On the Road Again - Travel Feed

Hanging in the USA: My Big Mouth

I once had a boyfriend who told me that one day my big mouth was going to get me in trouble.  Well, that was more than 20 years ago, and I am still here.  I stand up for myself, and sometimes I defend others who can't or won't.  

Americans as a rule, do not like confrontation.  They prefer to intellectualize or rationalize or ignore. When I had my own business, I learned that I had to stand up for myself, or clients (especially male clients) would try to walk all over me.  Argentines, on the other hand make confrontation a national sport along with complaining. I learned real fast the only way to deal with a rock head was to have a harder head.

I have been traveling for over a month.  Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and now the USA.  Yesterday I went to Walmart.  I love the self checkouts, almost no one uses them, so there is never a line, even when there is you don't have to wait long.  There was a family ahead of me and two ladies behind me.  One woman was Latina, the other was black.

When the family moved to go to a register, out of nowhere came Father Time from Hell.  He cut in front of me as though there was no line. "Hey!" I said to him, "There's a line."  This guy with his frizzy long white hair and unkempt beard with a huge potbelly turns to me,"You're not in line, I am first."  He says it with a violent smirking twist that is supposed to have little blondie me, shaking. Not me. 

I turn to see the reaction of the ladies behind me.  They smile at me, they know we were here first, but they are afraid of the potbelly pig.  "Do you feel like a man?"  I ask him.  "Does it make you feel good to cut in front of 3 women?"  He is clearly shocked.  He never expected anyone to call his shit.  Especially women.

He tries again, "You don't know what you are talking about.  There was no one here.  I was first."  I suppose I should just leave it alone, but the truth is..I can't.  I can't stand these kind of people.  So I do what I do best.  I humiliate him with humor.

"Oh,wait,"  I say.  "You should be first.  Sorry."  He gets that macho idiot smirk on his face that he won.  "You are obviously pregnant. Since you are pregnant you should be first."  I turn back to see the response.  People are snickering.  Father Time from Hell is horrified.  Not only did blondie not back down she humiliated him. and worse people are laughing at him.

He sputters "You have blue in your hair, your brains are spilling out." I laugh at him. "Blue hair is a sign of great intelligence."  The people behind were laughing.  Game over. 


On The Road Again: Hello India

If you follow me on Facebook, then you know that I have been in India for 5 days. I have another 10 days to go. I like to travel alone and independently. Normally I don't make many plans, I just sort of wing it. My friends who have been to India, told me that India, for a woman alone, is not a good idea. I am not a tour person,and in a place like India, I really did not want to deal with other people´s culture shock. I checked out lots of options before choosing Namaste India Tours. They arranged the hotels, the car, and driver. They also provided an agenda. I pay for monument entrances, any guides, food.  This is close to perfect for me, although I feel a little bit like "Driving Miss Daisy."

India is not an easy place to move around in, at least this part. There are so many men in India, sometimes you don´t even see women. Women do not go out alone. It is uncomfortable at times so I am glad to have the driver and the car. I am usually mobbed inside the monuments, I just talk Spanish to them and eventually they go away. The funny thing is that everyone wants a picture with me. I think that I have had my foto taken over 100 times. I am probably trending on Instagram India. However, don't let any of this keep you from coming here. I love India. It is a beautiful country and I am happy to be here.

I have met so many kind and lovely people. In the airport in Doha I met several people, all who were eager to talk to me. Everyone on my plane was Indian, and being blond I really stuck out. People were very friendly,all wanting to give me advice. An ode to things to come.

On Facebook, friends keep asking me if I am suffering from culture shock. Absolutely not. Perhaps it is all the years in Argentina. It could also be my extensive travels through Mexico. Or other parts of Latin America.Yes, there is poverty in India, but Argentina has had as much as 42% poverty while I have lived there. Yes, at times it is not clean, but unlike Argentina, all the toilets have flushed without having to put the toilet paper in a basket. At one road stop, the toilet was close to being a hole in the ground, but I experienced that, years ago in Mexico. So no big issues here, although I am sure for others, this place might be a horror story

I love the food. I have had some amazing hot and spicy dishes. My driver thinks I am crazy. He had to give me his lunch one day, because it was too spicy for him. Being a celiac is hard here. I have pretty much given up trying to explain. The poor vili in my intestines probably miss Argentina. I am usually very strict with my diet, but here there are not many options. I have not gotten sick either. I am eating in restaurants and dabas,

So what stands out so far? In Delhi, I arrived very early in the morning. The hotel offered me a temporary room to shower, relax, and change my clothes. After 27 hours of travel, you can only imagine how that felt. In all the years I have been traveling, I have never had a hotel do this. That and they were insistent that I do it, and also made sure that I understood that this was just a transitory room, that my room would be much nicer.

On my second day, we stopped so I could see a temple on the way to Mandawa. It had rained, and you cannot wear shoes in the temples. It was cold and icky. Out of nowhere a beautiful woman came up to me with her family and asked to take my picture with them. Her dress was magnificent. A beautiful purple, gold, and green, with a matching scarf. She draped the scarf around my neck, and insisted that I keep it. I was very touched. I tried to give it back, but even her husband insisted I keep it. 10 pictures and 1 scarf later, I was on my way.

I love the old and graceful buildings and temples. Many are 400 years or more. Mandawa is a city with many heritage properties. I had a local guide take me through several of the Havelis. He was smoking beedees, the Indian clove cigarette. He was surprised that I knew what they were and offered me one. I used to smoke beedies when I was a teenager. I don't even remember where we bought them, but I used to love them. In those days I smoked cigarettes. I smoked a little bit of the beedee. It wasn't like when I was 17, but is anything? I am going to buy some, so when Gigi and Jane come back to Buenos Aires, we can smoke them!

After Mandawa I went to Bikaner.  A hotel with no hot water my first day.  They changed my room.  My 20 something Bollywood wannabe bell boy brought my luggage to the new room, and then showed me how there was hot water.  As the water was streaming out of the faucet, he turned to me and said "It's hot like you!" Queee??? I laughed it off and then he asked me how old I was.  India is definitely not the land of the political correct.  I think he expected me to say something like 40, but I told him my real age, which elicited "You are like my grandm0ther...but my grandmother is not like you." OK. Rolling eyes. Youth, Bollywood or not.

