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Vacation should be about risks! Surfing the roof of a moving bus

by Staff

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Travel pros insist that if you want a really good spring or summer vacation, you need to start planning in January.

Well, OK, it’s January and I want to go, go, go!

I’m just not sure where, where, where.

I’ve already been to California (three times), Florida (five times) and Texas (twice). Not to mention Louisiana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Tennessee, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island.

I’ve also been to England, France, Italy, Germany and Belgium. 

I went to the Netherlands in 1994 and returned a few times after that, to visit my friend Rolf in Amsterdam.

I was the only person in Amsterdam not smoking marijuana, but I managed to fall down stairs everywhere I went.

Problem: Their steps were too small and my 11 1/2 feet were too big. 

Back in the U.S., this bothered my mother no end, especially when she saw me walking around on her plush carpets wearing my black steel toe work boots.

“Why do you have such big feet,” she would scream at me. “Why can’t you have normal little feet like your father and brother?”

More Ervolino: I made it through the rain, but the wind was another story

My parents, by the way, loved to travel: Europe, South America, even Africa.

My brother (with the little feet) and his wife, not so much. To them a vacation means going to a resort in Cancun or Aruba. My niece — their daughter — is even worse. She’s 28 and has been to Disney World seven times.

WHY???

Folks like this want to stay in beautiful rooms, eat in expensive restaurants, and sit around enormous turquoise pools sipping mojitos and margaritas. 

This has always annoyed me. “That’s a vacation? It sounds like a business trip!”

Big, crowded pools. Boring breakfast buffets. Streets littered with Mickeys, Minnies, Beauties and Beasts.

Of course, one of the main reasons to take a holiday is to relax, unwind, recharge your batteries and have fun. And, yeah, that means different things to different people.

To me, it’s about exploring new cities, terrains and cultures. Thrills! Risks! Adventure!

To them, it’s about being waited on in controlled environments where they feel safe and pampered.

There are plenty of online resources to help folks plan their next holiday including a rather simple one from Conde Nast Traveler. https://www.cntraveler.com/story/where-should-you-go-on-vacation-next

Basically, these questionnaires want to know who you’re traveling with, what you want to see out your window (mountains, beaches, cities) and what you want to do when you get to wherever you’re going.

Personally, I love to be surprised. I like to explore, but not on a tour bus. I like to eat like a local, as long as it doesn’t give me dysentery. And I like to keep busy or do absolutely nothing, depending on how I feel that day. 

My most memorable vacation destination? That was probably Puerta Vallarta, Mexico, in the early 1980s. The place has built up considerably since then, but most of it was incredibly rustic when I was there.

I had a hotel room that looked like a jail cell. (White, clean, sparse.) There was a pool, of course, but I had more fun sitting in front of the hotel, people-watching.

I had a bushy black “Viva Zapata” mustache at the time, which may be why I was approached by so many lost Americans who’d lean over me and slowly ask, “Do you speak English?”

One day, while roaming some back streets, I saw a bunch of local kids who had commandeered a broken-down school bus. 

One kid was driving the bus. Three others were on the roof with bats. They were tooling past expensive walled-in homes and knocking fruit off the tree branches that hung over the walls.

Stealing from the rich! 

Legally!

I asked if I could join them and climbed onto the roof of the bus. For two hours, I rode around with these kids gathering fruit with them. And I had a blast.

Later, two of the kids invited me to their house. Their parents welcomed me into their home, which had dirt floors, and I did my best to converse with them in my high school Spanish.

Amazingly, that was 42 years ago. 

So…now what?

“So now,” my friend Olga said recently, “you want a vacation that will provide you with another cool, memorable adventure?”

“Exactly!”

“How about picking fruit in Canada?”

“Oh, I don’t think I can do that again,” I said. “I do have back issues. Stenosis…arthritis…”

“Cruise to Alaska?”

“Boats make me claustrophobic.”

“Well then, how about an African safari?”

“No, those long flights cause blood clots. And what if I have to run from a lion? With my breathing issues?”

“Asthma?”

“Chronic bronchitis. Besides, I’m gonna be 69. And my knees hurt. And I need to nap every day at 4:30. And…”

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I’d like to sit around a pool and drink.

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