Hello -- you must be going
“How dare you? Just leave us alone and don’t start flooding us with your poltroonish 'more money than brains' retirees.”
I was mentally responding in an ungracious manner to a supplement in a Vancouver newspaper a week or so ago that was advising Vancouverites about all the wonderful places in the province in which they could build ‘retirement’ homes. My community was amongst those suggested.
My advice is, if you have the wherewithal to be considering a retirement home, and can still afford to live in a city that boasts (?) among the highest real estate costs in the world, then go and build your retirement home in Maui, or Palm Springs, or Yuma, or the South of France. I don’t want you here. I don’t want this place to become ‘popular’.
I don’t want you here, even though your building or acquiring of your retirement home will boost my property values (OK, that’s a nice spin-off) for a number of reasons. They are:
* At least half the population of Alberta has already built retirement/recreation homes here. They are lured by the fact that they have all this money to somehow spend in this lifetime, and because we have a much nicer climate than they do. Most places have a nicer climate than they do.
* This burgeoning population is non-productive and brings nothing to the community. True, it brings jobs in the tourism industry. Shit jobs, ‘McJobs’, but nothing that would encourage a local resident to seek such employment and raise a family.
* This non-productive sector, at the same time, puts a huge demand on the infrastructure: roads, water mains, hospitals, and so forth. The only element it doesn’t put a demand on is schools. That’s mainly because those who are raising young families have been forced to leave and seek their fortunes in places in which they can earn a living.
* The demands for retirement dwellings by the uitlanders has resulted in a collective orgasm for developers, contractors, realtors and city and town councils (who see their tax base expanding, but are generally too stupid to realize the increased largesse will all go into infrastructure costs), and hence all sorts of fine pastoral and wooded lands have been turned into boring, uninspiring, sometimes butt-ugly tract homes and condos that are outrageously overpriced. Hey, if you wanted your retirement to resemble the staggeringly uninspired suburban octopus of greater Calgary, why the hell didn’t you stay there? I wanted to use a stronger word than ‘hell’ in the previous sentence but I restrained myself.
Anyway, that is my rant about that, but there is another theme I want to throw in here.
In conversation with a friend yesterday I said that we were thinking of going to Hawaii in September. He noted that he and his wife were going to Maui in August. He asked about our destination. I replied that it would be Kauai.
“I’ve never been there,” he said. “Is it nice?” Well, by their very nature, all of the Hawaiian Islands qualify as “nice”, but I decided I wouldn’t praise it to the skies. My reason being that I love Kauai and I don’t want to see hordes of tourists spoil its relative ‘unspoiledness’. It’s mine, damn it, so I don’t want other people going there. There is a virtue for me in that it’s not on the radar of everybody.
I like to visit underrated destinations.
A year-and-a-half ago, after three weeks living in France we went to Belgium. Belgium had never been a destination for me, and it’s not a place on the primo list of anybody visiting Europe. We were going to meet friends there, and that was the only reason we were going. Quite frankly, I thought that Brussels was a fabulous city. It was urbane, sophisticated, a great arts centre and the food was to die for. The coronary-inducing chocolate truffles alone made it worth a visit. Yet, it’s still unspoiled.
When I lived in England a long time ago, I lived on the coast of Norfolk, near Great Yarmouth. We found that even a lot of English friends knew nothing about Norfolk. That gives high marks to Norfolk; virtually nobody goes there, and especially North Americans don’t go there. Again, unspoiled and completely charming in its own way. I loved it.
We went to the Cook Islands instead of Tahiti, which is right next door. It costs about a tenth to stay on Rarotonga over what it would cost to find decent digs on Bora Bora; and yet the beauty is on a par, the climate’s the same, and the people speak English. Later I heard that cruise ships are now stopping at Raro. What a pity. It will no longer be ‘mine.’
It’s not that I’m antisocial; I just don’t like to be crowded. I like to visit places while they are still ‘real’, much as I want my community to stay ‘real’, and it can’t with all the interlopers.
I must add that in the foregoing diatribe, I do not mean that any of my faithful, or even faithless readers shouldn't come here. You'd love it. I am only directing this at 'others' not family. You people are family.