Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sarong, Farewell

Island vacations are great ... depending on the island.
“We should go on a cruise,” my husband announces.

 “Yeeeeahhhhh, no,” I respond.

My husband can see I’m already a little green around the gills.  Despite several successful trips on the Catalina ferry many, many, years ago, my last couple seafaring journeys resulted in me orally chumming the sharks.

“You could wear those ear patch things,” he says.

I hate being nauseous and the thought of being potentially nauseous for days is not an alluring thought.

“My sister says they totally work,” my husband assures me.

O.k.  It’s not like he’s going to book a cruise today, so I’ll play along.

“Where would you want to go?” I ask.

“Well, what about the Caribbean ...?”

My nose wrinkles.

“Or the Bahamas?” he suggests, but already his shoulders are drooping.  “Greece?” he adds meekly to my ever more crinkling face.  “Alright then, where would you want to go?”

“The Baltic?” I suggest, and his face drops.  “Alaska?”

“Those places are freezing,” he says, as if I didn’t know.

As if he didn’t know.

I hate hot weather and by hot, I mean anything over seventy degrees Fahrenheit.  I’d like to say it’s a hormonal thing, but I’ve never enjoyed sunbathing nor fantasized about tropical vacations.  I always preferred temperate or cold climates, although snow is not a necessity.  I like to think it’s in my blood.  None of my ethnic genes drops below 34th parallel, which isn’t as cold as I thought (who knew Hiroshima and Los Angeles were at the same latitude?  The axis threw me off.), but still it’s out of the tropics.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s a “dry heat” or not.  Hot is hot.  It’s just a question of whether I feel like I’m melting or if my skin is shriveling away like an overdone turkey.

My general rule is that I can always add more clothing when it’s cold.  I only briefly experienced “seriously” cold weather (0°F at the airport in Toronto), so I can’t attest to the cold weather lifestyle.  But as far as heat goes, I can only take so much off, and once the weather hits eighty, I’m at that limit.  The day we moved into our current home, it was 114°F and it stayed that way for two weeks.  I was beside myself, especially when the rolling black outs hit.  Uber Hundus and I spent the days confined to one room, the portable air conditioner turned up to 11.  We moved to Northern California for cooler weather.  Who knew one little tunnel could make such a huge difference?  Granted, the winters were colder here than in San Francisco, but I’d compromise for cooler summers.  Thankfully, global warming has done that and the last two summers didn’t see any days over 105°F, and even the hottest days were scattered.  Sorry, polar bears.

It's not just the rolls of "belly fat" that are making me frown.
A more temperate climate is probably why I enjoy the coast.  I like the ocean at winter, when the water turns cold iron grey and the strand is nearly deserted except for the hardcore surfers.   Growing up, it was the rolling fog and distant moan of fog horns that lured me to the beach, not the scent of coconut oil and fried corn dogs.  Beach communities, especially port cities, tend to be a little more tolerant of eccentricities as well, perhaps because they’re accustomed to the variety of people and items that the sea trade brings.  That’s important to someone who looks like an outsider in most areas.

I did actually vacation in Hawaii once, on a paid holiday with my husband.  That’s when I confirmed my suspicions.  While my husband laid out by the water sucking down various umbrella drinks and taking the occasional stroll into the bath temperature ocean, I sought refuge in the jungle, hoping it was cooler, momentarily forgetting that the lack of sea breeze meant swarms of mosquitos would be there to greet me. I returned reeking of DEET applied too late to prevent the multitude of bites on my legs.  From then on, it was hopping from shop to shop, hoping to find air conditioning among the Maui dirt dyed t-shirts. 

That was enough for me.  Having grown up among palm trees and sandy beaches, it didn’t seem like much of an escape to go somewhere else with palm trees and sandy beaches, especially if there's also added heat.  I did, however, fall madly in love with coconut syrup.  Tropical food is delicious.  I’d just rather have it imported.

That doesn’t mean island vacations are off the list.  I’ve visited Newfoundland three times and loved every minute of it.  I’m dying to explore Nova Scotia, especially during the Celtic Colors.  I love Ireland and the UK. I look forward to visiting Iceland and its ponies one day.  The Shetlands would be interesting for the same reason.  There’s even the scattered islands that help make up Denmark.  Locally, I’d like to see the Farallons.  In my fantasy life, we’d spend half the year in New Zealand, strategically timed so that I could live in perpetual fall and winter.

 Yes, I’m definitely an Island Girl.  It’s just that on my islands, sarongs are so wrong.


  1. I'm a cool weather person myself, but Kou - Alaska? I took a cruise to Alaska once and that week in July was the coldest winter I'd spent since leaving Minnesota.

  2. Sounds PERFECT! I'll be sure to load up on the woolens and hot chocolate.


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