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God Bless America Because Europe's Overrated
by Belinda Z. Silva

Part One:

At a family gathering my cousin, Sue, approached our table, interrupted the conversation at hand, and enthusiastically asked, “Hey Jane, want to go to Europe? Angie is putting together a trip to Rome and Athens.” “I’ll have to think about it, call me with more information.” I had never visited Rome and Athens and thought the experience might be quite adventurous. I turned to my husband and courageously uttered, “Wouldn’t it be romantic dear, Rome and Athens, want to go?” He rolled his eyes up into his head as if in need of an exorcism, turned to me, and slowly replied, “Hell No, you go.” Nothing more said, I angrily marched towards Sue and alleged that I would be going to Europe.

The following Monday, Angie, the tour coordinator, emailed me information for the European escapade. I emailed her back asking her how much this trip would cost. She didn’t have the exact amount at hand but managed to give me an estimate of $2,000.00. “I’ll email you later with the exact cost for the trip,apostrophe she responded. I thought, “$2,000.00 that seems pretty reasonable for ten days in Rome and Athens.apostrophe Thirty minutes later Angie emailed the exact price for the trip. She declared that she had slightly miscalculated the cost, and that the final amount would be around $4,000.00. “Slightly miscalculatedapostrophe, I responded. She explained that the $4,000.00 could be made in installments throughout the year. Paying the trip in installments didn’t sound bad, so I told Angie to count me in. She quickly emailed all the needed forms and applications; I filled out the applications and emailed them right back. Once the forms were received, Angie immediately stated, “Great, all you need to do is send a $500.00 nonrefundable deposit to finalize the contract.apostrophe The check went out the next day. June 14th was the day of departure, and I was excited. Little did I know that the adventure from hell had now begun.

Once a payment plan had been set and the cost of voyage was being taken care of, I started to question what one wore in Rome and Athens. It was recommended that one should try not to look like a tourist. Rome is known as one of the designer capitals of the world. I was under the impression that I needed to be stylish and beautiful. After all, we were in the land of Gucci, Prada, and Sophia Loren. Therefore, throughout the year, I went out and bought about $5,000.00 worth of outfits, plus $480.00 worth of “Gold’sapostrophe Gymapostrophe membership fee, $900.00 for Botox, $1,500.00 hair and spa costs, and about $500.00 of other needed travel accessories. Total cost of trip before even leaving the United States was now over $12,000.00. I was obsessed with this trip and kept on telling myself it was all worth it.

About three weeks before our departure, Angie called to inform us that the departure location had changed from San Antonio to Houston, TX. We were not happy about the switch. She exclaimed that there was nothing she could do about, because, the modification was done by the tour company. Sue, Abby, and I talked it over and decided to pitch in around $33.33 for gas, but who was going to take the car? How were we getting to Houston? If one of us took a car, we would have to pay airport parking fees, and they usually run from $5.00 to $10.00 per day. We were going to be gone for ten days that would be an extra $50.00 to $100.00 dollars added to our expenditures. The only things to do was eat crow and ask one of the husbands to drive us to Houston. Oh no, “Houston we have a problem.apostrophe None of us wanted to ask our spouses for a ride. All three of them were not happy about us going to Europe without them, so we came up with a fair plan. We were all to meet at Sue’s house and pick straws. The one with the long straw would be the first to ask her hubby. Abby was the lucky lady who had to ask her husband Sam for a ride, and he graciously agreed to drive us to Houston. He was dropping us off and driving straight back to San Antonio that same evening. Because Abby had an SUV we decided to pitch in $66.66 instead of $33.33 for gas. Yep, one more unexpected expenditure. The number 666 and an extra 6 for gas got Sue thinking? She’s one of those holy rollers who thinks everything is some sort of sign from God, and she quietly asked, “Isn’t that the symbolic number for SATAN?apostrophe “Don’t be silly Sue,apostrophe stated Abby. “We’re all independent, brave women, say three “Our Fathersapostrophe and “Hail Mariesapostrophe before we take off.apostrophe

About the author:

Belinda Silva is a native Texan and resides in San Antonio, TX with her husband of thirty four years David. She’s presently a sixth grade teacher with one of the San Antonio school districts and enjoys to travel, because she believes it makes a better teacher.