Imagine boarding a bus en route to the indigenous Embera community in Panama, a long drive and boat ride down a river, far away from a privileged resort life of excessive food and free-flowing alcohol.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, picture a tour guide named Tony, speaking into a little microphone for his voice to carry over the din of the mini-bus speeding its way across the Pan-American highway.
Tony announces that a typical Panamanian salary is around $400 a month, and a post-secondary education runs about $30 for the year.
Suddenly, a woman from B.C. in the tour group decides this is the perfect moment to bring up her own plight.
“That’s so cheap!” she exclaims incredulously. “Do you know how expensive everything is in Canada? It’s going to cost me $100,000 to put my daughter through school! Oh, and our health care system is the worst, you have to wait forever…”
Then you think/hope she’ll shut up any second because she’s embarrassing herself, not to mention the person who chimed in to agree that, yes, everything costs far too much in Canada and we have such a rough life, especially compared to the high-rolling citizens of Panama!
But she doesn’t shut up.
You know what’s a great feeling? Thinking you won’t like doing something, but doing it anyway only to discover that you were right all along.
Not that I have anything against being satisfyingly wrong. But when I realized a long time ago that going to a tropical resort was just not appealing, someone said, “You can’t say you don’t like it if you’ve never gone.”
I’m usually not the sort who will dismiss something because I think I won’t like it. I used to hate olives, then I made myself try them after a long time of staying away and now I love them. I never thought I’d like SpongeBob SquarePants and Matt practically begged me to watch it with him — now it’s one of the only scripted comedies that makes me laugh.
Food and television are easy fixes. You try it and don’t like it? Spit it out. You watch it and don’t like it? Bitch about how unfunny it is and switch the channel. A resort is a much more costly experiment.
Then, just days after Christmas, we had a good excuse: Matt’s friends were getting married.
On a resort.