An Ecuadorian Christmas Gift

While we have been on the road this year we have downplayed the role of Christmas with our kids. Instead of receiving MP3 players, skateboards and Nike basketball shoes, we have played up the things that they’re getting from our trip like a Galapagos cruise, scuba diving certification, and hiking the Inca Trail. Part of this is economic -- we’re spending a lot of money to travel for an extended period of time and we’re not getting paid for the work we're doing. Part of this is practical -- we are living out of our backpacks these days and it would not make sense to receive a handful of bulky presents that could not be brought on the trip. Our kids have been great. They got the message and they weren’t even expecting a visit from Santa Claus.

Santa Claus had other plans, however.
We ate a lovely Christmas-Eve dinner last night, in a traditional restaurant frequented by locals and we walked back to our hotel past happy people rushing home with presents, trying to get all their last minute shopping done as the skies darkened. Even without a full-blown Christmas, we all felt content with our holiday experience. Back at our hotel, while we were all doing our separate things prior to bed, two red-and-white Santa caps were mysteriously tied to our hotel room door. The hats were the battery-operated ones with flashing Christmas lights and they were filled with chocolate candy. Attached to the caps with a long string of decorative tinsel was a note: “Merry Christmas! From Santa Claus in Norway” Our kids were of course delighted and a bit puzzled. Since they weren’t expecting a Santa visit and both are on the verge of becoming Santa-skeptics (if not already there), they wondered who had brought the wonderful surprise. They ran down the list of “usual suspects” – starting with us. We (truthfully) denied any and all knowledge. They ruled out the hotel staff – they wouldn’t have added the “Norway” part. Was it a hotel guest? We’d met a few guests, but none were from Norway. It must have been Santa.
It had escaped the kids’ attention, but I’d noticed two young Scandinavian women sitting on the terrace as we returned from dinner. They were playing Christmas tunes and were both wearing Santa caps with flashing Christmas lights. I think I’ll keep this bit of information to myself.

Feliz Navidad!

This post was part of a Lonely Planet Blogsherpa carnival Christmas Traditions Around the World, hosted by Abi at Inside the Travel Lab.

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