Aunt Alice in Arabia – 75 Day Holiday

March 8, 1990

Remember planning last year’s summer holiday?  We teachers have the lavish leisure of a 75-day paid summer holiday. But wait!  Like swamp lots sold in Florida or some property in India, such a lengthy holiday may be a golden time to destroy one’s finances and wreck one’s nerves.

Staying home in the Gulf isn’t my first choice. My friends leave town and there aren’t any movies playing at wide-screen theatres.  Bicycling, jogging, camping or Hashing don’t seem inviting.

One summer I spent a month on the French Riviera. The franc was nine to a dollar. Last year? Six.  The Riviera was too dear last year.

Greece is always cheap but too hot in the summer. I delayed my childhood dream-trip down the Nile River for January when it’s cooler and less crowded.

Horseback riding in Wales? Not for 75 days.  A few weeks Eurorail passing then, a non-Paris, non-Riviera French university for a month learning French, then August with my Canadian college friend?  Eurorail passing alone while under 30 is much more thrilling then when over 30.  Grenoble was horrid one summer. August is okay, but what about June and July?

I couldn’t stay with my Midwestern family. My 80 year-old father keeps his state-of-the-art communication center attuned to the Chicago police’s radio band, varying it with fire station calls.  My sisters squire their offspring around suburbia, too busy to marvel over my desert sand dune and camels photos and tales of Arabian days and nights.

The cheap solution was computer summer school in America, then the August visit with my friend whom I hadn’t seen for 14 years.

She had just moved with her husband and year old baby to Vancouver, Canada and had filled up her new three-bedroom home with some of her husband’s movie friends.  We tried out-story telling each other, stayed up late with Tequila sunrises, went way pass introductions into confidences and renewed that stimulating intellectual joy of great minds meeting and agreeing.

Not too exciting?  The question is, on a 75-day vacation, just how much excitement can an ex-patriate take?