Thursday Trios Challenge: 19 August 2021

Self loves this challenge. It is so much fun to look through her archives for trios.

Thank you to the host, Mama Cormier!

In July, self decided to Airbnb in Carmel for a few days. On all her drives around California, she somehow failed to hit up this place, which was one of the first places her Dear Departed Dad took her to when she was a wee little girl. We were on our first family vacation from the Philippines, and Dad decided to make of it a road trip. Somehow, he had always harbored a secret fantasy of having his entire family engage in that quintessential American family activity: the road trip. So he bundled all five of us kids and Dearest Mum on a plane, and rented a car after we landed in San Francisco, and took us on a road trip that included: Carmel, Las Vegas, and La Jolla. Oh, and Highway 1, which we drove all the way from San Francisco to La Jolla.

Anyhoo, last month, self decided to Airbnb in Carmel, and her host had a most interesting apartment, filled with original artwork, weights, records and turntables, hefty art books, and guitars (in case any of the guests wished to break out in song?). Here’s his guitar collection:

Self’s host was extremely cryptic. She notified him that she was vacating, and leaving the key in the apartment per his instructions, and got this response:

  • I am just down the coast a little, enjoying the vanlife.

She thought and thought about an appropriate response, and finally came up with: Have an excellent vanlife!

Stay cool, dear blog readers. Stay cool.

“Are you sure you don’t want to just stay at the Sheraton?”

Yes, yes, stay at the Sheraton! self wants to scream at Amanda Lindhout.

Because, even though Ayelet Tsabari, in The Art of Leaving, takes a lot of risks, Amanda Lindhout’s risks are to the nth, on a whole other level. For instance, going to Bangladesh, where she knows no one. She really wants to go to India, but the flight to Bangladesh is cheap. So off she goes to Bangladesh.

On the flight over, she chats with “a middle-aged German guy” who says he goes to Dhaka all the time on business. While self’s insides are screaming “Watch out!” this man is met at the airport by a driver in an air-conditioned white mini-van and Amanda accepts a ride in his car. Considering that she is staying “at a twelve-dollar-a-night hotel” she’d picked out of Lonely Planet, Martin tells her that the ride would take “three hours and the driver would overcharge” by “virtue of” her white skin and gender. It turns out this Martin is a godsend, because he directs his driver to take her to her hotel, and when she gets out of the car he says, “Are you sure you don’t want to just stay at the Sheraton?” and she says “No, no, this is good!” Martin, bless his heart, presses a business card into her hand and says, “All right, then, call if you need anything.” And Amanda is immediately swarmed (which has happened to self: in the city of Taxco, Mexico, but at least there she had a companion, her Stanford roommate Sachiko; and also in some city in Himachal Pradesh whose name she completely forgets, and again in almost every other Indian city she landed in with the exception of Dharamsala, where she made the wise choice to stay in an inn inside a military cantonment)

From the moment Amanda alights from the German’s minivan, “every head on the street seemed suddenly to swivel” in her direction, and a man dogs her heels saying, over and over, “English? Hello? Hello, hello, hello?”

And yet this is nothing compared to what happens when she checks into her twelve-dollar-a-night Lonely Planet recommended hotel, and gets the third degree:

“For you?”

“For me.”

“Where is your husband?”

“I don’t have a husband.”

The man tilted his head. “Then where is your father?”

A House in the Sky, p. 46

Bless Amanda for being so bold. She refuses to lie. In India, because of self’s great age, and the fact that her itinerary included just temples — temples in the mountains, temples in the middle of a forest, temples whether Hindu or Buddhist or Punjabi — people just assumed she was dying and didn’t hassle her too much. Also, they assumed self was poor because she had no guide, and was always using public transportation.

Actually, it wasn’t just ordinary Indians who thought self was dying. Her friends, too, asked: “Are you sick?”

Wanting to go to Dharamsala means you are sick? Okay, then! Whatever works!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Amanda Lindhout, Backpacker

Amanda Lindhout makes enough money as a cocktail waitress to fund her first international trip: she and her boyfriend, Jamie, settle on Caracas, Venezuela, because flights to there from Calgary were cheap. Their only guide is a used copy of Lonely Planet (Really, she and her boyfriend sound so American, self almost titled this post Amanda Lindhout, American Backpacker. But they’re Canadian. Who knew Canadians could be so American, just sayin’)

Nothing bad happened to them in South America! This was probably the worst:

In our first weeks in Venezuela, Jamie and I walked miles, strapped sweatily into our backpacks, looking for low-interest money changers and two-star posadas that had morphed abruptly into massage parlors or motorcycle repair shops. We waited at a roadside bus stop in the withering heat only to learn hours later, bickering and thoroughly sunburned, that the Tuesday-afternoon bus to Caripe was now a Friday-morning bus.

A House in the Sky, p. 31

Lindhout reminds self so much of Ayelet Tsabari in The Art of Leaving. She has the same adventurous spirit. Think what might have happened if Lindhout had never gone to Somalia. Could she perhaps have written a travel book?

There were points in Tsabari’s memoir where self found herself getting really frustrated, because of the almost total disregard Tsabari had for her personal safety. She very well could have ended up like Amanda Lindhout, kidnapped for ransom. That she didn’t almost seems like sheer, dumb luck.

Here’s another passage on the further adventures of Lindhout in South America — can anything top this? It made her brave. Brave or foolhardy.

We pitched our yellow two-person tent in the backyard of a budget hotel for a week, striking a deal with the manager to use the bathrooms, paying under half the regular room rate. With the money we saved, we ate shark sandwiches and drank cheap rum at lunchtime.

A House in the Sky, p. 33

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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