Follow by Email

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Most of my trips seem to be preceded by disaster...

So, by now you may (or may not) have heard of the earthquake that struck southern Java (http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/02/world/AP-AS-Indonesia-Earthquake.html?scp=1&sq=earthquake%20indonesia&st=cse). 

I have to apologize -- it's my fault.  Apparently when I decide to travel somewhere, this creates enough turmoil in the universe that something major happens, either political or climatic.  Generally it happens a few weeks before I get to that place, but long after I have made my noncancellable plans to go.   And then I just decide that that region needs my tourism more than ever, and I'm going anyway, and no one can try to talk me out of it.

You don't believe me, do you.

Some examples: 10 years ago, when I first went to Indonesia, I managed to be in Bali during the rioting that followed the election of prime minister Wahid.  The Balinese had wanted Megawati to win instead.  Of course, as history later revealed, those two were equally corrupt.

Next, I went to Ecuador and the Galapagos -- right after a major oil tanker spill.  Luckily, the winds were prevailing in the direction away from those pristine islands, so there was not huge damage to the wildlife in the area.  The following week, I was in Quito during an uprising of the "indigenas".  There was marching in the streets, all government buildings, schools, and *museums* closed, and the famed Otovalo market was closed for the first time in recent history.

Then, a trip to Puerto Vallarta, right after the hurricane.  One of the places I was supposed to stay at was washed out to sea, and the beautiful Malec√≥n was destroyed.  Luckily I got a chance to go back there 9 months ago, and they have recovered.

Next, I think, was my trip to southern Thailand with my Thai cooking teacher.  Yes, you guessed it -- two weeks after the devastating tsunami.  Planned for 10 months in advance.  It was like going back in tourism 20 years in time -- not mobbed with people at all, and the locals truly appreciated that we came anyway.  Of course, during our 9 days of snorkelling, we didn't bump into a lot of other longtail boats, as the locals believed that there were still souls trapped in the water (as the bodies had not all been found).  I was impressed at the resilience of the Thai people to bounce back and institute clean-up efforts so quickly.

I like Thailand enough that I went back the next time a week or two right after that bloodless coup they had.  I have to admit, I planned this last minute on purpose, knowing that it was bound to all work out ok.

Next: Oaxaca, right after the end of the scary 6-9 months or so they had with the incident with the schoolteachers striking and a bunch of people getting killed...

And then I was in Borneo during the torrential, torrential rains that made hundreds of thousands of their next-door-neighbors in the Philippines homeless, a year and a half ago.

I think there might be a few more I am not remembering now.

I must say here that the one event I was lucky enough to *miss* by travelling was 9/11.  I had just arrived in China and spent the following month there, and was pretty much cut off from the media during that whole tragic month.  That was fortunate.

So anyway, don't worry about me, this earthquake was pretty much par for the course given my upcoming travel plans.  I'm sorry, I find it hard to stop disrupting the universe with my travel plans...