Summer holidays are fast approaching. June has hit us, and the talk of the day is inevitably “where will you and your family be going on holiday this year?”
This is when I do my best to opt out of the conversation. Why? Because I’m always the odd one out. The one who cringes when I hear parents ramble on about how travelling with children inevitably means going to places with a swimming pool equipped with slides and surfable waves, amusement parks nearby and preferably a kiddies club to keep their little ones entertained. Oh, and they would NEVER consider going anywhere that involves more than 40 mins in a car without that number one tranquillizer of all times; the Nintendo DS.
I bite my lip, chew my tongue and pray these people don’t want to discuss their travel plans with me. We’re from different planets you see, we’re quite literally a world apart. A distance that is further enhanced as soon as we start getting into details. They stay clear of big cities, I would take my kids with me anywhere I go. They would rather die than spend more than four hours in a car.
“-Kids and cars just don’t match!” one friend declares with such conviction that she has all our other friends convinced within seconds. I on the other hand would rather die than to see my kids glued to a screen in the back seat whilst we’re driving through some beautiful scenery in a foreign place. I feel brave writing this, because I would be an idiot if I didn’t confess to having considered getting one of those magical Nintendos that possess children in a way that could potentially cause them to remain quiet and content for hours upon hours. But at the end of the day I would feel like a failure if I taught my kids that that’s an acceptable way to discover the world. Plus, would they ever forgive me when they reach their own adulthood and realize I bereaved them of the seeing the world when their minds were still uncluttered and innocent?
Furthermore they would never go on a family holiday without having every single hotel booked ahead. I have slept in the boot of the car with mine on several occasions, and we rarely know where we will be spending the following night. Etc, etc… Like I said – we’re alien to each other’s ways.
It’s not that my way is the right way. I get it, they say tomato, I say potato… I understand that travelling can be stressful, and that the added stress of travelling with children can easily throw even the most devoted yogi off her inner balance. However, I do think that maybe there should be a clarifying of terms: THERE ARE HOLIDAY MAKERS AND THERE ARE TRAVELERS. And their paths rarely cross. Neither should we waste time exchanging holiday ideas.Yesterday we talked to someone wanting to go to Marrakech. So they asked us for advice. A hotel with a swimming pool? A tour guide who speaks English so the kids can understand? A safe bet to get the kids to eat? A bullet proof itinerary for exploring the old medina safely? An amusement park!
What could I possibly say to convey the message that her kids (like mine) would probably find it much more exciting to go off and explore the waterfalls “Les Cascades d’Ouzoud” half a day’s drive out of Marrakech? It’s a trek, it means going out of your way on a hot, hot day. But the reward is to jump into a natural pool, play alongside or together with Moroccan kids. This is the real deal – no swimming pool in the world can match it. And where do I start to convince her that a tour guide isn’t really necessary? Or that most of the time we ended up eating in hole-in-the-wall cafés frequented by Moroccan workers, and that more often than not we didn’t really know what had gone in to our tagine, but tasty it was. Or that the medina is indeed a safe place. Or that as far as amusement parks are concerned, there aren’t any. However, the famous botanical gardens of Jardin Majorelle is a great place for the kids to absorb colors and scents they’ve never seen before…
I could go on forever. But instead I will quote the very wise traveler and writer Mark Twain: “The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it”.