Now on the plane from NAP > CDG. Some vacations seem to last 1 or 2 days too long. This feels like that to me. For me, much of the reason surely is that I am simply not used to sharing space and time with so many people for so long. I am so long in my own comfortable life, where I make my own selfish decisions without regard for others’, that being part of a consensus-based group for 10 days represents a big change. Where to stay, where and when to have dinner, elegant or simple, taxi or walk, tourist sites or relax in a cafe, et al. Also, because I organized the trip, I feel responsible that everyone must have as much fun as possible given the amount of money we are spending and how much vacation time we are burning. But it was a great trip overall. I am lucky to be able to have time with such great friends and with my sisters. But as these things go, we at some point understand that vacations must end and we start yearning for our routines. I am pretty sure that none of us is dying to get back to work, but we are looking forward I think to our own beds and our homes and routines and families and friends. And me to my dog. I have now been to Amalfi and Capri 4 times. It seems enough. The beauty of the area is amazing, but there are other beautiful places which are less familiar to me. I may even consider another bike trip at some point. But then I also still want to hike the Appalachian Trail and ride the Continental Divide trail. And canoe the boundary waters and, and, and…..Plenty of interesting things yet to do. I have another camper to build and also want to start a birch strip canoe soon. Maybe another boat soon after. Not sure what is driving all this hand-craft activity. Maybe just that as I am less mobile and more settled it is just a natural next step in the pursuit of creative endeavors.
Carla, Shannon and Terri are on the same plane from NAP > ROM > ATL, and then they diverge. I am going from NAP > CDG > JFK > CMH. I should be home by around 5:00 or so and I think Terri and Shannon come through around 8:30 or 9:00. Their cars are at my house so I will see them before they go. I will likely drive across to the farm early Tuesday morning to pick up Mandela. I am missing the little dog.
Delta ‘we’re not happy til you’re not happy’ has done it again. My flight to JFK was delayed by two hours and so I went from an expected arrival at home of 4:30 to 10:35pm. I am now re-routed through Detroit and will be home (assuming I can make my connection in DTW) around 6:35pm. Who knows if the baggage will make it. I got an alert that two hours after I changed my flight that my luggage had been put on the JFK flight anyway. I checked 3 bags; two of mine and one each for Shannon and Terri. So will see how that drama unfolds. Fortunately, heading home, no one should be too pressed to have to have their suitcase although my meds are packed in mine. It seems that it has been many trips since I have been on a Delta international flight that has not had a hitch of some sort.
It seems to me that in the past 20 years, as mass mobility has been commonplace, many of the stereotypes of different cultures has evolved. American’s are no longer the only obese people on the planet, food portions in European restaurants now largely match US restaurants (as we can attest to on this trip), and we now know definitely that American’s are not the only belligerent travelers. But this morning, at CDG, I got in a very long line for coffee and a pastry. The lady in front of me was American and was traveling with her teenage daughter and 2 younger sons and husband. I know this because she told me and everyone else around—recapping their tours and activities in London and Paris and were now heading home to California. Orange County to be specific. She had enormous fake tits which matched her outsized volume and cadence of nonsense. But it was her ordering that really set her apart from the rest of the people in line. She ordered 3 coffee drinks, all specialty with varying types of syrups, differing amount of shots of syrup and espresso shots and all with different milks. She had a difficult time accepting they had no almond milk so was forced to settle for soy in one of the drinks, but only after a painfully long and bemusing negotiation about milk options. She also ordered 4 muffins, a chocolate croissant, a regular croissant (heated), two sandwiches (heated) and various chips, sodas and waters. She hauled off her purchases on 3 trays and held the counter position for around 15 minutes while the poor lady struggled under the order. Technically, there is nothing wrong with needing to feed your family. But it was her manner and demeanor that made me sort of dislike her. And also just the reality that we were being forced to wait for her massive order when we all just wanted a coffee and maybe a danish. A VERY small transgression but one that tweaked me—which is to say it is my problem, not hers. I just really dislike traveling anymore. It is both a blessing and a curse to have so many friends spread far and wide around the globe. For it means that if I want to go see them I need to get on an airplane and put up with sleeplessness, security checks and nonsense, delays, bad food, pissed off people (or overly enthusiastic happy people) and the general emotional exhaustion of modern day international air travel.
But also in this line of thinking, I notice many people just travel differently and have different expectations. When I go somewhere, I for the most part accept the customs, foods, sights, smells, sounds and ambiance of the place I am visiting. But some people make an exceptional effort to bend the will of the place they are visiting to meet their customs and expectations. Europeans in general don’t use much ice in their drinks—but many Americans simply cannot accept this and torture the servers and waiters to come up with more and more ice to satisfy the American taste sensation of extravagant exaggeration of all senses to the extreme. Same with food—I notice people trying to make specialty food orders to try to change the local dish to the Americanized version they are used to. All these are very minor issues and of course they are not even real issues—just my vision of the world is different and I am especially cranky right now. And this also comes from a guy who throws a fit when he can’t get a decent martini on a Friday night even if I am in a bush camp in the middle of an African desert. So there.
Photos of trip in ‘Meandering‘ section.