Vacations have always been a time for relaxation – freedom from school, work, pressure and troubles. After answering the familial holiday student quiz (How’s school? When do you graduate? What are you going to do with your life, you sorry sack of…) and partaking in gluttonous feasts and gift-giving, most normal kids head for the slopes during Winter Break. But my kin and I are weird. Overcoming a lingering Christmas Day flu, I, along with 31 family members, attempted to forget my troubles in sunny Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo (100 miles north of Acapulco).

The trip was riddled with hang-ups from the get-go. Once at the airport in Ontario I realized two important details: Checking large groups together is a major CF (cluster fuck for the layman), and for non-passport holders like myself, a birth certificate is needed when leaving the country by air. A middle-aged woman named Moe made it perfectly clear that my forgetful cousin and I weren’t getting on the plane. Moe gave us tickets for the next flight (two days later) and reminded us that losing them would be equivalent to losing a $50 bill outside of a bank and asking the teller for a new one – “You just can’t do it,” she said. The analogy didn’t work, but Moe wasn’t the kind of woman you want to argue with for too long on her own turf, so we left dejected, and came back two days later prepared.

But we weren’t