Friday, December 9, 2011

Adventures in Portland and other places - REPLAY

For the earlier story on police watchdog Richard Rosenthal, I was connected to Portland sources by people I know in that fine American city. Instructor Martha Gies will soon be off with another writers' group, this time to the Andalucian province of Granada. Gwen and I had hoped to be part of that but we are unable to travel in May 2012. Instead, we aim to join Martha's mission to India in 2013.  I first posted the following item Jan. 24/11. 

This weekend included a quick dash to Portland for a reunion dinner of  friends, with whom we shared Bolivia last September. This is an interesting city, capable of being quite beautiful if one can ignore sights of old bridges and elevated roadways. The design vision of Portland's arterial roads was created by throwing a handful of randomly shaped pasta pieces into the air and building auto routes in the jumbled configuration that resulted.

One Portland resident told us they meet Canadian visitors in Portland regularly, all thrilled by great values, such as fabulous Oregon Pinot Noir, fine hotels under $100 and restaurant, fuel and consumer prices almost 1/3 below Vancouver levels. Portland is the street foods model that sets hearts of Vancouver city bureaucrats aflutter and is home to the incomparable Powell's Books, which fills an entire city block with more than a million new, used and out of print volumes. To readers, it is a mecca.

The question was raised, of course, about why Vancouver and Canada is so expensive. I said it was because our governments are friendlier to businesses than to consumers. American laws against restraint of trade don't get the credit they deserve for making consumer markets work more fairly.

Before the reunion dinner, we had a Pisco Sour throwdown but I'm not sure a winner was declared. People kept asking for repeat pours since it was hard to choose the best without carefully and fully analyzing differences. After a while, which was best seemed unimportant. Of course, we also had personal tales to relate from our South American adventure. The account of Gwen and I being robbed while in the back seat of a taxi was, as one person said, worth the financial cost for the rights to the story. Our mistake was to read the guidebooks and ignore their stay-safe advice.

Another couple, who traveled with us to Lake Titicaca and then went on to Machu Picchu, had their own ordeal of sleeping in unheated places and buying bus tickets for Cuzco three times before they overcame a highway road barricade by villagers protesting diversion of interior water to the coast. Travelers who look exclusively for 5-star facilities when on adventures, are counseled to avoid outings with Martha Gies and friends.

Portland writers' guru Martha Gies leads small groups of actual and putative writers to exotic and culturally significant places for 10-day comprehensive writing workshops that focus on observing and reflecting unique societies. She led the trek to Bolivia last year and next up is Valparaiso, Chile with India and Cordoba Spain also in the works. I've argued for the addition of Haida Gwai as a future destination but initial reviews indicate insurmountable cost barriers. Unfortunate, but even moving around this province unpretentiously is expensive.
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks Norm for the great summary of our dinner together and your visit to Portland. I like the photo of you on the masthead and I think I recognize that tree from Sucre, Bolivia. Poppy



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