 

 

 

 

 


A Solo Traveler's Tales

I am home.  Buenos Aires.  My apartment, my students, and JerryBrown the cat.  Maxi (the dog) has gone AWOL and has not returned home to date.  She is wandering the streets of Banfield, loving being off leash.

I have been traveling forever, but solo for maybe 25 years.  I was doing it before it was a "trend" or "cool."  I have always been known for being somewhat visionary.  I traveled alone in the states, (but that doesn't count), then to Mexico, then to Europe.  I remember when I decided to go to Paris alone.  I had a fight with a boyfriend and ended our conversation with "Fine, I am going to Paris."  I have no idea why I said that, but after I got off the phone, I decided to do it.  Those were the days when "online"  was America Online and maybe a few sites you could get to on Netscape.  Web Portals were all the rage.

In 2 hours I had booked a flight, found a hotel, and signed up for French classes.  In 7 weeks I was there.  I remember walking through the 7th arrondissement thinking "Why didn't I do this before?" That was because before was full of "I have no one to go with, or no time, or no money."  It is amazing what a fight with a boyfriend can bring.  After Paris, the world became mine.  I traveled to Europe, Asia, and Australia, not to mention most of South America and a little of Central America.

What I found is that I prefer to travel alone.  It is much easier, especially at my age.  I like to stay in hostels or Airbnb rooms.  It is always nice to have local people give you their insight.  Friends my age are mostly horrified by the thought of a hostel or staying in someone's house.  That and the energy factor.  I still seem to have tons of it.

I have noticed lots of changes in travelers since I started my globetrotting.  It used to be that people would open up to a single woman traveler.  I remember in Florence the owner of the restaurant sent his friend over to keep me company.  The friend started to present himself as a suitable marriage partner.  I learned his whole life story in a mess of English, Spanish, and Italian. When I stayed at a hostel in Valparaiso, I met 2 women from Belgium at breakfast.  We ending up spending the day at Isla Negra.  Neither of them spoke Spanish, but one woman spoke English.  We had a great time. I have lots of stories like this.  Where people took an interest and we hung out together or shared a meal.

Things have changed.  There is now the "Ugly Traveler."  This traveler can be from any country.  Not one country in particular is singled out.  They come in all shapes and sizes, ages, and speak different languages.  On my last trip through Panama, I met people who would stay 8 hours or less in a city.  They had a bucket list.  Panama in 3 days so they could cross it off the list.  I was in Panama a week.  I could go back and spend another week, and still not see everything.  These travelers brag about how many countries they have been to.  I guess if that is how they want to travel, who am I to criticize? 

The other attitude change I have experienced is people who are very rude.  Unnecessarily rude.  When I was in Panama, a young African American woman was giving a verbal tirade in English to a poor server at a smoothie kiosk.  The woman was well dressed.  She spoke no Spanish and the server spoke very little English.  When I walked up, the woman was berating the server because she didn't want Panamanian money returned in her change. She was given 50 cents.  Panama uses U.S. currency, but they do have their own change.  The way this woman was going off on the poor girl you would have thought it was a million dollars.  The server had no idea why the woman was so irate.  I explained to her in Spanish,  that the woman did not want tuolumnes, she wanted U.S. change.  The girl opened her drawer to show she had no more change.  The American woman then kept pushing the 50 cent piece going "I don't want your worthless money.  I don't live here.  I don't want it.  It's worthless."  I commented to her it was only 50 cents not 50 dollars.  She turned on me, "I don't care I don't want it. I am only visiting."  So I opened my purse and gave her 2 quarters.  She snatched them up and did not even utter a thank you.  I was appalled at how rude she was.

I wish that I could tell you that this was an isolated incident, but it was not. In my hostal I found the people in my age group to be extremely rude and unfriendly.  It was rather shocking.  A couple had heard me speak in Spanish to the reception desk.  I noticed the woman eating this ice cream concoction.  I moseyed over and said good evening, and then asked where she got her ice cream.  Considering the barrio we were in was residential, except for the restaurant in front, I thought it was valid question, and also a way to have some conversation. An icebreaker.

The woman snapped at me "From him." and pointed at her husband.  So, I asked Him.. "Where did you get the ice cream, it looks good."  He snapped at me too "Not from around here, there is nothing here.  Can't you tell?  I had to go into town to get it.  (Town by the way was a 7 minute walk, but he in conversation took a taxi, because he was afraid to walk there.) He asked me where I was from.  I told him that I live in Argentina.  His response? "Well that is weird, people in Argentina don't travel."  (Excuse me, but that is a really stupid thing to say, I know lots of Argentines who travel) So I tell him, that yes, lots of people from Argentina travel.  He says to me "I have never met any, I figure they just don't travel like Americans." The situation was getting more uncomfortable.   He was so sarcastic I apologized.."Sorry I bothered you."

These two incidents were with Americans.  I also Germans, Israeli, French, and Canadians behaving poorly.  I just don't want to bore you with my scenarios.  One friend on Facebook said it is "entitlement."  That people believe they can act how they want or worse they feel they deserve special treatment.  Whatever happened to knowing and accepting other cultures? Whatever happened to "You are a guest in this country?"

I think it goes deeper.  My Malaysian friend who I ended up in the slum with had another twist.  He feels people are unhappy and angry.  Many people travel to forget their unhappiness.  The anger still stays.  How sad.  That is why I am happy to travel alone.  I only need to be responsible for me. Traveling makes me happy, regardless of who is around.

 


On The Road Again: Miami Beach, FL USAAAAAA

"When are you going to return to your country?" "How does it feel to be home again?"  The first question usually comes from Argentines.  The second when I hit the USA.  Home is where the heart is.  For me, home is Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I made that decision more than 12 years ago.  I live in Argentina because I like it. I think in many ways I have a better life. Besides, Los Demonios, Maxi and JerryBrown were born there.

Coming back to the USA is always a mixture of emotions.  At first it is great.  The technology.  Every time I come, more things are automated.  I am a technology junkie so I love to experience new innovations.  Although not all are so great. Like phone trees.  Calling Federal Express is worse than calling customer service in Argentina, where you get a live person who yells at you.  I get to drive.  I don't drive in Argentina. Then again, I miss walking when I am here.  Nobody walks in the USA.  I always park my car at the very end of the lot to get some exercise. The stores are amazing.  There is so much to look at. Then reality sets in.  The US is boring. Seriously.  Although everywhere is probably boring after living in Buenos Aires.

