Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Vacation From Hell

A couple of weeks, when I had been feeling so awful with the stomach flu, I realized that I've felt this way before. I was reminded of the time my family tried to kill me. Okay, that may not have been their actual intention but you can never tell with my clan.

So the decision was made that we would go to Mexico one year. I must emphasize that this was not my decision. I was not consulted. Or, if I had been, my vote would have been rejected. My mother and sister thought this would be fun. Apparently, they forgot something extremely important to be considered when planning vacations involving me - I hate heat. The perfect temperature for me is between 50 to 70 degrees.

So Mexico? Yeah, really not my kind of place. This is reason number one as to why this was the vacation from Hell.

Reason number two. Lucky girl that I am, I have inherited a grab bag of mental and physical anomolies from my parents, bless them. From my mother, I received a lovely chemical imbalance that triggers either manic behavior or depression. Oh, and it's not just being bi-polar. No, that would be too easy (if this could be termed as easy).

I had a therapist explain it to me once (if only I would have met him before this trip) - what I have is not typical bi-polar syndrome with highs and lows. What I get is long periods of low (several days, weeks, once it was for six months before the depression broke) and then I'll have a manic episode which might last anywhere from 15 minutes to one day. Then, once the manic episode is over, the realization of what I have done hits and I am back in the depression. Doesn't that sound like fun? So, instead of my mom who is up down up down up down up down up down, I traveled on a roller coaster of small hills and huge valleys - dooooooooooooooooooown up dowwwwwwwwwwwwwn up downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. It sucks.

Anyway, back to reason number two. Right before I left on the trip, a friend of mine at the time decided he wanted to go to the casino. I went with him and thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be lovely if I could win a lot of money for my trip." The casino gods were not smiling on me. After losing $200, most people would stop there. I am not most people. These people are sane and not capering around the casino thinking "Oh, it's okay. I'll just take some more money out of the account." For the record, my friend did try to stop me. However, short of hitting me over the head and dragging me away, at that point, nothing would have worked.

Surprise! I lost. All of my money earmarked for my trip. I walked out of the casino with $5. That's how much money I went to Mexico with, $5. Mom and Kari? Not so thrilled when they found out.

Reason number three. The trip itself. The entire trip was possessed by this demon cloud that hovered over me and said "Oh, no, this vacation is going to suck. Hahahahaha!"

Let's just go over this, shall we? Reasons why my vacation was horrific.

