In the end it all comes down to the bathroom

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I’m lucky that my wife is pretty easy going while traveling. From early on in our relationship we enjoyed traveling fairly rough and searched out cultural experiences rather than luxury vacation spots. We have each other’s back while on the road and we both have a pretty good ‘manana’ attitude when things go wrong.

Before a trip we both research different aspects of our destination then develop a general route plan but for longer trips almost never book hotels ahead except the first night after flying in. Staying flexible allows us to adjust our plans on the fly. Thus we never stay longer than we want somewhere and can stay longer in the places we like.

Not booking hotels in advance hasn’t generally been an issue except in very busy times when we have had to accept our second or third choice. Given the number of fake reviews on travel websites and the ability of photographers to ‘put lipstick on the pig’ we’re not too surprised when we check into a hotel and find that the best part of our hotel was the pictures. In the particularly bad cases we get our money back and walk down the street to another hotel (one of the benefits of never carrying more than one light pack).

Winona usually rolls with these disappointments and if we’re really dissatisfied we move the next day or (very rarely) in the middle of the night. I still remember brushing up against a cockroach in bed in Mexico at 11 at night and agreeing to find another room NOW. We packed our backpacks and were out the door in 5 minutes without a word to the staff. I had no argument with this move and remember leading the charge out of the hotel.

Where we have the only significant disconnect is with respect to the bathroom. I just don’t see the dirt she sees. I can deal with the shower, toilet, sink combo where EVERYTHING gets wet when you shower (move the TP outside before you start the shower!) I can deal with the cold shower. I can deal with the squat toilet (must be tough on older people with bad knees). I can deal with the tiny towel that is always damp. Back in our Indonesian travel days we learned all about the ‘Mandi’ and I accepted that she just might drain and refill it when we moved in.

She hates all the above and probably a bunch of other things she has told me about that still haven’t registered in the tiny part of my male brain that is reserved for ‘wife’s concerns’.

So I have a strategy. Let her pick the room. That’s it. She researches online. If that doesn’t happen and we show up at a new place she walks in and checks it out alone with ZERO interference from me. Then I ask her if the bathroom was OK. Then I say ‘Want to check out another place?’ When she says she is happy I always ask ‘Are you sure?’ Then I ask again trying to discern if she really is OK with the room or just ready to drop her pack for the night.

This strategy mostly works but even if it the bathroom passes the initial review there is usually some grumbling.

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I look at the combo toilet/shower as above and think, ‘What a brilliant time saver’. She says ‘EVERYTHING gets wet’. Must be a Mars/Venus thing…

I have to admit that the only living being to ever get warm from the shower below is the size of a flea.

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My innocent comment that we don’t need a warm shower in a tropical climate is met with the kind of icy glare that makes me search for some hot water to thaw out.

Note to other men: Don’t EVER say, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. You’ll likely be getting stronger sleeping on the floor.

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