Yesterday I was in Whole Foods.  I was looking at the xanthan and guar gum.  (You need to use this for gluten free baking.) A man asks me "Is it OK to eat cornstarch?"  I turn around "Yeah, sure why not?  It doesn't have gluten in it."  He responds, "But what about the GMO factor?"  My Argentine self comes out "Well I live in Argentina.  I don't really care about all that.  I mean it seems to me that people here are afraid of their food.  Yeah, I know, I know.  But you know what?  You are going to die, so you might as well enjoy your food."  He looks at me like I am a little crazy.  "Humm, sorry."  I say to him.  He laughs, "You know what? You are so right."  He throws a box of cornstarch into his basket.

Here the dichotomy, at least to me.  In the US the message seems to be about death rather than life.  There are so many messages about "YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IF......" Just fill in the blanks - GMO, non-organic, gluten, sugar,   If people eat so healthy, then why are they so fat? That is another issue.  American junk food is the best (worst) in the world.  I stand in front of the "snack" aisle.  It is amazing.  Rows and rows of junk.  Gluten free junk.

Food is one part of the equation.  Then there are those horrible child proof caps.  Trying to open a bottle of pepto bismol (I love that stuff) is an exercise for your hands.  In Argentina we don't have child proof caps and kids never seem to die.  Our medications do not come in bottles, they come in blister packs in boxes.  If kids were dying from ingesting meds, believe me it would be on the news.  Argentine news is like the National Enquirer 24 hours a day.

 Last night I watched TV with my friends.  The commercials!!  OHMYGAWD!!  Pills for everything.  Those commercials should be outlawed.  In Argentina the drug companies are not allowed to advertise.  This is a good thing.  Although, yes there is corruption in another way.  The doctors demand perks from the laboratories or they won't prescribe their brand.  The positive is by law they have to put the generic on the prescription so you have a choice in brands and prices.  If I watched TV here in the US, I would be constantly worried about what problem I may or may not have.  Now I know why my American friends take so many pills and are obsessed with their health.

The last thing really frosts me.  It is not that I am ashamed of my age, but it is a number even I don't believe.  I cannot believe that my peers refer to themselves as "seniors"  or in articles as "the elderly."  People talk about "retirement homes" and "assisted living."  I realize we are in the "third age" but I am not dead yet, nor am I close.  The marketing targeted at my generation "the baby boomers" is disgusting.  It is a constant barrage.  I think that if you live here you do not even notice it, it is a subliminal message.  "Do you pee in the middle of the night?"  (something natural) There is a pill for that showing gray haired people.  "Do your bones ache?"  There is a pill for that...showing a baby boomer with a grandchild.  Hello, exercise works wonders.

 The worst or maybe not the worst, is that at 9:00 pm the only thing to do is watch TV.  No movies, no theater, no restaurants.  Everything closes.  That, and you need a car to get there.  In Buenos Aires, I can walk out my door any time of day or night and there is something to do.  Here everything is programmed..in advance.  Spontaneous is not a part of the language.

Is Buenos Aires a perfect place?  Far from it.  The pollution from the buses.  The corruption.  The crazy governments. However, the message is different.  The message is to live now for this moment.  Enjoy your life. You only have this moment now so make the most of it.  I love our food.  Maybe we don't have Thai, or Malaysian or Greek that is good, but the food is fresh. I learned that a meal is to be enjoyed with friends.  Not to sit and critique, eat. and go.  I love it when a big group of us go to a restaurant or share food in someone's house.  The concept of "sobre mesa"  is wonderful.  This is where you sit and eat and then pick at the food with a group of friends.  The idea is to enjoy your friends, the food is secondary.  

In Buenos Aires I do not have a car, nor do I want one.  I take the bus or metro.  If I need to, I go in a taxi.  I usually walk 3 - 6 km per day. (2 - 4 miles) Some days I prefer to walk 40 blocks and enjoy the day, than to take the bus.  I have friends in their 70s who do the same.  Life is harder here from the standpoint it takes forever to get anything done.  You learn to be patient and have an almost zen like attitude.

I like coming to the USA.  It is one big shopping.  (I have the suitcases to prove it.)  I love seeing my friends.  It is the one time I eat the worst diet ever. Every trip here, I realize, I made the right decision.  Home is where the heart is.

 


On The Road Again: Panama City, Panama Last Day

I arrive back into the city and leave the ferry.  As I walk to the road, I stop to ask a couple of guys where the bus stop is.  I know that a bus comes down this way.  They tell me either direction on the causeway.  I start to walk to the road when I hear an Asian man asking for information on the buses.  They do not understand him.  I call out to him "I am taking the bus, you can come with me."

I know the bus comes down the causeway, and I also know the stop that is back towards the causeway and not towards the city.  My new friend Michael thinks we should go forward.  "We need to go in that direction, so we should just walk forward."  That would make sense if you were in a first world country. As we walk towards the city, I ask several different men where the bus stop is.  No one seems to know.  However Michael, like myself is a gregarious single traveler.  We continue to walk forward.  When the sidewalk stops and we end up on the strip alongside the freeway, he still thinks we should continue on our path.  I have no idea why I am agreeing to this.  Sometimes I am stupid or just let myself be led.

As we walk, I notice out of my peripheral vision, 5 guys start to come out from the trees behind us.  This, is not a good sign.  A super white woman and a short Asian man walking on the side of the freeway.  The  odd couple at best. I mention this to my new friend.  He does not seem to think it is a problem.  I live in Latin America.  I know it is a problem.  We come to a fork.  I think we should go left, but to the right are more people, and the 5 guys are right behind us.  I tell Michael we should cross to where there are more people.  We run to the other side of the road across the highway.  The 5 guys stop, look, and turn back.  

I tell Michael I am sure we are going the wrong way.  His phone has Internet, so he checks Google Maps.  He is sure we should keep going right.  Why do I always listen against my better judgement?  We walk along a park side.  My friend is very interesting.  He is Malaysian and lives in Australia.  He is married with 2 grown sons.  His family prefers 5 star vacations.  Once a year he takes the kind of vacation he likes.  A more casual one.  We talk about Airbnb and hostels.  He doesn't like Airbnb.  He likes hostels so he can cook.

The road ends and now we are in front of one of the worst areas in Panama City.  I tell my friend I do not think that this is a good idea.  He points to a building that says "hostel".  "It can't be all that bad," he says, "look there is a hostel."  This hostel is a love hotel. I read the Spanish.  They charge by the hour.  In Buenos Aires they are called "Telos" in Panama it looks like in shady areas they are called "hostels."  I am sure this place is not in Hostelworld or Hostelbookers.

