The last vacation I went on was quick trip to the Dominican Republic in 09. My family and future wife decided to listen to me, for whatever demonic reasons possessed them to take a beach vacation over Christmas, foregoing traditional norms. I couldn’t believe they bought it. I hate Christmas and love the beach and I was happy to take the win.
I started daydreaming the moment the tickets were purchased to an all-inclusive resort. Roasted suckling pig, lobster, fresh fish, Cuban cigars, and rum danced behind my eyes. I told everyone I came across where I was headed and pushed them to feel jealous. While they were at Aunt Mertha’s waiting for the dried out grocery store ham to be finished and served with a box of mashed potatoes, I’d be casually sitting poolside with Senoritas, gulping down a juicy rum drink served in a tropical fruit cut in half.
Before 09, the last vacation I went on was college spring break, just after 9/11. Airplane tickets were cheap and one minute I was sitting at a friend’s house sucking down cigs and warm Milwaukee’s Best and the next we were on a plane to Florida to hang with my Gramps. It was a wacky week, staying in an empty condo on the ocean, where eventually we got in all sorts of trouble that ended with me at the Urgent Care Center. I should have known better to vacation again.
The trip to the Dominican started out real rough. The plane got delayed due to a winter weather storm out of Syracuse, New York. They said we could catch a plane from Albany, so we drove two and a half hours there and just caught the plane in time. We landed in South Carolina and couldn’t get a plane to the Dominican, so we grabbed a hotel room. One day lost on the beach was no big deal anyway.
The next day we found a flight to Miami and then to the Dominican. There were hours to kill in Miami. We wouldn’t make it to the beach that day either, our scheduled landing time was pretty late. Another day on the beach lost was no big deal to me. The travel was fun enough, drinking beers and eating fried food in airports and hotels in nothing fancy, but at least it was different.
When we finally did get on a plane headed to the Dominican, something went wrong with the landing. We didn’t crash, but the pilot must have missed the runway or something. It was hard to tell in the pitch dark of night, but suddenly we were going up again and fast. People on the plane screamed. There was a bit of panic before the plane leveled out again and the pilot came on to reassure everyone that he wasn’t drunk or blind. I wasnt’ so sure.
Things just got worse from here. With all the switching of planes, our bags never showed up. In fact, we never got them back at all.
I was still in jeans, work boots, and a flannel from three days ago when I left Syracuse, and now I had absolutely no other clothes at all. There was confusion when we got there about the rooms. We were all exhausted. It was a few days before Christmas and the place was packed with Eastern Europeans. Apparently, they don’t care for Americans.
I tried to go to the beach in the morning in my jeans and flannel. It was hot and overcast. My wife bought a little sundress on the beach and tried to get into the spirit. My parents seemed out of it.
That’s when it started raining. Sheets of rain came down and wouldn’t stop. It was not rainy season they said. It should stop soon. But it didn’t. We ran to our hotel room to escape the torrent
The downstairs hotel rooms started to flood. Luckily we were in a second-story room. That’s when the ants came in. Hundreds of thousands of them marched dutifully into our room, coating everything in a sheen of shiny black.
My soon to be wife and I were soaked. She took off her sundress to put her jeans and sweater back on. The dye from the blue dress ran and stained her skin. She was a Smurf. I made mention of this. It did not go over well. I used cold cream to help her unSmurf while she cried in the tub.
We started day 4 of our vacation. We only had 5 days total and the first 3 were hot garbage water. This was the last day before we had to head back out to New York. We would be flying back on Christmas Day to try and make it to my aunt’s house in Syracuse. We couldn’t be happier. I spent the day wandering around, drinking Mama Juana with the locals. I bought a bandana. I tried to smile. That’s of course when it took a turn for the worse.
I was drunk and walking around the pool when I noticed a little boy had let his toy boat get too far from him and his remote was no longer working. I decided to play good samaritan and bend down to get the boat and bring it back closer to him so he could continue to enjoy his toy. I knelt down on the edge of the pool and reached down to grab the boat when a stabbing pain blasted through my knee. I tried to stand but couldn’t. The pain was too much.
I staggered to the nearest chair and watched a very large black bee emerge from the hole in my now disgusting jeans that I’ve been wearing for a week. The pain was excruciating. My knee was red and started to swell. It swelled and swelled until it was the size of a small watermelon. I couldn’t walk or apply hardly any pressure on it. I spent the day icing it and numbing my brain with white wine and rum.
We flew back out the next day, getting caught in the air above Philadelphia, on Christmas Day, during the worst snowstorm they’ve had in decades. We circled and circled in the air until I was nauseous. We finally landed. We couldn’t fly back out for hours. I ate at Subway sitting on the floor of the airport food court. My soon to be wife cried in a corner. I could barely walk onto the plane back to Albany. We landed in an ice storm. The windshield wipers broke off my Mom’s jeep. We drove for hours on the thruway and couldn’t see.
I got back to my house the next day with just enough time to change my clothes and go to work. I pulled in my driveway and found our fake Christmas tree at the end of it, in the pouring rain, the box it was stored in melted into the tree itself, completely unsalvagable. Our landlord found it in the basement and decided that if someone didn’t put it up during the holiday then it was probably from a previous tenant.
There’s not much of a moral to the story. I certainly didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know about myself. But my family certainly doesn’t take any vacation advice from me and has never invited me again.
It was my last vacation. I haven’t had enough money to go on one since and I certainly have had nowhere near the amount of guts it’ll take to go on one again.
Merry Christmas, I guess.
This post is republished on Medium.
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