The Vacation that Transformed My Life

May 6, 2011
It is three o’clock in the afternoon. The sun is blazing through the colossal, wooden blinds. A sting from the heat seems to be getting worse every second. Mowed grass has a distinct smell that fills the air. Boats buzz on the lake. Lying on the floor is a huge, pink suitcase that is jam-packed with odd items. Sitting next to it is a petite, brown-haired girl. That girl is me, April Friese. My friends say I am sarcastic and very girly. I worship shopping and getting expensive things from people. My favorite designers are Prada and Gucci. Poor people are the thing I dislike most. They got themselves in their situation. Why should it be my problem?

I’m packing for a month-long trip to Europe. We are going on a three day Mediterranean cruise. Grandma Rosie and Grandpa Harold are also going. Both of them are in their seventies. They have graying hair and are no longer the fastest or most fit of people. The happy couple want to celebrate their fabulous fiftieth wedding anniversary in Europe. Another reason we are going is for my brother, Franklin’s, graduation. He is seventeen years old. If you imagined a tall, blonde-haired, blue eyed, surfer-type guy then you would have a replica of him. Franklin is going to fly to Europe later than us. My only wish was that he was going on the same plane as us because I feel extremely safe with him, but he is not. I’m thirteen years old. I guess I can handle it.

“April, a voice yells from upstairs. It is my grandma. She is saying, “Hurry Darling, we are going to be late,” in her rushed, archaic voice. I zip up my suitcase and hope I do not forget anything.

When I get upstairs I notice everything seems frantic. A faint smell of bacon fills the air. Everyone is running around and going in and out of the house. I hear the smack of a car door. Next thing I know I am sitting in my grandma’s light blue van. The ride is about an hour long. To pass the time I do the last of my texting. My parents are not allowing me to bring my new cellphone across seas because they are afraid I will lose it.

After the time passes I notice I see a horse with its eyes lit up. Immediately, I know that this symbolizes that we are at the Denver International Airport. My mom, Allyssa, is driving. She pulls into the huge, grey parking garage. Once parked we all file out of the van. The garage smells musty and like an ash tray. Trying to ignore the unpleasant stench is difficult. I help get the five suitcases out, which helps take my mind off the smell. Grandma and Grandpa each agreed to pull one suitcase along. This leaves three of them for me. Normally, I would give my grandparents attitude but I decide to be helpful. Being helpful is awful. Why am I doing it? Whatever, my mom and little brother, Chase, bid us farewell with tears in their eyes. We then walk away with hesitation.

As the automatic doors slide open with a screech we see individuals of all sizes and races rushing around. We slowly and in awe lumber to the United check-in, give them our bags, and acquire our tickets to Barcelona, Spain.

Another next step in a seemingly boring process is security. As a newcomer to the airport system it seems extremely scary. People I do not know are getting patted down by creepy people in repulsive, blue uniforms. Oh my! A thought suddenly comes to me. What if these people are terrorists! All of the color fades from my skin. This is challenging to do because of my fake tan. I now realize my greatest fear. I am so far into my own little world thinking about the worst possible situation that I do not realize that we are loading the airplane. This makes my severe fright of planes worse. I immediately begin hyperventilating. People around me try and sooth me, but it does not work. My grandma decides to try and comfort me. She hands me two large, colorless sleeping pills. I swallow them down with a large gulp of water. I’m guessing it works because as soon as I get to my seat and quit moving I am dead asleep.

Later, I wake up and my head is on Grandma’s shoulder. I sit up and grab a small mirror. My caked on make-up is smeared down my face. I turn to my grandma with a look of confusion. I say, “How much longer till we land?” She replies quietly, “About three minutes because you slept for eleven hours.” Let’s just say this makes my day. The happiness of us getting ready to land takes the fear right out of me. I want to stand up and do a happy dance, but the flight attendant tells me no. Within several minutes the plane finally lands with a thud. The female flight attendant’s scratchy, aggravating voice booms over the speakers saying, “Bienvenido a Barcelona, España.” This jolts my first case of excitement.

We are now being herded out of the plane like sheep and onto a machine. I have never seen this kind of thing before. It has about fifty seats in it and poles in several places to hold onto. People from three flights are packed onto this. Many of us have to stand. I am guessing this is a European thing because I have never seen these in America.

Suddenly, it starts moving with a jerk. We are now in the direction of the actual airport instead of the middle of the runway.

With a chug the odd machine comes to a halt at the airport doors. Everyone on the plane files out. Grandma, Grandpa, and I go to the baggage claim. Here, we wait for our suitcases. It seems like an hour or two have passed when finally, the black conveyor belt starts moving with a tremble.

Luckily, the first five suitcases out are ours. We seize them and go outside to wait for a taxi. As we glance around cars are driving extremely fast and crazy. It makes me think how lucky we are to have the driving laws enacted in the United States. I am positive there is a lot more accidents here than where I live.
In order to get to our destination we must find someone who knows the location we have to go to. It takes a while, but we eventually find someone. Several minutes later we are in the small, purple vehicle. We are all packed extremely close together. The short, stubby cab driver has a long black beard and speaks very little English. We give him the paper that says the address of our hotel.
As we drive to the hotel the sights are remarkable. We are going faster than eighty miles per hour in the city. It is nerve-wracking. It takes twenty long, grueling minutes to get there. Once we get into the hotel we all fall onto the beds like feathers. We all have major exhaustion from the time change.

Several hours later we are awaken by a knock. I slowly open the door. It makes a screeching sound. My heart jumps once I see who is standing there. It is Franklin! Now, I think, my vacation really begins.

