And so we come to the holidays and the end of 2014. In lieu of gifts, my entire family—parents, siblings, their children, and their in-laws—are going to Cuba. This will be the first time we’ve all traveled all together as a family to an exotic location for a prolonged period. Frankly, I’m a little nervous about.
It’s probably just my writer’s brain and the years of exposure to holiday vacation disaster films like Home Alone or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation that has me so anxious. Stories about traveling during the holidays usually evoke sheer panic in me as I watch families scramble to get to crowded airports on time while fighting bad weather and quarrelsome relatives. In fact, I’ve never traveled out of country during holidays and peak travel periods for this exact reason. Going to Cuba with the family feels more like the opening of tragicomedy to me than a romping good time.
The thing is, my family has had a string of bad luck whenever one of us goes on vacation or to the cottage or even on a simple road trip. I’ve told my tale on my blog, and that’s not even the worst of it.
A sample cross-section of tales from the group going to Cuba this year (without attribution, but I guarantee these stories are 100% real):
- Stepped on a sea urchin: in which the only medical assistance available involved smashing the needles in the victim’s foot with a wooden paddle and then removing them by tweezer.
- Violent food poisoning: in which five out of seven group members were bed-ridden for 24 hours.
- Lost in a bog: in which we trod through thick black mud and climbed a barbed-wire fence in order to escape the swamp.
- Caught in the path of a tornado: in which the viewers pulled over to the side of the road in a shelterless expanse of highway and watched as the twister bore down on them (everyone was fine, it was a tiny tornado).
- Hospitalization for sand flea bites: in which three grown men were covered in painful, swollen nodules I can’t even think about without shuddering.
- Fell off a collapsing deck: in which a hillside patio deck collapsed beneath the weight of several cottage-goers, sending some rolling under the cottage, others clinging to the railing.
- Moored in a boat stuck on old underwater railway tracks: in which the ancient tracks were never put on a map, and the victims had to be rescued by neighbors.
- Chased by a pack of wild monkeys: in which the victim learned even small monkeys run very fast.
- Trapped in an alien-themed fun house: in which the victim was tricked into entering a carnival attraction by folks who promised her it was not a fun house, which she is deathly afraid of.
- Assaulted by an overfriendly drag queen: in which a drag queen had excruciatingly accurate aim considering the position of her fingers.
No, of course it isn’t as simple as lost luggage. Not in my family.
I can only imagine the shenanigans my kin will get into, with my father and brother-in-law’s penchant for fishing, my young niece and nephew’s lack of social propriety filter, and my own questionable constitution. And while my family on the whole has always gotten along, I don’t think we’ve ever spent this much time together in one place.
I know as many precautions as I take, we can never prepare for that one thing that becomes the thing on our vacation. I suppose the worst-case scenario (and there are so many) is that we don’t get to go on the trip at all. But I’m trying hard not to think about the worst things and just revel in the glory of getting away to somewhere hot for the holidays. Maybe I’ll just play it safe and stay locked in my room for the whole trip.
Happy holidays and best wishes to you and your family, however you spend you vacations!
Got any vacation horror stories to tell? Share them in the comments below cuz they’ll make me feel better!