After listening for a good long time, what I think I hear is the siren call of leaving the rat race behind, and heading for the islands for a permanent vacation. Heck yeah, leave your demanding boss, your freeloading brother-in-law (he's figured out how to do it, hasn't he?), your eternally complaining landlord, heck, even your nagging wife, if your luck's really out! Like the man says,
"Pack your bag and hit the trail,
hoist your sail and wind up
on some moonlit bay."
Oh yeah, ease out the back door, and head for the nearest tropical island paradise.
Ah, but wait. I once lived on a tropical island for seventeen of the longest months of my life, and I'm not entirely convinced that it's the right call for a city boy like myself. See, I was born in Balboa Park. To a San Diegan, that is the equivalent of a New Yorker saying that he was born in Central Park; you don't get any more San Diegan than that. Consequently, I have spent the bulk of my adult life with every service, every product, every form of recreation and productive employment virtually within walking distance, and it was misery to give it up.
So, what's the modern drill? You buy your thousand dollar plane ticket, pack enough clothes and sundries to sustain an expedition up the Amazon, and head out for paradise, which in the current cultural climate, generally means Hawaii. You're met at the airport by bored hula dancers who throw a lei (that was probably made in China) around your neck, and an air-conditioned cab whisks you off to your $500-a-night luxury hotel, whereupon you lie on the beach sipping pina coladas for two weeks, before you have to head back home to your slavin' job way before you're ready. Of course everyone wants to call the boss from Waikiki and tell him to "kiss this!" The problem is that two weeks isn't quite enough time to do everything...
"Guam is good, Guam is good,
that's what the natives say,
and we're mighty glad that they told us,
'cause we'd never find out any other way!"
I think the thing is that people go to a tropical tourist mecca, and everything is polished, and packaged, and put on display; there are shows to go to, outrigger canoe rides, frozen daiquiris served from a bamboo bar you can swim up to and order. Everyone is bending over to cater to the vacationer's every whim, and it seems like this is the way that God meant his children to live. Ah, but go to an island where the people just live, and things are a little different. Guam had beautiful beaches, stimulating jungle hikes, breathtaking vistas, and yet living there wasn't for sissies. Talk to me about mailing in your resignation about three months in, when you've memorized the positions of individual rocks on your favorite beach, and given names to the hermit crabs that swarm for a handout every time you sit down there. Once you've made a few hikes, you'll become a big fan of reading (if you can find any current books in the local library)!
Now, it is certainly not my intention to disparage any Chamorros here. I came to love the islanders, and have great respect for their stoic strength in the face of what had been done to their home, but island life isn't for me. It's fine, I guess, if you have a big bank account to draw from, and never have to turn a hand to get anything you want, but it's a tough place to make a living. You're a fisherman, or a tiny-scale farmer, or a craftsman who can make something someone else needs. And the latest gadget, the latest fad, the latest fashion, music, movies and TV, all seem to get there last. My advice: if you think island life is in your blood, book three months at a non-tourist destination, and see how it goes. As for me, I'll sit on my patio with my lemon-ice tea, listen to Jimmy Buffett sing songs about a life that doesn't exist, and hop in my dinged-up pickup for a short trip to Wal-Mart for anything that strikes my fancy!
Meet Me in Margaritaville (pictured above); it's a great album if you haven't met the maestro yet. 38 quintessential songs on two CDs. You'll look back in a year and say it was the best music you ever bought.
Til next time, live well, and be safe!