Forgive me readers, it's been a while. One filled with ups, downs and - oddly - airline travel. That's right, I've been on vacation!
Remember back at school you'd have to write essays about your summer vacation?
Anyone? Anyone? No? (Me neither. Once you were back, you were back. Party's over) And yet, they always seem to in movies. So, without further ado, may I present:
Ten Things I Learned on my Winter Vacation. (Part I.)
1. I learned that Charter Flights blow. Bite. Suck. And not in a good way, pervs.
I always kind of knew this, but when travelling with small children, beware the cheap 'n cheerful charter. Or beware of other people's children (ie. mine) who, after being in transit for nearly 12 hours due to delays on their 4-hour flight might be somewhat, erm, antsy. They might lose interest in the massive bag of books, toys and personal DVDs. They might figure out how to open the tray table. And close it. And open it. And close it. And, well, you get the picture. They might be soothed by massive lollipops but, as everyone knows, the ramifications of the sugar highs can be brutal.
2. I learned that said Charters, despite having a planeload of cranky (irate) passengers, think that by giving out crappy earphones and cheap credit vouchers, all will be OK. It won't. Not after handing out $15 "lunch vouchers" to be spent at night when all the restaurants close. Nor by keeping the overhead lights on during the all-night flight. Nor by pushing the bloody duty-free after we all spent countless hours in the airport browsing... in duty-free shops. Nor by handing out measly $100 credit vuchers for future travel on the same airine - non-transferable to boot. Oh - and another newsflash - staffing the plane with rude teenagers doesn't help either. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm sure they were tired too - but they were being paid time-and-a-half for their trouble. We certainly weren't.
3. I learned that sometimes weather reports calling for daily showers in the Carribbean can be correct. Even if you surf every single travel site looking for good news. When they say torrential, they mean it.
3a. Thankfully, I also learned that those daily showers only last for 10 minutes.
3b. But can strike at any time, any place.
3c. But the really deep puddles they leave behind can be almost as fun as a swimming pool. for a few minutes at least.
4. I learned that the best ways to entertain your kids is by enlisting other people's kids. Preferably older ones. And if they have accents, even better - endless amusement for everyone.
5. I learned that is really is possible to drown in a mater of minutes, in less than a foot of water. NOT THAT ANYONE DID (god forbid poo poo poo). But when you watch your 2 year old get pushed into a pool, leap out of your seat, jump into the water to find him floating motionless on the top step of a mini pool and fish him out, hysterical - well, let's just say you have a new appreciation for vigilance, paranoia, and landsports.
6. You learn to navigate buffets. Somehow, after walking through day after day and complaining about the cuisine, you manage to fill up your plate. And refill it. And maybe add a little bit more. And then you suck it back. Day after day. And pound after pound.
7. You learn that bulky strollers are RV's. And you love them. Portable beds, baggage handlers, detention centers - these babies really can do it all, not to mention how well they clear traffic. Think big, act big and everyone's outta your space.
8. You learn that your children are vampires-in-reverse. By day, nothing beats the joy you feel as your angels frolic by the seaside. You're all children again, building sandcastles, and playing in the pool. How romantic it all seems: long walks on the beach holding hands, sharing fruity drinks under the palms, posing for family snapshots...Even cheesy organized drinking competitions seem sweet when you watch 'em with your little ones. It's all so wonderful, everyone is deliriously happy, even without their regular naps and routines. Bliss by day...
The sun sets. And you learn about a new kid in town. Sprung from your loins. Sharing your room. Darkness falls. The moon rises. And with it - El Diablo. Or, even worse, Los Diablos: your very own flesh and blood who, quick to turn on you, remind you of everything you needed a vacation from: them!!!
9. I learned about how quickly we forget. No sooner had we touched down after another, erm, antsy, flight than we started dreaming up the next family vacation. We looked at pictures, reminiscing about the good times....the daytimes...
10. I learned that some of us don't really forget. Sure, for entertainment purposes I've tended to accentuate the negative - that's what creative license is all about. Let's face it, no one wants to read about perfect getaways and happy endings. We're all ambulance chasers, looking for the dirty bits, riveted by the nightmares, thanking the universe or god or whoever that those problems are someone else's, and that we get to hear all about them.... Fact is, it was a fantastic trip - angels and devils notwithstanding. A family love-in. OK, once we were home for a day or so it was back to normal.
But not completely. For within days of returning from our family holiday, I was off on a trip on my own. And I've learned that even sitting alone at a friend's desk, blogging and reliving certain funny-from-far moments, can be a real vacation.