Okay Peeps. We made it. And we made it because of one person, Lori Keyne, mi esposa. She’s been driving the train on this adventure since its inception. And this is how we incepted it. We says to daughter Catalina who was soon approaching the magical age of 15. “Daughter Catalina, you can have a quincenera and all that or you can travel. But you by god can’t have both because that would be extravagant and we are Protestant enough to not go in for excess, except in the case of tools.
Daughter Catalina, always calm and collected says, WTF you Punks, why can’t I have both. I don’t do anything bad, you yourselves have acknowledged you’re unsure about how to place me on restriction because my behavior has never warranted such consequencing and now you’re presenting with me with an Occam’s Razor situation and I don’t particularly appreciate it.”
“Daughter, I says. I don’t think you quite get the OR thing. I appreciate you know it exists, but that’s not the right way to employ it. You’re not there yet. Keep at it. [I didn’t really understand Occam’s Razor until about 5 minutes ago and a visit to Wikipedia. Thank Christ Catalina is not writing her own blog.]
“Okay,” she says. “Korea.” “I’ll take travel and I’ll take Korea.”
“Korea!? Why on earth do you want Korea? Why not Switzerland, Greece, or Fargo? Korea? It’s only half a country, the other half is off limits. No way, not Korea.”
“Korea. I want Korea.”
When the wife hears her say Korea, the wife jumps up and down because the wife has visited Korea herself when she attended some music conference and even mistook Korean firewater for a bottle of H20. The wife and daughter watch K-dramas allowing me to sneak out for ManCave time to use all the excessive tools.
Once the wife got Korea in her sights, that was it. She was on a mission and remained on it until about this moment. She put this whole trip together. At first she asked me what I wanted to do and see. But I was grumpy even back then and said, “Wife, I don’t even know what I’m going to teach in about 20 minutes. It’s hard to plan out what to do for three weeks in a country that’s half a world away and only half there. You handle it.”
Abdication has never borne such fruit.
“Whatever,” she says to me. The mission commenced. She found the flights. She found the lodging , (including the one we currently inhabit at 1:30 am local time where I’m looking out the wall length window next to my bed, curious about the aqua marine windows I can see all about, experiencing the sleep catastrophe that is jet lag.) She found the places to visit. She tried to contain her enthusiasm-not her strength. I tried to conceal my lack thereof; unsuccessfully as well.
When the wife reminded me that Japan was pretty much next door to Korea and that maybe I could do some writing and pretend to have some interest in this milestone trip of our glorious daughter’s life, I perked up. I’ve explained my writing motivation in the first installment of this fabulous travel blog. Suffice it to say, when it’s about me, I get interested. I’m 56 years old. I don’t care anymore what people think.
Now, let’s talk about being in Korea. After a total of about 20 hours airborne we touched down in Seoul and I gave thanks. We retrieved our luggage, found a taxi purveyor, and then waited for a ride. Hae Song arrived in a shiny Hyundai with the words, “Foreigners Only.” I thought, damn, they even have special taxis for us. I’m going to pass this little example of welcoming the stranger to President DT when I see him in July after my return. He called to ask for a debrief of the trip. My blogs are making it to the WH. He’s not going to like this one, though. Keep reading.
Initially, taxista Hae Song was closed-mouth and not using his happy face. His disdain put me off. It’s important that I hit it off with the cabbies because it’s how I compensate for my guilt for being from the country that tends to invade other countries (Panama), threatens to build border walls between (Mexico), supports right wing, death-squad governments (El Salvador), places long standing trade embargoes against (Cuba), wages Cold War (Kazakhstan/Uzbekistan when they were USSR), and wages hot war against (Korea), and doesn’t really pay any attention to (Canada). I need the cabbies to laugh at my jokes so that my self-loathing and hatred doesn’t do me in. I have enough problems, I don’t need the cabby to make it worse.
It took a minute with Hae Song. It didn’t help that I refused to relinquish my half-full mocha when he pointed at the trash can before we left the airport. This place ain’t cheap, people. That mocha cost me and I wasn’t going to dump it in the service of reconciliation. I’ll do my part, but I have limits, just like everyone else.
At first, we drove in silence, as if we had just had a lover’s spat. But when I started asking him about all the wonderful technology in his car, that warmed him up. He had cables and meters and gps and a cool boxish looking thing that I initially mistook for a radar detection unit. It was a fancy air freshener or anti-flu device or something to that effect.
I asked Hae Song about the population of Seoul-10 million, 4.5 million of that population apparently have automobiles. That makes Hae Song’s job harder. I asked him about the population of Korea (South) 40-million. I asked him about the population of Korea (North): about the same. Then I asked him what the fuck was wrong with the lunatic with his finger on the atom bomb button. Hae Song looked at me, smiled, and said in his basic, but understandable English, “You tell me, Pendejo. He’s your president.”
*I’m determined to keep these Asian Adventure Blogs to about 1000 words, mas or menos. 3b is coming next.