  1. The afforementioned reason number one - I don't like heat.
  2. I had no money.
  3. We were traveling via Moon Continent (ooh, if you try, you might be able to figure out their real name). Otherwise known as Small Charter Plane Company that Hates Fat People (and, just for the record, my mother, a petite woman at 130, was complaining that the seats were too tight. So you can just imagine how comfortable it was for me). Imagine my embarrassment in having to ask for an extension to the seat belt. Go ahead. Imagine. It was fun. However, we were in the first row and I only had to fold myself into the seat for a short time, once we took off I was allowed to sit on the floor in the large opening in front and was probably the most comfortable person on the plane since I actually had leg room. Since Moon Continent is also known as the Cram As Many People On To The Plane As Possible Company. While my sister and mom complained about how uncomfortable they were and I got many envious looks as people walked by.
  4. I had never flown before. There's a few reasons for that, such as the fact that oh, I'm not so good with the money management or oh, I'm horribly afraid of heights or oh, I have watched one too many movies on plane crashes and was filled with a horrendous sense of doom. So turbulence was expected and yet, I still managed to shriek, Oh God, we're going to die! Or maybe that was just in my head.
  5. The heat. Oh, my God, the heat. We left Minneapolis in a brisk 40 degree day. We got off the plane in Mexico and I was slapped, no, punched in the face with 90 degrees. At 10 freakin' o'clock. With that evil bastard Humidity doing a rhumba on my lungs (did I mention that I have asthma? And that there are a few things that will set off my asthma? Extreme heat. Extreme cold (And yet, I still continue to live in Minnesota where I am only truly happy with the weather in the Spring and the Fall. Huh). Walking up hills or stairs. Mexico, just for the record, is a very hilly country. Or at least the part I saw.
  6. Customs. All I wanted to do is get to the resort and take a cold shower and go to bed. But no, we still had to go through Customs. So I picked up my suitcase and my mom's and hurried through the checkout and outside. And there I waited, because my mother was one of the people who was selected to have the bag she was carrying searched. It wasn't until both she and Kari joined me outside that I learned my mother was a law breaker. The suitcase I had picked up was the one she smuggled food in. Great. My mom the rebel.
  7. We get to the resort and find out that our suite in the new resort section is not yet ready. It had to be painted that day. It is here, in the lobby of the resort, that I met the first reason why the trip wasn't so bad. It is here that I met Omar. The incredibly gorgeous Mexican concierge who was tall and dark and who had teeth that could light up a room without lights. Who looked at me like I was the most beautiful woman in the world and completely ignored everyone else to make sure I was okay. Even the pretty blonde in the bikini who was flirting with him like mad. Ah, Omar. I still think I should have asked him to marry me and come home to America with me.
  8. We get to the room in the hotel section of the resort where they are putting us up for the night at no extra charge. I wander out to the balcony and there I see reason number two as to why the trip wasn't so awful, the ocean. The moon glinted off of the water in the distance and there was a cool breeze, I felt actually human again.
  9. The next day, we went to our suite in the new resort section. And walked into hell. Yeah, the painting they told us they did? No, that was a lie. Unless people typically paint with insecticide. The fumes from the bug spray hung in the room like smoke, you could actually feel it on your skin. I am allergic to only a few things but one of them is certain smells, like fresh paint or insecticide. I started itching like crazy. And then I walked out onto the balcony and realized we were no longer overlooking the ocean. We were on the golf course side. There was no cool breeze from the ocean.
  10. Apparently, I snore. Because of this, Kari and Mom slept in the master bedroom. I got the pull out couch in the living room. Not particularly comfortable.
  11. I'm not sure what day of the trip this was but Kari wanted to go to the store. I agreed to go with her because I had no money and if I wanted anything, I had to do what she wanted. So when she said "Do you really think we need to call the shuttle service?" I said no, I'm sure I could make it up the hills (actually, I do think I whined a little but gave in). I did not get very far, up to the top of hill number one, when the asthma attack began. I bent over, trying to catch my breath and failing miserably. Kari panicked. "Where is your inhaler," she asked. My response was "" "Do you want me to go get it?" "Yes!" Kari looked down the hill and back at me. Realizing that if she went back to the room and up the hill again, she would probably be breathing like me. "Do you really need it? Maybe if you sit down..." I sat down. Slowly I began to breathe again. "Next time," I told her. "We take the shuttle!" It took us close to an hour to make it to the store.
  12. There was no Mountain Dew. None. How can you not have Mountain Dew? As those of you who have read my other blog Is There Life After Mountain Dew? know, for many years, Mountain Dew was, to me, ambrosia, elixer of life, sweet nectar of the gods. And there was no freakin' Mountain Dew! It is then Kari told me that, when she had been to Cancun a few years ago, they were just starting to get Mountain Dew in that part of Mexico. I looked at her sadly. "And yet, we came here." After a brief stop at the lobby for a glimpse of Omar (I'm sure there was something else we were doing but hey, was it more important than Omar and his beautiful smile? No), we were on our way back.

After this, I am not sure of the chronological order of our journey. Things start to get a little blurry. So these following reasons of vacation = hell may get a little disjointed. I apologize.

