Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Not the Travel Channel, But...

There's something about the end of February that has everyone thinking about vacation travel...people whose furnace has not been used are the exception, of course. Of course, the "I'll travel when I retire" adage is a staple of most folks' bucket lists, but despite books detailing thousands of places to see (books to read, foods to eat) before one dies, most people rarely get off the beaten path...and maybe that's not a bad thing. I've never been to a resort in Central America though I have visited a couple of them in Florida and Thailand. I've seen most of Scandinavia and parts of El Salvador and Cambodia...and most of THIS country (with pockets of exception). Suffice it to say, I've managed to travel more than most, and I'm contemplating a late spring visit to Turkey and Greece. That will be as close as I've gotten to Europe, but there's hopefully more time to do that.
Why travel? The Los Angeles Times had an illuminating article on that subject today, and it made a lot of sense. Of course, there are both pros and cons, so I will try to highlight what I consider to be the more important ones of each.

A recent study indicated that for those planning a vacation, their mood was elevated for eight weeks PRIOR to leaving on the trip. Just planning seems to do it! Of course, when planning with someone else or a group, this can get to be contentious, I suspect.

There is the opportunity to try new cuisine! Some of the local delicacies are far better than similar fare in this country. I don't think I've had a steak better than the ones I had in a small town in the mountains of Mexico...maybe directly from the bull whose head was hung on the wall!

Memories are forever. I can buy a hundred new things, but the thrill soon goes. Memories of a trip remain forever. As my capacity for memories fades, there are the hundreds of candid photos to jog my memory.

The thrill of escapism: Particularly for us, the thrill of riding an elephant through a trackless jungle or kayaking through mangrove swamps gets us about as far away from all the frustrations of "real" life. Even lying on the beach somewhere warm (for 10 minutes) is a fabulous way to free up some nerve endings...tropical drinks help in this scenario as well.

The ride/flight home is almost always a downer. How many times have you said to yourself, "If only I could just STAY here?" And that first day back at work? Don't even come near me!

Food in many second- and third-world countries is often tantalizing but too hard on our delicate digestive systems. Intestinal worms are not much fun. Of course, I only drink beer from a bottle on trips to such places so I figure I'm good there. Alcohol kills anything...just look in the bottom of the tequila bottle if you don't believe that! Once in Thailand, I was attacking a dish that turned out to be a bird...a whole bird. It was not really recognizable as that (someone had ordered for me) until I punctured its eyeball with my fork! No fries to be had, either.

Friends absolutely HATE it when I show them dozens and dozens of photos from a fabulous trip I took while they were working. No matter how much they "ooh" and "ahh," I can just tell by the way they keep looking at their watches that they don't really want to see my photos of Patty petting an elephant while feeding it sugar cane. I'm sure they are all glad I don't have video capability.

Escaping to some random, romantic place is great until you get lost, get sick from something you ate or drank or end up driving away in a tuk tuk or a bus with someone who does not speak any language you know to a destination you're not sure he understood you to say. I've also had the experience of being unable to leave the airport to meet a waiting contact because I did not speak the local language, and the person trying to discuss it with me knew no English. Talking louder just didn't get it. Accommodations that looked swanky in the brochures sometimes end up to be open-air, brick buildings with a squat toilet and no actual window panes. Believe it or not, there are sharpies out there everywhere, and they seem to know innately that I am a tourist (read: someone with money and a lot of gullibility).

Anyway, it beats shoveling four feet of snow out of my driveway!


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