to eat our empanadas, chips and cookies.  He was looking for a place where he could buy ceviche, a Peruvian seafood specialty.

Ade’s ceviche

I was pretty irritated with him, although trying not to show it, because he had assured me that a picnic would be just fine, and we could even eat it while driving, in order to save time.  On the very edge of town, Ade finally found a girl standing by the side of the road selling plates of ceviche, so he bought one, disregarding the fact that food sold on the edge of the road probably isn’t too safe, and he handed it to me while he drove on out of town and up a sand dune so we could eat by the beach.  I managed to dump most of the ceviche juice on my lap on the way, irritating me even more, since we had packed carefully for our trip to Lima and had planned to wear every outfit a couple of times.  

By the time I opened the cooler in the back of the truck, it was hardly a surprise to discover that I had left all of the empanadas (meat pies) in our refrigerator back in Huaraz.  We were far enough out of town that I didn’t even mention going back to look for someplace where we could buy sandwiches.  So the boys and I ate chips, cookies, and fruit, while Ade ate his ceviche minus the spicy lemon juice that was drying on my pants.  Unfortunately, in the midst of the hunger and lunchtime angst, we didn’t even appreciate the amazing ocean view.

So that’s the truth behind our “happy family” field trip pictures on Facebook!  A couple of weeks after the fact it’s kind of a funny memory, and I’m glad that the boys got to see this important place in Peruvian history.  But I also think it’s a good idea to be honest about some of those family pictures on Facebook.  We are a happy family – most of the time – but telling the truth is good for one’s soul!

Grouchy boys on a “fun” field trip

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