The no reservation days are over?

I visited Thailand for the first time 2 years ago. It was also my first in South East Asia. I was traveling with friends and making our way through islands and the north of the country. It was January and, like us, many others were backpacking too. Once a boat dropped us off on an island we would walk around with our bags looking for a place to stay. It was easy, and kinda fun too.
This year, my husband and I took a trip to Krabi and Koh Lipe, only to find hoards of tourists, larger than the ones we had seen in previous years, and they all had reservations! Gone seem to be the times when hotel representatives try to book your stay on the boat over. Everyone, except for us, trying to stick to our ways, had secured themselves a place to stay.
Times have definitely changed. Some hotels or hostels do not even publish their availability on Agoda but, instead, rely on tourists emailing and booking way in advance. What happened to looking around? Is last minute too last season?
A few months ago I collaborated with a startup that worked on the premise that people look for last minute reservations. Is this premise still true for beach spots with a large influx of tourists? I could see this potentially working for larger cities, but not for these islands with a mass and sudden inflow of tourists, even families, that need a place to stay.
This seems to be surprising for hotel owners too, especially the fact that families with children are making their way to the islands that use to be backpacker turf.
The rise of hotels for flashpackers is also impressive. Nice, clean and expensive (a little bit over US$100) rooms for not so young backpackers who are willing to pay extra for less bugs.
We may have to preempt this for future trips now, and rely on Agoda reviews instead of our own eyes to decide where we spend our holidays nights. What used to be a stroll down island streets will now be an online chore.

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I am downloading what Jesus is saying

Based on a true story.

It was a pleasant Saturday morning in Singapore. I made breakfast, went out to run errands and came back around 11am. I had my earphones on, blasting Yeah Yeah Yeahs. “It’s sacrilege, sacrilege, you say…” [insert Karen O’s screaming]. I walked out of the elevator to find my neighbor, Rita. She is a petite Singaporean, around 65 years old, with short dyed hair, small eyes and a lot of vitality. She saw me. “Nadia! I have not seen you in so long!”. I apologized explaining that I am working a lot and leave early and come late. The truth is that Rita and her husband have tried for the past 8 months to invite us to church to see them sing. We never told them we are Jewish and not really that much into religion. We never really saw any need in explaining anything to them so we just say we are busy and keep walking. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are nice people. We take care of each other’s plants when we are away on holiday, we bring each other chocolates. But neither Nico nor I plan to go to church.

Back to today. Rita was dressed in her sport gear: long work out pants, a simple t-shirt and running shoes. She was stretching after her walk. “Oh Nadia, I see how you work and I need to tell you my story” she said while holding my free hand. My other hand was holding my Iphone. She carried on: “I was born in a non-christian home, my parents went to temple and I found Jesus when I was 12. He came to me and we started a life long relationship. I am so close to Jesus, I know him and he knows me.” She continued. “And then Jesus told me I had to leave Singapore and I did, and my husband and I, we went to India. We did the research and they have over 30 million deities. The city where we were praised Ganesha, the elephant. And everyone asked us, why did you leave your comfortable Singapore to come to this dirty place. And we answered: to show you the truth. And it was terrible but we had to tell them that Jesus was the truth. We left everything knowing that Jesus would provide, that he was guiding us” she said stomping the floor with a dramatic flair and putting her right hand in her chest. And then she screamed: “Jesus is the truth! He died for our sins! I was a sinner!” she went on. I don’t mind religion, I value peace and quiet and religious moderation, but this was going too far for a Saturday morning. 5 minutes had gone by and I was waiting for the A/C guy to come. The preach was not over. “My daughter was just like you, she worked and worked and did not have children, and then she had triplets. A miracle! Jesus Christ brought her the miracle of life, and I had known, because one day before she told me she was going to be a mother. We had decided to come back one day before because Jesus had told us so. Jesus is our guide, Nadia. And one day before she gave birth to her 3 kids I put my hand in her stomach and I sang.” Yes, there was a song coming in my morning. Note that every time she mentioned Jesus she stopped and said it without singing. “Oh [insert babies names] Jesus is here for you. Jesus loves you, he is waiting for you. He is here to die for you, to show you the way.” She then stopped the singing and said: and the babies heard me, because they hear, you know? And Jesus loves them. OK, this was enough for me. 1 passionate religious song is a little bit too much for my Saturday. But it was not over. I didn’t even have the chance to explain the A/C guy was coming! Her husband emerged out of the elevator. This could go both ways: he could stop the drama or put more wood into the fire. Her husband is a moderate guy, he would never burst into song. He merely smiled, also in his sports clothes, and stood there awkwardly. Rita ran to him dramatically and said: “Jesus brought us together 46 years ago! I will have to tell you the story someday over tea!”. “Can’t wait”, I thought to myself. “Nadia, before you go, another song.” she closed her eyes and sang on, “Oh Lord Jesus, you died on the cross, for our sins. Oh Jesus.” OK, I forgot the lyrics but you get the gist. At this point her husband had not stopped her but gone inside their apartment, lucky bastard, and left me all alone again. “You see, I download what Jesus says, and I pass it on to others in song.” Well, that’s a good theory updated to our modern reality. Sigh. It was not over.

