A while back, my husband I set off on what we’d planned to be an around the world trip of volunteering and eco-tourism. We spent months putting together an extensive itinerary of intentional communities (the term ‘commune’ is so political incorrect), sustainable farms, eco-hostels and wildlife sanctuaries throughout the US, South & Central America and beyond.
Unfortunately, we never made it out of the US, in fact, we never managed to get any farther than Florida.
The trip was such a comedy of errors that I chose not to blog about it assuming that no one would understand. But, when I saw the previews for the new movie WANDERLUST, I thought, either someone does understand or someone wrote a movie about my experiences and forgot to pay me.
In the movie, Jennifer Anniston and Paul Rudd play a high-powered Manhattan couple who search for meaning in their lives after getting axed from a job. The couple ends up chucking it all to travel to a B&B which turns out to be a kooky commune…sorry… intentional community.
Back in 2010, my husband and I were not exactly what you’d call high-powered Manhattans before embarking on our trip. We were middle-incomed Chicagoans, facing recent unemployment and looking to make a change.
Instead of focusing on re-employment, we decided to “live the dream” by traveling. And since we had no real savings, we thought we’d keep things cheap and make ourselves useful in some way with volunteering/work exchange.
Well… actually, I decided these things and my poor husband just went along with it because he couldn’t find a suitable rebuttal or job.
So, we left our queen sized Sealy behind in lieu of the lumpy bunk beds of a hippie hostel where the owners had a pencant for public nudity— mostly while in the pool though sometimes not— but, ALWAYS without warning!
We figured that we had an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. We found the hostel on Helpx.net where their profile was upfront about who they were. We thought, what the heck, some of our best friends are urban hippies! We weren’t actually vegans, yogis or tantra-ers ourselves, but we knew many people who were and knowing is half the battle right?
Daily life was a fairly huge adjustment. But not too huge, if you don’t mind grown men (we are talking in their 40’s and 50’s, folks) hanging about and living in tents that they’ve pitched in the woods on the property. For how long, you ask? Oh, let’s just say… indefinitely. One of tenting dudes even contracted some sort of icky, oozing skin condition out there in the woods and chose to treat it with a paste of basil leaves, crushed lychees and dirt. If you are thinking of trying it, don’t bother, it won’t work!
Instead of tv, there were nightly debates on what processed foods are killing us the fastest or the 1001 ways “the man” is ruining everything and finally, the deadly hazards of body perfumes, deodorants and mosquito repellants.
Speaking of MOSQUITOES… the mosquitoes in this place were so relentless, that if napalm were the only repellant available, I probably would have tried it. I’m serious. I’m a city dweller! I had bites in places that weren’t even real places!!!!
On the upside, there was always a vat of hallucinogenic mushroom tea brewing (more like growing) in the community kitchen. And the tent dwelling ‘lifers’ were always secretly stealing, (oops, I mean borrowing) our deli meats, even though they claimed to be vegetarians.
After 3 weeks, it wasn’t just the bed making, toilet cleaning and washing of dishes no less that 30 times a day that started to get to us (this was work exchange in a hostel, after all). But it was, also, the complete lack of privacy and… um… other intimacies that couples are accustomed to that really began to take its toll.
It all finally fell apart for the two of us, when we literally tried to kill each other while negotiating a river in a contraption that we later learned had been deemed the “divorce canoe”. It really was the kind of thing you only see in movies or maybe in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Paddling in opposite directions and all—- it was not our finest hour.
I would like to tell you that the experience brought us closer as a couple. Which is what I am sure will happen at the end of the Wanderlust movie. However, in our case, not so much.
The final verdict: I’m ashamed to say, we kind of got kicked out of the place. Okay, not kind of.
It seems that even shrooming hippies can sense when you are miserable and apparently they don’t take kindly to having that kind of negative juju in their space.
Luckily, my husband and I are still together. However, he has made me promise to never take him any place where there is even a remote chance of running into a naked hippie. Furthermore, we have both sworn off canoeing for good. It’s probably for the best.
See for yourself what it was like for us; Wanderlust opens in theaters on 2/24/2012. Let me know if you, too, think that maybe they owe me a check.