Two were in their very late 60’s…..
The rest of us six, were and still are in our 70’s with one of those – the birthday boy that very evening – turning 81. A very ‘boyish’ 81, I have to add. That is 8 really old people having a dinner party. The meal was spectacular, the wine flowed freely and so did the conversation. It was all good. I think. My hearing is a bit off and I had forgotten my hearing aid so I am not totally sure. Still, one does not have to be able to hear while drinking wine and so I was doin’ just fine for most of the evening.
Two of the people are summer folk and are leaving soon. They are headed back to the big city. She’s keen to find a level sidewalk and a Starbucks. He’d prefer to be here. But his biggest thrill is going to the university library he visits frequently and we do not have much in the way of libraries out here. All our books are still in the trees.
Boyish 81 and his wife are also summer folk but they are ‘hangin’ in a bit longer this Fall. They may even try on a bit of living some part of the winter OTG. Given that ‘home’ is Ontario, winter here is considered snow-birding to them.
And that is the theme for today’s blog……snowbirding is getting harder and harder. (Is it just me or is travel overall getting harder and harder?) Of course, the hardest part of snowbirding/traveling is the cost of it and the logistics. Ya just don’t teleport to Costa Rica, ya know? If we set aside the cost (so easy to say) you are still and increasingly challenged (as you age) by the logistics of it all. Throw in a pandemic, vaxx-passports and the price of gasoline and the snowbird flocks are staying at home in droves (that HAS to be a redundancy, right?).
We did. We stayed home. A flock of two who drove nowhere! Last winter was tentatively planned as a getaway year. The previous one was the obligatory one-year-in-four we spend at home and so we were ready for a getaway. Very ready. Three years out of four, we usually go to where the sun DOES shine. But last year was Covid year one. This is Covid year two. We be stayin’ put again this winter.
I am basically OK with that but, I must admit, I do not like having my options limited. I like having choice (you know? Like in voting?). Choice makes me think I have some control in my life, silly as that may sound. But, honestly, I have very little control and I know it. Not a lot of choice either.
Firstly, I am inclined to ‘listen’ to travel advisories and they are generally always bleak. “Don’t travel to San Lopez without first getting the series of twenty four inoculations against the hundreds of deadly diseases they have there!”
Secondly, I tend to look on-line for vacation ‘deals’ and, increasingly, dirt poor countries like the fictional San Lopez seem to now rent out out mud-hut haciendas with no running water for US$250.00 a night. Globalization first means greed and unrealistic expectations – you know? The American Dream!
Thirdly, there is the gauntlet that is now the average airport. Hours of torment and hell followed by fatigue, disappointment and lost luggage. Maybe a little Montezuma? The hurdle required to get off the ground is so daunting I do not even want to attempt it anymore. Levitation is for the birds!
The countries we generally visited in the past were usually ‘poor’ in the sense that the average person there earned much less than we did. So….we went there to exploit them! (but, of course, we are ‘nice’ about it, eh?). The problem is that 1st world capitalism has been embraced by all three worlds (only three?) and so some historically poor countries now operate on a psuedo-first world basis. They charge what the market will bear and double that for tourists – triple that if they are white tourists. And their original culture is now basically just for the tourists. More and more of their genuine, real-life, very-different culture is being replaced by McDonalds, Nike and Coca Cola and, of course, cell-phone culture-madness.
It is patronizing, condescending and likely racist of me but I kinda liked the third-world countries of yesteryear that still employed beasts of burden, wore traditional garb and their economy was really just the public market place complete with live chickens and baskets of eels for sale. I was in China in the early 80’s and it was water buffaloes, mud-huts, open sewage and collective farms. People got around on tractor-pulled hay wagons. It was virtually medieval.
Today, only forty or so years later, I might be run over in China by a Tesla, a Rolls Royce or Ferrari. Or all three at the same time! And I am likely now amongst the poorest in the new giant marble and glass shopping mall they just opened…..
Travel is starting to lose it’s appeal…….