Several things have happened recently that have made me want to write about how to actually HAVE a vacation. Unfortunately, some of the things making me want to write about this have happened to me. Having a vacation you enjoy requires effort. Not just the physical effort of making the money, making the plans, coming to see me, arranging the days off and the pet care and all the other things that go into a vacation; but it is also having a mental attitude that you will have an enjoyable time, "no matter what". It is the "no matter what" part that sometimes hangs people up.
Your vacation is yours to do with as you please. You have paid the money, you have worked to have the time off, you have either chosen a vacation spot or asked me for my advice and expertise in picking your vacation spot...why would you NOT want to have a good time?
Starting with my own recent misadventure, I blogged about my trip to Manzanillo and, for all intents and purposes, you would assume I had a wonderful time. Let me share with you how my trip started out.
I went to check in at Alaska Airlines and couldn't check in at the kiosk. No problem, I went to the ticket counter and the woman working the computer could not find me, either. All of this has to do with what we must now put on airline tickets. They must be EXACT, the same as your passport or driver's license, whichever you are using for id to check in. This being an international flight, it was my passport, which the woman now had in her hand and STILL couldn't find me! The problem, and yes, she did finally find me, is that my name was put in using my middle name as a hyphenated last name. I use my maiden name as my middle name. How you are put in the computer determines how I, or the person at the ticket counter, can find you.
Well, no harm done. The young lady found me and I was checked in, with my suitcase checked on to Manzanillo. Now I had to find The Board Room, which is the VIP room for Alaska Airlines frequent fliers. That was where we were all to meet..."all" being the group going on this FAM trip.
Directions to The Board Room were vague at best. There was a stairway by Starbucks and an elevator by Burger King. OK, found both, decided on the elevator because I still had a purse, bag with the L.A. Times and a bottle of water, and was kind of hoping to get in the VIP room and find the ladies room. I got out of the elevator and found myself in no man's land at LAX. No one to ask for further directions, a few people who were apparently passengers pulling suitcases behind them, that was about it...BUT, there were two escalators, both going up. I decided, much like Alice in Wonderland, who I was starting to have sympathy for, to go up one of the escalators. About four steps up, I decided I should not be on the escalator and should go back and retrace my steps on the elevator. Most adults would realize, at that point in time, it was a very bad decision. For whatever reason, I didn't see the problem with going back DOWN the UP escalator.
I crashed. No other word for it...went down like a box of rocks on my left side. The stairs on the escalator chewed up my elbow and my shin, but I didn't even realize that at the time. A very nice lady came up behind me and held on to my purse. A paramedic from Canada came out of nowhere and help me stand up when I reached the top. I finally found The Board Room...and they had no idea who I was or that the group of people I was with were to arrive. The young man at the counter pointed me towards the ladies room and I cleaned up as best I could, by now realizing that I had a lot of blood coming out of my elbow and had some bad gouges on my shin, looking much like I had been run over by a small 4 wheel drive vehicle. A young lady also working the desk at The Board Room brought me antiseptic towelettes and bandages and helped me cover the gashes on my elbow.
WOW! I'd never started a FAM trip quite like this before. On behalf of Alaska Airlines, let me say here and now that this was ENTIRELY my fault. I did something very stupid. Yes, they should have The Board Room better marked, that is the only place I can find any fault. The young man who didn't know about the group I was with had been on vacation for two weeks and had not checked his email when I walked in, bloody but unbowed. He found the email and came to tell me he had and apologize. No apologies necessary, again, MY fault. If you get a chance, skip going down the up escalator. Those are the only "words to the wise" I can offer!
But wait...there's more! For a fleeting moment, I thought about just driving back to Riverside. When a FAM is put on, many companies spend a great deal of money taking us to these destination and showing us what we need to know to offer them to our clients. That is money they have no opportunity to get back if there is a last minute cancellation. Easy decision, really, I was going on the FAM, wounded or not.
We got to Manzanillo after a really nice flight. Alaska service, even in coach, is very good. I had a Bloody Mary on the way down, that helped the pain in the elbow. Manzanillo airport is small, clean, easy to navigate...good stuff. The highway to the hotel zone in Manzanillo was a pleasant drive, pretty scenery, not too far. Remember, I am in a van with quite a few people and trying hard not to bump leg or elbow...but I'm OK!
Now we are at the hotel and go through the check in process. Again, they made it easy and pleasant and I now have a room key and can try and get cleaned up. The hotel is large, to say the least. Two towers, grand lobby that is on two levels, very clean and bright...all good stuff.
