Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What We Did For Spring Break

A little while ago Pat and I closed up the PCPPP offices, let the staff have a couple of weeks off, and headed out on separate family vacations.

For my family we really wanted an adventure so we took the long flight from Portland down to Arizona to visit my parents who spend their winters in a retirement community appropriately named Leisure World. And indeed, it’s like a completely different world down there.

Now I’m not quite sure if Leisure World is it’s own city or not - I’ve heard that it does have its own laws and maybe it’s own military, I don’t know - but it’s located within the city of Mesa. I assume it’s similar to how the Vatican is located inside Rome.

I was really excited for this trip because I really wanted my kids to experience a different culture and see first hand how others, that are different from us, live. To receive a life lesson that they could carry with them throughout their years, that would hopefully teach them that there is more to our world than just what they experience in their own everyday lives.

And what a better way to give them this life lesson than a trip to a rich retirement community located in a suburb of Phoenix.

Pat, hopefully your vacation was as adventurous and rewarding as ours. Where was it that you and the family went again?

Pat:  I don’t know where my family went...maybe Seaside* or Gresham**. Not sure.

I went to Ethiopia for two weeks though. Remember...I posted a comment on our Facebook page from there. I think you were even online at the time. Do you even read our blog, Christian?

What were you saying about experiencing different cultures and seeing a world outside our own?

Christian: I thought you were just doing one of those facebook status joke things that people always do, like “Just arrived in Amsterdam” or “Just found out my grandma passed away”. I always just leave a comment saying something like “Ha ha” and call it good.

So you went to Ethiopia? The one in Africa? Or is there an Ethiopia, Oregon I’m not aware of?

Pat:  Nope, you had it with the one in Africa. That one. The one with the funny sounding capital (cool kids just call it “Addis”, by the way). The one neighboring Djibouti. Hard to say that without giggling. Actually, I just giggled as I typed it. Did you know its capital is also called “Djibouti”. Seriously!

I was in Amsterdam too. That was part of the trip, though just for airport purposes. Remember when we went there together? I barely do--it’s mostly memories of late-night pastry shops. Why was that?

Christian: We were in Amsterdam? That sounds familiar but hazy.

Wow, Ethiopia huh? That’s cool, I guess. I mean that’s no Leisure World, Arizona, but probably still somewhat of an adventure, right?

Do you feel like you got to experience a different kind of culture or lifestyle? In Leisure World everyone drives around in golf carts, which we got to experience a little bit of ourselves. It was quite a shock to the system.

Pat:  Yeah, in Ethiopia the act of driving--an act very few of the local Ethiopians have the means to practice--is really a sport akin to Deathrace 2000 (which made me think you would LOVE it!). It involves a lot of braking, a lot of horn use, and very little else. There are added points for not hitting people, goats, cows, donkeys or camels. Well, not points really, but avoidance of fines or prison sentences. Oh! But there is one road in Addis Ababa--the “Ring Road”--where you can actually hit a pedestrian with your car, KILL them even, and not be at fault. It’s ‘cause they built footpaths over the road, and they expect the people to use them. But hit ‘em on any other road, and you’re in trouble. You have to pay the police, or pay the people, or have the victim over for dinner...something like that.

Is that what it was like in Leisure World?

Oh, by the way...Addis has a population of between 2.5 and 5 million (they haven’t really been able to nail down a proper head count) and, as of my visit, only ONE working traffic light. THAT’S an efficient system!

Christian: So no golf carts?

Pat:  Nope, but the country is chock-full of Tuk Tuks, which are kinda’ much cooler than golf carts, and put out a lot more asphyxiating carbon monoxide, which makes them TOUGHER than golf carts 
too! can TASTE the adventure!

Christian: Well, hopefully next time you can go somewhere that has golf carts. Be sure to add it to your bucket list.  

What about food? We ate a local place that all the natives recommended that served authentic Arizonian food. 

Ahhhh, culture.

The food was rather salty but who am I to argue with the local culture.

Did you eat any Ethiopian food?

Pat:  I did! And you know what? After I ate it, it ate me, completely, from the inside out. That’s the great thing about Ethiopian’s a reciprocal relationship! Sometimes you get a worm, sometimes you die a slow death, and other times you just get the opportunity to hang out on a bed and in a latrine for hours on end (about 12 hours in my case).

Here’s what it looked like before it loved me back:


Is Arizonian food like that, or is it more self-centered?

Christian:  Didn’t have any problems with the food but we did have some issues with the native language. One day this older man was yelling at me but I could barely understand a word he was saying. He seemed very excited, but the only words I could make out were something to do with his lawn or garden. Who knows. But since I couldn’t understand him I just drove my golf cart out of his yard and left. I said, the main reason we went to Arizona was to see my parents. I feel like it’s important to visit family even if it means traveling someplace foreign like Arizona.

What made you decide to travel to Ethiopia?

Pat:  Oh, where to start? Cheap airline tickets? No, that wasn’t it. Dream vacation destination? No, not it either. Turning 40 and grasping at anything that might hold meaning or answers? Hmm...maybe partly. That, and my sister and her family live there. Well, they used to. They just moved to another one of those wildly exotic worldly locales--Baltimore.

*For those not in Oregon, this is a crappy town on the coast.
**This is an even crappier town, without even a water feature to redeem it.


  1. Pat, are you sure that's what it looked like *before* it loved you back? Because that meal looks decidedly pre-chewed and partially digested. What with the food looking like that, and all the running for your life on the motorways, it sounds like an excellent country for weight loss.

  2. It is! It's amazing what they can do with lentils, cabbage, chiles and oil (LOTS of oil). It was their fasting period, during which they're all pretty much vegan, which means they eat things that look kinda' like pre-digested food.

    And guess what? Coming home form my two-week stay I was ten pounds lighter!

  3. Leisure World seems so far away. I wonder if there's any similar areas anywhere on the East Coast.

    1. I'm guessing there are one or two thousand similar communities in Florida.

  4. I love Djibouti! I wish I could say it more often. Wyoming has a Meeteetse, which is almost as fun to say, but we don't live there either, so I never get to say anything fun.

    Applebees once gave me the runs too, so I guess I can cross Ethiopia off my list now.

    1. Exactly. Just like how I have no need to visit Russian because I've seen Yakov Smirnoff on TV.

  5. Pat, rest assured you never need to visit Baltimore. Just watch The Wire. It's almost exactly like that, I swear!

    The dieting aspect of visiting Etheopia has me intrigued. I would probably explore that, except that it probably falls into the category of "most expensive diet ever!"

    1. I hear you about not needing to visit Baltimore because of The Wire. It's just like how I feel like there's no point in visiting Mordor because of Lord of the Rings.