When you walk into a shared room, peek into the outdoor bathroom…complete with an Indonesian bidet (aka a bucket of water and a scoop) and say to one another, “This place isn’t that bad,” you may have bitten off more than you can chew. This is the exact situation Chase and I found ourselves in upon our arrival in Labuan Bajo. On a whim we decided to change plans and head to the island of Flores in hopes we could catch a glimpse of the elusive komodo dragon.
Thus far, most legs of our journey have been planned. We have reasearched the area heavily, mapped out what we wanted to see and do, and booked a hotel room. Labuan Bajo was a different situation entirely. We arrived at the airport in Bali and booked the first flight out for Flores (which left in just over an hour). A few hours later we found ourselves in Labuan Bajo with no place to stay and no idea of what to do other than see Komodo dragons. I was so proud of Chase for adopting my, ‘go with it’ spirit and a little shocked, to be honest. Unfortuntaley, I quickly realized that maybe we had made a big mistake. October is generally when the low season begins for this area however, there happened to be a big conference going on during the time of our arrival. We soon realized that almost all rooms in the tiny city were booked so we were left scrambling. Luckily, we found what we thought would be a nice one and they had one room for one night. We took it, sight unseen.
The views were incredible, the staff was overly friendly, it was in our budget, and the room seemed clean….enough. I really thought we had hit the jackpot. After a full day of searching for komodo tours and hotel rooms in the pouring rain, we were relieved to have a place to lay our heads. After settling in we discovered the room wasn’t nearly as nice as it had seemed just moments before. Bugs started coming out of their hiding spots and tiny little lizards began patrolling the walls, somewhat of a welcoming party, I presume. I slowly opened the back door, peeking around it to make sure I was safe so I could use our OUTDOOR bathroom. Nothing jumped down on me so I assumed the coast was clear. “Never assume,” my dad always says. As I am about to have a seat on the toilet I see a gecko about the size of my forearm right above it. I quickly run back inside to inform Chase. He doesn’t believe that it can be that big so he has a look for himself and was right back inside just as quick as he went out. Now don’t get me wrong, I think the little guys are cute and they honestly aren’t all that terrifying….until they are in your bathroom. That is the moment we had to reevaluate some things.
We are a couple that enjoys adventure. We thrive on seeing and doing new things, pushing ourselves to the limit. To be honest, I felt bad that I didn’t want to stay in a room where spiders and lizards were crawling on the walls. That sounds ridiculous, believe me, I know. But it’s the truth. I felt like such a jerk. People do this all of the time, people live like this, what was my problem? Thankfully, Chase and my mom are my continual voices of reason, especially when I’m being too hard on myself (which is every single day, unfortunately). With no WiFi Chase had to handle this one solo but he did a brilliant job. He reminded me that at the beginning of this journey we both agreed that we were not out for the typical ‘backpacker’ lifestyle. We weren’t planning on living lavishly, by any means, but that it was ok to have standards and stick by them. Granted, we are in a different country so obviously things will be different but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I have to share my bathroom with lizards. It certainly doesn’t mean that I have to feel bad for not wanting to. Our experiences will be different than typical backpackers and that is a good thing because that is how we wanted them. It doesn’t make me any less of a traveler if I would prefer to stay in a place where I don’t share my bed with spiders. (In fact, folks like us are called “flashpackers.” Chase just informed me) I’m seriously crazy y’all and guilty thoughts like this run through my mind continually. Chase says I am constantly at war with my myself. I’m so thankful I have him and that he can pull me out of that battlefield when I need him to.
So, for any others out there who have those feelings/thoughts like me, I’m sorry. But, it is OK to crave different experiences. It is OK to want better for yourself and it doesn’t make you a bad or a selfish person. You are given one life on this Earth so do the things you want to do, the way you want to do them. It is YOUR experience, after all. Also, on a side note, just be nice and love each other. The world would be so much better if we could show love and kindness everywhere we went. Life is tough enough as it is! Clearly, this little pep talk of sorts was just as much for me as it was for you.