Reading week at university recently arrived for my son, the Obnoxious One and his buddies. Just before Christmas, a group of them planned a trip to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. As usual, my son was low on details but big on ideas – fun in the sun, free booze, cute girls to ogle…what could be better for a group of university guys?
Don’t answer that !
My first and constant (as in weekly) piece of advice to him was to stay on the resort – do not under ANY circumstances leave the resort and go into town, etc. “Mom, I’m not stupid ya know. Besides, we’ll have everything we need there already.” In addition, since I was paying for the trip, I had a number of very difficult questions for him, such as:
- who was going?
- how many were going?
- how many rooms were they booking?
- what arrangements for flights did they have?
- what hotel were they staying in?
Each time I asked any of the above questions, I received pretty much the same response: “Mom, I’m not sure how many are going – either ten or eight or six depending…” Depending on what?? Then, “Mom we’re flying out of Montreal and our flight leaves Sunday morning.”
“Okay, so how are you getting to Montreal? And are you going to stay there over night to make sure you don’t miss your flight? Have you thought this through at all?
” Mom, Mom, don’t worry about it. We’ll figure it out. The other guys are in Commerce and they’re smarter than I am. We got this covered.” Really?
For some strange reason I was NOT filled with comfort. I’ll admit that I’m a tiny bit anal when it comes to booking vacations – I examine the hotel/resort website in detail, I review numerous comments on Trip Advisor as well as Expedia, I talk to Lily, my travel agent extraordinaire and I go over the details ad nauseam with family members. Obviously this takes some time, but I like to know exactly what to expect. I want to ensure that we get our money’s worth! While we don’t always stay in four or even five star hotels, it’s been over twenty years since one of us has been sick from the food while travelling.
A couple of days before the guys were to leave, I was informed: 1) there were now four of them going, staying in two rooms 2) the father of one of the boys was going to drive them to Montreal very early the morning of the flight AND 3) the hotel had the word “Paradise” in the title.
So of course I googled Paradise and Punta Cana and found a couple of options – a three star and a five star resort.Gradually we narrowed it down to the three star hotel where S-trip was also going. That was NOT a great confidence booster! I checked the website of the hotel. I checked the comments on Trip Adviser. I was not impressed, but hey, I wasn’t going. My advice would’ve been to spend a couple extra bucks more and stay in at least a four star, but I wasn’t consulted.
The Obnoxious One did take pity on me somewhat and sent a text after the plane landed in Punta Cana and they were en-route to the hotel. After they arrived his words of wisdom were, “The room sucks. Booze is free and women are good and the weather is amazing. It’s great.”
Ah…so wonderful to see where his priorities are.
I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best. Actually I was rather jealous as here in Vancouver we had a week of solid rain. Each day I imagined him on the beach, Corona in hand, sunglasses and attitude firmly in place. Imagine my surprise when I received the following email on the second last day:
“Just thought I’d check in and keep you up to date; trip started off great, but slowly everyone got the runs by the 3rd day(you can grin in our displeasure). Everyone is still sick because tho the food may be edible (only slightly) it makes you sick. My flight leaves tomorrow at 6pm and we should get in by 930pm and back to town by 1230-1ish. One of the dads is picking us up from the airport and driving us back. After this ‘vacation’ I might actually need a real one that doesn’t involve sh–ing every hour and I didn’t think it was possible to get worse food then at school but we did….
With sickness and love, your son”
Well, I felt too sorry for the Obnoxious One to say I told you so, or anything else equally charming, but instead prescribed lots of liquids and lots of rest. I will admit that when he phoned me from his dorm room at university, I felt a wee bit vindicated. You see, this is what he said,
“Mommy, I never want to go on a trip like that again. I only want to travel with you and Dad to nice places that you book. If that makes me sound like a wimp or a snob, I don’t care ’cause I never want to be sick like that again!”
Turns out that the water was not safe to drink (as Trip Advisor and Expedia noted); the boys didn’t drink it per se, but they did brush their teeth with it and they did eat lots of salad and fresh fruit. At this stage I couldn’t help pointing out that:
- the boys should’ve used bottled water to brush their teeth
- since green salads and fresh fruits were washed with water, these foods were not safe to eat; cooked or grilled items and fruit that the boys peeled themselves would have been much smarter
- drinks with ice cubes are generally suspect – only drink beer or wine right out of the bottle (unless the ice cubes were clearly made from distilled water)
So my poor little Obnoxious One learned a tough lesson about travelling. More importantly he learned that sometimes, actually most of the time, Mommy does know best! 🙂 Really!
all images are courtesy iclipart.com