  1. Okay, this is supposed to be reason 13 but it won't let me change the number. Sorry. My mother had agreed to tour the resort when she arranged this vacation. Kari and I got to go with to make sure she did not actually buy another time share. Part of the tour was to partake in a glorious Mexican breakfast. There was a buffet set up. Here we come to a slight problem. I like food. I like Mexican food. However, there is one thing I do not like. I hate tomatoes. They are evil in their redness and mushiness. Everything on this buffet had tomatoes on it. Everything. I think I managed to find a tiny little muffin that escaped the showering of tomatoes and ate that. Plus the lemons were green. How could I possibly eat in a country that has green lemons and worships tomatoes?
  2. After the breakfast portion of the tour, we go on the walking around a great lot of building portion of the tour. Up and down hills. Hills! Here, there and everywhere!
  3. Then it's time for the Let's try and suck great sums of money out of you portion of the tour (ah, the things you will do to save $200 on a vacation. I've sat through quite a few of these speeches, starting when I was much younger and we drove up to some place in Northern Minnesota (Brainerd? Duluth?) to look at empty, weed-filled lots so my parents could get a free television). We were in this small room where there were many people and there was a radio playing salsa music. Loudly. I hate salsa music (Mainly because salsa has tomatoes in it. Which, yes, I realize is incredibly irrational but seriously, how long have you been reading my blog? Have I ever been a rational person?). And then people were yelling to be heard over the salsa music. Here's a thought. Turn the radio down. I developed a bit of a headache. With what was to come, this was the least of my worries.

And then we come to reason number two as to why Mexico was not so bad. I mentioned the ocean before, right? Seeing it glinting in the moonlight on our first night there? Well, I finally met the ocean face to vast mass of water. It was wonderful. I mentioned in The Seduction of Water that I am quite fond of water. Here I entered into a beautiful love affair with the, I'm sorry, this can only be called THE OCEAN (such as Beth writes about THE BOY). THE OCEAN and I loved each other. I dragged my beach chair to the edge of THE OCEAN and sat there, letting the waves splash over me. I DIDN'T EVEN READ! This should tell you how much I loved THE OCEAN, that I would put myself in a position of not being able to read since the many books I brought on this trip would have been ruined. I swam in THE OCEAN and THE OCEAN bathed me in THE OCEAN's cool waters and I felt free and alive and loved and glorious. I swam deliberately into waves and let THE OCEAN carry me to the shore again and again and again. THE OCEAN and I were one. Our hearts would go on (sorry, couldn't help it). I loved THE OCEAN and THE OCEAN loved me. And then I seriously pissed off THE OCEAN and THE OCEAN tried to kill me.

Ways THE OCEAN tried to arrange my death:

  1. Convincing me to sit out in the Sun for hours, without suntan lotion. I was quite red at the end of the day.
  2. Picking me up in a gigantic wave and smothering me and rolling me over and over again in the pale blue green arms of THE OCEAN and hurling me into the ground where I smashed my knee on the only rock for miles around.
  3. Convincing my sister that it would be a good idea to go a boat trip to a small island in the middle of THE OCEAN where you could go snorkeling or scuba diving.
  4. Convincing my sister that a small, rickety boat that smelled horribly of gasoline was a perfectly reasonable form of transportation. I held my breath the entire time, convinced that I was going to die and there would be nothing left of me except blood stained remains of my festive tropical flowered dress that, as someone at the Dark Side bank so lovingly pointed out, made me look like a bad 70's couch.
  5. Turning my silly no suntan lotion mistake into full-blown sunburn, with the side effect of nausea. And believe me when I say that the gasoline smell did not help matters.
  6. Having a gigantic sign on the beach that warned of the dangers of actually touching the coral. Apparently there are small creatures that live in THE OCEAN who take a complete and utter joy in watching the coral cut you and then crawling inside to inhabit you and then there's no way to get it out.
  7. Letting me sit on the beach of the small island in the middle of THE OCEAN where the people sitting next to us asked to see the menu and the waiter brought out a tray of dead fish. There was octopus on the tray. And then he asked me if I wanted to look at the menu and put it under my nose and I threw up on the menu. Okay, I didn't throw up but I WANTED TO!
  8. Convincing me that it would be fun to go walking on the beach, except this beach did not have fine granules of sand but sharp, evil shards of shells that cut into my feet. But I desperately needed to get away from the menu.
  9. Convincing Kari that it would be fun to go snorkeling and that I should go with her.
  10. Providing me with a snorkeling mask that did not fit properly (Okay, I really can't blame THE OCEAN for that) and leaked.

