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Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Home Stretch: 12 monkeys

We travelled from Asia to Europe and Canada, part of our ten week travel schedule before the end of the year (well, lunar year).

The H5N1 alerts followed us. Apparently we had decided to follow the winter migratory pattern of birds, perhaps an ironic reflection of the avian state of brains of couples in love.

Fortunately no officials correlated our travel patterns with the spread of avian infections of a more serious nature.

Our travel was dominated by conversation concerning the impending collision of our respective family fantasies with our reality. In fact, I type this after an interesting Thanksgiving experience, to be detailed later. Yes, interesting in the sense of the saying (not a Chinese proverb as Bobby Kennedy might have wanted you to believe.)

Side note: Jenny flew separately to meet me in Italy. She had a some trouble with immigration upon arrival. The immigration officer was rather incredulous about the diversity of her passport stamps and wondered how she was doing so much travel. Jenny confessed that her boyfriend had taken her to all those places. The customs official found it difficult to believe that any person could take Jenny to so many places in such a short time. After confirming her story, the officer told Jenny I was a "keeper."

This was our second visit to France. On our first visit we went to a stylish club event in Paris and our photo ended up on a paparazzi site on the Internet, I think due to the company we kept: there was some competitive buying of rounds involving some well known (at least in France) football players. There was amusing speculation on the site that we were exotic Hong Kong media talent of some kind. Amazing what dim lighting can do for the self-esteem.

This trip was much more relaxed and involved much countryside touring. In Venice we bought masks, visited the Murano Glass Factory, and stayed at the Cipriani Hotel where we made love in the cold rain in the private garden of our excessively marbled suite. Then I rented a car and we drove to Monaco with a quick stop in Milan. After a brief stop at the Casino we went onwards to Aix. We gawked, we sang songs, we talked, we plotted. From time to time we'd hop out and walk the beaches along the south of France. I was happy.

So happy, in fact, that at one point near Cassis (on the way to Aix) I pulled the car over, changed to swimsuits in the car, locked up, and ran into the Sea. After a short frolic (the water was hardly warm) I found to my dismay that I could not locate my car keys in the little swimsuit pocket where I had placed them. Apparently we had offended Triton, and so he had found it appropriate to take my keys and bury them somewhere in the expanse of submarine sand surrounding me. My foresight was further shortened by the fact that I had left our clothes and towels safely locked in the car along with my wallet, money, cell phone, and pretty much everything else other than our swim suits. And did I mention it wasn't exactly warm out?

So there I was, cursing myself as the fool while Jenny was slowly freezing to death. Laugh while you can, monkey boy.

We ran for the nearest seaside hotel where I was able to procure towels. While we stood dripping in the lobby I racked my brain for somebody to call, and finally decided to try calling American Express.

Honestly, I will never ever ever cancel my American Express card. Ever. Even though they are in many ways ridiculous, they proved worthy of every fee I have paid over my tenure with them. The kind lady at American Express saved what remained of my tattered dignity. Without so much as knowing my card number (since I didn't have it) she arranged for the car to be towed and "vandalized," a nearby hotel arranged, and another car found and delivered the next day (by the time this was done the rental agencies in the area had all closed.) Oh, yes, I did say the car was vandalized. Because there was no key available in the area and the car was quite securely locked, the towing shop actually cut out the lock from the car, doing some shockingly serious damage in order to get to my wallet (and, importantly, get paid). And did I mention that the car so shockingly damaged was a Ferrari? (admittedly an older GT, the 456. The replacement car was Pugeot, but I only had myself to blame!)

Maybe I'll be getting some kind of special bill later on. Stay tuned.

Humbled and feeling like the idiot I was, I almost failed to notice how much Jenny was enjoying my having screwed up so badly. So when we got to the hotel I spent several hours apologizing... orally. Some time later when she had recovered from my apologies and could breathe normally again, she forgave me.

We still have the three hotel towels.

At some point I will have to send a thank you card to the hotel manager. And American Express. Um, after I see the next billing statement.

Although I threw off the schedule by a day, we finally made it to Aix, where we toured some wineries and ate like pigs. French pigs, of course.

Next stop was Canada, or, more precisely Quebec. Montreal was getting cold, but Jenny loved the atmosphere there. Some of the hauteur and style of the French mixed in with the down-to-earth warmth of the Canadians... a few jazz clubs, a little shopping, and even a sex show... then it was off with the stylish clothes and into the fleece as we made our way to Vancouver, British Columbia.

There I rented another car and drove to Victoria on Vancouver Island (yes, it's confusing) via ferry. We spent time at the Fairmont Empress in the city by the harbor, and then spent a few days at the Aerie Resort in a marvelous top-floor suite enjoying the fine food and wine, and hiking the countryside. We even headed into a nearby small town to watch Harry Potter. It was very restful and stress relieving.

And it needed to be. Because I then went to Vancouver to meet my folks for a family vacation with my father, stepmother, and their nuclear family. This in turn to warm up, so to speak, for an extended family Thanksgiving and Asian ceremonial rendezvous in Los Angeles with thirty of my father's relatives.



Anonymous VJ said...

Geez, I hope you both are well, and that the disappearance of the past few posts does not indicate trouble. Cheers, 'VJ'

2/20/2006 3:19 AM  

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