We walk into the villa. (Villa is a slum in Latin America)  What the hell am I doing?  I see a policeman on the corner.  Michael wants to take the metro. I go up to the policeman and ask him how we get to the Metro Cinco de Mayo.  He gives me directions.  I ask him if we are OK in this neighborhood.  He tells me yes, but not at night.  Obvio.  I can tell that he thinks we are crazy.

I prefer to walk in the street rather than next to doorways.  This is worse than Detroit where I grew up.  It is a glimpse of human misery and poverty.  We do not belong here.  Michael insists we stay this course until the road 5 blocks away.  "We'll take a taxi when we get to the end of the road." he says. The blocks are long and intense.  He tells me about karma.  That we should just accept we are here for a reason.  Ahh, yeah.  I am here because sometimes I am stupid.

When we get to the end of a block, my friend finally realizes we are not in a good place.  I try to hail two taxis to get to the metro station.  They do not want to take us.  (Muchas vueltas) They tell us they have to go in too many circles and they do not want to.  I see another policeman and ask the way to the metro.  He points the direction.  He also says once we get to the "Centro Commercial" we will be OK.  

We round the park and get to the "Centro Commercial."  Actually now I am starting to enjoy this.  I remember my early days in Mexico.  I would go through areas where no tourist ever went.  Maybe I was naive, maybe stupid, maybe not.  I start to enjoy the local color.  We stop and buy some grapes.  I have never seen grapes so large.  They are look purple ping pong balls.  Salsa music is blaring out of speakers into the street.  We buy a drink that is delicious..maybe it is lime and tamarind.

I see a group of 4 or 5 policeman.  I go to ask them if we are going the right way.  The policewoman  says "Do you know the story of the Wizard of Oz?"  She points to the ground which is a dirty brick road. "These bricks are not yellow."  She says, "Follow them until the end, and then you will find the metro station."  I relay the information to Michael.

We walk through this part of the city.  I wish I could take out my camera and take pictures.  I don't think that this is a good idea.  I am not sure what would happen.  I would not want to lose my camera over being stupid.  Michael and I agree that this is interesting.  I tell him "This is why I like to travel alone.  I think my friends would freak out if this happened to them.  I love this kind of stuff."  He agrees.  He says "I had no plans for today.  I just like to let things happen.  This is great."

Soon we come to the end of the bricks.  I look over to the right.  I see the metro station.  "Look, over there!"  I point to Michael.  We run to the station and catch the metro.  I am going to get off in 3 stops.  Michael wants to ride to the end.  When we reach Iglesia de Carmen, I get off.  I give Michael a hug. "Thanks for the grapes and a great day."  I jump off the metro.  The end of a perfect day.


On The Road Again: Back to Panama City, Panama

Panama City. Again. What should I do today? I decide that I want to visit the Panama Canal. There are many things I would like to do, but the problem is costs. Panama City does have a public transportation system. There are buses and a metro. They are inter-urban, and to be honest they don't go everywhere. The metro is one line. It reminds of BART in the Bay Area. BART exists to bring workers to the city. That is how I see the one line of the Panama City Metro. They are working to build additional lines, but for now there is just one. The buses are about the same. They seem to only go on the main streets inside the city. If you need to go anywhere else, you are either going to be walking or taking a taxi.

Taxis are another story. They have no meters. You need to ask the price before you get in. Mostly I have had good luck. I read online what people think the charges should be to places and I have paid half or even less than half. The gringo impuesto is alive and well.

Everything I read online about going to the Panama Canal was about very expensive tours. Anywhere from $85 to $200. Elaborate tours where you get on a boat with food and have the experience of either going through the canal or being up close and personal. When in doubt go to the source: the Panama Canal website. There is a visitor center with observation decks, a museum, and a movie all for the grand price of $15. A deal. I also read to either go early in the morning or later in the afternoon if you want to see the ships passing through.

Now, to get there. It is way out. I heard and read that a taxi would be about $15. That means $30 round trip. You can take a bus, but the times, and the amount of time, leave much to be desired. What to do. In my brilliance, I remember that there is a hop on hop off bus. For $29 I can tour the city and get to the Canal.

The starting point is a mall that appears to be maybe a 12 - 15 minute walk from where I am staying. I head out. One of the things I hate about this city is most of the streets are not marked with signs AND there do not seem to be addresses. This is worse than Buenos Aires where streets change names and directions. I stop to ask someone where 53rd Street is. “Where are you trying to go?” The woman asks me. I tell her “Multicentro.” “No, no, no, es tan lejos.” (It is too far) I tell her I like to walk. I have noticed that I am the only person that I see walking. In many ways Panama City is like L.A. A concrete jungle with skyscrapers, strip malls, and fast food places. No one walking.

I reach the Multicentro and the kiosk where they sell the tickets for the Hop on Hop off bus. The kids who work there are very sweet. They are impressed with my Spanish. After chatting a bit, I paid for my ticket. I noticed on my bracelet they gave me 36 hours for the price of my 24 hour ticket.

 I go sit and wait. I watch my fellow travelers. It is funny how you can tell people are uncomfortable when they are out of their comfort zone. I have my look. My look here is ambiguous. I don't look like the typical traveler, and I don't look like I am from here. I chose to wear skirts with tops. I knew it would be cooler. I live in a place with hot and humid weather. I think the dead give away of the American tourist is the fanny pack. God, those things are ugly. That and the water bottle, tour book. The younger set wear shorts and t shirts, and back packs instead of fanny packs. The tourist uniform..oh and let's not forget the caps and assorted hats.

When the bus comes people stampede to get on. I wait and go up top. No one wants to sit near me. If they are forced to, they sit with their back to me. What is up with this? I have my ideas, but that will be another blog post. Traveling in the modern age.

This bus is cool. I like it. The tour guides give the narration in Spanish, English, and French. The imformation is interesting. The malecon or the Cinta Costera was built by filling in the Panama Bay. They created a new causeway along with a recreation area. The idea what to alleviate some of the traffic congestion while giving people a place to walk, bike, and workout. You can walk the Costa Cintura all the way to Casco Viejo. Along the way statues are pointed out.

