Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Caribbean Dreams

Re-entry is hard.

I love vacations, and I hate coming home. Coming home means piles of laundry, stacks of mail, a to-do list a mile long, looming work deadlines, and cold weather.

Sure, it’s nice to sleep in my own bed. I guess. Oh, who am I kidding? I much preferred sleeping on the 43-foot catamaran we just spent a week on while sailing through St. Lucia and the Grenadines in the Caribbean. Endless miles of turquoise water. Coral reefs teeming with fish in every color of the rainbow. Millions of stars in an unspoiled sky. Steel drum music wafting over the water from the nearby beach bar. Flippers and masks piled in the corner, ready for the next snorkeling foray. Rum punches. Conch fritters. Fish on the grill, freshly pulled from the water off the back of our boat.

I traded all this for gloomy skies, a messy house, and Christmas sale commercials?


I’m a traveler at heart, and there’s no way around it. Right now, I’m sitting here with a handful of exotic coins in my pocket – they have scalloped edges and an old-fashion sailing ship on them. A giant conch shell, its inside pink and pearly, sits drying on my kitchen counter. My passport is lying open in front of me, its latest stamp a testament to my wanderlust.

I’m addicted to travel, and my addiction is apparently hereditary. My son has it, too. He got his first passport when he was 4 months old, when we went to Holland. At 2, he went to Hawaii and Sint Maarten in the Caribbean. He’s been to Mexico a couple of times, the British Virgin Islands, Belize, and now St. Lucia and the Grenadines. His wish list includes places like Pompeii, Japan, London, and Paris. Not bad for a kid who just turned 10. He’s gone through two passports now, and we’re about to order his third.

With his food allergies, we have to be a little more cautious and a lot more prepared than some when we travel. I carry a ton of food with me whenever we travel – lots of Enjoy Life! Foods granola bars, fruit snacks, and boxes and cans of things he can eat if we get stuck.

But the real life-saver is that since we chartered our own sailboat, we cooked most of our meals ourselves. Chartering a sailboat for a week is like renting a condo for a week – you have your own kitchen, so you can cook all of your own meals. The big difference is that you can’t usually sail your condo to another island when the mood strikes you!

Another good part about this trip was that our airline experience was positive – we discovered a benefit to the airlines’ recent cost-cutting measures! We flew American Airlines this time, and apparently they’ve done away with free snacks. No little packets of peanuts or trail mix! Instead, they have “food for purchase” on some of the flights. You can purchase snacks like chips, a cheese plate, or even a sandwich, but because they’re pretty expensive ($6), few people did. Personally, I felt a lot more relaxed on the flight because there simply weren’t as many wrappers floating around the plane.

Being able to control the food my son comes into contact with means my luggage is heavier, my planning is a little more complicated, and our meals might not be as spontaneous, but it does mean that we can still succumb to that wanderlust in our hearts.

Now if only I could feel as good about my return to reality. Where did all these bills come from, anyway?

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