So I have a real-life friend (SHUT IT. I DO.) whom I've known for a pretty long-ish time. She's known me since before we had babies, since before this blog was the crowning achievement of my life's work, since back when I wore terrifically large and misguided flower pins. She may or may not have played a central part in the Very Last Time I Was Allowed To Play a Board Game With Other People. Although thinking back to that last one, some of my aggression may have had to do with JELUSY, as my friend has a pretty awesome job working PR and marketing for hotels, namely resorts. Beautiful, tropical resorts that she gets to visit and see firsthand. Plus, she's way prettier than I am.
ANYWAY. Right before Thanksgiving, she sent me a message on Facebook: Hey Amy, do you want to go to Jamaica?
I messaged back something jackassy like UH, HELL YES. DURR.
Her reply: Great! Do the boys have their passports? They'd like to send you pretty much right away.
Me: Wait. You were serious?
At that point, I admit I slammed on the breaks, because WHOA. WHAT. I get super-nervous about this sort of thing: there's always the inevitable wank-y fallout, as people grumble over who does and does not merit getting Free Stuff, plus what were "they" expecting from me, as I'm not a travel writer or...or...well, anything other than someone who writes funny stories about dumb stuff but certainly takes this dumb stuff fairly seriously, and my dumb stuff is not for sale! You keep your free stuff out of my dumb stuff! And that's a POLICY.
Turns out that "they" were a local DC family who own a cluster of villas in one of the more far-flung areas of the island -- a fishing village that has only had phone lines since the late 1990s, a village that they are passionate about providing opportunities for, either through employment or helping to provide early childhood education. They also cater to families, providing full-time nannies and such during your stay. My friend asked the owner, after visiting with her husband and baby boy, if they'd thought about reaching out to a mommyblogger. The owner said sure, did she know any?
And the moral of the story is: Wait until your friends are too drunk to remember anything before you backhand them across the face over a game of Cranium.
So the deal was, for full disclosure: We pay for airfare and staff gratuities. Bluefields provides the lodging and meals for a week. I bring my laptop and post during the trip, but only about things I want to post about, would usually post about, and no expectation that I'm there to be some bloggy travel-brochure for them.
I continued to hem and haw about it until late December, when I looked around at my little family, my stressed-out and overworked husband, Noah, who has never seen anything more exciting than the beach in his own home state and begs to go to the airport for fun, and Ezra, who I would not want to leave for a week of vacation but who admittedly makes it hard to enjoy a vacation that involves diapers and naps and water safety all by ourselves. I finally thought: Screw it. Screw everything. Let's go on a damn VACATION.
All that stood between us and paradise were passports. Jason's had expired, and neither of the boys had one. And we'd stupidly neglected to ever order Ezra's official birth certificate. This is a problem, for my fellow travel neophytes. And Dear Lord in Heaven: Do not ever attempt to get passports at the last minute, even if everyone assures you that three or four weeks is not technically last minute. We paid a fooldamn fortune to get all three passports expedited, spent an entire Saturday in a quest for an open passport office and then waited in a Line Of The Damned, and very nearly purposely abandoned a child or two at Fed Ex Kinkos in our attempt to get photos taken. (Seriously, though: Ezra looked away from the camera in the first two shots the guy tried, as he is A BABY, and the guy SLAMMED THE CAMERA DOWN on a nearby counter and walked away with his hands over his hard while saying, "THAT'S IT, I'M DONE." Oh...okay?)
In the end, we got everything gathered and out and applied for. And Noah's and Jason's passports arrived after two weeks or so. We assumed Ezra's would arrive the next day. Or the day after that? Shit. Where is it? With DAYS to go, we started calling, and kept getting the same message: It's processing. Finally: It's been shipped.
More days go by.
The U.S. Postal Service: Uh. We dunno. Weird.
You guys, as of YESTERDAY, we still did not have Ezra's passport. You have never, ever seen a more hysterical person. Than me. Every night I laid awake, wide awake, panicking over something I had less than zero control over, because you can yell at people on the phone all you want but that isn't going to make anyone head out and start searching postal trucks for lost express envelopes for you.
(Whenever I did get to sleep, I kept having the same nightmare over and over again, involving these giant alien robots from Neptune invading earth, while I was trapped in this constant scenario of needing to hide while in a room full of hundreds of people who I KNEW would soon be...shot? eaten? stepped on?...but I knew if I could just find a closed space and not move, I might just make it. But then I was always stuck with these two other people, one of whom always failed to grasp the gravity of the GIANT ALIEN ROBOTS FROM NEPTUNE SITUATION and would do something stupid like forget to close a set of vertical blinds or start spinning around in an chair or answer his phone right when the robots showed up, and at this point I would finally wake myself up because I was that terrified, so I have no idea if my plan to hide under office furniture was indeed the correct way to deal with giant alien robots from Neptune.)
Ezra's passport arrived today. We leave tomorrow morning.
(Please don't hate me. Much.)