Once in my room I decide I had better grab a shower before dinner and try and look like something the cat wouldn't drag in. Great shower, large bathroom, things are "lookin" up!"
Dinner that night is in a palapa by the ocean and dinner, with a medicinal Margarita for stress relief, is good...and then the power goes out. OH BOY! There was dim light from candles on the tables and normally, that would be great, but I am faced with the prospect of getting from the restaurant back to the hotel in the dark without managing to fall again. In my purse I carry a small flashlight, about the size of a credit card. With that, I was able to light the way back to the hotel for several of us. Some were going to hang out and go to the disco. I passed on that. I decided it was time to get some rest and be ready for the trip to Colima the next day, and maybe change the bandages. Since we were without power at the restaurant, some parts of the hotel were also without power. The elevators from the ground floor to the lobby were not working. OK, UP the marble staircase...yet another chance to prove I really could remain upright on a slippery surface! I went to the first elevator I saw and took it to the 7th floor, the elevators from the lobby up had electricity.
Great! I am now on the 7th floor and nothing looks familiar and I can't remember my room number. The agent who has the room next door to mine is not with me, he opted to go to the disco. I wander around, totally lost, wondering how much worse the day can get before it is finally over. Now I have no idea where the elevator I took to get here is...WOW...and I'm the travel agent! I find a door open with music coming from the room and knock. The people in the room let me use their phone to call the front desk and find my room number...I'm in the wrong tower! OK, back down to the lobby, over to the right elevator, up to my room...good grief! I'm finally on a roll here! I get into my room and there is NO electricity! At that point, I call my husband in Riverside and tell him the events of the day, and then the lights in my room came back on.
Now, if you read my post on Manzanillo, you will know I had a really great time. I DID have a really great time. The decision belongs to the person and my decision was to make the trip, get the most out of it I could, try not to be a burden on the other people on the trip, and have fun. I did!
Mine is an extreme case, hard to imagine having a day that went as badly as mine did, but it happens. The choice is yours. If nothing is broken, patch yourself up and keep moving...or throw in the towel and go home. My choice was to move forward and hope for the best.
I have had complaints about the view from a hotel room; about murals on a ship wall that were considered "indiscreet"...they were not totally nude and were by the spa; I have had people complain about rude service people. I have acknowledged the problems and did what I could to resolve them. But, the bottom line is this. It is YOUR vacation. If the room service waiter or the maid, or the cabin steward or the front desk person snarls at you, it is not OK. Lodge your complaint then and there, at the time of the incident. Go to the appropriate person and make a complaint and get on with having a good time. There is no excuse for rude service, but there IS the possibility that someone just snarled at that person and they are having a bad day, too. That is not a good reason to start a chain reaction and ruin everyone's time. If things don't improve and you really have sound reason to complain, then by all means call me and let me see what I can do about changing your hotel or lodging a complaint or doing whatever is necessary to make things better, but keep your own attitude upbeat and move forward with your plans and your vacation fun. No vacation should ever be ruined by the attitude of one person. You are in control of your vacation, and should refuse to let anyone bring you down.
Some things you might want to consider in light of my adventures. Having a small flashlight is pretty darn handy! I always travel with a small tube of Neosporin + pain relief and I have never needed it before, sure glad I had it with me this time. Bandages of the normal size were easy to find in the hotel gift shop or at farmacias in Colima, what was impossible to find was the larger bandages that will cover bigger wounds. I will add a pack of those to the suitcase from now on. If I don't need them, another traveler may. I had Tylenol Extra Strength in my purse, needed that. I purchased Bengay, spelled Bengue in Mexico, at a farmacia in Colima. Bengue eased the soreness and helped me sleep well my second night at the hotel. Being a little prepared is a good thing and, while I don't recommend taking your entire medicine cabinet from home, having a few things with you can ease you through some rough spots.
Things don't always go as we plan or as we would like, be somewhat prepared and make an active decision on how life's little glitches will affect you. My advice, my very PERSONAL advice, is to keep going and decide things will get better. When my husband called I told him all of the bad things that had happened, and then I told him I was sure the next day would be better. It was!
One of the good things on my trip to Manzanillo was meeting the Travel Editor for Watchboom.com, which is directed toward baby boomers. Please check out Watchboom and look for my blog on shopping in Mexico there. It should be appearing in January, along with the Travel Editor's article on Manzanillo.
As always, please check out Kiva.org.
Until next time,