Volcanic Eruptions in Portugal
Lisbon, Portugal, was city #1 on the Halverson’s sixteen-day spring vacation, which also included stays in Madrid, Spain; Barcelona, Spain; Lyon, France; and London, England.
It’s amazing, the raw power with which a small boy’s stomach can eject contents that displease it. And three boys’ tummies erupting in unison, well, it staggers the mind to just contemplate that. Sadly, we lived it in the days leading up to our trip thanks, most likely, to an ill-considered pre-trip feast of cockles, winkles, welks, and crab sandwiches. Or maybe it was the penguin egg.
Regardless of the cause, though, we faced a dilemma: When the day arrived for us to board our train to London, we still had two four-year-old thrower-uppers. Was it right to put them through two days of travel to reach Lisbon, city #1 on the trip? But what was the alternative, to skip the entire fully-booked and greatly anticipated 16-day trip because of a few hard first days? We couldn’t easily chop those first few days from the trip because our flights all connected city-to-city, to get to Barcelona, we had to be in Madrid, and son on; we’d lose a lot of money in buying new plane tickets and not using old ones. What would you do?
We decided to go . . . with our pockets bulging with plastic freezer bags and our backpacks filled with spare clothes.
Not that either did me any good when the most unfortunate eruption came the next day as we flew into Lisbon’s airport. We’d weathered the train trip to London pretty well, very well, actually. The boys were exhausted and just slumped against our shoulders the entire ride, which had to be the easiest 3.5 hour-train ride I’ve had with them. The boys had also slumped in the same manner during the 1 hour, 40 minute tube ride to our hotel next to Heathrow after the train. Heck, when we got to the hotel, we just carried their limp bodies in and dropped them into bed for a solid night’s sleep. Easy, peasy. No wonder some parents give their kids cold medicine before a plane ride. By the time we boarded our flight to Lisbon the next morning, they were all three still sluggish and refused to eat but we had just one boy with potential eruptions in him.
The thing is, one is enough to do serious damage.
My son had been so perky and happy through the flight that I was caught off guard. Worse, my survival backpack was far up in the plane under Grandma’s seat, so I had nothing with which to defend myself and the neighboring passengers when the volcano blew. Not even a measly tissue. Still, I almost pulled it off. My son gave me warning, allowing me time enough to grab an air sickness bag and hold it open under his chin. Great save, Mom! I thought as he filled the bag. But then I blew it: I fell for the lull between eruptions. My pulling the bag away to seal it up left him unprotected when the next heave came, forcing the, uh, lava to fill his lap and the seat around him. He started shrieking hysterically. In shock, I grabbed wildly at the various tissues behind held out to me by neighbors. Bad move, Mom! The tissues were utterly ineffective, and in grabbing at them, I dropped and spilled the entire bag of ‘lava’ onto the aisle floor. As if on cue, the plane halted its taxi-ing and everyone rose to squeeze down that aisle.
So, sound like a flight you want to be on?
It really was a bummer. We’d come so close to making it through the whole flight without incident. With lava all over the floor, I had nothing for it but to toss someone’s newspaper down to save folks’ shoes and then usher my dripping, crying child through the plane and to the nearest bathroom to clean him up. I felt so bad for him. At least it was the last time he erupted on the trip. We got him and his brothers to the hotel in Lisbon without a couple of hours and they took a solid, snore-filled three-hour nap.
For better or worse, we were now officially on vacation.