And then I swam in THE OCEAN again and the pain from my sunburn was soothed and it was beautiful to look at the coral and the small fishes swimming (swim, small fishes, swim! Avoid the menu!) but then a fish would swim up directly to my face, possibly to commune with me, since I am a Pisces after all, and I would be shocked and inhale sharply and swallow water from THE OCEAN. This is not recommended.

I would stop to clear out the snorkel mask and, of course, this would always happen directly over a coral reef. So I would lie on my back and try to clear out the mask and then the waves would come crashing in and I would be frightened that I would touch the coral reef and be inhabited by the small creatures and I spent a half hour alternating between absolute awe and absolute terror.

And then, while I was trying to find Kari, I saw a whole bunch of people. Coming from further out in THE OCEAN. Where were they coming from? Were they merpeople? No, they were snobby rich people who had got off of their yacht and decided to swim to shore and not take into consideration that there were people in their path and they swam over me. Let me make that perfectly clear. Snobby rich people SWAM OVER ME! Like I was not even there. One of them kicked me in the stomach. I am not a small person. How the hell did they not see me?

I don't even really remember the ride back on the small rickety boat. That was my last time on THE OCEAN. I have not yet seen THE OCEAN again and I'm not sure if THE OCEAN is still contemplating revenge or has forgiven me for whatever I did. I would certainly hope so since THE OCEAN was not quite done with me.

Remember how I mentioned the muffin? And the food my mother smuggled into the country? Yeah, I didn't do a lot of eating on this trip. Everything tasted weird. Now, I am not afraid to try new things but I seriously think that I was possibly coming down with a cold and so everything had this weird aftertaste. Or that could possibly be because of the insecticide room. I know that we went to a restaurant called Senor Frog's where I tried to eat barbeque ribs and couldn't. I wanted to die. Kari and Mom sent me back to the resort in a cab where I sobbed all the way back since I felt so nauseous.

The next day, I think it was two days before our trip ended, I woke up in the worst pain I had ever experienced. Imagine, if you will, that someone has taken your stomach and tried to cut it out of your body. Using a spoon. And you are gripped in a fever that makes you think you are cold and so you drag blanket upon blanket onto yourself. And it is at least 90 degrees in the room. This is about as graphic as I'm going to get so let me just say, I have walked in the valley of the shadows and it is called Montezuma's Revenge. If I wasn't throwing up I was...never mind. I think we've all been here at one point in our life. Where we are so sick that you begin begging your mother to "Just put the damn pillow over my face, woman, is it too much to ask that you just kill me now!" Actually, I'm not really sure I actually said that. It may have been a fever induced dream. I am pretty sure I did ask her to shoot me.

Kari and Mom were real troopers, though. They dealt with the wasting illness quite well, stocking me with Pedialyte and Gatorade (two of the nastiest liquids on the planet) while they went off and explored Mexico without dragging me along complaining about "The heat, oh my God, the heat, why is it so hot here?"

Our last day, we had to vacate the room even though our flight didn't leave until much later. I was set up in the overflow room, with the Pedialyte and Gatorade and a real find, a copy of a Perry Mason novel by Erle Stanley Gardner. I love Perry Mason and am working on collecting all of the novels but there are 82 of them. I believe the book in question was this one but I'm not sure. Mom and Kari went off shopping. I was left, sitting on the bed, wanting to die, being tormented by small children watching something horrible (quite possibly Barney).

