Being totally honest, I had been kinda dreading this holiday (see under ‘so much to dooooo!’ and my sudden and totally cowardly paperwork phobia is in full swing and I have to get my ESTA done all over again under my new name; and there was that time I went to fly to Michigan and they claimed to have no record of my ESTA at all and wouldn’t even let me go as far as Amsterdam, which as an EU citizen with a valid ticket and passport, I am totally entitled to do, dammit. Although I did eventually make it all the way to Michigan, after two and a half hours of frantic terror, but still.) Ahem.
Anyway, the run-up to leaving was further complicated by having to cover for a colleague’s hols as well as my own job, and everyone else was off sick, and I had a glandular fever relapse of epic proportions compounded by some sort of stomach bug and still needed at least twelve hours’ sleep a day; so all scheduled schmoozing was cancelled and I shall never be a Success, oh woe. But I could not face the thought of showing up for a holiday on someone else’s shekel with a fever and a staunch refusal to be any fun at all.
However, the Bossman very kindly drove over and picked me up on Friday afternoon, sat me down and made me finish the half bottle of wine I had open while saying, Chill! We are on Holiday now! and drove me all the way to his, with a stop for cocktails and calzone. So that was all nice and laid-back.
Less so the ‘being up at half past four to get to the airport’ part, but they didn’t even ask to see the ESTA at any point. I survived fifteen hours of Nae Fags rather well, though I say it myself, and even enjoyed the nine-hour Atlantic crossing. True, I had planned to spend the whole thing writing like a demon, but with nae fags and someone I don’t know potentially reading over my shoulder as I take all the sex scenes back out of the Space-trilogy of Nonsense… nil points. Although in my defence, they had a bunch of Cult B-sides on the headphones and unending free wine, so, yeah.
I knew it was going to be hot over here, and was even a little disappointed to be leaving the Scottish autumn behind, because the cherry leaves were just turning and the rosehips were looking fantastic (although there is no possible room for any more foraging) and the mornings were all misty. However, we deplaned in a land of deep blue skies and palm trees everywhere and the sensation of having been thrown into a hot bath. I melted into a puddle immediately.
Everything here is subtley off, compared to back home. It looks like you’re driving through familiar countryside, until you realise that what looks like beech outlines is some sort of creeper that covers everything, and there are big white egrets everywhere, stalking about in the ponds by the side of the road and casually landing right in the traffic. Even the grass here is different – the blades are wider and tougher-looking, and I suspect it would shred your bum into a thousand pieces if you sat on it. Which I won’t because I have heard of fire-ants and know nothing whatsoever more about them. Although the Bossman said that the last time he was here, one member of his party would not walk on even the short grass because he was convinced it would be full of snakes.
The Bossman himself cannot pass even a small pond without trying to push me in to check for gators.
We dumped our stuff at the hotel, were given free drinks vouchers (!) and went to a very cold, dark cavern of a Thai place across the road for dinner, where I immediately needed a jumper. On the way home I discovered there’s a beer shop right next to it with a big pile of pumpkins outside, any one of which I could crouch down and hide behind. They have ten thousand types of tea, blue crisps and about thirty different varieties of popcorn and eventually I had to be removed from the shop because I went mad with overstimulation.
The Bossman and I need to reach a compromise on the air-conditioning, also, or I will be discovered encapsulated in ice before this holiday is out.