Thursday, June 23, 2005

Almost adjusted enough to relax

First thing's first. Dry cleaners are real bastards.

Now, after 4 days in the goood ol' US, I am almost totally unjetlagged. You may be asking yourself, what does that mean for me? Well, put simply, I no longer wake at an ungodly hour for no apparent reason and have nothing to do, hence I will go and pillage your home and garden in the wee hours while you're getting shut eye. As you can well see, re-adjusting to this timeframe is beneficial to the crux of society as a whole.

This is Part 1 of my Tunisia novella/memoir-ella. Read it, laugh, cry, pee, hate me, love me, then ask for another!

There is something elementary, extraordinary, and especially frustrating with traveling to a third world country. Now don’t get me wrong.

I just went ot Tunisia. Before you ask, ‘but why? Are you a GRAND world traveler?’ To which the author, a complete and utter admitted liar replies, ‘Mary mother of God, yes I am!’ but what I would be saying to you with my sign-language capable eyebrows is, ‘Tunisia was cheaper than both Greece and Turkey. There, you happy now?’

Many of you may be trying to map out the spectacularly extravagant life I must live, being able to holiday and all in AFRICA (which coincidentally is never italicized much, but thought it a nice touch at this juncture), but what I have to tell you may shock and dismay a number of you friends as well as a foe or two. And I am not really sure how it happened, but, yes, I went on an all-inclusive package vacation. Let the balking begin.

I must say one thing in my Tunisian package vacation defense, being an ardent back-packer/Lonely Planet trusting traveler, I never expected that I would be one of those people that decide to overpay some hotel to provide them with room and board, and stay in one central location for an entire vacation. But in Tunisia, it ain’t all that bad. Being on an all-inclusive trip is kind of like being on a cruise, but rather than deal with pesky sailing and those darned pirates, just imagine the boat hell-bent on staying docked on land. And the guests are just as Speedo clad, if they wear anything at all.

Now please allow me the luxury of explaining what an all-inclusive vacation package to AFRICA actually means, and this is all based on a departure from Germany. First you must pack, and pack lightly with a travel guide to give you an idea of what you have to look forward to in terms of the history, culture, sights, and food. Then haul your lazy ass off the bed ten minutes before the fascist regime that strongarms the airport decides willy-nilly to shut the gate on you. Scream - with as much dignity as possible, mind you, because you are after all, a holiday go-er at this point. Scream loud and summon tears if you can. This will help coerce them to understand that you couldn’t possibly have made the gate cut-off time of one-hour prior because you were cramping, or had to finish watching ‘Once And Again’ in German (do not tell them you wouldn’t be caught dead watching this show in the states in your native tongue, however). You see, watching the show in German has benefits, namely, you are trying to improve yourself by exposing yourself to new languages, cultures, and lives, and aren’t we all on earth to do the same thing? Grow and learn from TV? And going to Tunisia to watch their TV would do more than a piffy 4-year college degree anyday! At this point, the heaven’s gate music should kick in and an all powerful glowing light illuminates the door and invites you onto the plane. As you walk onto the gangway a champion, make sure to look back and using just your thumb and pinkly finger, lick your fingertips, shape your eyebrows, then give ‘em a point. Solid. Score: 1 for Chi-Lan, 0 for fascism.

Back to Tunisia. As soon as that shakey-ass plane flies it’s turbulance loving nose into the air, sit back, relax, and familiarize yourself with the location of any and all floatation devices. This plane seems to be piloted by a bunch of jokesters who enjoy flying this plane like it’s a roller coaster. See that cloud there? It doesn’t stand a chance to this 747. Shoot me please.

After a short stint hyperventilating, the plane lands without the nose masks every being deployed – to the huge shock and dismay of this traveler. Now get your ass out of that plane as soon as possible, or the jokester pilots may just take you back up for shits and giggles.

As you enter the customs area, head to the shortest line possible and content yourself with knowing that no matter how short the line nor the amount of people in it, it will not move and you will never enter the country. From the rear of the Tunisian customs room, it seems the immigration officers enjoy asking each and every individial what their plans are while in Tunisia, and if, say, a two-year-old’s stuffed bear refuses to answer, well, that officer gets up and takes a break. He has obviously never encountered such disrespect before. This translates into another hour in line waiting to enter the country. And whatever you do, make sure you do your best to NOT form a sensible line. Seriously, I didn’t think disorganization like this existed outside Microsoft corporate. I was wrong.

The package luckily includes transportation to and from the airport as part of the deal. You may be thinking guests are greeted with confetti, streamers, a large sign heralding ‘Welcome Chi-Lan to our humble country! Enjoy your stay!’ In a perfect world the smile of an all too tan tourguide leader would also excitedly hold a flag in one hand and a glass of champagne for me in the other. Banish those thoughts kids. As soon as you get through customs, walk straight to the hoards of ‘tourist package guides’, as there are plenty, and not many venture to Tunisia without locked accommodation during the summer season. And they don’t greet you, they don’t have time nor the patience for your antics. Thanks!

Sit in the bus for aobut an hour and wait another 45 minutes to be dropped off at a hotel less than 7 kilometers away and voila! Vacation has surely begun!