Caye Caulker, Belize
I'm on the road again - yeehah! So for the next 6 posts I have decided to experiment with a more traditional travel blog format. Apologies to all you gear-freaks out there who were desperate to read my opinion of the Nalgene Easy Sipper but fret not - as soon as I am back home that much-anticipated review will be forthcoming.
If you have read my book (and I know you're out there somewhere!) then do not worry - these posts will not be a catalogue of financial mishaps, endless bus journeys and tragic cuisine encounters. I'm not sure exactly what they will be, you'll have to bear with me to find out.
One thing's for sure though, this will be a trip unlike any other I have undertaken, for I am neither alone nor with my lovely wife. For 3 months I will be travelling with my 72 year old father, Peter, on an odyssey of reconnection. We haven't lived in the same hemisphere for over 8 years, and in all that time I can count on one hand the number of times we have got together. What a criminal waste of ... At my wedding, 18 months ago, I decided enough was enough. I didn't want to be a son whose constant intention to 'spend more quality time' endured right up to the day I travelled 10,000 miles to attend his funeral. While far from being a decrepit old git he is 72 I didn't know how much longer a trip like this would be possible, so I carpe'd the diem and set things in motion. I'm sure there are more than a few people out there who will wish they'd engineered the same opportunity with their late fathers. Fortunately for me my wife and boss are among them.
Peter claims to be both flattered and mystified by my invitation. Why, he asks, would I want to spend my valuable time with a moody old curmudgeon like himself. It's hard to formulate a reply. Just because. His parents died young so maybe he doesn't understand that, selfishly, I want more memories of him. They don't have to be rose-tinted recollections of the two of us tandem bungee jumping or sipping margeritas at sunset on the beach. He doesn't even like the beach, or the sea, or beer. I doubt he'll like the jungle. He doesn't dive, he can't walk all that far, and he certainly doesn't want to meet anyone or talk to strangers. Jeez, what kind of anti-social, black dog have I saddled myself with? Anyway, it doesn't matter what those memories are of - they just have to exist. I'm logging them for later.
As a confirmed non-warmduscher this trip has presented me with a conundrum. He's game enough but I can't subject him to my style of no-budget travel. I am therefore somewhat disturbed to report that I have temporarily been demoted to the ranks of common warmduscher for the good of the team. In the last week I have eaten a meal that cost literally 20 times the price of the single taco I would normally survive on, drank beer in establishments situated right next door to a bottle shop, and slept in rooms with en suite bathrooms when there was a perfectly good bathroom just down the hall. Worst of all, I am about to purchase a flight that will save us three days of bus journeys but will cost four times the price. When this gets out my reputation will be in tatters.
Until then though, I'll put up with the strange comforts and justify it to myself by blaming the old man. And when I go diving or hiking , or go out drinking with some new buddies, he can do what he enjoys: sitting in a pleasant restaurant drinking coffee and reading his Kindle. This is going to work out just fine, as long as I remember to remind him to take his pills every meal. And he does like a good margerita.