Enough is more than enough on a winter getaway

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After two years of pandemic monotony, I launched a fit of royal whistle.

The novelty of “staying at home” had long since worn off. I told my husband, Francis, that I desperately needed to leave or I would lose my mind. He could tell by the saliva on my chin and the crazy look in my trembling right eye that I was serious.

A month later, Francis surprised me with tickets for a week at an “all-inclusive luxury hotel” in Aruba.

Although we had traveled extensively on two overseas tours, we didn’t have much experience with the Caribbean islands, let alone tropical resorts. Our previous trips were on a strict military family budget, which typically involved driving our van, renting cheap accommodations, packing our own food, and tossing out expensive excursions and paid tour guides.

But browsing the website for our luxury all-inclusive resort in Aruba, we could have gone broke for anything I wanted. If I didn’t have to cook, clean, or find another damn show to binge on Netflix, this trip would be priceless.

Our plane left Boston late due to the heavy de-icing needed for takeoff, but six hours later we stood in the blazing equatorial sun as aqua blue waters lapped the resort’s white sand beach and breezes blowing at 85 degrees blew through the palm trees and cacti.

We squeezed our pale, flaky, plump winter bodies into swimsuits (blatant pandemic overeating) and hit one of the resort’s many outdoor bars for our first round of all-inclusive cocktails. “That’s just what I needed,” I told Francis, sipping a frozen mango margarita under a palapa on the beach.

Interestingly, all of the resort’s cocktails, wines, beers, sodas, apple juice, and milk were served in identical, opaque plastic cups like those stacked by the Golden Corral buffet. Drinking chardonnay from institutional vessels wasn’t exactly glamorous, but we figured that, with so many guests walking barefoot around pools and beaches, it was a necessary safety precaution.

Our fourth floor ocean view room overlooked one of the resort’s many pools and the sea. “Wow, how about that view?” Francis said, sitting on our balcony, sipping bourbon from his Golden Corral glass while waiting for me to get dressed for dinner.

I stepped out onto the balcony just as someone below bellowed, “JACKPAHT!” We would soon learn that the pool party had flown in from Boston and were in Aruba for a wedding. Their extended family, which included aunts, uncles, grandparents and many children, had rented the poolside rooms below us. By the end of the week, we could identify them by their heavy Boston accents and poolside outbursts.

“C’mahn, Uncle Jimmy, let’s play Jackpaht!”

“Hey Bahb! I’m stahhving!”

“MAHHKO! POLO! MAHHKO POLO!”

“MA! Jayden’s diy-pah fell in the pool!

Our dining options included five themed restaurants (Mexican, Asian, Italian, gourmet, and a tropical grill with heated tables where guests grill raw meats with a doctor standing by to dress burns), two buffets (nothing says ‘luxury such as scraping the sides of a metal tub of macaroni and cheese), and various snacks offered at outdoor bars (to reduce the risk of diabetic coma due to the syrupy mixture of coconut rum, amaretto, grenadine, schnapps peach and margarita). Determined to get everything our all-inclusive package offered, we stuffed ourselves with everything.

We signed up for a snorkeling “drink cruise” where we saw more drinks than fish, and a violent off-road Jeep tour during which I nearly burst my spleen in the park national of Arikok.

“A cocktail, honey? Francis offered on our last day under the palapa.

“Just a Diet Coke, please.” Sunburned, sore and battling diarrhea, I had had my fill of unlimited cocktails, food, sunshine, adventure, pool patrons and warm tropical breezes. At least that’s what I told myself.

Real life isn’t a tropical all-inclusive resort, so I thought of our charming New England home, woolen sweaters that hide the rolls, home-cooked meals, cozy TV nights, our children, to the dog. It turns out the water is bluer, the breezes are warmer, the drinks are cheaper…and the grass is always greener on the other side.

Read more on themeatandpotatoesoflife.com, and in Lisa’s book, The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com. Email: [email protected]

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