Adequate Accommodations

“I can always sleep in my rain jacket,” my husband Peter announced.

Vacationing in rental homes is usually a bit of an adventure. We don’t need luxurious digs, and instead look for apartments offering a hefty discount if we stay for a full month.

We did this three years ago in Pamplona, Spain. The apartment required climbing six flights of stairs, but it had a great view of the city—because we were right in the center of it. Only at night did this become a problem, as we discovered that the residents of Pamplona didn’t have dinner until 9 o’clock and really didn’t get going until midnight. It was loud. There was drunken singing and bottle-smashing and hollering seven nights a week. Miraculously, the streets were swept clean by morning. The next night, it began all over again.

“Let’s stay a little more out of the way next year,” Peter suggested.

The next year we stayed in a little village in Spain. The apartment was described as “cozy,” which every Realtor everywhere will tell you is code for “tiny,” but it was historic and on a quiet street and we were only two people. How bad could it be?

It turns out that, several hundred years earlier, this apartment had provided very adequate accommodations for cows—who were quite a bit shorter than Peter. Peter spent the entire month ducking his head as he went from room to room and, inevitably, missing a few times. The bathroom was located up a very narrow and impossibly steep flight of stairs. Peter started taking a hiking pole with him to the bathroom at night for security. I would hear “Tap! Tap! Tap!” and know Peter was beginning his harrowing ascent to the bathroom.

“Let’s get a little bigger place next year,” Peter suggested.

The next year’s trip did not happen, but this year we are staying in the mountains of Mexico and got an especially terrific discount—because we rented it a year in advance, at the height of the pandemic, hoping things would work out. We thought others might join us but no one did, so Peter and I are rattling around in an enormous three-story home—like pennies in a jar. We’d booked it because the location is ideal and the pictures were lovely, showing little gas fireplaces in every room.

When we arrived, we were told how to turn on the television and the Wi-Fi, but no mention was made of the charming gas fireplaces.

“How do we light these?” I asked the property manager.

“You don’t,” he said. “If you are cold, there are extra blankets.”

Before I had time to ask anything further, he left. For the first few days, this didn’t seem as if it was going to be a problem. Then it got cold—not below freezing, but fairly close.

That’s when Peter’s rain jacket came out.

I was already in bed, wearing a puffer jacket when Peter donned his bright green jacket, hopped into bed, and turned off the lights.

“I wonder how many people have slept in their rain jacket?” Peter wondered aloud.

“Oh, I imagine the folks who climb Mount Everest and camp on the North Pole do. It’s an elite crowd,” I assured him.

Peter started to laugh, and his jacket made crinkling noises as he did.

“We came here to escape the cold, as I recall,” he said.

And we did. But, more than that, we came to do something new, to see another part of the world, and to experience life in a different way.

And we are.

Till next time,

Carrie Classon’s memoir is called “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.