My friend Maggie floating down the river on our recent “vacation”
photo by Cindy Stieffel Cady

Our youngest daughter called us after work as she walked the streets of Manhattan on her commute home to Brooklyn. It’s generally a great time for us to chat, because she is unhurried, and the background noise of multiple ambulances screaming down the streets of Manhattan on her end does nothing to disturb the zen on our end.

Mike took the call, phone in one hand, scotch in the other. The setting was beautiful. He sat on a couch in open air living area at a delightful villa about an hour and a half from where we left the boat in the marina in Santa Marta, Colombia. Five sailing couples had rented the Casa en la Playa villa through Airbnb, in Palomino, a river/beach town close to the national forest.

The prices in Colombia are amazing and I am not sure why this is not a more popular tourist destination for those looking for a bit of adventure (click here for 21 reasons Colombia should be your next destination). The villa with a pool and a beach in the backyard, cooks who make meals, maid service, 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, cost each couple less than $200 a night. Massages cost $20/hour. Dinner out is $15 a person, with wine. What’s not to like (other than the bugs)?

The day Melissa spoke to Mike, our group of ten had piled into a “Palomino car” (a half broken down safari truck), hiked up a mountain in the national forest, wearing (and sweating in) our life jackets, carrying large inner tubes and a bottle of water. We were rewarded with a few hours floating down the river, our music blaring, our Spanish speaking guides singing “Despacito” with us as we made our way down the river. Our guides had lugged two six packs of beer up the mountain for us, and when we ran out, somehow a man appeared on a beach with a cooler selling more.

Mike described our day to our daughter. We were exhausted from the heat, the hike, the bumpy truck ride, the beer. But we are an enterprising group, and our friend Cindy had foreseen that massages might be necessary at the end of the day, and had made the arrangements for three masseurs to come to the villa upon our return.

“Where’s mom?” Melissa finally asked after talking on the phone with Mike.  Mike described that I was face down on a massage table being smothered and rubbed down with oil (which I have decided may be the best way to celebrate Hanukkah).

“So, it seems that you’re having a vacation from your amazing life on a boat?” Melissa asked with the edge of a proper New Yorker.

“I guess you could put it that way,” Mike told her, without an iota of guilt.

But is there anything wrong with people who are not working a regular job taking a vacation from their every day lives? Is it even possible for someone who is not working to take a vacation?

The Cambridge Dictionary defines vacation as “a period of time to relax or travel for pleasure instead of doing your usual work or school activities.” But I’m not sure that is the best definition. No matter whether you are in school or working or retired, any change from the ordinary can be a vacation. Vacation is about leaving your normal life behind for a short period of time, forgetting about the your household tasks for a time, putting your body and mind in a new state. Whether or not you are working a regular job, getting out of your routine is healthy. Retirees often travel, have new experiences, see the world. Isn’t that what it’s all about, if you are healthy and adventurous enough to do so?

And when your home is a boat despite the fact that you may sail to exotic locations, you have regular work. Our work, which we take quite seriously, is keeping the boat running and afloat- as cruisers like to say, keeping the water out, and the people in. We are constantly monitoring and maintaining the engine, water, electrical, sanitation, rigging, HVAC, bottom growth, refrigeration. We are in a never ending battle to fight the constant corroding effects of salt water and UV rays, both of which are constantly conspiring to dissolve our home. It is true what they say around here, “While you are sleeping, your boat is breaking.” Almost every day is a challenge, and while this life may be an exciting adventure, it is not to be confused with easy.

So yes, we took a “vacation” from our amazing life on a boat, and we are refreshed and energized. No guilt here.  I’ll probably be ready for another one soon.

If You Don’t Work, Can You Take A “Vacation”? was last modified: by

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