Everyone gets up slowly. We all get decent looking and call another cab. As he pulls up we notice he looks like a major creep. He is bald with large eyes. The black makeup around them make him look as evil as the devil. We pile into the vehicle hesitantly. He takes us to the port without incident.
When we arrive, we see our cruise ship, The Norwegian Gem. As a young girl from the landlocked state of Pennsylvania this is quite a site. The ship is much larger than any building I have ever seen. It has pink, blue, and red gems painted on the side of it. The rest of it is a beautiful, regal white.

Several hours pass before we load onto the ship. Once aboard we explore the many rooms we are allowed into. The ship has a rock climbing wall toward the stern. It is extremely tall and consists of many colors. Franklin and I climb up it several times. As you climb you feel like you are hanging over the ocean. Our Aunt Victoria also meets us on the ship. She climbs up the wall several times.

Once we are able to get into our room we decide it is decent sized for three days. It has a balcony with two, ghost white chairs. If you sit on them and look out all you see is ocean. Looking down where the water meets the ship we see monstrous waves. It is very stunning. The sky is a very light, baby blue color. It is met in the horizon by a darker blue color. Once night time comes we all go to bed. In the morning we hear the sound of ship horns blaring. Right now, I know we are at our first stop on the trip, Naples, Italy.

All of us quickly dress and gather the things we need for exploring. Once we have everything we rush to the lower decks. Here, they are allowing people to get off of the boat. The short, Philippine guy letting us off the boat impatiently yells, “Do not be late. We will leave you!” We walk out of the doors thinking alright.

The site of Naples is beautiful. I love the wonderful building structures here. None of them are anything like the buildings in the states. I can only imagine what it looks like in other areas. Suddenly, I see horse drawn carriages. Franklin and I run over to one. We beg the elders if we can explore this way. They agree it would be fun. We load onto the cart and tell the man and lady to bring us to Pompeii. All I know at this time is that it is a city that was destroyed a long time ago. I have one word for this… Boring!

About thirty minutes later we arrive at the ancient city. We hesitantly walk to the town entrance. I see a small, fragile man pleading for money. He comes up and asks me. I reply, “Go away! You are disgusting!”

As we begin to explore around the large area we discover a lot of history. The real truth hits me. People died here because of a volcano. It had buried them. The things I see at this exact moment are things once buried under lava. There are bodies that were seemingly frozen. Where is this volcano that caused this?

All at once, I look up and my mouth drops. I see a stream of smoke go into the air. A bright, red substance shoots up into the air and falls to the ground. More of this substance begins flowing out of the side of the volcano. The shock of seeing this freezes me in place. My feet seem to be glued to the ground. I stand here with mass chaos going on around me.

Suddenly, someone grabs my hand. It is Franklin! He is with everyone else. We all run at full speed toward a taxi speeding away. The cab driver sees us and with sincere compassion stops. All of us jump in the cab. The man speeds away as fast as he possibly can. I turn around and notice black plumes of smoke covering the ancient city I was just admiring. All the beauty is being destroyed. It is like history is repeating itself. At this moment, my heart drops. I know people are dying. I feel disappointed that people did not know this was going to happen. I also feel regret that I cannot save others.

Reality comes back to me. I am racing for my life and all I am thinking about is others. At this moment I know my life is going to be different. The selfishness is gone. I care about others and can care less about myself.

As I look up, I see the Norwegian Gem in the distance. Several hundred feet behind us I see a fast moving track of lava. It is burning everything in its path. The beautiful structures I admired not long ago are going up in smoke. The man must also see this sight it because he steps on the gas as hard as he can. Within seconds we are at the port of Naples once again. All of us file out of the taxi and fly onto the cruise ship’s walking plank. They are taking as many people as possible. We are almost in, when suddenly, we notice the plank moving. It is pulling back into the ship. Hope is fading for others and I realize it.

All of us that get in and completely fall to the ground with dismay. Impulses get the best of us and we slowly turn around and watch the oncoming lava. The ship starts moving with a jerk. I look towards the land and notice frantic people. They no longer have hope. Some are jumping into the water. Others are running straight into the lava so that they can end their misery. Then, the door slams closed. I see nothing more.

One thing I know at this moment is that I am a very lucky girl. I want to help others and be a good person. We go to our room and sit on the beds in a state of shock. All we talk about the rest of the cruise is things we can do to help people affected by disasters. Not once do we get off the cruise between Pompeii and the Barcelona drop-off.

Once the ship docks at our final destination of Barcelona we get off. We are greeted by a frenzy of paparazzi that are asking us questions about the volcano. Right then, our family looks at each other and we all know what to say. We tell the story of our experience and a new foundation we are going to fund. It is called “The South Foundation.” We give the news an address to broadcast on TV for people to see that wanted to help. Then we get on the plane back to the United States.

The plane ride home is much more difficult. None of us can sleep because we are haunted by the thoughts and memories of the awful event that we had just experienced. Once we get home we realize it was all worth it. The first thing we do is go to the mail box because we notice it is overflowing with stuff. When we get over there we realize what it is. It is donations. We all grab the stuff and walk up to the house. Laying here is more mail.

We bring it all inside and open it. All in all our new foundation receives ten million dollars in donations. It also receives more than three thousand acres in America and Europe to build shelters on.

All in all everything is changed. The world is also because it has lost several hundreds of people. However, it has gained a sign of safety in two regions. Also, we are changed from selfish people to people who care. I would not trade this for anything. I love my life now. Actually, all of us do.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback