Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Vacation Disasters



Anyone can have a vacation disaster.  It's pretty easy actually.  But, not everyone can epically screw up a vacation before even leaving the house.  Multiple times.  And yet we keep traveling.  Quite the way that I can. I've kind of taken international blundering to a whole new level.  At least there's something I'm good at.  Which is why my motto is, go big or go home.  And the last place I want to go is home because there's so much cleaning and home improvement projects that I need to avoid doing there.  Which might be why I travel to begin with.

Let me recap some of my epic family vacation disasters for you.

There's the time I planned a dream vacation to Egypt for our family of six.  The timing was perfect, my oldest was in middle school studying Egypt in social studies at the time.  My youngest was in kindergarten, making her old enough to remember the trip for years to come.  We arrived at customs with our passports and visas in hand.  Except, we had the wrong visas.  No worries, we thought.  There's got to be an easy solution.  There wasn't.  We called the American Embassy in Cairo from the airport.  Our visa problem was political retribution for an Egyptian diplomat who was denied entry into the United States because he had the wrong visa.  There was nothing they could do.  We were confined to the terminal (like Tom Hanks in the movie The Terminal) until they could deport us back to Morocco (where we were living at the time).   Which the Egyptian officials were in absolutely no rush to do.  So, we were prisoners in the airport just shy of two days.   Sleeping on the floor and eating at Starbucks with mosquito bites were our souvenirs for time served.  That and the exorbitant Starbucks charges on the credit card.

No, that's not the end of the Egypt story.  Because that's when I got even more obsessed with going to Egypt.  We jumped through so more hoops and red tape than at a rhythmic gymnastic competition to get the right visas.  We bought a second set of airline tickets.  And the week after I bought them...BAM...Arab Spring happened.  Egypt was under martial law and the The U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning urging Americans not to travel there.  Except now I've bought 12 airline tickets there and we have the correct visas.  And there is no way in hell we're not going to Egypt!  So, we did.  Not only did we see the pyramids, sphinx, tombs in the Valley of the Kings without the crowds, we also drove through the middle of a demonstration and saw the charred remains of the Ministry of the Interior burned just 4 days prior.  My sons were particularly impressed with the Soviet tanks and soldiers with machine guns that lined the streets.  (And I was a nanosecond from taking the perfect Time-cover worthy photo of a soldier with tanks lined up on the streets of Cairo behind him when I got reprimanded by an Egyptian officer.)

In comparison to the Egypt debacle, the London fiasco is going to sound boring.  I merely forgot to buy the return tickets and the apartment we booked turned out to be a scam.  We found out it was a scam when we arrived at the Sheffield Airport.  (Ryan Air is famous for cheap air travel and landing planes in a cow pastures nowhere near your actual destination.)  It was 1am and the apartment representative who was supposed to meet us at the airport and drive us into our accommodations in London wasn't there and she couldn't be reached by phone.  When we finally got to London, we ran into my brother (who lives in the U.S., but who was coincidentally in London at the same time).  And right after we parted ways when he was heading back to the airport, he looked left instead of right when crossing the street and got hit by a double decker bus.  Don't worry, he's fine.

So, why am I telling you all this?

Because every winter break we take an exotic vacation.  It's a lifestyle my youngest has grown accustomed to after all the travel we've done in Morocco.  She constantly brings up travel destinations we haven't been to yet as if we're the lamest parents for not taking a vacation to New Zealand, New Guinea or even New York City.  This is nothing new.  But, the fact that my husband thought we were on a travel break and going to stay home for Christmas this year is.  Yeah, right.  This might be the last year for us to travel with all the kids.  Because my oldest is in college and my second oldest is a senior in high school.  Who knows what next year will bring?  We have to have to go now while we can!  That was my plea that changed his mind.  

I started researching.  Places we haven't been.  That aren't $2600 per airline ticket, like New Zealand. Peru was the top contender.  It's been on our travel list for quite some time.  But, you have to book a guided tour to hike Machu Picchu.  And you have to reserve it a year in advance, apparently. Dammit!  It looked like we weren't going anywhere after all.  Until, we found it.  It wasn't on my radar at all.  I'd never even considered it.  But, it started to look really appealing, probably because it was our last-ditch effort for a family getaway.  So, we bought tickets.  And then we bought a guide book excited to plan our getaway.  



And two weeks after I bought the tickets, Hurricane Maria obliterated Puerto Rico.  But, on a positive note, this could be the cheapest holiday accommodations yet.  I'm  thinking we just pack some hammocks to tie between some palm trees on the beach and some Lifestraws.  

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