10 April 2013

Normal Vacation Drama

Last night a friend came over and told us about her fabulous vacation to Kenya last week with some other friends of ours. Adam and I listened, jealously, and then he asked, "Yeah, but was there any drama?" She said no way! Everyone had a blast. Adam pressed further, "Really, nothing? Come on. Any normal vacation drama?" Finally she said, "Well maybe our cottage on the beach was a little stuffy." Seriously, that's all you've got for us?

Adam isn't usually one to fish for drama, but I could see where he was going with this. He wanted to hear about someone else's vacation mishaps to dull the memory of being stuck with his wife in sub-zero Belgian weather, pulling suitcases (dripping with beer), down miles of cobblestone streets searching for a place to stay.

Let me back up.

Adam and I left for Belgium last week for a European adventure away from the kids. We coordinated with dear friend Sara Rich to stay in her apartment while she was away on a road trip. Due to a miscommunication, most certainly on our part, when we arrived at her apartment (frozen to the core because we hadn't yet changed from our tropical wardrobe to winter attire) the man-with-the-key to her apartment was nowhere to be found.

As our frost-bitten fingers buzzed his apartment for the 50th time, we started to panic. We couldn't call him because we couldn't find an open shop to buy a SIM card because apparently the Monday after Easter is a really important holiday in Brussels and every. single. shop was closed. We literally had no place to go.

I started to look for a church because don't churches usually leave a door unlocked for the homeless or alcoholics? We finally saw the open door of Falcon Exotic Foods. The shop owner was there to receive a shipment of more "exotic foods" that had just rolled in. We barged in with our suitcases for some warmth and begged to use his cell phone. He said fine, as long as Adam helped unload the truck of...wait for it...bitekuteku that had just arrived from Congo. It's a vegetable, he explained. Yeah we know. If fact, if you Google bitekuteku, guess what comes up first: this.

Thank you Mr. Exotic Foods, but we're familiar with bitekuteku

So there we waited while our 2'x 2' warm space was slowly taken up by bushels of bitekuteku. We opened our suitcases to put on some warm clothes. And found that the Tembo (which is nearly a liter of beer) we had cleverly brought for Sara Rich had broken and soaked everything. It's at this point that we notice that good ole Falcon Exotic Foods also sells Tembo. Perfect.

Guess what, you can find Tembo and Primus and Vital'o and Skol all in Belgium. No need to import your own.

Finally the man-with-the-key called back and said he had left town, but he had a plan for us. His sister had a key to a doctor's office where we could stay for the night until he got back. So off we went again in search of the sister and then the random doctor's office. It was getting dark and those cobblestone streets weren't seeming so quaint anymore.

On the way I convinced myself that since we were off the grid, with literally no phone, internet or bed to sleep in, our children were certainly having parallel allergic reactions. Or asthma attacks. Or too much fun.  So we ducked into a Pakistani internet cafe where I sent a very bizarre, punctuation-less email to Jill to check on the kids.

-Seriously, Europe you need to work on your keyboards. It's no wonder you have so many national holidays. Everyone's exhausted from pressing the Shift key every time they type a period.

The photo Jill sent to confirm my children weren't suffering from alaphylactic shock. 

It's unconfirmed if this doctor had any idea we crashed his/her office and used his/her petite sink to wash out all of our clothes. Or the exam table to dry them. Luckily the office was near a pizza place where we ate the best pizza of our lives. And congratulated each other for not arguing.

Doesn't everyone dream of a European vacation spent hand-washing beer from their clothes.

Doctor's office becomes laundromat.

The next night the man-with-the-key let us in and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Except for the next day when I had to remove myself from the cell phone shop to do some deep breathing exercises because Adam and I couldn't agree on which phone plan to buy. And I may or may not have told him I have more fun on vacations by myself. But that's just normal vacation drama.  


  1. OH MY WORD! You had me laughing so hard! I am so glad you came through alright. I love your blog, even though I don't comment much (or ever)!

  2. Thanks Shannon! We know most people are commenting in their hearts. Haha.

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