”We don’t really know what we’re doing. We’re just making it up as we go.”- Jen speaking about our lifestyle at a luncheon for foreign volunteers.
On the surface that sentiment sounds reckless and irresponsible. But if we waited until we had all the answers, we’d still be sitting at home in Texas, shackled to a mortage. Accepting uncertainty is what frees us, it is our ethos…
It is also an ethos that finds humor in punishing us. Our recent transfer through Singapore is a perfect example. With a 16 hour layover, most of which would be spent at a friend’s pool party, we really didn’t need much out of a hotel, just a place to lay our heads for a few hours.
That the taxi driver didn’t believe there was a hotel at the address we gave him should of been a warning sign. On arrival his doubt made more sense. The hotel sign hung above a narrow door wedged between a welding supply house and a shop for industrial cleaners, in an area more apt to offer forklift parts than a turn-down service. But it was eleven at night, the door was open, so we soldiered on.
Up a dim flight of steps and into a cloud of blue smoke. Three Chinese men sat at a plastic table chain smoking and wondering why the Griswalds were dragging duffle bags into their living room. We quickly realized we had booked our stay at a hostel catering to Chinese workers. Unable to afford Singapore rent, these laborers rent a bunk and a locker (4-6 per room) and share a common kitchen, bathroom, and sitting area.
Fortunately our crew was large enough to warrant our own dorm. Of course we had to pass through another dorm to get to it. Past men whose only private space is half of a bunk bed, janitorial and lawn service uniforms hanging at the ends. A lesson for the kids, not everybody gets 3 bedrooms and a garage.
We are learning. We are picking up a few lessons about family travel and road schooling. For instance, we now know that changing countries often brings gastric-upset. And since the twins are at an age where farting on each other’s pillow is considered comedic genius, we now have a no-reckless-farting policy. ByersWithoutBorders is only allowed to pass gas on a toilet until further notice. Like the hostel, another hard-learned lesson.
We know to collect all the air sickness bags after every flight, since Stella can get motion sick from Discovery’s Shark Week.
We know that Isabelle needs space, Jen needs sleep, and Lily craves meat. We know that during our first days in a country I’ll be ripped off multiple times (in India I once paid $10 US to have my ears cleaned).
And after two trips to Bhutan, we now know the best way to recover from the high Himalaya is to beeline to sea level and the equator, and Indonesia has both. Its time for the big thaw.