The Spanish Notebook

Three years ago today, I checked into the resort on Ibiza — Destino Pacha. I went to attend my son’s and now-daughter-in-law’s wedding.

Spain was a very good vacation. One of my best, but I’m not sure it was the best. That might have been Hawaii in 2017.

The Spanish Notebook

Spain, however, was my most unusual vacation. I went alone. To a foreign country with very little grasp of Spanish. I went to attend my son’s destination wedding. I also used the occasion to celebrate my 60th birthday.

I had never traveled alone for a vacation. There have been business trips and solo sojourns in hotel rooms, but never a whole vacation. I was giddy. I was excited. I was scared. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it all. Usually, I had someone to share costs with.

I was alone.

My mother could not attend my son’s wedding due to failing health. It’s a long trip and she was just not up to it. My ex-husband was in the process of being diagnosed with a debilitating disease and was physically incapable of making the trip.

For the Hawaii vacation in 2017, I thought I had pulled out all the stops. I took my mom to places we hadn’t seen since 1970 when we lived there. We had a full list of things to revisit and see again. I made a notebook itinerary with detailed plans, flight schedules, hotel reservations, daily agendas, etc. It was pretty OCD. It saved our butts a few times.

That notebook was so successful that there was no question I would have one for Spain.

The Spanish Notebook ended up being more than 100 pages and was spiral bound for me by a friend. I mapped out everything. I had only two weeks in Spain, and I was determined to do and see as much as possible. The wedding was only going to occupy me for about 2 days before the happy couple went about their honeymoon. (And who wants their mom/mother-in-law on their honeymoon with them?)

I really pulled out all the stops for Spain. I was oddly excited about traveling alone. I had always wanted to do a week at Myrtle Beach by myself. This was Myrtle Beach on steroids.

We were on the island of Ibiza which is a resort area for the young, famous, and rich. The Kardashian clan play there, I’m told. Leonard Di Caprio. And so on.

It is the birthplace of electronic music. It is a mecca for English tourists who swarm the San Ann side of the island. The English go to San Antonio on Ibiza like West Virginians do Myrtle Beach. It’s a joke in England. One that we can perhaps understand.

I stayed at the hotel that was the wedding venue. Destino Pacha is one of a chain of uber-luxury resorts around the world-famous for their nightclubs. Pacha is a big deal in Europe or so I’m told.

I pulled out all the stops and stayed in a suite. Withy a balcony. Covered in bougainvillea. They sent a limo to the airport to pick me up. There was a bottle of champagne waiting for me in the suite.

I scheduled tours and dinner reservations. Snorkeling, hiking, and cliff jumping. Scuba diving too but I flunked that. Couldn’t stand how confining the gear was. That thing in my mouth. I bailed.

I spent an astonishing amount of my retirement account those two weeks. All of it is documented expense by expense in the notebook.

I had maps for cab drivers to make sure we got to where I wanted to go. I had phone numbers and reservation printouts. Name of the concierge. The makeup artist I hired for the wedding. I didn’t fly first class, but everything else was first class. I was treated like a queen. Yes, madam. Good choice, Madam. Right away, Madam.

The only real place I had language trouble was in Madrid. I had an 18-hour layover in Madrid. The cab driver was unfamiliar with my hotel, and I couldn’t make him understand. I just handed him the notebook with the map. I went on a food walking tour. There too the language was a barrier but google translate solved that problem.

By the time I arrived home, the notebook was tattered and obviously well-used. Much like the velveteen rabbit, it had become real.

I encourage notebooks now. I was never a planner, but it ensured my safety and enjoyment for this, the blowout vacation of my life. I will never be able to retire due to the expense, but I enjoyed every second and will have good memories as I toil into old age.

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