Coordinates 44°00′N 72°42′O
Puerto Ricans, and Hispanics in general, have always characterized for traveling in packs, like sheep in their flocks. Our family goes beyond parents and siblings. It includes the entire bloodline (grandparents, cousins, uncles and nephews) and in many cases, friends and neighbors that have become part of the clan.
A simple family reunion turns into a big feast. When talking about Christmas vacation, the picture is not any different. Our vacation trip then turns into an excursion. We even have to rent a bus to be able to fit the group, which is never smaller than eight.
This trip was not the exception; we were sixteen people to be exact. The whole family, including the grandparents, cousins, the sister, the uncle, the neighbor and grand children, decided to join. In addition to parents and children. We didn’t rent just a bus… we rented two. Our destination: A frozen Vermont.
For those of us who live in the tropics, where the seasons are always green, the winter landscape of Vermont, clean and snowy, is always fascinating. Despite freezing, for being accustomed to the Caribbean warmth, having to wear layers and layers of clothing and perhaps having better abilities in aquatic sports… skiing in the beautiful snow turns into a momentous event.
Snow for the first time
If to that experience, which was already like taking a fish out of the water, we add the juvenile touch, the event becomes an experience that needs to be documented in order to never forget it… Five kids: Camilla, Ariana, Bianca, Manuel Andres and Paola, and two teenagers: Gabriel and Alejandro, make the perfect formula to toy with fascination and surprise once more. Nothing will go unnoticed, it will be a rediscovering of innocence and candidness through their eyes.
We arrived at the airport and Manuel Andres and Paola’s faces (who had never seen snow before) were worth more than the biggest fortune. They couldn’t help but play with the shoveled snow resting on the sidewalks. They had to touch and feel what their eyes perceived as icing on a cake, but felt as cold as a scoop of ice cream. While finishing up the bus renting process, the kids were kids, and the adults joined in.
Swiss Farm Inn
We headed to Roger and Joyce’s Swiss Farm Inn, located on 4441 VT-100 in Pittsfield, Vermont. Our group occupied a quarter of the inn; three dinner tables, and we couldn’t all sit in the living room at the same time. Roger and Royce were fascinated with our big family. A group of our enormous clan had already visited the previous year, that time they were nine. Roger was delighted to have finally met the “entire” family. My brother then clarified he had only met half: “we’re a few more.”
Scent of Cinnamon
The Swiss Farm Inn stands out for its hospitality. Joyce is as sweet as her famous apple cake and Roger is a real paragon of cordiality. As the temperature dropped to 25 degrees outside, we were delighted with the warm welcome we received inside. The rooms had a comfortable feel, the air felt homey and pleasant. You could smell a soft scent of cinnamon when passing through the kitchen. Among the books in the living room, the memories of other visitors who had also been so kindly accommodated could be found.
A Haunting Feast
Outside of the inn a sign reads: “World’s Best Breakfast”, quite an ordinary claim, which truly anyone can make. However, after literally having the pleasure of savoring the breakfast experience of the Swiss Farm Inn I can only describe it as “A Haunting Feast”. What makes it the best breakfast in the world is not the delicious blueberry pancakes, the exquisite strawberry French toast, or incomparable potatoes, but the sense of being at your grandmother’s house while eating there. In that little farm house where the milk was extracted from the cow grazing the surroundings, and the eggs were caught, still warm, after being laid by the hens. And it’s remembering that grandmother who would serve us eggs, cereal, milk, juice, toast and oatmeal, all just for breakfast. Which for our little stomachs was too much food, but the abundance of food translated into the excess of love that is exclusive of grandmas. Don’t go thinking Joyce and Roger are older, though. Not at all. They are a young couple with a heart as sweet as our grandparent’s.
Skiing again and again
Dinner was another treat. Different plates every night, all exquisite. But the best part was Joyce’s sinful desserts, nobody refused to become addicted, even if we’d crave them later. After dinner, the younger ones would play in the rooms and the adults stayed in the living room. By the fireplace, with a bottle of wine and good company, we could fix the world in just a few hours.
Choo Choo Snow Train
Our days were spent energized around five kids and two teenagers at Pico Mountain, the mountain we chose to ski on. Only a couple of minutes from the Inn, Pico Mountain, one of the biggest mountains in Vermont, promised able to absorb the intense energy of kids and two adolescents. Two hours of lessons proved to be enough for those who had already tried it before, and those who hadn’t, became familiar with the new technique. After the lesson, they were already in the ski lift making their way to the next level. Some more daring than others, some came down fast, others slid more calmly. Again and again, alone, in couples, and even in groups descending through the frozen stretch. And like good Puerto Ricans, they even made a “train” in order to all go down the hill together. We were exhausted, just by watching them go up and down the hill. They could last a while longer, but the ski resort closed at four in the afternoon and we had to get back.
On our way back to the Inn we enjoyed a landscape that is only seen on postcards. The cabin of grotesque round logs and smoke escaping from the chimney in which a stunningly peaceful tranquility was portrayed. Another wooden house, this one was red, seemed to have been drawn on a canvas over a white background. The river, almost frozen, was not stopped by the rocks. Instead, it solidified with the increasingly cold temperature. A landscape that emanated peace and somehow a little nostalgia. A deafening silence that inevitably contrasted the eternal singing of our coquí.
Up and down
Planning a trip to Vermont was like slowly going up the mountain on the ski lift and looking at all the possibilities around us. Deciding on where to stay and what to do was like getting to the top of that mountain and contemplating the enchanting landscape from above. Arriving at our destination and being able to enjoy those exciting days with our little ones was like feeling the adrenaline while sliding down the frozen mountain at top speed. We enjoyed the ascend and descend to the fullest, but left wanting more… this story must go on…
Conscious travel practices:
1. Wear winter clothes.
2. Support the economy by sponsoring local business and lodging.
3. Consider the people that are around, mostly if you travel in big group and also if you come from a more expressive culture.
4. Watch out for the kids and keep order at all times.
5. Practice winter sports with caution.