My “Fitty-Dollah-A-Day” Sense of Entitlement
January 31, 2009 by rtwsenior
Loro Verde Resort in Puerto Quito, Ecuador:
I´ve just awakened from a long and delightful nap, aided and assisted by a powerful, all-afternoon tropical deluge which has now filled the swimming pools almost to overflowing. Though it has slackened somewhat, it shows no sign of letting up.
I´m settling into the situation a little bit now and getting a better perspective on myself. They are such sweet people here, and after seeing what the actual “normal” standard is for the vicinity, I have to admit that they have created a much higher standard of living here than I, myself, could have pulled off if I were to live in this town. Or, truth be told, than I do most of the time in my own home. I mean, I have to really scurry when I have guest coming, and then I´m still aware of all the flaws and the ordinary things that I put up with when it´s just me that I have to please.
Much about this place IS luxurious, especially the swimming pool complex and this sparkling-floored, open air dining terrace overlooking it. Plus, my fried talapia lunch was large and delicious. And, they did try to ferry me back and forth to the internet, though I mostly wound up walking to town on my own timeframe. Plus, they made the effort this afternoon to recruit Willow, an American, to translate in helping to set up an excursion to a Vapor Rock they want to show me. So, we´ll go this afternoon. Willow and I had a lovely poolside talk in the process. She´s a 24-year old Minnesotian who has lived, off and on, in Ecuador for about two years teaching English. We got into the topic of my writing and the Boomer Generation, my target audience. She laughed when I hauled out my explanation of the “Hippie Generation – the original backpackers” because her parents were genuine hippies and still are, though their seven children now prevent any free-form traveling life these days.
I´ve just had another interesting conversation with Nora, an Ecuadorian lady next door to me, who has recently bought a farm with ancient growth trees, planning to turn it into an eco-lodge. So, undeniably, the Human Factor is an enormous influence on one´s impression of a place and upon one´s willingness to just go along, forgiving any perceived flaw or short-coming.
In the last resort, it all comes down to perceived value for the money. A $10 per day hostel is expected to be a little soft around the edges, though in today´s competitive, review-posting, internet-recruiting generation, they are all forced to offer so many freebies, like breakfast and wifi, 24-hour check-in, internet, TV, and even in some cases, airport pickup.
In Quito, I was getting quite a bit for my $13 per day private room (complete with endless hot water) and my daily costs were no more than $25 – $30. So, to treat myself to a $50 place is a splurge that I can only do for a few days per month, as I did last in Cartagena. That place delivered an elegance that I considered well worth it, though it only offered breakfast and the burning Citronella was a necessary pain. So, indubitably, price affects expectations and one can get pretty picky if they don´t seem to measure up.
Just now, Willow has been back to find out what I want for supper and we´ve had another long chat. I passed on to her my newly-finished and much-loved book, The Shack, (more about that in the next post). We are really enjoying knowing each other. I explained to her about the water leaks in the bathroom and she told Alejandro when he came just now to spray for mosquitos. That way, they can catch the problem before damage is done.
As I work my way down to Puerto Maldonado, a jungle river community in Peru, where I will visit my son´s boyhood friend, now a priest with a small Family of Jesus Brotherhood – all monks living very simply among the natives (or so I imagine) I sometimes wonder what Chris/Father Isaac would think of my spoiled rantings about petty details, such as are filling my blogs now. “What´s she going to think of the lodges that Puerto Maldonado has to offer?”
That´s a valid question and it leads to one about why I travel in the first place. Is it to find luxury or is it to “experience life as it is lived elsewhere?” The answer is neither. At Super Seventy, I´m finally old enough to tell the truth. I´m not trying to be noble here. I´m just trying to get by. Plus, I have learned that a certain basic amount of bottom-line comfort IS available in most of the locations I´m going for, with the respectable amount of cash that I have. If I have to put up with less and still pay, well then, I might get miffed about the fact that my hair is getting itchy and my legs are prickly because I can´t stand a cold shower and you can´t do those things in a hot tub.
That´s all I´m sayin´here!