Jus’ keepin’ it real………..
Guest left Friday. It was a good visit. Really good. Guests arrive today. Inlaws. They’re good too. Should be all good. Woofers called. They wanted in, too. Turned them down. “Sorry, no room at the inn!”
Tís the season. August.
It’s funny, really. All guests are good. Some ‘gooder’ than others but they are all good. Really. But there definitely is a way to be a guest. And it is different from what you’d think. In fact, it is different from what I would have thought prior to being a ‘remote-host’.
Visiting off the grid means a shift-in-thinking, kinda, including but not limited to packing light and properly, bringing special personal requirements and, well…………..the list could go on forever.
Visiting off-the-grid properly requires an awareness of what living off-the-grid means (generating your own electricity, etc.) and who really has that? ‘Cept for others who live off the grid and they are rarely the ones who visit overnight.
Off-the-grid visiting is like going to a different culture of sorts and guests regularly (like any foreigner visiting a different culture) put their foot in it. Let me give you an example:
We know that when guests come they have to catch ferries and make connections and so we anticipate that and make scheduling commitments to accommodate. From advance shopping-in-town (one full day) to laundry and cleaning and baking and arranging for kayaks, we usually have a list of things to do to get ready (not unusual for hosts but, out here, a much greater logistical challenge). ‘Course we can’t always anticipate correctly but we really want to. Guests simply don’t know that there is so much preparation, planning and organizing.
One loved family member made two promises to come and each time decided at the last minute NOT to do it. Which is fine. Life happens. But a bit irritating after having made two unnecessary trips to town in anticipation. She didn’t know. Still doesn’t. Probably never will.
Another comes out and says casually just before Sal was about to serve a giant Paella made from gathered-from-the-wild, “Oh, seafood? I never eat seafood. Or white bread. Got gluten-free tofu?”
Usually it is a much smaller, trifling matter. If a guest is arriving by the 12:30 ferry then it is to be expected that they will end up at the ‘pick up’ point one hour later. And so it is arranged. I leave a half hour in advance. I am now incommunicado. But should they decide to stop for lunch or ‘sight-see’ along the way there is no way to let us know and so we sit at the end of the road waiting. Not knowing. Worrying. There is no phone service. There is no way to ‘call Sal and let her know’ because – even if she knows, she can’t tell me. Something as simple as stopping for lunch can be inconsiderate.
And so it goes. Some guests leave the lights on. Some leave the shower fan on. Some try and download movies. None of those things work-like-at-home out here and the repercussions of simply ‘not knowing’ can be annoying at the very least. Download a long You-tube and the satellite service may shut down for a 24 hour period. That kind of thing.
“Why not just give everyone a set of rules?”
Well, that is officious and mildly impolite to them. Not our style. We try to keep it to nothing more than a couple of suggestions as a rule. “Feel free to take a shower. If you hear the pump come on, don’t worry. If you hear the pump come on twice, you are in big trouble!” . Some guests ‘get it’ right from the start and behave better than I do (well, in a social context, they all behave better than I do.) But I am talking ‘off-the-grid’ behaviours here. Some are really great, they even take their garbage home with them!
Truth is: there are no easy answers to this. Some of the people most loved are complete doofuses once they leave the norms of the city. Hint #1: do not wear flip flops when going off-the-grid up the BC coast. But they are still friends, they are still worth it and their visit is still to be cherished.
OK, I have to buy a new kayak paddle to replace the lost one, I have to sit at the end of the road while they wander the back roads of the neighbouring island, I have to run the generator set twice as much…….but………….well, it’s OK.
Really. It’s good.