A strange thing happened to my husband and I in 1982 when our New Caledonian family getaway turned into something we hadn’t planned on and saw us, unintentionally, impersonate comic slap-stick clowns from yesteryear. Have you ever been shocked into silence? Have you ever met fellow holiday makers who took you completely out of your comfort zone and into a twilight region you never wanted to visit in the first place?
We lived in Brisbane, Queensland, at the time. Neither our five-year-old daughter or one-year-old son were sleeping through the night. Both my husband and I were exhausted. A friend told us about Club Med in Noumea; a parental nirvana. Hot and cold running babysitters and kid’s clubs all day, every day, was enough to convince us to jump aboard that plane for a seven-day piece of paradise.
Look at my lot, onboard and jetting away on our first overseas holiday — hubby, daughter and son — happy days, happy family and only 2 hours away from … sleep, glorious sleep. Truth be known, hubby and I just needed some rest and some ‘us time’ sans kids.
Our daughter took to the kid’s club like a duck to water and our son was fussed over by locals and staff alike. Up on our fifth floor adjoining rooms, floor walkers and babysitters checked on sleeping babies while parents played volley ball, swam, sun baked or walked on the beach. Initially difficult to get used to, after a few days we’d settled into the rhythm of glorious couple-dom.
We even had kid-free dinners at the on-site, ground floor restaurant where we could meet and mix with other ‘grown-ups’; one couple in particular befriended us. One unforgettable night, our new-found friends invited us to their suite for the view … La-de-dah. Accepted.
Without going into the gory details, let’s just say we were offered more than a night-cap. They wanted to ‘swap’ more than just business cards and family recipes. They wanted to … how do I put this … share in our ‘us’ time; ‘swing’ in our playground!
Now, hubby and I were no innocents abroad and thought of ourselves as quite worldly but, in response and once we found our voices, we both suddenly developed speech impediments. Mine took the form of a cross between turrets and a crazy jaw-drop facial freeze while hubby forgot how to use his inside voice and stuttered swear words, the likes of which turned the air blue. That’s when we apparently decided to mimic and morph into the Keystone Cops.
As sophisticated as all get out we turned ‘as one’ and stumbled over the coffee table completely ruining what should have been a smooth, classy, moral-high-ground exit. This was then outdone by our failed attempt to storm out and slam the door; bloody thing was locked. Nothing destroys a classy, mature storm-out as having to wait for the ‘stormee’ to bring the key for the deadlock.
Our exit may have been a catastrophic fiasco but, hey, our wedding vows remained intact. Just wish we could have saved our dignity as well.
Please know Club Med, Noumea, was in and of itself, fantastic. The kids had a wonderful time and the sight-seeing was fabulous. Visiting a local restaurant all our daughter wanted was a plain ham sandwich. Sandwich here meant a huge, crispy baguette, difficult for a five-year-old missing teeth! More difficult to explain was why some the locals used the gutter as a urinal! All valuable learning experiences for future travels.
The Noumea Club Med business plan was fairly new at the time but took off like wild fire. Brilliant strategy for holidaying families; kids safe and happy; parents relaxed and enjoying their ‘privacy’ for a short time. The offer from this couple really annoyed us because there were specific, bespoke holidays catering, unambiguously and exclusively to their precise needs. Why cast a net in doubtful waters?
Best laid travel plans cannot encompass or foresee all things but trying not to impersonate Keystone Cops slap-stick comics may, or may not, come with maturity and age; obviously, neither being mutually exclusive or inclusive. The Three Stooges may have been a more sophisticated ‘go-to’ option for future reference but we’d rather not repeat the performance.