Then it was time to leave. There was one last stop at the lobby where Omar came over to speak to me. I remember him on one knee, looking up into my eyes, assuring himself that I was not going to die on him, that our love, like our hearts, would go on. He touched my hand softly and was gone. And I was too sick to clasp him into my arms and beg him to come back to Minnesota with me. Damn it.

Back to the airport. We spoke quite firmly to mother that she was not going to smuggle papaya into the US. Back through Customs. Back onto the Moon Continent plane where we could not get the front row because someone beat us to it. However, we were able to sit over the wing where the seats were just a bit roomier and I, since I had not really eaten the entire trip, fit quite comfortably. I still wanted to die and everything but hey, at least my hips didn't need to be sliced off to fit.

We got to the airport and I was looking forward to getting off the damn plane when the announcement came over the PA. "This is your pilot, folks. Apparently, there was a problem with a plane coming out of Cancun. A tourist, who got extremely drunk, needed to be taken off the plane, along with her luggage. That has delayed their arrival and now, there are three planes in front of us. Sorry." This, of course, was relayed in a perky, aren't we having fun now, tone. Soon after, there was the following announcement.

"Gosh, folks, sorry about the delay. The crew and I were talking and we thought it would be really fun to do some calisthenics. Okay, all together now. Let's touch our toes. And one, two."

I turned to Mom and said "I'm going to kill him. And there is not a jury alive who will convict me." The guy sitting in front of us heard this and laughed shortly. "You go for it, girl. I'll back you up. He's asking for it." Actually, that might have been a fever-induced hallucination as well.

We finally straggled off the plane and got through Customs and found our way outside where I was embraced by the coolness that is March in Minnesota. A brisk 40 degrees waited for me. It felt wonderful. Eric, my brother-in-law, was waiting patiently for us. At the time, he was Kari's boyfriend. I have never been so happy to see someone in all of my life. Especially when, at my request, he stopped at Super America and bought me a Mountain Dew. Ah, sweet elixer of life.

This was not the end of the Vacation From Hell, though. No, I had already been off of work for a week and then there was the recuperation period, where my doctor figured out that, when I drank a gallon or two of water from THE OCEAN, part of that water had probably had a small parasite. He put me on the BRAT diet. That would be Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast (Dry toast). I don't particularly like any of those foods (well, rice and toast except there was not any butter allowed so screw that. I just won't eat, dang it). For an entire week, I lived on Gatorade Lemon Ice (the only Gatorade that I like. Which they don't make anymore. The Watermelon Ice is pretty good though). I bought Super America's entire supply. Imagine trying to walk up to a counter carrying 8 32 ounce bottles.

Then, after the parasite was battled, I was able to return to work. For one day. Then I got hit with the worst case of bronchitis I have ever had. I was out of work for another two weeks. This supposed week's vacation ended up taking a month of my life in the most painful ways possible.

I look back at this now and there is much I would have done differently. But even to this day, the thought of Omar makes me smile and I remember floating in the waters of THE OCEAN, blissfully at peace with the world. It is these memories that keep me from screaming "Hell, no!" every time Mom and Kari start making vacation plans.

Perhaps I will tell you sometime about how I went to Vegas when Kari and Eric got married and how I spent the majority of the trip in the room, on the pull out couch, wanting to die.

Previous Comments:

At 2:53 PM, brooksba said...
DM,How come you seem to get sick when you go on vacation with your family, but you were fine in Vegas? Ah, Vegas.I enjoyed your tale of THE OCEAN and I feel for you for the rest of the vacation from hell. Beth
At 3:53 PM, The Lioness said...
Look, I may be a shitty person bcs I laugh at your misery but if you want sympathy you NEED to start writing differently. That's all i have to say. I really am still laughing, even as I tupe. (Were you the anon???)
At 9:09 PM, CarpeDM said...
Um, you're supposed to laugh. Do you seriously think I would write like this if I didn't want you to laugh? Actually, if you didn't laugh, I would be sad. Do you want me to be sad? Believe me, you'll know when I don't want you to laugh.