British Indiosyncrasies

IMG_3150For one, everyone drives on the wrong side of the street and the car steering wheel is also on the wrong side. So weird!

In lieu of ‘big’ or ‘fat,’ people say ‘massive.’ So when we got to London, I resorted to calling Keith massive. Or such and such building is massive. The Tate Modern is massive.

They also say ‘loads’ instead of ‘a lot.’ For example, I asked the waiter if he thought we had ordered too much food. He said, we didn’t have loads.

The standard British greeting is “You alright?” Whereas Americans say, “Hi” or “Hey,” they say, “Are you alright?”

Brits are much more civilized than Americans. Way more polite. When the underground train stalled for a few minutes, no one had a conniption. Everyone was very calm and nonplussed. Even the vagrants don’t bother you or ask for change.

This was a very interesting one for me: from what I gather, they don’t call their in-laws ‘mom’ or dad.’ They refer to them by their first name. It would be like Dean calling my parents Rino and Linda. Odd, huh? When I first got engaged, it obviously takes some getting used to, but I can’t imagine Dean or me calling our parents anything other than Mom or Dad. I did catch a friend, once, refer to his in-laws as Mr. and Mrs. X even after several years of having married their daughter, and I thought that was very very odd!

 

 

Roatan, Honduras

Weather here is magnificent. 80-90 degrees. 100% humidity which I don’t seem to mind. Fleeting rain and thunderstorms once or twice a day. Doesn’t bother me if it’s still warm and you can easily dry off. It was unbearably hot the first day we arrived, but it’s either cooled down or I’ve adjusted.

I was concerned before we left. The forecast called for 40-60% chance of rain every day. I was terrified we’d be impacted by Hurricane Isaac. The staff, however, said that Honduras is protected from hurricanes. And the rain hasn’t been a big deal at all. I happen to like the midnight thunder. It’s beautifully electric.

Half-way into our trip now, I’ve developed a heat rash. Happens to me all the time, even the last time I was in NYC I started to develop one. Dermatologists merely recommend hydrocortisone and triamcinolone, but I need a more aggressive plan. I can’t spend my vacations feeling like an over-ripe strawberry.

Driving in Roatan reminds me of other countries I’ve visited in Central America. It’s lush and verdant. Homes are on stilts. Cows are lounging by the road. Pick any resort; it feels like you’re in manicured Hawaii. Cab drivers easily talk on cell phones. Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas are blaring on the radio and discos. I think outside of the United States and Germany, people don’t understand the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle. There’s trash everywhere, with water bottles washing ashore. I saw an old man raking trash by the beach and I wanted to get out of the car and give him a hug to encourage him.

The big negative here that I haven’t experienced elsewhere are the cannibalistic sandflies and mosquitos. They are relentless. I’m coated in DEET and lemon eucalyptus which I’ve found to be an effective natural alternative to chemical bug spray.

Another big negative which you’ll find in all third world countries is negotiating for everything: cabs, water taxis, tours. It just smells of corruption, where the resort personnel refer you to their friend the cab driver who charges even more than what you can find hailing your own damn cab.

Despite the trash and the other negatives I’ve mentioned, this is a beautiful island that’s so easy to get to. Lots of tourists here: London, NYC, LA, South Africa. The sunsets are to-die-for. The beaches are gorgeous. The diving, apparently, ranked pretty highly in the world. And the food is superb, consistently fresh. I was going to ask for my breakfast bacon to be cooked extra crispy, but I refrained. Let these people do their jobs. They know what they’re doing and haven’t disappointed.

10 minutes later, I’m chomping on fried-to-perfection bacon, over-easy eggs, fresh slices of avocado, watermelon, cantaloupe, and sipping fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Career Relief

Wow, that was a long absence. I’ve neglected blogging to focus on my career and financial well-being. Thrilled to report that the weeks of interviewing and hard work yielded the perfect result. I’m extremely happy and feel truly blessed. I would never want to be in the position of looking for a job without being currently employed. For that, I know I’m lucky. On the flip side, constantly interviewing while having a full-time job has been overwhelmingly exhausting. As I mentioned before, I soothed myself by flipping through travel magazines. All is good now and I’ll get back to blogging more soon.

Clueless and On Vacation

I think it’s sad that most people zone out when I talk about the arts. In New York, when I said I was going to the ballet, everyone asked where. Ummm, the Lincoln Center where it always is. Cmon people! When I talked about the galleries, it was like I was speaking in tongues. It’s not just a lack of interest by New Yorkers, this is an American epidemic. Travel is not just about seeing the sites like the Statue of Liberty or Times Square or ice-skating at Rockefeller Center. It ain’t the Golden Gate Bridge or Fisherman’s Wharf or dangling off of the Powell Street cable car. It’s the complete experience which includes local food and wine, the arts, theater, and the sites. Explore, enjoy, experience. Goodness, there is a whole world out there and it’s not about visiting the Eiffel Tower but also taking advantage of what your own locale has to offer. If you spent some time discovering, you will be delighted. Which is why I do not think San Francisco is boring! We have so many new gallery exhibits, a plethora of cutting-edge modern dance, theater beyond what’s playing at the Orpheum, and a shitload of food and wine festivals.

No I do not just take advantage of everything because I happen to be in NYC on vacation. I do that at home too.

Next time someone talks excitedly about a certain event, clue in, and venture out of your Netflix queue. Our own backyard is a vacation!

Money Monday: Airbnb Beginner’s Luck

Our Airbnb transaction went without a hitch this past weekend. So smooth. The renter was completely engaged with emails, text messages. He let me know when he was 30 minutes away from arriving. I love that—responsive, responsible, low risk.

I came home for a leisurely lunch on Friday, read some reports, and waited for his arrival. I did a walk-through, pointed out the brand new linens we had purchased for his stay, showed him the fresh towels and new toiletries, handed him a set of keys, told him where to leave them, and off I went to enjoy the rest of my Friday and weekend.

When we returned on Sunday, the only indication someone had stayed was the tussled bed. He must have brought his own towel because he returned our clean ones to the closet. The place was exactly as we’d left it.

We both left positive recommendations.

Me as the host: Planning and logistics went smoothly. Very easy to communicate with him. Perfect experience for us as a first-time host.

The renter: Lovely home, gracious hosts, and an impeccable location made my stay one of the best SF experiences to date.

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