Life’s a bitch..and then you die!
Heaven knows that the lifestyle of a Cantankerous Old Coot isn’t easy. It might seem glamorous and all but fame and fortune don’t come without a price. And then there is actually living up to the title. You have to be on your toes every minute, With all those messages urging you to take the well-worn path of ordinary, charting your own course through life takes determined and dogged commitment. You have to fight the urges to just settle for what everybody else does and do something special. Travel is no exception.
Travel these days means cruises. You can’t avoid the commercials showing happy people eating or playing on cruise ships. It’s like water torture except with pretty pictures. It is so hard to resist. What’s not to like? Lots of food in exotic locals while you are safely isolated from any of the harsh realities of actually visiting a foreign country, trying to understand a foreign language and deal with a foreign culture. You are quarantined in luxurious digs surrounded by shlubs just like you. And you have a crew whose job is to make sure you are happy while you float through alien cultures without ever having to engage. And did I mention the food?
OK, I confess that this Coot has never been on a cruise. I have been tempted by the commercials just like everyone else. I feel the call of all that fun, all that service and the promise of 24 hour food service. Even a committed Coot finds it difficult to resist the Siren call of the seven day cruise to paradise. In spite of everything, however, this Coot is still a cruise virgin and it’s not so much from my own inner strength as from that of my wife who has an overwhelming fear of any endeavor designed to make her happy. Logic tells her that the parties involved are either very sick or have some ulterior motive.
I think this probably comes from exposure to the Love Boat TV show back in the day but that is just my guess. I’ve invested a life-time in trying to understand my wife and I am still a long way from mastery. The best I can manage is to accept that I’ve have inexplicably got myself a good thing and to avoid doing anything that messes it up. So it is that the Carlson’s have escaped cruise mania.
So how does a committed Coot travel?
Cruises may be off the table but still what’s the point of retirement if it means staying home and staring at the walls? Waiting around to die is so unsatisfying. Any Coot worth his salt wants new experiences to sweeten the wait. Not the empty calories of a seven day cruise or a Caribbean resort but something with high fiber and micro nutrients to feed the soul. No pre-digested travel pablum will satisfy a real Coot. Coots need to engage real life in a foreign clime.
So what is our plan?
The goal is to immerse ourselves into life in some exotic locale and avoid the tourist mentality by learning what real life is all about in a foreign land. So to start, we picked a city we would love to know better and rented an apartment. Two weeks is not enough to become a native but it is surely long enough to test the practicality of our plan. If we start longing for our old conventional lifestyle before our visit is over then maybe a cruise is all we want out of life. On the other hand if two weeks only tells us how much there is left to explore then we are ready for Plan B- a month or two for the next trip.