Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ol' Satchmo Was Right

Two ladies who I know only by sight were sitting in the lunch room during their morning break when I happened to come in to fill up my water bottle. They were looking at pictures of one lady's trip to Mexico or Costa Rica or Cuba (somewhere warm with Spanish-influenced architecture, for the sake of the story, I'm saying Mexico) and she was describing in great detail an area of her resort where there were games. The other lady kept saying 'wow' like she was rehearsing to be the next Sham-Wow sales(wo)man until she finally interjected to say that she'd be too scared to go. Having heard only part of the conversation, I assumed she meant on some ride or zipline or tequila drinking challenge. No, she meant she was too scared to go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico!

The other woman explained that there was a gate at the resort and everyone had to pass through it to get in or out, that you had wristbands so they knew who was a guest where, and that is was totally safe because the locals couldn't get in unless they worked there. "Still," the other lady continued. "I envy your adventurous spirit." She must have repeated this about four times in the space of one minute. Over and over again. Every time she said it, I felt my anger rise a little more and I had to refrain from giving her a lesson in what the definition of what adventurous actually meant. Again, in case you missed the bolded bit above, her friend went to an ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT in Mexico!! As I was leaving the lunch room, trying my best to crush my water bottle through the brute strength of anger alone, the lady who had gone on the trip was talking about the amazing food "especially the burgers!"

I understand that everyone has different levels of comfort, and maybe everyone else's idea of adventure doesn't include buying a samosa through the window of a rusting bus which is being driven by a guy who smells of pot while the bus is stopped in Mombo, Tanzania. I get that, but to consider going to an all-inclusive resort with a freaking gate and everything you need so you never have to leave the resort is not adventurous by any stretch of the definition. It would have been more adventurous (and possibly deadly) to go camping at Sombrio Beach with an open food container.

I felt a lot of anger about the situation because it's obvious this woman believes what the media tells her about how unsafe the world is. After thinking about it though, I just felt incredible sadness for her. She will never know what it feels like to salsa dance with a young Cuban man, or listen to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D- in a darken Gothic church while a bat flies above her, or jump off a dhow into calf-high water and stride towards the beach on Zanzibar with her bag on her head, or to watch one of the great games of soccer ever played on the world's tiniest TV with the receptionist at her Paris hostel, or to strike up a conversation on the S-Bahn with a little German child who wants her to know that he learned the English words 'witch' and 'Halloween' at school that day, or watch a thunderstorm in Venice and cry because she hasn't seen the ocean in five weeks and she's missed it, or to spend a rainy day in Clifton singing songs with a group of locals she's just met because they were also avoiding the rain by sitting in a pub.

It's such a beautiful world out there filled with beautiful people and beautiful experiences. It is a shame that this woman will never see it because her idea of adventure is a gated, all-inclusive resort in Mexico.

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