Friday, April 25, 2008

Vacation or Bust

The nice thing about working overseas in 'tough' (read: non-American standard) places of the world means you are forced into vacations. Egypt we were paid to take a vacation somewhere in the world at the six month mark of each year. Our yearly anniversary meant the company shipped us back to our home country to decompress. This is to offset the stress of living in a foreign country and working six days a week. Now, if we had lived in Switzerland, I doubt we would have been shipped anywhere. I don't feel bad for my colleagues in Europe - most of the time, while I've made the one hour trek to Newport Beach for the day, they are 'sunning on the French Riviera.' I'm not complaining - while in Egypt we barely rested our heels as we embarked on journeys to Petra, Jordan, Israel, Malta, London, Italy and South Africa. Not to mention our extended weekend getaways all around Egypt to Alexandria, Sharm El Sheik and Luxur/Aswan. Simply amazing hubby constructed anything in the three and half years we were there.

The Philippines was a bit more stressful - we lived five hours out of Manila in the jungle. Which meant we lived on a camp. Although I deemed the camp 'Club San Roque' (the name of the city we were nearest) because we had a cafeteria (led by a German man and his Filipine cohort - interesting food I don't think you've seen even on Top Chef), a three hole golf course, swimming pool, gym and bar, it did start to get very Ground Hog Dayish (the movie with Bill Murray) ; same routine, same people all in an enclosed space. There we were kicked out every three months. We did high tail it to Australia, but then spent our other vacations at resorts spots in the Philippines - Cebu and Borakay - vacation spots all by themselves. We were only in the country for a year (we meaning me and the kids); and there wasn't much opportunity for a white girl and her babies to jaunt anywhere. Kidnappers and terrorists abound. We were escorted with an armed security guard on our weekly shopping trips to the closests city with any sort of shops and that was 40 miles away.

In Banda again we were allowed to leave every three months. While many of our more adventurous friends would spend their holidays camping around Vietnam, we just wanted hot running water and a bathtub. Our first journey led us back to Australia, then to Bali twice. Vacations get tougher the more kids you have.

Now that we are back stateside, there is no boss dictating us to 'take a holiday.' Americans are horrible about taking time off - I think we are up there in the country that works the most hours. Try getting anything done in the Wintertime with Europe - everyone I kow is skiing the Alps drinking shnapps. Maybe it's the company I keep,...

Anyway, I have decided it is up to me to continue to give hubby a break and make life fun. So what if I have 15 more boxes to unpack and we don't have window coverings on the second floor? We are escapting to Las Vegas to see one of Rob's brothers and his wife this coming month and then the kids and I are going to land on Grandma in Washington for a few weeks this summer. We are trying to figure out a fun way to drive back down to California with hubby for about two weeks, then the rigamorol of school and sports starts again.

I had fantasies of going on a nice holiday and looked up the resort Beaches, an all inclusive resort located in Jamaica - they have kid's club for infants and Elmo will have breakfast with your toddler - after inputting all of my information, the vacation modeler spit out my perfect holiday - to the tune of $19,000. For a week. Without airfare.

I have since realized that I have reproduced myself not only out of fancy sports cars, but relaxing pampering holidays as well.

As I told Grandma on the phone, the only inclusive holiday we will have is whatever is included in the cooler we lug to the woods and can be cooked on a stick over a fire pit.

Then one of my bosses at work told me about her fantastic holiday cruisin' the Pacific down to Mexico and back. That sounds more reasonable; you pack and shlep once and hang out. The boat has waterslides and movies for kids. You may not actually see your children for the entire time, but they can't escape since they are on a boat. With high railings, she was sure to point out to me.

But all I can think about are the news stories of cruiseships full of people who fell ill because of the tainted water supply, or people who mysteriously 'vanished at sea' never to be seen again.

Oh well. For the next couple of months, all I have to do is pack the diaper bag and wander down to the local baseball fields for my mini vacations of all day Saturdays basking in the sun getting a racoon tan on my face and eating gobbstoppers while the boys play baseball. Anything that takes me away from mopping the floor is a holiday to me.

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