Monday February 1 2010
It's amazing how quickly humans can adapt. This is a double edged sword--it is a good thing when times are tough and you learn to do without usual comforts and cherish the simple things in life. It can work against you when you become accustomed to a standard of living above the basic, and then those comforts are taken away from you.
I remember, in my first European tour in 2008 feeling guilty that I was sleeping in a hotel while travelling. Up until 2008 I'd always travelled under the most Spartan conditions, sleeping outside or in youth hostels and enjoyed it. I don't think I had ever even stepped foot in a 5 star hotel, let along stayed in one. Over the course of the 3 month tour I gradually learned to accept my environment and the fact that I didn't need to carry my belonging on my back everywhere. I won't say that I got used to it, but, by the end of the tour I didn't feel awkward.
Now I'm in my second year of touring and somehow I've come to expect a certain level of comfort. But what happens when you are stripped of those comforts and told to make do with less? We work hard, and life on the road is hard on the body, especially when you are dancing 2 hours a night and going to the gym with only a few days off a month. We are now touring the UK and have been moved from the mostly five star hotels we get in Continental Europe to three star hotels in the UK. Strange. In my backpacking days I would have considered a 3 star hotel the height of luxury, and five star hotels only a dream. Buy now, for some reason I find myself feeling resentful toward this demotion.
So now, on top of doing laundry in the sink (we are expected to do our own laundry which no simple task when you are on the road every day) and a much smaller breakfast buffet (they actually charge extra for hard boiled eggs), we have a lower standard of living. The rooms have one bed and one cot. Part of me thinks I'm just being a baby and should be happy with what I have. But then there is another part of me that sympathizes with what another dancer said tonight "when I'm working on tour, I shouldn't have to feel like I'm backpacking."
I suppose in the end, thanks to the great human capacity to adapt, we will all do so, and then when we move back to 5 star hotels in the next leg of the tour we will enjoy it all the more. Maybe even fell a bit out of place.
Today was our first show in the UK. For better of for worse, it was everything I thought it would be. Anybody remember the Simpson's episode with "the British book of smiles"? Lets just say that most stereotypes are to a certain degree grounded in reality. I also noted that the women aren't shy about expressing themselves (once again, for better or for worse). If I had a quid for every time somebody's mother or grandmother grabbed my ass during photo session I could retire right now. Furthermore, I'm still deliberating on whether it is better to tour in countries where you don't understand the language and consequently what the women are saying, or otherwise. This is going to be an interesting month, that I know. For some strange reason everywhere I go I want to blurt out in a cheezy british accent "top of the mo'nin' to ya govn'a".
The British are both wonderful and wonderfully annoying. When I went to the gym this morning these two woman were just standing on their elliptical trainers talking away. They weren't even exercising. I wanted to tackle them. Rationally, I know that there are probably people in every country that do the same thing, but for some reason, when you're in a foreign country everything you experience that annoys you gets generalized as behaviour typical to the natives. Like nobody in Canada is ever annoying! I'm sure there are even Canadians who say "top of the mo'nin' to ya govn'a!". Funny how the brain works.
One thing I do really like here that I have noticed in contrast to Germany is how friendly and cheerful everyone is. Everybody wants to know where you're from and says welcome to our town etc... People here seem genuinely interested in where your from and are eager to help or suggest thing to see and do.