Laid Back Travelers

Yesterday was a bit more relaxed after I went to the doc I came back to my homestay and tried not to spend any more money. I wasn’t entirely successful, but that’s okay. I spent about two hours talking to Sophia, a woman from Paris, about American culture and politics. She checked into the room across the way yesterday and I hadn’t seen much of her. I was sitting on my porch, listening to some tunes when she walked over, sat down, and just started talking. She was a schoolteacher in Dubai for the last two years and is on a multi-week holiday. She was keenly interested in why I, as an American, had found myself in Indonesia. Once I went through my normal spiel of my two-year plan, she immediately jumped to politics. What did I think of the last Presidential election? Did I feel that Obama would be able to really make a difference? Etc. Not from a position of hostility, but of true concern and interest. I asked her why she was so interested in American politics. “So many other world economies depend on the United States to survive. What you do affects us all.” We also discussed the importance and effect that social networking would have on future generations. As an educator, she worries that quick-fix tools like Facebook and Twitter will remove true analysis from situations and reduce communication to bite-size pieces of “safe” blurbs that have had all critical analysis and true feeling removed for fear of it being used against said person by an employer or something.

I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch (score) and went for a nice walk along the beach. It’s really a night and day difference between this beach and the one in Kuta. So much more peaceful and relaxing. I’m sorry if that’s a repeat statement, but it’s so true. When I returned, we had another guest, which meant the homestay was now full. Roberto hailed from Spain and was a retired real estate developer. A world-class gentleman, he immediately invited me out for a beer to watch the sunset at one of the local warungs (restaurants). I happily accepted. Strangely (maybe not so strangely) the first topic of discussion was, again, politics. Once I told him I was from Oklahoma, he paused, and said, “Ah, Oklahoma…very conservative…did you vote?” When I told him I voted for Obama, he lit up and gave me an unexpected high five. “So revolutionary, no?” We talked about world economies and the future of the American political machine for awhile. Roberto is one of those guys that seems to know a little bit about everything and is more than happy to talk about it. Not in an overbearing way, thankfully. We each had two large Bintangs (local beer, the large ones are one liter) and watched the sun set behind the sea. At some point, I told him that I planned on traveling to China for a bit. “Good man,” he said. “Try to get a job for a little while there. I’m telling you, China is the future. Did you know that America contracted much of their telecommunications work in Iraq to Chinese companies? If they take their money out of your financial markets, they’ll be all that’s left. Best to get in on the ground floor, ha!” What a guy. He did have a good point, though.

Roberto has been traveling the world for a long time, evidently. He advised on a few airlines that could get us cheap airfare to Europe if we decided to hop over in the near future, some as low as $100 Euro from Bangkok to London. Sounds too good to be true, I’ll have to check it out myself. He was also very complimentary of Laos. Not so much of Vietnam. He said Vietnam is one of the most capitalist countries in the area, ironically. Achim had said the same thing the other night. But only time will tell where we visit and where we don’t.

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