Hear ye, hear ye! I’m calling for your most memorable vacation stories!
They can be funny, grand, or poignant. Not just an image, a summary, or vague memory, but an anecdote or full-fledged story. Not the entire vacation, but a slice of it. From 300 to 700 words.
Slice of life. Zoom in on special moment, hour, or day that you’ll always remember and love to tell others.
Considering this is a blog that celebrates imagination, muse about the role of imagination in your story—even if it’s just the creative way you tell the tale.
Submit your narrative via email to email@example.com by November 1. I’ll share several on the blog starting in February. Include a relevant picture or two!
This isn’t a contest—unless I get 100 entries and have to narrow it down. I just thought it be fun to hear YOUR stories for a change. And share them with other readers.
Don’t be shy . . . you can include a pseudonym if you want. (But please send me your real name, too.)
To get you going, I’ll share about the time Tim and I went to Belize, Central America for two weeks in 1988. That was BK—Before Kids. We had no itinerary—only plane tickets and backpacks.
The Price of a Story
Tim and I peeled backpacks off our sweaty backs and eased them onto the concrete restaurant floor. Flies and mosquitoes congregated at our table until a swoosh of the hand dispersed them–but only for ten seconds. We looked for a menu to no avail. The waitress finally took note of us and sauntered over, along with more flies.
Expressionless, she stood at our table, weight casually shifted to one leg, pencil poised. Upon receiving no greeting or request for our order, we assumed that her stance was the greeting and request.
“What do you have?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes as if we should have known better, shifted weight to the other foot, and paused. “Um, she began, taking a long trek into her memory. “We have eggs. Uh . . . we have . . . toast . . . juice . . .”
We decided on eggs and toast and juice.
This was 9:00am in July on the coast of southern Belize, already sweltering. No breezes this morning from the Caribbean. Perfectly stagnant. Tim and I discussed our day’s plans as we waited for breakfast. Mind you, we were the only customers.
Several minutes passed and we wondered if the cook had gotten our order yet. In the states, you joke about having to butcher the cow when the meat order takes too long. In Belize it was no joke. Fifteen minutes later the cook walked in the door with a bag of eggs. Did she have to find the chickens first?
When the food finally arrived, it was less than mediocre. But they didn’t skimp on the bill: eight American dollars! So we may have gotten cheated out of a decent breakfast, but like many vacation events–especially in third world countries–what you’re really paying for is a story.
This was especially true when earlier in the week we had gone to Caye Caulker to snorkel.
Since we had pre-paid for our hotel for that night in Belize City and had made plans to meet friends to drive south at 5:00 the next morning, we needed to get back to the mainland from the Caye that evening.
Faulty assumption number one: there are regularly-scheduled boats back to Belize City on the hour, or at least one every evening. Actual truth: an official boat only leaves the island once a day, at 6:30am.
After snorkeling all afternoon, then searching over an hour for someone who might be headed back, one bronze native, Damien, in swimming trunks, trotted over. “I’ll take you to the city, no problem, man. For eighty U.S. dollars.”
It had cost us only twelve dollars to get out there. Thus began our first bargaining experience.
“Twenty dollars,” Tim said.
“Twenty!” exclaimed Damien. “That breaks my heart. Eighty is a good deal. It beats going to Caye Chapel and flying or waiting until morning.”
“Twenty,” Tim repeated.
“Okay, seventy U.S. then,” Damien countered.
“Twenty-five,” said Tim. “And no higher.”
“Aw, I can’t do that, man.”
Tim started walking away down the beach.
In panic mode, I said to Tim, “But we have to get back today!”
My concern wasn’t lost on Damien. He stood, arms crossed, smiling wider. For the first time in our married life, Tim was surely fighting the urge to smack me.
Tim repeated, “Twenty-five.”
With an impish grin and hand on his heart, Damien said, “You’re breakin’ my heart, man.”
“Thirty-five, then,” said Tim.
“Oh!” Damien said with another grasp at his chest. “You’re hurtin’ my little heart, man. It’s just killin’ my little heart.” And again he pointed out the benefits of his offer.
They finally agreed on fifty U.S. dollars (twenty-five Belize) and we headed across the sea for a harrowing one hour, fifteen-mile trip back in a twenty-horsepower rowboat that Damien christened, “To Hell and Back.”
Damien was a Creole (combination of Island Indian and Mexican); thin, lanky, grizzle-chinned, and light-skinned. His first mate Oswald was a Carib (combination of Island Indian and African): short and dark, hair tucked under a beret-type cap.
Imagine a boat like this (with a small engine) . . . with four people in it . . .
. . . out in the middle of this . . .
Did I say this was a one hour, fifteen-mile trip? In a rowboat! No life preservers, either.
With the boat revved as fast as possible, we went full blast into the climax of our fifty-dollar mistake. The boat bounced and slapped the waves between flights, drenching us with a continuous saltwater downpour. Our eyes stung. Wooden seats bowed with each landing, ready to snap.
Half a dozen times Damien stopped to curse and pull seaweed out of the motor. Both Damien and Oswald chatted and laughed between bumps, speaking Creole to each other and English to us. I could just imagine what they were saying to each other in Creole about the stupid, desperate Americans.
We were safely delivered to the dock at our hotel, drenched but smiling.
Belize City never looked so good after our terrifying ride.
Tim handed Damien the money, one painstaking bill at a time. “Man,” Tim said, “this is hurtin’ my little heart.”
Who in his right mind would pay fifty dollars for a ride dubbed “To Hell and Back”? Not us, no sir. What we bought was a story.
Do you have a story you “bought” while on vacation? If so, send it to me!
Here’s what to do:
1. Write up your story/anecdote, 300 to 700 words. Think . . . slice of life. No summaries. Zoom in. Whatever the memory, think imaginatively. Be funny, grand, or poignant. You choose.
2. Email your tale to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by November 1. Include a relevant picture or two! Let me know if you want to use a pseudonym.
I will edit stories as needed, and post them on the blog throughout February or March.
Any questions about what or how to submit? Ask me below.
I’d love to hear from you!
10 thoughts on “The Price of a Story—-Calling for Your Most Memorable Vacation Experiences”
Oh my! That story tops all! I am NOT an adventurer at all. You are courageous. Or naive? No, that sounds critical.
But I am pretty certain I don’t want to go to a third world country and ride on the open ocean. At least the boat was to He** and BACK!
More naive than courageous, no doubt. But that “rowboat on the ocean” element wasn’t part of the plan. I don’t need those kinds of adventures anymore! I prefer safe little road trips to see friends and visit towns in the good ole USA.
Sounds like a great assignment. I have just the story–not quite as adventurous as yours, though. Ah, those moments when we let our panic get the best of us…. But you got back safely. I have a feeling I would have been leaning over the side of that boat losing the costly breakfast–although I guess with as crazy as he was driving, that probably would have resulted in another dip in the water, head first. Like you said, the price of a story!
Thanks for always encouraging our creative sides! Love it.
Yes, I’m surprised I wasn’t sick on that ride. And that we didn’t go flying off the boat!
I look forward to reading your vacation submission!