I was going through old photo albums a few days ago after my sort of step-father suggested I try taking photos of my non-digitized pictures with my new macro lens. I had a few modest successes before the light disappeared.
And it got me thinking about our worst family vacation ever – in Belize of all places.
Expectations are a big part of whether a vacation is deemed to be a success. Our expectations were high as we headed down to Belize for a week of kayaking over Christmas many years ago. We were thrilled to escape the short days and cold temperatures.
In fact when we landed at the airport the first words out of my daughter’s mouth were I could live here.
That feeling lasted precisely three hours.
What changed was the possibility of boas coming out of the ceilings of our rustic lodge not to mention the distinct chance that giant spiders might walk across you at night. She barely slept a wink.
And we weren’t even kayaking yet.
There’s something about a photo of turquoise blue waters that suggests that all is right with the world. Much of the kayaking in the islands off of the Belize coast is lovely.
But here’s the part that wasn’t very good with respect to our kayaking trip in Belize.
- For a week my husband and I never shared a kayak because of a single woman who lacked kayaking experience. The guides never took the initiative to have her switch places and we didn’t want to create a fuss. (Lesson here – ask ahead how the company would handle the situation.)
- My son hasn’t kayaked since this trip. One week in a too short boat (he’s 6’3″) has put him off forever.
- Another couple had a leaky boat and by the end of every day they would be sitting in six inches of warm Caribbean water. Not actually that pleasant.
What we did enjoy on the kayaking part of our trip was the snorkeling, bird watching and if the wind was blowing – time in the hammock.
Some of the meals were amazing too – such as when we dined on fresh caught lobster.
But then there was Christmas dinner.
The food was fine but the bugs – no seeums – were so bad that my daughter and I ate in a stuffy, hot tent.
In fact there’s a saying that goes like this: When the wind don’t blow, paradise go to hell.
Even stopping to pee in a windless area resulted in a dozen supremely itchy bites that lasted for weeks.
The moral of this story – ask a lot of questions of tour companies. Keep your expectations in check. Don’t be swayed by photos with turquoise coloured waters.
Fortunately at the end of our week of kayaking, we’d booked three nights at an eco-lodge in the jungle. It was a small place, hard to reach and very beautiful. Swimming in a free form pool, tubing the local river, exploring Mayan caves on the hotel’s land, feeding horses star fruit, admiring beautiful flowers and dining on excellent food – all of this – revived our spirits. And after hearing stories from the owner we gained a healthy respect for the local Fer-de-lance poisonous snake.
Have you ever been on a family holiday that was a complete let down or disaster?