 I ride the bus to the end. I saw where the Panama Canal building is. I will go back when I can see a ship passing through. The only place I actually get off is Casco Viejo. I had been there already, but I liked it. It is an old part of town that was and is being gentrified. The old and the newly rehabbed are mixed together. It is unfortunately a big tourist trap. It is not a place to live. There are hostels and hotels, tourist shops, coffee shops, and restaurants. I like walking around looking at the architecture.

While waiting for the bus to come back and get me, I buy a shaved ice from the vendor near the tour bus area. She shaves the ice with a knife and piles it into a styrofoam cup. I order mayacuya juice to be poured over it. It is yummy. I notice that only me and other Panamanians are ordering. An American asks me “Aren't you afraid to eat that?” Uh, afraid of what? Ahhh yes, the germ phobia. I tell her no. I am not sure I want to start a conversation here because it will only be negative.

The bus arrives. I stay on it until I can arrive at the Panama Canal. I enter the building. I pay my $15. I go up to the observation deck. First I go up to the top. The sun is fierce. A ship is waiting to enter. The announcer is giving a history of the canal, and telling us we came at a good time. The ship moves very slowly. Almost painfully slow. If you don't pay attention, (and listen) you would never know that the water is slowing going down in one part, and filling up in the other. The canal can only fit one boat. Also the traffic goes one way in the morning and the other way in the afternoon. There are two lanes and they are going to build 2 more.

Slowly the ship makes its way. It is an oil tanker from Liberia. The doors of the canal open and the ship passes through. It is a marvel to watch. I am getting burnt. The sun is very strong. I decide to go down to the next observation deck where it has a little bit of cover. The problem is I cannot see anything. Soooo, I go down to the bottom and stand in front of the fence. I have a front row seat.

After the ship passes through, I run outside to see if I can catch the bus. If I miss this one I have to wait an hour. I see them at the end of the parking lot getting ready to leave. I run like a maniac waving my arms... “Espera” I shout. I jump on the bus. They ask if there is anyone else with me. “No, solo yo.” Como siempre. (Like always.)

 

 

 


On The Road Again: David, Chiriqui, Panama

I woke up early.  Panama is 2 hours behind Buenos Aires.  At 8:00 I went down to the pool with my rice cakes, apple, and raisins. I planned to sit and have my coffee listening to the birds. Instead the day started off crazy and ended that way.

In this hostel there is a huge tree house that is a dorm room shared by as many as 8 people.  Not for me, but it is a cool idea.  The quiet morning was soon shattered by yelling and screaming.  It sounded like a couple fighting.  The staff was motionless.  Why didn't somebody go up there and stop it?  What were the other people doing, or was this a group fight?  I was not about to climb up into a tree house to stop a domestic argument.  This did sound pretty violent.  I went to the front desk.  The girls told me that the couple had started fighting last night.

While we were chatting.  I asked them to recommend something for me to do that day.  Before they could finish the guy who had been yelling came down to the front of the hostel and threw his backpack down.  The girl was standing at the sink near the pool.  She had two black eyes.  She was a mess.  I asked the front desk to please, please, call the police.

The guy was yelling and being a total jerk.  He looked like he was about to explode.  Soon two bicycle cops came.  The woman cop went to attend the girl.  The male cop tried to talk to the guy.  It turned out he had drunk all their money and now they were broke.  He decided it was the girl's fault.  The policeman tried to reason with him, "You never should hit a woman, for any reason."  He told him.  

When the guy started to get violent, they called for backup.  Six police officers came.  I love it. Only in Latin America.  The cop in charge made a beeline for me to introduce himself.  "I am at your service." he said. They took away the guy in handcuffs.  The staff told me that the girl would have to press charges for him to stay detained.

Now that this little episode was over, we could figure out what I should do.  They recommended I go to Playa Barqueta.  Since two other people had to go to the bus terminal they could drop me off as well.  The driver from the hostel found out where I should wait for the bus.  It was to come at 11:20.  I walked around the area where the bus terminal was.  I mildly stuck out with my platinum bob and fake Raybans.  I went back to sit near to where the bus was supposed to come.

I asked several people if this was the bus to Playa Barqueta.  I had to remember not to say "PLY-Sha" like an Argentine and more like "PLY-Ya" like the rest of the Spanish speaking world, otherwise no one understood me.  There were about 15 of us waiting.  11:20, 11:30, 11:40...well it is Latin America.  Finally at around 11:50 a bus pulled into the space.  A nice elongated van with A/C.

 About 25 minutes into the ride, someone asked if we were going to the PLY-Ya.  Ahh no.  That was the bus that NEVER came. So most of the bus got off.  We were in the middle of nowhere.  Then all of a sudden taxis come from another planet.  My Argentine conspiracy self thinks this might have been a set-up or Mafia as we are inclined to say.  I wait in the only place there is shade.  A young man wearing a tshirt with the British flag comes to talk to me.  He needs to go to the beach to work on a construction project.  He is from Panama City.

An old crone tells us not to pay more than $2 each for the ride to the beach.  A taxi comes and we share it with two others. After dropping them off we head to the beach. My new friend Jose tells me about his projects and how he is also studying to be a lawyer.  He leaves the taxi to go to his project.  The driver takes me down to the end of the road.  I ask him if knows where I can catch the bus.  He tells me that he thinks it is around here somewhere.  This is a typical Panamanian answer.

I start to walk down to the beach.  The sand is black.  It is the hottest $%#* sand I have ever touched.  Never, not anywhere have felt such hot sand.  Even with my thick Fit Flops.  The wind would blow the sand and it would burn the hell out of whatever part of my body it touched.  This was not fun.

First I sat under the cabanas.  I tried to walk down to the water, but it was impossible, that and the tide was out.  There was no one in the water, because you would burn your feet trying to get there. I decided to have lunch.  On the walk up to the restaurant, I saw 4 people.  Two were Panamanians.  The other two were Argentines.   The type of Argentines, that even Argentines don't like.  Boludos.  The two Panamanians looked like guides.  I asked the man if he knew where the bus stop was.  He shook his head.  The woman told me "Oh the stop is very far away."  I asked her how far.  "Very far, maybe 4km".  She then told me that they could drop me at the stop.  I thanked her. She told me to come look for them around 5:00.  Then she asked where I was going.  I told her David.  "Oh, we are going to David.  We can take you."  I thank her again.  Then one of the Argentines gets mad.  I didn't know that they were Argentines before, I just suspected.  Once he opened his mouth...the SHAAAs were out of the bag. (Argentines have a very special pronunciation)  Something was not right here.  The woman said something to him in a low voice I couldn't catch.  She told me again to look for them.

