Banana currency…and the meaning of life?

There are marked differences between being tourists and travellers. For one thing, as a tourist you have a credit card plus a job to go back to, and you know you won’t be away for too long… As I closed the front door after saying goodbye to the puppies, this was my main thought – when would I see them again, if at all? My girls drove us to the airport (…to make sure we left, they said!) and it was a teary farewell too, mainly because of concerns for our safety. Leaving family, jobs and our home to travel indefinitely is something we’ve never done. Knowing we need to stretch our savings over a year or two, we have researched so many ways of making our dollars last. We now know that we still have a great deal to learn…

Our first night we were ‘tourists’ in a beachfront hotel, it was my birthday for the second time in 24 hours after all! We rested, swam, walked around town, booked a Harley for the next day and drank cocktails ‘till the sun set – a birthday gift from Sarah. We soon started the conversation about our daily budget and ways to make it work. We compared the cost of things and tried to get a handle on new currency and coins – soon realising that taxes and tipping should be added to any buy. Earlier in the day we’d bought some yoghurt and bananas which were a dollar each. Trying to identify the coins, I said to Paul: “That’s a quarter, four of those will buy a banana” to which he replied: “So now we’re dealing in banana currency?” and he fell about laughing. Needless to say, we now refer to all our expenses within the context of ‘how many bananas is that?’

Our day out on the Harley was magnificent and a taste of what was to come once we get our bikes out of customs in Canada. We explored the island with a sense of freedom, stopping to swim in the ocean, eat shrimp, and sleep under a palm tree. That evening we moved to our next abode – our first couch surfing experience, staying with a local! That’s when the “banana currency” really highlighted how much we still had to learn.

Our host showed us around the neighbourhood that evening, which was downtown. It was confronting to witness how many homeless people roamed the streets, something you would never see in the hotel district near the beach. We felt a deep sense of shame in what we saw. Our host showed us the important things to know the location of, like bus stops, convenience stores etc. and explained the ‘local’ way of getting around.  At the hotel the concierge had advised us that a visit to the Arizona Memorial would cost $100. He explained that the actual tickets were free, but that the $100 covered your transport and the convenience of no queues. Our couch surfing host advised us differently on how to visit the memorial – a bus ticket was $2.50 and the bus stop located right outside the door! This lesson had us reflecting on the different experiences of being a “tourist” versus being a “traveller” and relying on being informed through local knowledge. The Arizona Memorial is a moving tribute to the events known more commonly as ‘Pearl Harbour.’

Paul and I set off for our day at the Memorial, knowing we had to catch bus number 42. The bus stop was full of people waiting, so we sat at the end of the line. Each time a bus pulled up I ran to the front of the line, asking the bus driver if it was going to the Memorial. Each time it was a no. After a few busses had passed in this way another bus pulled up, and the passengers ahead in the line all looked back at us shouting: “This one goes to The Memorial!” It was such a poignant moment, the locals instinctively looking after us, knowing our need. Reflecting on this event, Paul said: “It’s the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.” I clearly did not understand the context, so he had to explain. He couldn’t resist one of his “did you know?” moments, telling me about Douglas Adams’ ‘The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ where a computer gets asked the question – “What is the answer to the ultimate question of life?” Apparently after much computing the answer is spat out: “Number forty two!”

Indeed…Imagine our astonishment to find that bananas are only 37cents after following the locals’ advice about the best place to shop in the neighbourhood…

5 thoughts on “Banana currency…and the meaning of life?

  1. Fantastic!!! Have a great time.. loving the blog……BUT……..if my experience is anything to go by..please don”t get bogged down with writing!!! Remember this is a holiday and an adventure of a lifetime… your blog will be like a diary for you so keep going… but never let it consume your days!!! I found that whenever we were all supposed to be relaxing I was somewhere writing writing!!! Having said that keep the pages coming !!! the pics are fantastic and I am so envious!!! We too have great adventure ahead of us… just not quite what we were expecting… BUT when you get here you will find out!!! And it will give us enough time to set up properly!!!! That ought to keep you guessing… Sweet cheeks have a Fabulous time.. and Paul…look after my precious friend!! You are ONE LUCKY GUY!!!
    Much love and be safe… from the real banana republic!!!! Janie!!! xxxxxx


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