Conventional wisdom and the omen of the old man rinsing his dentures in the terminal bathroom told me: the allure of travel sometimes gets dulled by reality. The last few days have been a bit of a kick in the... stomach.
First, Aylin and Emilio picked up a stomach bug that had 'em salvo pukin' non-stop for about a day. Our consolation: there are worse places to get stuck than our Cousin Irina's and her husband David's lovely beachfront apartment in De Pannes, Belgium. Deniz and I took turns watching the kids, so we didn't completely miss out.
Second, we got dealt a you-just-can't-win day. The day after picking up our car in Calais, and once the kids were feeling 100 percent better, we decided to venture into downtown Brussels and attempt to revisit the Grand Place and the Manneken Pis - hold the rain this time, s'il vous plait. The sky looked clear as we sat in some traffic and looked for parking. As if on cue, the drizzle began the second we got out of the car. Google Maps decided to lock up on my iPhone. I knew we were so close to the Grand Place, but without knowing which direction to go, and in the rain, it seemed so far. Our rain plan of hitting the Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles (the Museum of the City of Brussels), where the kids enjoyed seeing the Manneken Pis's wardrobe, including an Ecuadorian outfit, would have been perfect until we walked out.
After carefully carrying the stroller down the few stairs from the museum entrance, I proceeded to take what must have been a spectacular, cartoon-like, slip-on-a-banana-peel, ass plant. With stroller in hands. With Emilio in stroller. Not pretty. I lost enough cool points to make it mathematically impossible to recover. Ever.
With the same urgency one might help a fallen senior citizen, onlookers rushed to my aid, as I lay flat on my back with the stroller on top of me in a small pool of rain and shame. With my backside soaked from my waist to my ankles, my immediate thought: Emilio! Apart from being a little rattled, he was fine. Somehow I managed to maintain positive control throughout the tumble.
Beyond Emilio being good to go, the weather held up enough for us to get a family portrait with a backdrop featuring the photographically elusive, 310-foot steeple of the Town Hall Building in the Grand Place. If anyone cares to point out that we missed the five-foot archangel Michael slaying the devil at the very top of the steeple... Following the day we had, we'd like to politely say, "Oh, shut up."
We also got a better shot of the kids with the Manneken Pis.
Third, I had my own maladies to contend with - beyond licking my emotional wounds from the embarrassing fall, of course. I picked up a bug that took me out of service for a day and a half, forcing us to cancel a day trip to Antwerp. This bug featured some great sneezing episodes, one of which rattled my frame just enough to pull my lower back something fierce.
There was one big epiphany (or selective, self-serving rationalization) for me in all of this: If I'm having these health issues and mobility challenges now at 41, can you imagine me at 60? What a mess! Better to scratch this travel business off the bucket list now while I'm still, literally, able to.
Of note: this epiphany applies only to me, as I know some 60 year olds that would run circles around me.