“Let me say a prayer for you” she said as she held my free hand and closed her eyes again, “Jesus, please bless Nadia and Nicolas, it was not by chance that they are our neighbors but by your doing, and bless them in their lives and their works. Bless them in their stay in Singapore. Let them find Jesus and have a relationship with him. Let you Jesus come to them and show them the truth. AMEN!” And then she hugged me. I was oh so ready to go.

I walked back to our apartment and warned my husband: “Jesus will come to us today and we will start a relationship with him”. Needless to say, he didn’t show. Yet.

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My first Asian environmental crisis


I always felt helpless when Buenos Aires was struck by a natural disaster. Whether it was flooding that turned my street into a river, or ash from a Chilean volcano.
Besides the overwhelming presence of government announcements on radio, TV and newspapers, everyone, of course, became suddenly an expert in the current oppressing matter.
This over abundance of information seemed to just fill a space and bring no certainty as to what to do. Did life have to go on as usual even if we were covered in Chilean ash? Furthermore, there always seemed to be a reason to call all activities – work, study and others – to a halt.
This week was the first time that a natural – or not so natural – disaster struck me in a foreign country. Ever since I moved to Asia I like to say that all end of the world catastrophe pandemic movies start here, and I was half joking. Much has been said about the horrendous cloud of smoke that invaded Singapore this week, a cloud that threatens to block our sky and lungs for a longer time than anyone expected. I guess I never had considered the possibility of having to need instruction from a government that I was not familiar with. I was all too comfortable laughing at how taxi drivers were experts in river currents and trash removal to worry about how a country that functions so well and never faces drama could deal with unexpected trouble.
The result was a quite disturbing radio silence. No know-it-all government official giving grandiose statements, but most of all, no help at all. No guidance. This was a huge disappointment and a realization that I may have been raised to believe that governments have to know how to deal with the unexpected.
If I think of it, I don’t know what I prefer: a government full of words and statements or one that pretty much leaves it to its population to figure it out. Maybe the first made me feel like someone knew or cared about the issue, even when throwing theories in the air; whereas the latter just leaves us hanging, looking at a miserable number that the official environmental agency threw at us civilians with red eyes, sore throats and big concerns.
Furthermore, the realization that I am not half ready for a zombie apocalypse. Nor that we have the reflexes to act fast.

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-Hola, Sushiclub?
-Si, quiero hacer un pedido
-Un combo salmon, sin sashimi, todo niguiri
-Con mil pesos

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Nyon at night is not a castle with a ghostly light. It is the train station and the broken dignity. It is the shoe left behind. It is the downfall of humanity as a whole. All in one night. All in Nyon.

Nyon at night is far away. The train does not take us to Nyon at night. Not right now, at least. And let it stay that way.



