Westing My Time

Smells like quarantine spirit

Hello from midway between two weeks of quarantine.

I’m back in British Columbia, Western Canada for the next few months staying at my mom’s place.

Here’s the basic rundown:

I took a bus from San Cristobal, Chiapas to Cancun, QR in Mexico. I did this because Cancun had cheaper flights.

From Cancun I flew to Chicago, where I talked to an interesting young lady called Morgan from Chicago who had been on vacation with her Salvadoran-American husband in Tulum.

She recounted being charged $120 for shisha and two cocktails in a restaurant even though there were multiple power outages and talked about the rain on her four day trip. It didn’t sound ideal!

We talked about geopolitics and a little domestic US politics. Morgan was originally from Kansas and served in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, but had to leave on short notice when Carlos Ortega started rampaging on his people and shooting and jailing protesters and journalists.

Unfortunately, things are not that much better in Nicaragua these days, with top journalist Carlos Chamorro recently fleeing the country.

In Chicago I had a seven hour layover, during which time I went to a place called Goose Island and had two beers and a burger. I struck up a conversation with a cool guy called Steve who was a plastic packaging salesman awaiting his flight out from O’Hare to the small town of Manistee, Michigan on Lake Michigan.

“You name it, I’ve had my hands on it,” Steve told me of his packaging career, going on to explain why he’d voted for Trump, his wife’s friendship with a Saudi prince, his concern which I shared over youngsters addicted to smartphones and our mutual concern over rapidly increasing inflation in the US economy.

Waiting for my next flight I befriended a super-friendly plumber named Virgil (“people just call me Buddy!”) who was headed to a friends’ place about half an hour away from Las Vegas to get married to his longtime girlfriend and mother of his child (“Well, I figure it’s about time, you know?”) he said. He told me about his time serving in the army where he’d been stationed in Germany for a few years in the 1980s and how much fun it had been (“Oh yeah, we went to those beer fests and all of that. It was a hoot!”)

Buddy talked about his love of nature and fishing in Colorado as another guy nearby with a little tyke pretending to take off in a rocket ship and running in circles commenting about how COVID had been a government scam and how Illinois Democrat Governor J.B. Pritzker had used the pandemic to enrich himself at the state’s expense.

I flew out of Chicago at night to McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, where I headed to a lobby after wasting $20 on the slots and tried to sleep. My connection was at 0900. Another guy ended up sleeping on the floor as well, and a woman in a hijab tried her best to sleep in the corner. I eventually drifted off, after looping my bag strap around my hand and cradling it like a crate of diamonds.

When I woke up some folks were coming in for the flight to Seattle and commenting on the shaven-headed guy sprawled across the floor.

“That’s the sign of a true Vegas trip all right,” one man commented with a laugh.

After Vegas I ended up in Seattle, where I grabbed my bags off the carousel, took an airport shuttle and checked into a nearby hotel. There was no soap in the room so I grabbed some from a cleaning lady who was breathless and told me that they had five staff to serve 130 guests and that ads for months had gone unanswered as people relied on federal COVID benefits instead of wanting to work.

“Well, I hope you get to take a break sometime,” I said.

She laughed incredulously.

I took a cab to a mobile testing spot run by King County health, got a COVID test and then took another cab to the post office to mail a hat to my friend Shaun and buy a new toothbrush at Walgreen’s. My Uber driver was an interesting guy called Wilson originally from Kenya.

We talked about our opinions on the COVID vaccine and the current situation as well as the hamster wheel of the working class and the economy, and then about Africa and my desire to visit Kenya, Ghana and other places someday. He recounted his past work for the Catholic Church in Rwanda, where he’d helped save people during the war.

The amount of life experiences people have and what they’ve been involved in never ceases to amaze me.

After getting my COVID test results required to enter Canada, I took an Uber to downtown Seattle train station with a cool driver called Ghulan from Afghanistan. We talked about how messed up modern society and social liberalism were, particularly vis-a-vis the “freedom” of people’s relationships, toxic individualism and lack of religious guidance and I then reached my destination and went hunting around for a bus.

The next bus was booked so I headed to the Greyhound station where I bought a ticket for later in the day. On the bus to Bellingham I talked to an interesting young lady called Becky who had been doing English teaching and missionary work in Ukraine for the past year or two (I forget how long) and we ended up having a cool theological discussion about redemption, forgiveness and the meaning of life. She was headed to a different border crossing than me in order to get home to Kamloops I believe it is.

In any case, at Bellingham I took another local bus (free during COVID) and then after stopping for a quick Taco Bell break I Ubered to the border with a jovial man who said most of his business now was driving Canadians from upstate Washington into the BC border (due to the $2,000 and one week hotel quarantine if you come in by air). We talked a little politics and about his support of Biden and hope the vaccine would work and then I was at the crossing.

After an on-site COVID test at border I was off with another Uber 15 minutes to the Tsawassen ferry. I talked about housing prices and the real estate market with my driver Sandeep who was originally from Punjab province of India.

The ferry across was uneventful and then I arrived, and who did I see but my dear mom waiting for me at 0100 (1 a.m.) after driving all the way up! She drove back from Duke Point to Cowichan Bay and introduced me to my new temporary lodgings, a downstairs basement suite all stocked with very healthy food for me to sustain myself.

View from the backyard.

So:

Now here I am, back at my mom’s and working away, mainly for Ideapod, Hack Spirit, Nomadrs and on my book Cultworld.

I will update soon.

Until next time, take it easy folx.