My bossy older sister, Babs, called a few weeks ago and asked what I was planning to do for my birthday this year. I told her, since it falls on a Monday, probably going to work. She said I should do something special this year.
I’m not in the habit of making a big deal over my birthday so I said, “Ok, I'll buy a cupcake and stick a candle in it.” She didn’t think that was special enough. So she invited me to go on vacation with her and her family.
Well, let me tell you, she goes to some mighty nice places and this was a very generous offer. But I hesitated, really I did, and said, “You know, the kids will be home from school and it's probably not the best time to go away.” And she said, “So bring the kids. We'll be there for two weeks -- you can come for all or part of that time.”Hesitation vanished.
I went with Babs to this place once before, over Thanksgiving weekend five years ago. Sorry, I’m not trying to be mysterious, but this involves someone else’s privacy and I promised not to divulge the actual location. I can tell you it is not in the U.S, is closer to the equator than Miami and takes all day to get there from here by airplane. I took some pictures when we were there before and have received permission to post a few of them here. If I don’t break anything, you will see for yourself that it is a paradise.
Let me tell you about a typical day. Breakfast is at 8:00 am. Theory being, I guess, that if you're going to eat that much wonderful food in one day, it's best to get an early start. All meals are served at an open air dining area and prepared from fresh local food by a gourmet chef. Yes, really.
The morning hours are occupied lounging about the pool area, engaging in desultory conversation, gazing alternately at the fluffy white clouds and the hypnotic azure water of the Sea of Whatever, listening to the gentle crash of waves on the beach at the bottom of the rocky bluff just beyond the manicured expanse of verdant lawn, and taking an occasional dip in the pool.
And that's pretty much the schedule for the rest of the day, too, unless you go inside and take a nap. And why would you, when the thick, soft terrycloth-covered pads on those chaise lounges are so comfy? If you feel like getting dressed and finding your shoes, you can go into town and take your time meandering through the myriad small shops, purchasing gorgeous local crafts.
All this leisure activity is interrupted only by a mid-morning snack, a tasty lunch, a late-afternoon snack accompanied by a sampling of the margarita of the day, and then a magnificent dinner. Of course, there is the ever present cooler full of drinks set out by the pool (ice cold bottled water, cokes, lemonade, beer, wine coolers -- the content varies with time of day). The day ends with starlit poolside conversation and perhaps a nightcap, accompanied by unobtrusive local music piped in through the invisible outdoor speaker system, the occasional burst of laughter from the kids’ conversation drifting over from the outdoor hot tub.
Food and drink are offered before you can even think to ask, before you even realize you are hungry or thirsty. Clean towels appear in your room twice a day. Your bed is made for you every morning. This picture is the view from the bedroom where I stayed, which faces east and is called, appropriately, the Sunrise Room.
Without a doubt, it is the most decadent experience I've ever had. And I was thrilled when my sister invited us to go with them again, because I never expected to get a chance to go back. Really, once was a special treat. Twice? Pinch me.
Now some of you may remember that way back in early October I wrote about how Babs was all impatient for me to finish writing the damn book already so it could get published (yes, I suspect she really thinks it's that simple -- the minute I finish it, it will hit the shelves of her local bookstore). And I said back then that I was sure as soon as she figured out how to speed up the whole process, I'd be hearing from her.
So after I recovered from the initial shock and accepted her invitation, Babs warned, "There's just one thing."
I said, "Oh yeah? And what is that?" Even though at this point I really didn't care.
She said, "While we're there, I want you to write."
And here I'd thought it just couldn't get any better. You have no idea. I nearly wept.
I've only got a week, so I have to make good use of my time. But odds are very good that I will indeed finish the damn book next week. Well, the rough draft anyway.
But I am coming back. Really.
Wait, let me check.
Yep, says right here on the ticket confirmation. Round trip. Besides, all that perfection probably causes extreme crankiness after a while.
So I'll be back. In about a week.
Really, I will.
I'm debating whether to explain to Babs how I'm probably going to need an agent.