Winter Vacation - Where Wouldn't You Go?
Welcome to the First Day of Spring
This winter changed our minds about holidays; it changed mine especially. Up until now I’ve never understood why Canadians fly, drive and sail south during the winter months.
Canadian winters are fascinating and helpful. In what other country can you phone your employer and explain that you won’t be at work - because you can’t drive out of your driveway due to snow or because you can’t even see the driveway because of snow, or more likely, you can’t find your car because of snow.
Up until this winter, we sneered at the ‘snowbirds’ who escape to Florida or Mexico for all 6 of the winter months. Or we’d turn our noses up at the families who go on cruises south of the equator. This winter for instance, we have practically been alone in our neighbourhood. Across the street from us, the family went to Florida and also had a cruise in the Pacific. The neighbours to our right decided on a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, and the ones on our left are in Mexico until April. And the couple four doors way are still on vacation and won’t be back until April.
Us? Between looking after four homes, we revel in winter’s erratic weather changes. We wake up every morning in excited anticipation of what the wind chill factor will be, and whether this will be the day we have heart attacks from shovelling snow – and where to put the damned stuff.
Up until this winter, we consoled ourselves by thinking what spring will be like – but this year the seasons have taken up different dates. With the St Lawrence River still frozen solid on the first day of spring, and the Great Lakes still 82% frozen, and the bordering States and Provinces admitting that they don’t have the ice beakers to do the job, spring will be the 2 weeks of floods, slush and mud before the first day of summer on June 21st.
This winter convinced us that it is time to become ‘Snowbirds.’ Next winter, we will travel……but to where?
Where wouldn't you go?
A dear friend in Central America suggested we spend next winter at his home on the beach. We welcomed that idea, and immediately began to daydream of sunshine and sand. He cautioned us about his two Rottweilers and two Dobermans, in case we were allergic. We reminded him that we were also dog lovers and the dogs would not be an obstacle.
He went on to explain that three of the dogs were left outside every night, but a Rottweiler – the most vicious one – was kept indoors.
“In case it attacks someone?” I suggested.
“Dear goodness, no!” our friend explained. “Sometimes the dogs that patrol outside get poisoned; the vicious one is the final protection, and of course I have the handgun under my pillow. When can you come down? I’m so looking forward to seeing you both again.”
We didn’t break the news to him straight away, that unless he came up to Canada – minus canines and firearms – it was going to be a long time before he saw us again.
My wife has always wanted to see the Taj Mahal, but after the most recent gang rape there, she’s had a change of heart. I’ve always wanted to see the Pyramids, but not during the present political turmoil. The decision was going to be difficult, so we retired to the local tavern to discuss our destination.
We each took a notebook and pen with us and sat down with a beer - or two. We discounted all the countries that were having military conflict, which left out Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Crimea and half of Africa. Then we scored off the countries where the police and citizens seemed to have regular standoffs, and all the nations where murdering tourists seemed to be a favourite hobby.
We were mulling over this list when a friend sat down beside us and asked what we were doing. When we explained, he called over to some other of his friends for their opinions. Within minutes the whole tavern was involved. Some of the answers surprised us.
“Don’t go to London – the one in England, I mean,” a voice called out. “They behead policemen there.”
“And miss out Mexico; they murder tourists on a weekly basis.” Another voice called out.
“As well as America; they all have guns and have you seen those real-life Cop programmes on TV? They shoot people for the sake of shooting people.”
"And Greece has standoffs.” The opinions came thick and drunk, until we couldn’t write fast enough. It was becoming depressing, and we were beginning to wonder if Tristan de Cunha had any beaches, when the barmaid intervened.
“Shut up,” she shouted as she banged the bottom of a tray, “enough of this dismal crap.” She pointed at us, “You two are being too picky.” she said, “people can get murdered anywhere. Just because two tourists are assassinated in a country of 58 million people, doesn’t mean the whole population are into killing off tourists. Hell, if you stay here you get murdered tomorrow – in fact,” she warned as she looked at me, “If you don’t cut this discussion off right now, something else might get cut off.” I winced, tightened my groin - and shut up.
The barmaid was right; we've seen that type of thinking in Ontario in relation to dogs. A few years ago a Pit-bull killed a person. Almost immediately the Province law makers decided that all Pit-Bulls were killers, so they made it illegal to own a Pit-Bull. Nobody pays any attention, but it does show a narrow mindset.
Where in the World?
The following day I became even more confused about holiday destinations. I’d logged onto eBay to do some research, when I came across an eBay dealer who shipped ‘Worldwide’. The dealer even shipped to Canada which I thought was very magnanimous of them.
However, the ‘Ships Worldwide’ description excluded all of these countries – some of which I have never, ever, ever heard of……
Africa, Middle East, South America (There’s half the world gone already), Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan Republic, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Korea South, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rica, Saint Kits-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, American Samoa, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshal Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis and Fortuna, Western Samoa, Bermuda, Mexico, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Albania, Andorra, Belarus, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Estonia, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Italy, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Svalbard and Jan Mayen.
Pardon me for being obtuse, but it wouldn’t it be easier for the dealer to state that they only ship to the next village?
Where wouldn’t you go on vacation?