When Your Vacation Gives You Hard Labor, Make Lemonade

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I really get irked by that sub-genre of travel writing/storytelling that I’ll go ahead and term Hostel horror stories — and I refer here to Hostel the movie, not the category of accomadations. You know what I’m talking about, the story plucked from the hundreds — no thousands — of amazing travel experiences where everything goes wrong. This story usually involves unfriendly locals, lost wallets, drug-toting streetwalkers, pushy corner thugs, and of course, inept airliners.

Sure, travel is like life itself — a never-ending craps game where once in a while you’re going to roll snake eyes, for better or for worse. The problem is that general horror stories in general don’t cause other people to decide to say, “Screw it, I’m not leaving home and am staying in bed for the next 40 or 50 years.” (Unless you’re Brian Wilson, but that’s another story.)

Hostel horror stories actually do have negative consequences: They make people question whether they should go ahead and book that flight to someplace they weren’t sure about traveling to, or choosing a destination different from somewhere they had a perfectly good time visiting last time.

Which is why I get just a tiny bit of pleasure reading about this recent account in the UK Telegraph of a British couple who visited the Maldives, only to find themselves in an Orwell-esque clusterfuck with the local law enforcement for, in the words of Dylan, something that they’ve never done.

In a nutshell, the couple, who had been staying at a resort on the exclusive island chain nation, came back from an afternoon of suntanning to find a group of policemen waiting for them at their hotel room. The police asked if they could search the couple’s room as a result of a reported theft from another room. After agreeing, the policemen promptly found $600 stashed away in the couple’s bathroom. The couple was then arrested a day later, forced to spend the night an open-air jail, and finally released after being seen by a sympathetic judge.

Things could have been worse. Yes they lost out on a pretty great vacation. Yes they had to pony up a whole lot of pounds to pay for their lawyer and a night at a local hotel, but they lived to tell the tale.

I don’t know, if this happened to me I’m sure I’d be a little pissed, but what a great tale to tell for the rest of your life. Which story would you rather hear when you meet up for a post-trip dinner party at the couple’s house? One that involves their minute details about the afternoons they spent burning their flesh under the sun and sipping daiquiris at the resort’s hotel bar, or the above story? I’m just saying . . .

[Holiday hell: From paradise to prison cell/UK Telegraph]

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