Unearned Grace

That is what last week felt like.

We all know I don't travel willingly or well.  I like my bed, and reliable Western toilets.  I'm suspicious of many foreign foods (unlike my husband, who, as my children never tire of reminding everyone, ate a shrimp that was recently dead enough to hop on the back of his tongue).  I have difficult and temperamental hair.  And I don't really mind the cold or the snow that much.

So yeah, I'm the kind of ingrate that, when her husband says "let's go somewhere hot and do nothing for a week in January" whines, "do we HAVE to?"  Because I'm awesome like that.

I never know what I think about vacation travel to other countries.  It wasn't something that most people I knew did while I was growing up.  We went to Disney a couple of times, but other than that we just went to Saskatchewan and hung out on the various farms every summer.  One boy I knew went to Mexico in grade six and that seemed impossibly exotic.  My husband's father was a doctor and they did a few Caribbean vacations of which he has fond memories.

A guy I knew in university said he didn't really see the point of travel just to not be where you lived.  At the time I thought this was intelligent and profound.  Now I think that sometimes the point of travel is just that - even if the entire experience is dreadful, there's something to be said for having the place you live made strange for a time.  And I realize that my 'antiseptic week by the sea' as a well-travelled professor used to call it, doesn't make for the most immersive experience in another culture.  Still, you get glimpses, along with your strawberry peach margaritas.  And the fully immersive experience - travelling with a knife and a toothbrush among the natives of a strange country, trusting to fate and your wits?  For someone like me, it just ain't gonna happen.

I worried that we were going without cousins or friends - would the kids be bored?  My husband is smarter - turns out that, when you force your kids to spend time with you, you actually start having conversations and trying things together and remembering what you like about each other...

...at least for a few days before your daughter makes friends with a couple of little British girls that don't seem to have any parents and abandons you entirely, and then you meet a nice family from Peterborough with a girl and a boy which saves you from a little TOO much 'together time'.

One of the funniest things about this vacation was that everybody in our family spent a fair bit of time reading EXCEPT for me.  I didn't read a word.  I played with the kids, I sat in a lounge chair and stared up at the coconut palms, I walked on the beach, I went to dinner with my family.  At night I laid in bed with Eve and watched her sleep while listening to music on my iPod.  And I was perfectly at peace.

And as for shaking up the routine?  I think that when I find myself riding in an open Jeep at sunset, being driven on the left-hand side of the twisty mountain road, the wind whipping my hair into a Medusa-like frenzy, volcanic mud drying in my cleavage, we can safely say I'm a fair distance out of my comfort zone.

My husband is a smart guy.


Mary Lynn said…
Looks AWESOME. Love the photos. Love that you enjoyed yourself so much.
Nicole said…
Looks amazing. AMAZING. Also, I spent my summers as a child in Saskatchewan, except the one time we went to Disneyland.
Magpie said…
I'm with you - we never went anywhere as a kid and as a grown-up I'm sort of too cheap to go anywhere...

Looks like fun, though, that said.
Amber Strocel said…
That sounds fabulous. I clearly need to round up my kids and get away. Although I may wait at least a year - who wants to be trapped on a plane with a 3-year-old? Not me.
Wrath Of Mom said…
"...there's something to be said for having the place you live made strange for a time." Love that line.

What is Eve holding?! It's scaring me!

Last year we went to Mexico & my son told the flight attendant "This is the first time I'm vacationing in a country other than Canada or the United States. And I'm already 8. Can you believe THAT?!" She was very amused.
Ms. G said…
It sounds and looks Amazing! It's good to leave your comfort zone. Afterall, what is life without a little mud in your cleavage! ; )
rockygrace said…
Oh man, I sure could use an "antiseptic week by the sea" right about now ... sign me up!
Bridget said…
Looks like it was a great time!!!
I need to go there right now. Screw this winter crap. And yes I know we're only on day four of snow for this winter, but me and my diseased lungs are done. I'm leaving on the next plane. Meet me there?
Well, you know I'm a travel addict, but you may also have gathered that I'm not much of a fan of "going somewhere hot and doing not-much" ;) We didn't travel outside of the UK much when I was younger, and most people in my school didn't, either: one girl went regularly to Florida, and the rest of us just admired her tan with a sort of confused envy.
Anonymous said…
travelling with a knife and a toothbrush among the natives of a strange country, trusting to fate and your wits

I have decided to take no more trips where I have to carry my own toilet paper. Which, unfortunately, rules out Paris.

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