I went to sit alone at a table.  In all my travels in Latin America or even in the world, when you establish contact with people they usually invite you to sit with them.  Not these people.  I mean they offer to take me to David, but then ignore me. Very very weird.

The waitress takes my order.  I ask her, "Do you know where the bus stop is to go to David?"  She tells me that it is behind the restaurant and that it will come at 2:30. 45 minutes.  She tells me not to worry.   She will let me know if it comes while I am eating.  Behind the restaurant is where the taxi driver said.  Not 4km as the nefarious Panamanian woman said.  Something very wrong with those people.

So I ate my lunch and at 2:20 went to sit behind the restaurant.  The bus came at 2:35.  There were many of us who could not deal with the hot as hell black sand.  I never said goodbye to the weird group.  They didn't deserve it.  Another Mafia conspiracy theory.  Living in Argentina does that to you.

Back in David, I asked how the girl who had been beaten up by her boyfriend was.  They told me that she left with him.  This probably was not the first time, and sadly it will not be the last.  The police wanted her to press charges.  She told them that her boyfriend was just upset they had no money.  Sad.

Tomorrow, I return to Panama City.

 

 


On The Road Again:David,Chiriqui, Panama

On Thursday I flew to David.  David is a small town near the Costa Rican border.  It is more of a transit town rather than a tourist mecca.  I wanted to go to Boca del Toros but there were no flights.  Along with no flights, there were no reasonable places to stay.  I chose David because I could fly there and then check out other places.

Taxis in Panama are not like in other places.  Besides not having a meter, they pick up other people along the way.  When that happens they charge "por cabeza", by the person.  The ride from the airport is usually 6 - 8 pesos.  The driver, not such a nice guy, quoted me 4 pesos.  He took 2 other people.  They worked for the cable company and got out way before me.  My hostel was a bit out of the center.

I loved my hostel.  The second I walked in the chicas in reception greeted me like a long lost friend.  I was early.  Check out time is 10:30 am.  They invited me to go have a coffee and sit by the pool.  I asked them for recommendations on things to do.  There was another woman who was going to go to Boquete. They said maybe we could go together.  Boquete is a town in the mountains about 45 minutes by bus. It is where the coffee is grown.  Me, the coffee aficionado, makes a point to visit coffee plantations whenever I can.  I love learning about the local coffee.

Bambu Hostel  is a cool place.  I found it on Hostelworld.  It is owned by two American men Gregg and Mike.  The place is clean and comfortable.  There is a large open kitchen.  The first morning there we were visited by a raccoon. He helped himself to the fruit someone had dropped.  You can hear the sounds of birds and a rooster.  The pool is outside of the kitchen area.  That is where I met Caroline.  The other solo woman traveler.

She was maybe a little younger than me and backpacking through Central America.  I give her lots of credit.  I stay in hostels but not in dorm rooms.  We shared our travel experiences and decided to share a taxi to the bus terminal.  She was going to Boquete.

As soon as I was able to drop my bag in my room, we took off.  We shared the taxi with another guy who was pretending to be from Spain.  What is wrong with people?  First, he did not have a Spanish accent to either his Spanish or his English.  Second, his Spanish was a couple of notches below mine.  He thought I was from Spain.  Not with my whacked out Argentine accent. Get a clue, dude.

The bus terminal in David is beyond no frills.  Our bus was a white school bus. It cost us 1.35 to get there.  A real deal.  Caroline and I chatted on the way there.  She was a very interesting person.   When we arrived in David it was raining.  We saw a place that offered information for hostels and tours.

The place was a dump and the women were totally rude.  They were almost angry that I spoke Spanish. (I think that was because they couldn't talk about us behind our backs.)  One girl told us her father was a diplomat and she had lived all over the world.  Right,  and now she is selling hostel rooms and tours in a dumpy little room.  I don't think so.  She told me she had lived in Argentina..but could not remember where or where she went to school.  So sad that senile dementia set in at such a young age.  Worse they were charging more for everything.  I tried to get Caroline to go with me across the square to another place, but she was worried about not having a place to stay and left with the witchy sidekick.

Little Miss Diplomatic Daughter demanded I go with the witchy sidekick.  I refused, she threw me out and called me names when I told her I was not interested in taking her tours. Lovely.  I walked across the square to Hola Panama.  A completely different vibe.  It is a small cheerful office in front of a very clean hostel.  All the information and prices were clearly posted and much cheaper than the senile Diplomatic Daughter and her sidekick.

It was raining.  I persevered and signed up for the coffee plantation tour.  I know.  A tour in the rain.  One of the girls on the tour desk lent me her rain jacket.  A couple from Canada were the only other people on the tour.  Our guide was this young man who had been doing tours for 14 years.  We went to an organic coffee plantation.  

 

The plantation was small.  I believe only 2 hectares. In addition to coffee, they also keep bees. There were many fruit trees intermingled with the coffee plants. When I was in Colombia, I noticed that bananas were grown all over the plantation.  The tour guide there told me it was a custom.  I found out on this tour it is because they attract the birds and bugs and then leave the coffee plants alone.  It is a more natural way.  There are no pesticides used on the plantation.  While the guide was explaining things to us a goat just lumbered on up to us.  He took a special liking to me.  He followed us all over the plantation, and if I didn't walk fast enough for him (in the rain) he would head butt me.  It was almost like having Maxi around.  He was amazing that goat.

After our tour, the guide took beans and roasted them for us in a mini-roaster.  It sits on a counter.  I wish I could have one of these.  It was amazing to watch the beans roast. I never knew that there were these portable roasters.  That is probably a good thing.  I don't need to buy more things.  After he roasted the coffee, it was ground to perfection. This is what you call truly fresh ground.  It was good.  I do have to say that Panama coffee is not one of my favorites.  It is good, but not as good as the Indonesian or African coffees.

 

 

 After a super wonderful day, the guide asked us if we wanted to stop at the gift shop.  He explained that there was a honey tasting and we could buy coffee from the plantation.  He mentioned that the tasting was $3 but if we bought something it would be waived.  It seemed a little strange but I did want to buy some coffee.  

