EXPAT TRAVEL: JUST STAY HOME

by missfootloose on July 31, 2010 · 3 comments

in adventure, exotica, travel, wildlife

If you’re an expat living in an exotic place, you’re probably not surprised by interesting adventures and unusual happenings, say finding monkeys on your roof, or lunch at the palace of an African chief. But trust me, this does not mean you can’t be surprised now and then by something exotic in your own boring familiar environment. This happened to me and my prince one spring day a couple of months ago when we went in search of a bit of rest and relaxation not too far away from home, in a calm and quiet place.

So where’s your home, you ask? Well, although my birth roots are in the land of wooden shoes and windmills, aka the Netherlands, I’m also an adopted citizen of the US and I am domiciling these days in the Eastern part of the country (while eagerly awaiting further travels to alien shores). This area is very familiar to me and certainly no longer foreign or exotic. So here’s the story of…

A QUIET WEEKEND IN THE COUNTRY

We have decided to spend a long restorative weekend in the West Virginia mountains (a few hours west of the teeming jungles of Washington DC for you foreigners not acquainted with the details of the US map.) We’ve rented a rustic lodge for the sojourn, packed our valises with bug spray and wine and set forth on a beautiful spring morn.

Upon arrival, we open the door to the lodge and are greeted calmly by a herd of giraffes, who, by the looks of it, have taken up residence and make no move to depart. They’re everywhere – even in the bedroom. Here a picture of the patriarch in the living room, reaching up to the ceiling. An arrogant sort if you ask me.

We explore our temporary abode in growing wonder. It’s a jungle in here! The place breathes exotic wildness, the air trembles with danger.  Scary foot prints everywhere.  Wherever we look, wild animals leap, dance, and perch on ledges, shelves and walls.  Trapped in framed art work, they look at us hungrily.

A cheetah perches on a shelf, ready to leap, reeds and dry grass sprouting out of its head: It’s a vase. (See photo at top of post). High up on a kitchen cupboard, a lion observes us with royal hauteur.

A palm tree of undetermined species grows dustily on a side table. A tribe of cute chimpanzees frolic on a shelf nearby. An old leather trunk celebrates the demise of some huge reptilian creature – a giant boa, a crocodile, a monster lizard? Or maybe it is plastic.

In the bathroom we encounter a herd of elephants, ear-flapping and trunk-waving, trotting amid coconut palms along the edge of a magazine rack. A leopard print border wraps itself around the room.

Chairs and lampshades are fashioned in leopard skin fabric. Candles in various sizes and shapes all feature animal prints.

We discover an egg, just sitting there on a side table. An enormous egg, as large as an ostrich egg and I know whereof I speak since ostrich eggs were for sale in the supermarket in Ghana, West Africa, when we lived there (and ostrich meat as well). Just look at this picture by drklopta /cc to give you an idea.

What is creepy about this egg here in this bizarre jungle is that it doesn’t have a color normal for eggs – white, or blue or tan. Neither does it have cute decorative speckles like some eggs have. No, this monster egg is very dark and has cheetah spots all over it. Do cheetas lay eggs?

Maybe it is a haunted egg, because the photo I take of it does not come out usable.

Hearts atrembling, we safari into the bedroom. Joined by two massive, ornately carved dressers, lives a gargantuan four-poster bed that hails straight from the British colonies but is missing its mosquito netting. This is scary business in the jungle, don’t you agree? Fortunately we realize that malaria has been conquered in this particular wilderness, and on closer inspection the bedroom furniture is probably vintage Sears on steroids. We will survive without a mosquito net. But it is time for a drink to calm our nerves.

Outside on the veranda deck we try to relax and survey the view while sipping a restorative gin and tonic glass of wine. The verdant green of the woods is restful and serene. Squirrels live here, and birds and deer and rabbits. Not so easy to detect are the foxes and groundhogs.

However, when we’re ready for more exciting wildlife, all we have to do is go inside. I wonder what’s lurking under the bed.

* * *

Tell me a surprising, humorous, or exotic thing or event you’ve found in your own familiar habitat.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

GutsyWriter August 4, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Are you sure this wasn’t a “theme” room you reserved? I love that type of decor, but for someone who’s experienced the “real” thing, this must have been a disappointment. I used to stay in “theme” rooms when my husband and I wanted to have a fun time and our kids were young.

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Teri August 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Living close to Nashville there are so many ethnic restaurants to try. Each one we visit brings a bit of “exotic” into our lives. And satisfies cravings for food from places we have visited.

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Lady Fi August 6, 2010 at 12:19 am

What an amazing place – all the more so for being so unexpected! I love the way you paint the story…

Something unexpected – must be walking in the woods and encountering: a 1000-yr-old rune stone in the middle of nowhere; a 3-000-yr-old burial mound from the Bronze Age; or suddenly coming upon something that looks like a huge grassy snake only to discover later on (via the Internet) that it is a bunker from WW1.

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