Audra and I returned to hit the ground running with a BU Alumni theatre production (Laffing Room Only) and my summer internship with Greenwood. We also had the additional joyful task of filing a complaint with the owners of the ranch in Las Vegas to see what they could do for us in terms of a refund. They responded with an offer of a week in one of their other properties, but we declined because we simply couldn’t take a chance again. We had some discussion amongst ourselves about reporting the problem to the New Mexico tourism board, but I really wanted to keep things as low key as possible and move on as quickly as possible. In fact, the money was secondary at that point. Moving on was very important.
News of our experience traveled quickly back to Greenwood. Once they had all the details, the school insisted (much to my surprise) on making good on the situation. So we got a refund, and the school was left with the unenviable task of working things out with the ranch owners. I still don’t know how that went. The four of us worked things out amongst ourselves. I think all four of us, and the school, learned some valuable lessons. For one, we will never bid on a trip again unless we know the people personally. I’d recommend others do the same. Otherwise, I’m sticking to travel agents.
In retrospect, I think we missed out on something special by not going ballooning, but getting up early was not on my agenda. Considering the trouble we had getting there, I’m glad we skipped it. Perhaps some other time under better circumstances we’ll have the chance again. People who have seen my often convincing UFO pictures assume that we went to Area 51, but we never made it there. It was never part of the plan since it was off the beaten path. The cheese factor was not enough to interest all of us, though someday I wouldn’t mind seeing it. Another interesting find worth mentioning, but something we missed (from an open mic performer’s flyer) was Food Not Bombs (http://www.foodnotbombs.net/taos.html).
There were many Tibetan and Soto Zen centers near our hotel, but I didn’t visit them. Jeff was probably the only other person who was remotely interested in going and the lack of any public transportation made it difficult to go anywhere without buy-in from the group. Unless a trip is specifically designed for a retreat, I find it difficult to work in a visit like this, particularly when there are other people in tow that are not interested. So my meditation for the trip was just getting through the trip itself with some sanity left. And even after returning, the trip has been a meditation of its own. Part of the reason it took so long to post this journal was that I simply dreaded reliving some of the less-than-pleasing moments.
Perhaps we didn’t get to “unplug” quite as much as we would have elsewhere or under different circumstances. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have *any* fun on this trip. I think the pictures speak for themselves, and there were some high points. For the most part, I think we’re all better friends for surviving it all, and one day we can (hopefully) look back and laugh at ourselves.