I am not going to print the name of the plantation.  The owner is a woman from the UK and a royal bitch. (sic) She opened her jars of honey and was somewhat rude.  I tasted the honey and to be honest, the honey from Cordoba Argentina is a 1000 times better.  This had a bad aftertaste. Besides that, I can buy a liter of the Cordoba honey for $2.00 and this yucky honey was $15.  In addition to overpriced yucky honey, the coffee was $10 and also overpriced.  The Royal Bitch kept pushing us to buy.  I really didn't want to buy anything, so she told me I had to pay $3.  Talk about a bad taste in your mouth.  I ended up with a small overpriced bag of coffee.  Obviously she never took a marketing course.

I love the couple on my tour.  Michelle and John.  One of the best things about traveling is meeting people.  I hope they will come to visit me in Argentina.  It was a great day.  We went back to the tour office.  I gave back the jacket that was kindly lent to me, and waited for the bus back to David.

 


On The Road Again: Panama City, Panama

I think if I could do one thing over in my life I would be a traveling English teacher.  Well, it is one of those dreams.  I suppose I could still be a traveling English teacher, but it would mean giving up JerryBrown and Maxi. I don't think I could do that.  I think about it when the offers come in from China and other places, but then I look at those little faces and I think no.  

Traveling is my passion.  I love it.  This year I had planned to travel for 3 months, but my stepson Alex decided to spend almost 2 months with me.  It was more important for me to have that time with him, than to go gallivanting around the planet.  I am supposed to start work in March.  This year the contracts are very slow.  I decided to take a couple of weeks.  One week in Panama and one week in Miami.  Miami is almost like another country.  I speak more Spanish there..than in Buenos Aires.

I landed in Panama on the 9th.  I started my trip in Panama City. I rented a room in an Airbnb rental with dirty switchplates.  You just never know what you are actually going to get with Airbnb.  I think it is great that their professional photographers can make even the worst rental look good.  Good for them, not so good for those of us who have to find a rental.

I decided to rent this place for the week even though I planned to go to David for a couple of days.  The cost to check bags vs the room were about equal. I have to shlep my empty suitcases to fill them up in Miami.  I was so proud of myself this time.  I packed almost nothing.  One suitcase weighed 5 kilos and the other one 7, and that one had another suitcase inside of it!  See!  You can teach an old dog new tricks.

Bueno.  I landed in Panama City and took a taxi to my Airbnb hosts.  The thing is, that Tuesday was Carnival and they decided to go out of town.  They left the keys with the building guy.  It wasn't a big deal...until I wanted to get something to eat.  My helpful or helpless hosts left me no information and everything was closed.  Let's not forget the reminder to not "eat their food."    I walked around the barrio a bunch of times trying not to get lost.  I finally found the only restaurant open.  Thankfully the food was excellent.

I spent my first day trying not to have heat stroke.  The temperature and the humidity are the same as Buenos Aires.  There is one major difference; Buenos Aires is a super green city.  We have parks and trees all over the place.  Panama City is a concrete jungle.  It is full of skyscrapers and tall buildings.  Very few parks and trees.  Some people call Panama City the "Dubai of Latin America."  The skyline is full of architecturally stunning buildings.  The only other city that I have been to with buildings of the same type of architecture was Melbourne, Australia.  There is a museum that was designed by Frank Ghery. It is colorful and interesting to look at.  It is called the Biodiversity Museum.  I didn't go in as the entrance is $22.00 USD.  Besides being expensive I have heard from locals, that it is not that good.  Few exhibits.   

Panama uses the USD as its currency.  They have their own currency which is called the Balboa.  It is used, but mostly people use the US dollar. Panama City is not cheap.  If you eat cheap, you eat junk.  Well not total junk, but fried food.  Plantains, rice, and fried something.  If you want good food you have to spend at least $20 USD for a meal.  I go to the supermarket.  I usually only eat out at dinner and sometimes not even then.  

So what did I do my first day?  Well, when I realized walking the Costa Cintura (or the malecon) was not realistic because I would have died of heat stroke, I walked back towards the metro.  I had read if you take the metro to the Cinco de Mayo station you could easily walk to Casco Viejo, which is the old part of town that has been gentrified.  The metro is beautiful.  It is new and very modern.  It is very similar to the metro in Chile, but the stations are more modern.

I got off at Cinco de Mayo, and blondie me rises to the top, only to realize I am in the middle of a villa. (Slum)  Whatever was that guy thinking who wrote on the Internet to get off at this stop.  You almost have to wonder if he knew what he was talking about.  Lesson #1: The Internet is not always the best source of information.  I knew that. Duh.  So, I did the next best thing.  I stopped a taxi.

Taxis in Panama do not have meters.  You have to ask the price of the ride.  From my Mexico days I knew this trick.  Do not get in the taxi until you agree on the price.  Even if you are platinum blond with fake Raybans in the middle of a slum.  So I open the door lean in and in my twisted Argentine accent ask how much to go to Casco Viejo.  2 bucks.  A deal.  

Casco Viejo is a part of town where people have been buying up the old buildings and renovating them.  It is kind of cool.  You have to be careful not to get off the beaten path..or you might find yourself in a not so good position.  Like me in the villa.  From Casco Viejo I walked to the Mercado de Mariscos and had an amazing lunch of cerviche and plantains.  Only $4.00 USD.  Yes, I know, cheap.  One of the few places with cheap food that is reasonably good.  

From there I stopped another taxi and decided to check out a shopping mall.  Another 2 buck ride to Allbrook.  The malls here are huge.  This one has 700 stores.  I got lost.  It was like a Hollywood horror movie "Trapped in a Mall".  I finally found my way out and went to look for the metro.  It took 4 tries before I got the correct information.  What I realized is that Panamanians are similar to Mexicans.  They do not want to be rude and tell you they don't know, so they just tell you anything.  Soon I was on the metro back to my barrio. Tomorrow would be my next adventure in Panama, to the city David.

 

 


On The Road Again: Tourists in Bali - Tango in Buenos Aires

It has been a month since I left Bali.  My body left, my mind and soul, well, they might still be there.  I loved Bali.  It is such a special place.  I would love to go back and spend more time there.  It is one of those places I could see myself living if it were not for a big problem..you cannot bring animals into the country.  That means JerryBrown and Maxi. 

When I started planning my trip to Bali I had no idea what to expect.  I chose to stay in an Indonesian style guest house rather than a tourist oriented villa or hotel.  My hosts were a married couple with a child.  She is originally from Austria and he is Balinese.  They have been married 10 years.  Birgit came to Bali on vacation and fell in love..literally.

