All in all, my 2-week vacation was wonderful. But, sadly, I hear that all good things must come to an end. I’m not sure I agree with that statement, but it was certainly true in this case. So let’s reminisce for a few moments on what made these 2 weeks so good, shall we?
First, I had nary a mosquito bite for 2 whole weeks. In Jakarta, mosquitoes and mosquito bite prevention are an integral part of my day. I apply repellent to all exposed areas of my skin except my face) when I get ready in the mornings. And usually by late afternoon, I reapply because if I don’t, those little buggers will start attacking without hesitation, and I’m not trying to get dengue up in here.
Before my vacation, when I was still living in the room downstairs, I had an average of 1 roach encounter a day. This could be in the bathroom or in a classroom or in the kitchen or in some other random place around the centre. Wherever the encounter took place, hardly a day went by in which I wasn’t murdering a roach. But for 2 weeks my life was roach-free, save for 1 encounter 1 night in my room in Luang Prabang. Of course, I smacked it with my slipper, arguing with God the whole time. Well, it was more of a mini-rant, to be perfectly honest. Still, 1 roach encounter in 2 weeks compared to 1 per day – gratitude is in order!
Also in the plus column, I had hot showers for 2 solid weeks. Now, when I say hot, I’m not playing around – I made my showers as hot as my skin could take it. I felt like I deserved it. This is because, unless I’m on my monthly 4 days off or at the Jamaican’s house, my showers are not hot. How, in a country as hot as Indonesia, can the water be cold? But of course, when your body temperature is set to hot, even lukewarm water feels cold on your skin.
I also thoroughly enjoyed a most humbling experience while travelling in Cambodia and Laos. Not 1 person I spoke to knew about Jamaica. It wasn’t even a word to them. People would ask me where I was from and I would say, “Jamaica” and they would say, “Oh, America?” and I would say, “No, Jamaica,” really slowly and they would look at me, unimpressed because I was from some unknown place.
I had immigration officials look at my passport trying to figure out which country CARICOM is and when I’d notice their confusion while they flipped around and through my passport trying to figure it out, I’d say, “I’m from Jamaica,” then they would look at the passport again, clearly confused about what country that was. I’m sure most of them just assumed it was in Africa.
In every hotel at which I stayed where I asked the front desk staff to mail my postcards, they would look at them and ask me to please write the country on the ones that were addressed to Jamaica; I had to explain that they were already addressed and that Jamaica is actually a country. I took to writing, “Jamaica, West Indies,” on my postcards, like back in the old days when people still used to write letters; I was trying to increase the chances of the cards actually getting to their destination.
This was humbling because usually when people learn where I’m from, they’re impressed, even if they don’t quite know where Jamaica is; at the very least, they connect it with Bob Marley and reggae music, and I always feel proud that I’m from such a popular place. But where I was from meant absolutely nothing to anyone in Cambodia and Laos, and after the first 2 or 3 encounters like this, I tucked my tail between my legs and released my haughty pride. Instead of wondering how in goodness name anyone could not know Jamaica (fastest man on Earth, anyone?? They didn’t even know the name Usain Bolt!), I learned to just smile when they looked at me confused, and use hand gestures to explain that it’s between America (everyone knows America) and South America (everyone generally knows of South America).
You know what that said to me? Not everything that I think is important to know is really that important to know, and not everything that I think is great is necessarily that great. It’s like when you put on a great outfit. You think you look fabulous and you’re strutting down the street like you own it and feel like all eyes are on you. But other people who see you may just be thinking, “Meh,” or not even registering your presence. That’s how it was for me. Jamaican is a “meh” for them, or not even a consideration. Very humbling. Because when you think about it, why should they know about Jamaica? What does it add to their life to know about it? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Anyway, I spent 2 weeks doing my favourite thing besides reading – travelling – as well as eating food that wasn’t rice, noodles or fried, and living in the lap of relative luxury. To paraphrase Martha Stewart, it was such a good thing.