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From Gare Centrale to that small bar with the good coffee

yes to all

Don’t you find it weird that I know how to get from Gare Centrale to that small bar with the good coffee? In a town that we never visited together. Me, the woman you know so well, that you witness constantly. Don’t you find bizarre that there are routes, nooks and crannies that I know that you will learn someday that I know and wonder how? That I have found comfort in spaces you have never even seen, or there are people you have never heard of that think of me sometimes? That I found it funny how, next to the “Yes to all” sign, someone I used to know proposed to someone else and I thought it was funny but now I don’t anymore? That immediately I remember that nice sunday market on that same area? I do find it weird.

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Sobre la decisión del Congreso Argentino sobre el caso AMIA

Quiero escribir sobre la decisión del Congreso con respecto al pacto con Irán. Quisiera mantener estos párrafos sencillos y concretos, sin demasiada parafernalia legal.Escribo porque quedarse callado ante esta situación sería un crimen mayor al cometido anoche por el gobierno argentino hacia su propio pueblo.
Cuando ocurrió el trágico ataque a la AMIA mis padres me lo ocultaron. No recuerdo si estabamos de viaje o qué, pero yo era una niña de 8 años y no leía los diarios. Me criaron como argentina, no como argentina judía como con tan poco tacto nos describió uno de nuestros gobernantes a los judíos que habitamos Argentina. Cuando asistí a un colegio judío me enteré en un aniversario del atentado lo que había ocurrido. Volví a mi casa y cuestioné a mis padres por haberme ocultado un acto de semejante odio que había tenido lugar en mi país, mi ciudad. Un acto que se había llevado la vida de familiares de quienes ahora eran mis compañeros en la escuela, o quizá de otras personas que pude haber conocido. El atentado a la AMIA conmovió mi mundo porque sentí por primera vez miedo de ser atacada en mi propio hogar. Creo que esto hace mi primer punto importante. Los argentinos, judíos o no, fuimos atacados en nuestra casa. No hacen falta muchas palabras más para expresar la obvia necesidad de que un gobierno responda ante su pueblo en llamas, sangrante.

El gobierno actual que torpemente, irracionalmente, quiere hacer algo, lo que sea, para mover la causa AMIA, es un gobierno que está actuando ignorando los gritos y el llanto de los que ayer pedimos que por favor no acuerden con un país cuyo sistema legal es tan incongruente con el nuestro. Nos agarramos de las piernas del estado, de los gobernantes. Les tironeamos de los pantalones para que por favor nos escuchen y ellos sacudieron las piernas y nos miraron como gigantes diciendo: “callense, ustedes no saben lo que es mejor para ustedes. Nosotros podemos pensar y decidir por ustedes, calladitos.” Marco entonces la primera falencia y gol en contra del estado argentino.

Mi segundo y último punto tiene que ver con el gobierno argentino y su lugar en el mundo. Un tratado que se aprueba en un congreso nacional, desmereciendo opiniones de países como Israel que vienen luchando contra el terrorismo y contra vecinos violentos hace décadas. Un estado argentino que le dice a Israel y a otros países que mucho han lidiado con Irán durante los últimos años: “Ustedes también callense, no entienden nada.”
Argentina vuelve el tema de la AMIA una puja por poder local, nos saca de un contexto mundial actual en el que organismos internacionales están en una puja para sancionar a Irán por su posesión de centros nucleares y por su violencia generalizada hacia su propio pueblo. Argentina se desdice de cómo pueden percibirla otros países, se mueve sola, agrediendo a quien ose opinar, con la prepotencia y violencia que caracteriza a alguien que sabe que está caminando por una cornisa y no quiere que lo distraigan.

La decisión tomada ayer no es el fin de la historia para los que, judíos o no, argentinos o no, queremos esclarecer lo ocurrido el 18 de julio de 1994. El gobierno decidió no escuchar. Sabemos muy bien que este ridículo tratado, inaudito en términos legales a tal punto que ni siquiera vale la pena enmarcarlo en una práctica establecida, va a resultar en una cachetada a los ridículos que lo plantearon. Está en nosotros crear un nuevo contexto en el que se esclarezca esta tragedia en un marco lógico y legal.

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