Their home is very traditional.  It has an outdoor kitchen, no air conditioning, and no swimming pool.  My bathroom was more modern and semi outside but private.  I had hot water one time during my stay.  I chose this guesthouse because I wanted to be a part of Balinese life.

There are plenty of hotels, guest houses, and villas owned by foreigners that are full of luxuries. (To be fair there are some owned by Indonesians) You can insulate yourself from Balinese life at whatever level you want.  Most have sanitized the Bali experience.

There are two distinct Balis.  There is the Bali that is lived in by the Balinese and the Bali that is for tourism.  I travel because I want to see another culture and learn.  Everyone has their reasons. 

Ubud is a center for health and healing.  It was made famous by that putrid book and movie (IMHO) "Eat Pray Love." In the eyes of many Balinese this book did a lot to ruin their culture.  It was interesting to talk to them about it.  I found many parallels to the tango in Buenos Aires.

When my guides took me to a roadside Warong (restaurant) that was fly infested, I closed my eyes.  I kept hoping the parasites from my days in Mexico would take care of me. The food was delicious.  There was no silverware as the Balinese eat with their hands.  It was the hot rice that would get me.  There is an actual art to eating with your hands.  I was happy that I didn't get sick from eating at that place. After that experience I figured I could eat anywhere and I did.

Most tourists pay for a tour for the Rice Walk.  This is a 5 km walk through the rice fields.  I walked myself.  It was amazing, peaceful, and something I never experienced before.  The sad thing is the walk begins with tons of little shops trying to sell things. Unfortunately this is everywhere you go in Bali, including the temples.

When I got to the middle of the fields there was an old man selling coconuts. He would lop off the top and hand it to you with a straw. It was 10,000 rupees or $1.00.  He told me how he shakes to the trees to get the coconuts to fall.  In a few moments two European tourists came by on their way to their expensive hotel that is situated in the rice fields.

I cannot imagine staying in a luxury villa watching people do back breaking labor. The villa is owned by a Swiss man according to my coconut friend.  The two women began to explain to me what a coconut was.  They were so condescending.  I told them I was from South America, I know what coconuts are.  They just keep going on talking about coconuts.  People in Switzerland must have coconuts. They told me the old man climbs up the tree every day to get his coconuts.  I looked at Mr. Coconut. There was no way he could climb that tree.  He smiled at me.  I bet they don't pay 10,000 rupees.

After they left Mr. Coconut invited me to sit down.  In his limited broken English he brought me over some lemon grass to smell.  Then some citron.  He was delighted I knew it would get rid of mosquitoes. He brought over fresh cumin plants and other herbs growing along side the rice.  We watched frogs play in the rice paddy.

When I finished my coconut juice he hacked open the coconut.  The flesh was more like meat.  I was used to coconuts that were harder.  This was a completely different texture. It was such a huge coconut I could not eat it all.  I wish I had a plastic bag on me.

My guides were a trip.  They were not polished.  They didn't drag me to any shopping outlets.  They had their opinions.  The waiter in my favorite restaurant Eve's Kitchen introduced me to them.  Scooby makes his living from tourists among other things.

"Bali has always had tourists."  He says to me. "Only the tourist now is different."  I asked him in what way.  He told me before the tourists came to Bali to enjoy Bali and to learn about Bali.  Now they come to be entertained.  They don't really want the real Bali.  They bicycles down a mountain.

Many Balinese that I spoke to talked about how they could no longer afford to go to yoga. The yoga masters no longer wanted to hold sessions for the Balinese.  Why should they? The tourists are willing to pay 100,000 rupees or more for a class.  There are yoga retreats for $2000 USD.  "Every day a new yoga master is born." they joked.

It reminded me of the tango in Buenos Aires.  Many Argentine teachers no longer want to teach Argentines.  Why should they?  Foreigners will pay 2 - 3 times more than a local for private lessons.  One only has to pick up the tango magazines to see all the new teachers.

When I found my accupuncturist it was by accident.  I had no idea if the 350,000 rupees he was charging me was a good price or not.  When I asked Birgit she told me that usually the foreigners are charged 500,000 rupees. Just like tango shoes or tango lessons.  Tourists are charged more than locals.  She said he was the best accupuncturist in Ubud and that I was lucky to find him.

She like the others I spoke to told me how many foreigners have now come to Ubud to set up shop.  Yoga teachers, acupuncturists, and other business people are starting to push out the Balinese from their own culture.

When I asked about a restaurant where the food was typical, Birgit's husband laughed.  "You have to go outside the city."  He told me.  "Here you can find Turkish food, Mexican food, Italian food, and a version of Balinese or Indonesian food.  The tourists have ruined our restaurants."  This reminds me of some of the older milongueros when they talk about the milongas.  They blame the tourists for ruining them.  For destroying the codes, lowering the levels of dance.

In the book "Eat Pray Love" the woman talks about going to a healer.  These people in Ubud are known by word of mouth.  They set no price.  People pay them whatever they can.  They feel their ability to heal is a gift and accept whatever donation people want to give them.  True healers never ask for money.

I was referred to Pitu.  He used reflexology.  He was amazing.  He was able to tell me exactly the issues I had with my health with no prompting from me.  In our sessions he would talk to me about my soul and visions.  It was an amazing experience.  I am still feeling the effects of his healing.

Now Ketut Lyer, the healer in EPL has gone commercial.  He charges a fixed amount and basically tells everyone the same thing.  He is an old man.  One person told me he just wants to earn lots of money to leave to his family.  People wait hours to hear the same thing and pay for the priviledge.

When I first came to Buenos Aires, it was not easy to find people who really taught tango. There were those that would rush you in the milongas, but most of them, were just after the tourist buck.  When one found the true milonguero who loved their tango, it was something different.  Most of them had no idea what to charge.  They loved to talk about their tango and show it to you.  To be paid for it?  Wow, that was something.

Times have changed.   If you are 75 years old you are a living legend.  Even if in your day you were not known as one of the better dancers, it doesn't matter.  You get marketed as a "true milonguero" and people pay you for it.

It is sad what success can do to a place.  The people who do not live there always see it differently.  Some tourists think the Balinese are now lucky because they are getting a more Western way of life.  More tourists and more money.  Many Balinese I spoke to see themselves as losing their culture.

In the tango I constantly hear from foreigners how the Argentines should be happy that their dance is everywhere.  That they should be willing to change.  The codes are stupid, old fashioned. 

It makes me sad.  I hope to never lose Bali, just as my tangos still play inside my head.