I have been thinking a lot about this trip, but beyond a reminder in my calendar to select the participants in June, I have been coming up with more questions than answers.
For a start thanks and kudos to Jennifer Fletcher for coming up with a great name. Time of Your Life.
On the other hand, every silver-lining has a cloud. Calling the trip the “Time of Your Life” could actually be its downfall, if we take the name too seriously.
One way to have a trip that is not the time of your life is to burden it with the goal of being the time of your life.
No vacation is so good that having unrealistic expectations cannot badly screw it up.
Having witnessed hundreds of travelers make this mistake, you would think that I would be sure to avoid it in my own travels…. In Spanish they say, “En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo.” (In the blacksmith’s house the knife is made of wood.”)
In the fall of 2006 Yolanda and I spent two and a half months visiting friends in Europe.
Most of our friends in Europe are in the travel business, so most of the trip was professionally planned and arranged.
One piece that I arranged myself was a romantic interlude in a first class compartment on the overnight train from Paris to Madrid.
Since I knew that even the first class compartments are small, and we were traveling with a lot of baggage including two large cases for out take apart tandem bicycle, we planned to put most of the luggage in the baggage car.
When we got to the station I gave the conductor the baggage for the baggage car. Not only did the train not have a baggage car, the conductor was condescending. “This is passenger train. Why would it have a baggage car?” He said slowly emphasizing every word.
So now my goal for the evening changed from romantic interlude to beat the conductor at his own game. When we got to the compartment I waited until the train was moving and piled the baggage outside my door where it partially blocked the corridor. Now my baggage had become his problem and he would have to figure out what to do with it.
When the conductor walked by, I smiled and told him that I didn’t mind leaving the baggage in the corridor. “No problem,” he said without stopping, “The police will put it off the train at the Swiss border.”
So now it looked it like the baggage would take up the floor and the lower bunk and we were going to share the approximately 2 and half foot wide upper bunk. Much more of a romantic interlude then I had bargained for.
Then I had an idea. The shower. If we could jam the baggage floor to ceiling in the shower, the problem would be solved.
And it worked. The shower door was so narrow that by putting the bags in vertically and then turning them more or less horizontal, we were able to wedge in the bags so that there no danger of them falling out with the movement of the train.
We also turned on the shower.
By the time I was able to reach around the bags and turn it off, we and the bags were soaked, there was an inch of water on the floor, I had yelled out some very choice Anglo-Saxon and Yolanda, who is against swearing (unless she is doing it) had yelled at me for bad language.
So now the theme of the evening for me had gone from romantic interlude, to out-foxing the conductor, to me defending myself for swearing. Except now the offense had morphed from swearing into upsetting everyone else on the entire train.
At least a half-hour later having rung out the clothes we were wearing, we walked into the dining car.
I was explaining to Yolanda that she was projecting on the other passengers her annoyance at me for what was a justified reaction to extreme circumstances, when everyone in the restaurant stopped talking and watched us walk half way down the car to the first empty table.
To Yolanda’s credit she sat in silence and waited for me to start laughing.
Here she is on my cell phone video the next morning.
So what does this have to do with our trip to Costa Rica? Just that we have to be careful not to let unrealistic expectations become a burden. Perhaps if rather than trying to have the times of our lives we just try to have a good time, we’ll be more likely to have the times of our lives.
Or perhaps having the time of your life and a good time are the same thing and the key is to swing easily from serious to silly, from having expectations to taking things as they come.
Please keep ideas for the trip coming.
If you have anecdotes about funny things that have happened when you travel or how you screwed up a trip, please share them.