All Inclusive Resorts, Once In A Lifetime Experiences And Pink Tutus – Travel Notes

The key to life (the Universe, and everything) is to have low expectations.

Don’t expect good coffee, and you won’t be disappointed [but may be pleasantly surprised on an occasion].
Don’t expect good weather, and every sun ray is a blessing.
Don’t expect help from people, and be blown away by their generosity every time.

I think there is a fine line between cynicism and entitlement.

One particular (yes, male)¬†server in cafeteria has been pointedly saying hello to me at every single meal. “Hello, beautiful lady!”. He comes over to my table, making sure to remind me. Completely understandable, given how quickly a typical woman forgets that she indeed is beautiful. Today he comments on my dress, reaching out to touch my upper arm. I move away instinctively, and he stops himself. Strangers are not supposed to touch you during an interaction – that’s a very North American assumption, an expectation soaked in cultural mores that are driven by geography, nothing else.

What makes for a good vacation experience? Is good weather necessary? More sex than you get at home? Not having to cook? Not having to work? Not having to wake up with an alarm?

What if you are unaffected by weather, you love to cook, your sex life is pretty great, and you love your job, and do not use an alarm? What makes for a good vacation experience then?

I am usually turned off by the escapist notes of most packaged vacations and getaways. It has not always been like that – but the more I travel, the more I appreciate the stark contrast of cotton candy Lalaland sold to tourists against the actual reality of travel. The packaged vacations look and taste like cotton candy too – they are just pink and sweet. No substance. Not soul food.

tutuIt’s like seeing a 24-year old computer programmer dude dance the night away at Burning Man, wearing a pink tutu and high as a kite on “playa special” – a personalized blend of designer drugs. Homophobic by nature, he would not be caught dead wearing a tutu anywhere else, yet here the accepted norms are different, and so he wears it without risking his own heteronormativity, because everyone else is. Tutu is the business casual of the playa. You can imagine what dress down Fridays may look like. Ultimate conformity. At least you could vary the color of the tutu.

It is perhaps the inauthenticity of it all, that gets to me. The poster advertising a tour to the local ocean world, where one can swim with the dolphins proclaims “once in a life experience”. Yet it is not true. Observing a lunar eclipse that happens every 100 years is once in a lifetime experience if you are lucky enough to be around. The captive dolphins, tame as therapy dogs, are the reality of every marine “paradise”. In this alternate universe, you can buy “once in a lifetime” for $99.

This is the sentiment that any diamond ad will try to sell you as well. Of course, you can buy love. The bigger the diamond, the bigger the love. Ah, the power of the marketplace.

I often sound cynical, although I am far from it.

I simply enjoy observing things and understanding them as they are, rather than the way they are presented. Yet, because the default expectation is to be lied to, calling things by their actual names seems radical. Cynical. Negative.

I don’t mean to mess with your bliss, or anything. The Matrix is powerful. The steak tastes oh-so-real, and the blue pill is hard to swallow.

Dance away in pink tutus, my friends. I may even join you, to try and feel like I belong. Just once.


posted: May 11, 2016