Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hotels, travel and inertia by Suz deMello

Inertia is a condition that rarely overtakes me except outside of my usual orbit.

On vacation, even if I plan to sightsee, inertia conquers me the moment I  step into a nice hotel room. It doesn´t have to be luxurious and perfect. It doesn’t have to be a Radisson a Westin or even a humble Hilton.

No, any hotel room with a comfy bed, 24 hour room service and a decent view will bring on inertia.

I remember when I was in Hong Kong. All the conditions for inertia obtained, including and most especially a fabulous view of Hong Kong Harbor, which never failed to amuse.  For hours, I watched tiny junks navigate the wakes of giant steamers, ferries ceaselessly plying the waves between the island and the mainland.  I did see the sights, but only during the hottest part of the day… I had squandered the cool morning lazing around my room.

Today--March 4—the same satiation. Nice hotel room, great view, exotic locale, this time Cancun. I awakened after a wonderful night of rest to see that the sun slanted over my balcony at the perfect angle for nude sunbathing. Even better, the idea of doing my yoga routine out there beckoned.

So I did. People were surprisingly blasé about the entire event. My room is five stories up, and one of the few benefits of being a woman of a certain age is that one is virtually invisible. Not great for getting sex partners, but fabulous for doing naked yoga in front of the entire Caribbean.

Little would bring me out of my gloriously somnolent state of inertia except… OMG. Where the
F is my hat???

I had bought the perfect hat for this trip. It had a broad brim and an under-chin string for windy days. (I had not been to this area for 20 years but did remember it was windy). My precious new hat was cloth and therefore washable.

I was certain I had brought it. I remember packing it. I even remember unpacking it. But where the H had I put it?

I tore apart my hotel room. Wasn’t hard—the place wasn´t any more than 15x15.
No hat.

Periodically, between the moment I realized the hat had disappeared and the second I left my room (I had to leave to get a hat) I repeated the same fruitless search-and-destroy ritual.

Perhaps buying another hat would be no big deal to most. But I don’t like to own too much stuff. I’m convinced I have too much stuff. I must own at least 10 hats. At least, and buying another was, well, not on my agenda.

But in this climate, a hat is essential. My dermatologist expends no little effort keeping me looking marvelous, and she would not be pleased if I fried my skin.

So I  was galvanized me into action by a lost hat.

Inertia defeated.


  1. Oh! I love hotel rooms for exactly the reasons you describe at the beginning of your post. It's so hard for me to relax, and a hotel room will put me in that state automatically.

    I'm sad you lost your hat. I would have reacted very similarly. I also get attached to specific objects—I don't want any hat, I want the hat I brought! I hope your replacement hat turned out to make you happy!

    1. A major charm of a hotel room is that it demands nothing of you. No responsibilities for cleaning, tending to others, nothing but being there pleasantly remote from the rest of the world. A window on a scenic area of a world not your ordinary one is a huge plus; you get to experience it on your own terms, still with no demands on you to do anything but absorb what you see. Getting out into that world is a different kind of pleasure, intense in a different way, but getting to experience both is a real luxury (and, for a writer, essential research, too.)

  2. Hi, Suz,

    You've described your situation so vividly, I can really picture it. However, I personally wouldn't consider that you're suffering from inertia if you can go out on your balcony and do yoga!

    Also - I think that just BEING in a place is a huge part of traveling. So many people measure their travel experiences by how many of the sights they've seen - ticking them off the checklist, as it were. They're not really IN the place they're visiting, but stuck in some abstracted notion of what the place should be like, living in their guide book, not reality. The true reason for traveling (in my opinion) is to get a sense of a new place, a new environment, maybe a new way of looking at the world (for instance, Hong Kong Harbor). And to get that sense, you do not need to DO anything.

    1. The mention of Hong Kong harbor reminds me of one of the more amazing and memorable bits of life I've had the opportunity to observe. On the Kowloon ferry terminal dock, amid newsstands, kiosks, tourist and commuters milling around by the hundreds if not thousands at rush hours,squatted a very old, wizened man in a peasant's cap. I watched as he caught tiny fish from the bay below by removing a metal grate in the blacktop. Seemingly unaware of any others, who had to trip over and go around him even in the crush. He used a string baited with a piece of shrimp on a tiny hook. He was catching little minnows from the bay below. He was there every day I was there, about two weeks. Now there's inertia.

  3. That's experiencing inertia at both ends! From the static to tearing the room apart on a one-track train-of thought. For better or worse, you made the transition. Perfect example of both tendencies.

    And I'll second what Lisabet has to say. Although I don't usually stay in the room or hotel, I do like being on the streets. Or roads or countryside, as it may be. No tour groups.

  4. Thanks, all, for your comments. I'm now on Isla Mujeres, aka heaven, with better internet access. Eventually I will post pix of the two (!) hats I bought on this trip.


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