Sunday, April 6, 2008

Snubbing Paradise

"What do you mean you don't want to live here?"

That's something Ibis and I hear quite frequently, especially once we start telling people about our immigration woes.

"This place is perfect. I'd love to live here!"

Yes, yes, it is beautiful and sunny and on the Pacific and cheap and tropical and not the US and the people are friendly and I could go on... but we don't want to be here. We were happy in Chicago and chose to live in Zihua because it seemed the best of our options. Aside from the fact that we didn't want to move in the first place and we have very little money despite my husband working 60 hours per week, it is very nice here.

It's been difficult getting people, especially tourists, to understand our point of view. People commonly extend their vacations when they realize one measly week is not nearly enough in this tropical paradise. So to hear us say how we long to return to the Midwest makes no sense to them.

Today I finished Eat, Pray, Love (which means I promise I'll stop talking about it soon). Elizabeth Gilbert said something about Bali, where she spent the final four months of her year-long travels, that could easily be said about Zihua:

I've been watching the expatriate society in Ubud, and I know for a stone-cold fact this is not the life for me. Everywhere in this town you see the same kind of character — Westerners who have been so ill-treated and badly worn by life that they've dropped the whole struggle and decided to camp out here in Bali indefinitely, where they can live in a gorgeous house for $200 a month, perhaps taking a young Balinese man or woman as a companion, where they can drink before noon without getting any static about it, where they can make a bit of money exporting a bit of furniture for somebody. But generally, all they are doing here is seeing to it that nothing serious will ever be asked of them again. These are not bums, mind you.... But it seems to me that everyone I meet here used to be something once (generally "married" or "employed"); now they are all united by the absence of the one thing they seem to have surrendered completely and forever: ambition.

We do like Zihua and will someday look back on this time of our life with happiness, but this isn't what we want for ourselves now. We still have lives to live and we'd like to get on with it.


Janna Qualman said...

Me thinks I should hunt down a copy of this book. The snippets you've shared have been fascinating!

Melanie Avila said...

You should! I think I've convinced Turkey, too. I went on & on about it on her blog last week. :D

colbymarshall said...

I can completely understand not wanting to stay! I mean, it's a fun getaway, but once you're not getting away anymore...

Dawn "Editor" Allcot said...

I have been looking at that book in the store for months! I really need to buy it!

spyscribbler said...

That actually makes a lot of sense. What is life without ambition?

I'd like to travel a lot, and I'd like to even live in different countries and experience life there, but, I don't know. I wouldn't really up to the creative cooking you do. :-)