When speaking seasonally, there is a time of contemplation that arises every year ’bout this time. Despite living off the grid and loving it, we still anticipate the need to leave it for a month or so in the winter. Most winters, anyway. But it is not a respite from living off the grid. Instead, it just a respite from the winter.
It can get a bit dreary and bleak out here in the depths of January or February but, truly, it is a cumulative thing. Dreary starts in November and just adds up. So, in anticipation of that, it is time to plan a temporary remove and nothing prompts us more than the last few days of October.
So, we are currently in contemplation mode. To go south or not to go south – that is the question.
Complicating matters is our changing attitudes towards travel. We have always considered ourselves travelers and, in the earlier years, even adventurers (so long as it was safe and clean with regular showers and a glass of wine at the end of the day, we were game for just about anything…….well, I don’t like too much dirt, heat or bugs either……..but other than that we were like a fat Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. Somewhat. Kinda.).
But that seems to have changed.
Travel doesn’t seem like so much fun anymore. Airports, of course, are a major part of the problem. I have added them to my hate-and-avoid list. And our last trip to El Salvador took an extra bit of stuffing out of us. It was ugly. Usually we find something or someone redeeming on a trip but El Salvador was memorable for having nothing but fear and loathing as a memory.
Age is also a factor. Our way of traveling is, despite the comfort requirements listed above, still hardy-ish requiring lots of local living experiences, hiking and immersion in the ‘real’ culture (or so we think). We don’t do five-star hotels and fancy restaurants. Or three or four-star, for that matter. We take chicken buses. Stay at B&Bs and hostels. Eat in the local cafe. In Thailand, we toured on a scooter amidst the constantly wheeling madding melee – that sort of thing. The point: we are getting on and we have limited endurance for that sort of thing now. And too limited funds for the five-start method. And not much interest in that anyway. (Well, maybe five days or a week of cushy pool-side would be tolerable. We can try anything once.).
So foreign travel is diminishing as an option, I am sorry to say. Not counting the USA, I guess. Technically still foreign soil and definitely prickly and weird in way too many places, the US is also home to many friends and places of genuine interest and fun. I can still enjoy myself in the US but we are talking golf, BBQs and larger-than-life experiences like Mardi Gras, Burning Man, NASCAR and Las Vegas (only one of which we have experienced). The US offers up a constant smorgasbord of huge and bizarre for me but getting ‘down and local’ doesn’t have much appeal. I guess I think I know what it is like to be immersed in local US culture. I live in Canada, after all.
Homeland Security and ‘get-on-the-ground-NOW!’ stormtroopers freak me out a bit but, being old, fat, white and sporting a short-cropped hairstyle exempts me from most of the usual hassle. I look like a retired one of them. I even have a few khaki shirts and, when wearing them, I sometimes sport mirrored aviator sun glasses and call people ‘son’ and say ‘Hoo Rah!’ now and then just to establish a little ‘merican street cred.
……but I digress…………….what to do this winter? It’s a big question. A challenge. But, honestly…………? Isn’t that a great thing in itself? Our biggest challenge is how to spend the winter? Gawd! Even Saudi Arabian princelings have more responsibilities than we do. Isn’t that great? Face it – this is a wonderful dilemma to have. Do we leave paradise just because the lights have dimmed? Or do I just start another deck?