So we took a family trip to the Maldives.

Yes, the Maldives. The islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean that are sinking due to global warming and where, just before our trip, they had an itsy-bitsy coup and ousted the president. The coup was fairly pleasant, as far as coups go (although probably not for the president, who now has to live in an ordinary place like the rest of us, instead of in paradise), and life along the atolls seems to have continued more or less as it has before.

Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, Husband and I daydreamed about a trip to the Maldives. We figured it could be his Big Treat for turning fifty (or maybe we call that a consolation prize?), an reward for moving the entire family to the middle of the freaking desert, a second honeymoon…we had all kinds of rationalizations reasons why we should go to the Maldives.

Then reality hit: we have children. And unless we planned to leave them in our apartment for five days with several boxes of Fruit Loops and a few computer games, we were going to have to bring them with us.

My visions of canoodling on deserted beaches and romping in azure water with Husband vanished, replaced by images of me sitting in a sweaty hotel dining room ordering yet another round of chicken nuggets while my children argued about how unfair it was that his portion of french fries was bigger.  My romantic vacation had morphed into…a family trip.

But I couldn’t let go of the dream, so Husband and I scraped together enough frequent flyer miles for four plane tickets, found a resort with a free “kids’ club,” ignored the coup, prayed the ocean waters wouldn’t rise too high too fast, and counted the days until we left.  When I told Liam where we were going, his response demonstrated the deep appreciation for other cultures that he’s developed in our time abroad: please please tell me there aren’t any museums or history that we have to look at?

Lovely. So mature and with such a global curiosity. Sigh.

As we flew towards Maale, where we’d get a speed boat transfer to our hotel, I warned myself not to expect too much. We were traveling with kids and we were staying at a Holiday Inn.  There was no way I was having the glam Maldives vacation I’d dreamed about – but even so, I told myself, I was still going to the Maldives.

Here’s what I discovered when we got to the Holiday Inn. Holiday Inn Kandooma has about as much relation to your highway rest-stop Holiday Inn as I do to Angelina Jolie.  Angelina and I are both women but after that… This Holiday Inn sure wasn’t the Holiday Inn of downtown Dubuque.

We took our shoes off when we got on the boat at the airport and didn’t put them back on until we left.  We seemed to have checked into Holiday Inn, Paradise Division.  My deliberately lowered expectations were crushed: no sweaty dining rooms, no mildewy hotel room, no beach littered with plastic water toys.


 I swear I’ve not fiddled with this picture in any way. That’s just the color (or some of the colors) of the water.  We snorkeled and swam and stared at the water; there were pina coladas for some of us and orange soda for others; there wasn’t a chicken nugget in sight. Bliss.

We might owe a small apology to the canoodling couples sharing the resort, however. Our kids aren’t in the “oh what a cute toddler” stage, and they’re not yet sullen teen-agers content to loll in the sun far away from their parents.  Nope.  Our kids were interested in the fish and other water creatures they could see as they snorkeled off the beach – a great thing, unless you happened to be standing in the tranquil water, deep in a passionate embrace , only to hear:  MOM LOOK A FISH! A BIG BLUE FISH! NO, COME LOOK, IT’S A MANTA RAY, I SAW IT! THAT’S NOT A MANTA RAY, IDIOT, THAT’S A ROCK. IT’S NOT A ROCK, IT’S A RAY. MOM, LOOK, A RAY! IT’S A ROCK, STUPID. IT’S NOT, I SAW IT SWIMMING AND HE SAID I WAS STUPID, MOM.

Yeah. Sorry about that, folks. See what happens when you make the sexy? You end up with children whose loudness escalates with their joy.

It was four days of perfect.

And then it was over. Beach treasures wrapped up for safe-keeping, damp bathing suits wadded into plastic bags to molder in the luggage, feet shoved into unfamiliar shoes.

Maldives. Say it with me: maldeeeevessss.  I think it translates to “you can in fact have a vacation with your children.”

I don’t know if the Maldivian ex-president will be able to return to his country, but I know that we will.