Updated on February 10, 2017
Honestly, I do not know whether I am tolerant or not. Tolerance is something that most people strive to be these days. Tolerant of other’s religions, of their sexual preferences, of their food choices, of their political leanings and so much more. While people are the same everywhere, when traveling, most people stay in their own homes or hotels and they don’t need to interact too much with those who are different than themselves. Their level of tolerance isn’t tested too much. When we travel, Bean and I do our best to adapt to whatever the situation is, wherever we happen to be especially as we stay in other people’s homes so much. I feel as if my tolerance is continually tested.
In the last few months on the road, Bean and I have come across many families and individuals whose habits at home are not the same habits Bean and I share when we are home. I have done the best that I can to explain to Bean that even though we may be spending time with individuals different than ourselves, we will not be bringing their habits to our home. They are not acceptable. Does that make me intolerant?
In case you don’t understand what I am saying, let me make it very clear. We have stayed in the home of people who think it is no big deal to eat a bag of chips and leave the bag laying on the floor with the rest of the trash that didn’t make it into the garbage can. They see nothing wrong with having mountains of dirty laundry in every room. If they take off their dirty underwear, it can stay wherever it falls on the floor. There are others who don’t mind having six cats and a huge dog coming in and out of the house whenever they please, climbing on the table and counters, sniffing the food, shaking hair and dirt in every direction. Some people are not bothered by hundreds of flies buzzing in the house, falling in the food and crawling over the food they are preparing to sell at the organic market. I guess they feel it will add a little more flavor.
I like Bean to be around other children as well. This is also a challenge as there are so many parenting styles we must encounter. There are the parents who yell and scream at their children as the children yell and scream back at them. There are the parents who allow their children to demand them to obey and they follow their children’s orders without blinking. There are others whose children are allowed to hit other children or tell them how dumb they think they are. There are the parents who feel the best thing they can do with their child is give them an electronic device and leave them alone. That is just naming a few.
As I travel, I do so with the understanding that people do not share the same temperament. However, as I meet new people and stay in their homes, I am surprised that they are not as hospitable as you would expect of someone who is opening their home to others. There was the Airbnb host who demanded her guest to take out the trash. When the young lady said she didn’t have time, she demanded that she move from the room she was rented to another room. They didn’t reach an agreement, so the host followed the girl to her job and made menacing remarks to her supervisor. I was shocked. I spoke up for the young lady. This was unacceptable behavior! It didn’t put me on the host’s good list, but I felt it was necessary. The young lady moved out, which was for the best.
This past week was the most difficult. It could be that I am tired. I could be that I was trying too hard, but it really took something out of me. We were in the home of someone I knew to be difficult, opinionated and set in their ways. I still went to their home with the idea that I could help. I am overly optimistic that way. Bean and I showed up ready and willing to have another great adventure, but nothing we did was enough. There was no amount of adjustment to our situation that would have been enough, short of being completely subservient.
I was criticized because Bean needed new shoes, because I like to run in the morning, because we like to go the library and read books, because I drink mostly water, because we eat kiwi at night, because Bean and I hold conversations during meals, because I like the city more than the country. The list goes on. What upset me the most, but also lit a fire in my spirit, was when I was yelled at and told by this individual that he HATED single mothers. “Women need a man to tell them what to do!” This single mother, advocate for the rights of women everywhere, had enough.
Needless to say, we are no longer at that location. I have decided to take some time in the next few weeks to just hang out with Bean. I don’t really feel like meeting new people or interacting with locals. I just want to read, lay on the bed, watch lots of T.V. or do whatever I want for a while. I don’t want to help anyone with their projects at their home or to improve their language skills. I am going to be selfish for a few weeks.
We are in a beautiful area of France famous for magnificent castles. I didn’t choose the location on purpose; the price for the lodging happened to be really good. I am looking forward to going out in the next few weeks and seeing some of the places that have long been on my list of things to do. In my optimism, I see how great life is. One door shuts and another one opens. It leads you to the place you really want to be and you must step through it. There may be bumps in the road, difficult people and events, but in the end, life is beautiful!