Ever gone to work with your shirt on inside out? Or maybe you’ve shouted across a crowd, “Send in the calvary!” when the word is actually cavalry. I’ve done both of these things, and a ton of other nutty slipups, but I’ve never made a bigger mistake than taking a vacation to the wrong destination.
One year ago—this month—I graduated with a master’s degree from OU in professional writing, and as a gift to myself, I booked a trip to a place I’ve wanted to visit for years, Trinidad and Tobago. Sounds grand, yes? YES. Splendid . . . if you get the name of the country right.
And . . . I didn’t. Mah bad.
I screwed the pooch—BIG TIME—and I actually don’t know how I accomplished such a feat. Maybe too many exceptional Saturday nights ate my last brain cell, or possibly a squirrel distracted me during the entire booking process. Who knows? The cause of my failure to get the country’s name right is cryptic, and it doesn’t matter anyway. The bottom line is I accidentally booked a trip to Turks and Caicos instead of Trinidad and Tobago (eye flutter and coy smile with a limp-wristed dismissal of the whole issue).
What can I say? I literally tanned for a week in advance with Coco Beach accelerator, shared conversations about my future trip to Turks and Caicos (which I thought was Trinidad and Tobago), and packed accordingly without a clue. I was ready, yo. Passport in hand. Bikini pressed. Beach bonnet on hit.
And yes, you’re mostly likely wondering WTF? You think that to do such a thing, I’d have to be a dangerous halfwit who needs to be escorted in and out of my own thoughts, but nah. Traveling to the wrong destination is totally possible without having syrup for brains, I assure you. All it takes is a certain level of . . . laziness.
For instance, I didn’t look at a map AT ALL—not once. I knew that Trinidad and Tobago existed somewhere around the Caribbean, and that was good enough for me. I didn’t need to research it. I just needed to book the damn thang. But, because I skipped this normally vital step of research, I wasn’t rewarded with the realization that I was twisting the name of one country with another.
So yeah, I went online and booked a flight using the wrong country’s name—Turks and Caicos. The flight length and and pricing seemed appropriate, so no alarm bells rattled my head when I hit the BUY NOW button. It was actually really easy to mess up.
Lastly, I found a place to stay through AirBnB , and then I was done. I kicked my feet up. Through pure research slothfulness, the finer details of my vacation slipped through my sun-screened fingers. Easy greasy.
And when I landed in paradise a few weeks later with my mom in tow, she was the one who cross-examined our little fiasco.
“This is just so great! I haven’t been on vacation in so long, and the color of this ocean is OUTstanding! Which ocean is it again?” she asked, peering over the balcony at the neon waves, hand shielding the rays.
Her toothy grin reminded me of Christmas morning, which made me happy, but her questions were getting on my last nerve. In the two hours that we’d been there, she’d already asked twice which oceans surrounded us.
“Moooommmm,” I groaned, draping all my weight over the balcony railing. “We’re in the Ca-rib-E-an. We’ve talked about this already a trillion times. Turks and Caicos IS IN THE Caribbean. Sheeze, it’s like groundhog day up in hurr.”
My mom turned her back to the water and shot me stank eye.
“I know, Shelby. You don’t have to be so impatient. You booked everything, so I didn’t look at any maps before we came, and maybe I confuse the Caribbean and the Bahamas. So what? Sue me. It’s not like I committed espionage,” she huffed.
“Melodramatic,” I said.
I exhaled hard and made a beeline for a stack of magazines and maps I saw on the coffee table in the living room, rummaged through them, and found a world map that was zoomed in on the Caribbean. I grabbed it, walked it back out to her, and lightly bounced my index finger right above Venezuela.
“We’re right here mom, we’re right above . . .”
That’s when I saw it, and the puzzle pieces slithered into place. TRINIDAD AND TOBEGO was bolded next to the island that my finger was tapping. But . . . we’d boarded a plane for Turks and Caicos. We’d landed at Turks and Caicos International Airport. And we were sitting in a shit-hot condo in the middle of—Turks and Caicos—all of which I’d made sure happened. The area my finger pointed to was that of another country—one that was, well . . . God knows how far away from where we actually were. Turned out—I had no idea where we were.
“Welllllll . . . shhhhheeeeeeeeeeeee – it,” I said.
“What? What’s wrong?” my mom asked, leaning into my shoulder to get a closer look at the map.
“Um . . . I think we’re in the wrong country,” I said, bringing the map right up under my nose.
And—YES, we sure enough were in the wrong country, but what a beautiful mistake. The next hour was spent looking at our actual location, as well as gulping down pina coladas and wondering if I needed a CT scan.
It definitely takes a specialized dumb dumb to visit the wrong country for a two-week holiday, but alas, I am very talented. I’m writing you right now from an abandoned well I accidentally fell into, but it has cell phone coverage and it’s quiet—so . . . score. I totally meant to hang out here and get some writing done.