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Southern dreaming.

2009-09-22 - 12:00 p.m.

Iím on my third week back at work, so what am I doing right now? Why, planning my vacation of course!

Itís not that Iím sick of it here already. This has come up chiefly because I want to book our flights on points, so I have to book as early as possible. In fact, I may have already missed out on being able to book when I want to.

I consider being able to look forward to a vacation is one of the benefits of working. Some might compare this to hitting oneself in the head repeatedly because it feels so good when one stops, but I say that is a pessimistic view of work outside the home. I prefer to think of it as my job allowing me to have a heightened sense of appreciation for spending time with my kids.

It doesnít hurt either that my job allows me to contemplate spending a princely sum on said vacation. A sum that includes programs for both kids to attend so that we can also look forward to some time doing things separate from our kids on this vacation. I know, I know, part of the point is to be able to spend time together, but just as important, in my mind, is for my husband and I to also steal some time for just the two of us, even if itís only an hour or two a day while my kids are being looked after by a capable staff running a well-designed, age-appropriate program.

Our top choice is Beaches Boscobel, which has great reviews and everything included, right up to the giant water park with some gentle slides for the small fry. If all goes to plan Iíll be booking it over my lunch hour today. Iíve discovered that I can book the whole thing through Air Transat using Air Miles, use up all 20K of our miles, plus pay an addition $3K out of pocket, or I can use a paltry 2700 miles per person for the flight and pay the $3K directly to the resort, preserving the lionís share of our miles for flights to, oh, say, the Weetacon. Even looking at cash only, I would save almost 2000 clams by booking the flight and resort directly through the resortís website over going with the same package with Air Transat, which would be insane.

Iíve never been to Jamaica so Iím curious how itíll compare to Cuba. The biggest drawbacks, as far as I can tell, are: the 2-hour bus ride from the airport to the resort, the presence of potential disease which is slightly more prevalent (malaria, for example, is not present in Cuba but has been found in Jamaica), and the less-safe local culture (I havenít heard of tourists getting mugged and/or killed in Cuba but I have in Jamaica Ė not that itís never happened, Iím sure, but I havenít heard of any specific instances). Iím hoping this will all be balanced out by better food, warmer pools*, friendlier staff and the inclusion of a the 0-24 month and 2-4 year programs for kids. I also am curious what itíll be like at a resort with Americans there, since I didnít meet any in Cuba.

* This was the biggest mystery to me in Cuba: how could a place with warm ambient temperatures have pools that are FREEZING COLD?!?! When it warms up to similar temperatures here in the summer for even a week our pool heats up to a more bearable temperature. For pityís sake, the ocean was warmer than the pools!

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