Okay. I have travelled a bit in my day. You know…. Rome, Athens, Tofino, Cape Breton, Nepal, India, Tanzania, Burkino Faso, Zambia…… But can someone please tell me what the hell is going on in Vegas.
If I were to venture a guess about the land of excess it would have to be Vegas. The strip is impressive, the morale repressive – to women oppressive, but all is excessive. I saw a guy with a keen eye rating the bums of passers by. I saw a volcano outside a casino. I saw fountains as tall as mountains. I saw rain forests inside, trying to hide from the natural arid outside. There were rows and rows of people yelling OH NO in the casinos. There were tables of chain smokers playing poker and presumably broker than when they arrived. But they survived the insanity of humanity better than I. My mind was numb, my bum a one and I ran out of fun. If I had to guess about the land of excess it has to be Vegas.
Yes. I was a first timer. Yes, I expected some glam and lights. Yes, I knew there was gambling and a night life. But truly – this is extreme excess. I am still trying to figure out if I liked Vegas or if it just left me numb. It certainly is alive, pulsing, shining, insane.
I remember traveling through the Rajastan desert in Northern India years ago. One stop was set for Jaisalmer. I really did not know what to expect when I got to Jaisalmer, and it was so much more special in the “not knowing”. I walked around with jaw dropping awe. I just could not believe the wonder of it all. I had no expectations and the experience left me thankful that I was fortunate enough to experience it firsthand.
I went to Vegas with an similar ignorance about what exactly to expect. Sure I had heard about the gambling and drinking and night life. I suspected it would be a bit over the top. I had no idea that it was not just over the top, but it was so far over the top that the bottom was no longer visible or conceivable. Vegas is so “out there” that I could not even fathom how someone from Jaisalmer would react to it all. Would they believe this crazy city was from the same world they were familiar with,or would they ask nicelyto be transported back to Earth. If my jaw was on the ground, how would they react. If I cannot fathom the excess, what would they think about North Americans and our culture that promotes and enjoys Vegas. I know people who return here year after year. I may never have the desire to go back to the insanity that is Vegas – but oddly I cannot say I hated it. I think I may have even enjoyed it a bit too much. I could not wait to see the fountains in front of the Bellagio. I made it a point to make sure I saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage. I played Roulette and enjoyed the free beverages supplied to the gamblers. I was in awe of the grandeur of having the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower within walking distance. My eyes jumped from one spectacle to the next without really registering it all. I walked in a state of unexpected culture shock. I failed to notice all the small details that I suspect were everywhere because the sheer excess overwhelmed me. So, am I the odd one. People seemed to be really enjoying themselves. I think I enjoyed it myself, even though it seemed surreal and otherworldly. And I was a bit miffed at myself for enjoying it. I am the down to earth one who likes to hike in the back country and enjoy the beauty of a small pond or gnarly tree. I enjoy watching a fox bury a mouse for later consumption. I enjoy watching a turtle cross the road. I enjoy the natural peace and beauty of the fall colours. What on earth possessed me to enjoy Vegas – where they hand out cards of naked girls like baseball cards – where you can lose a month’s wages in a second – where the pulse of the city plays to an unnatural and man made beat -where you can shoot an AK47 like ordering off a fast food menu -where the insane is expected and the humane is forgotten. Did I really enjoy all that. Truth is I did.
So, the big question is, “Where there any Vegas stories to bring back?” I wish I could tell you, but I have been sworn to secrecy.