Opinion: Musings on the Coast


My Summer Vacation

Here is the short version. Our Airbnb house in south Portugal had no air conditioning, we hit a hot spell with an average high of 102 degrees, and we were attacked by 10 million mosquitos.

The proprietor told us the mosquitos came from a reservoir two kilometers away, but the next-door neighbors told us it was our large lawn, sprinkled multiple times per day, each time hatching more mosquitos. So, we shut off the sprinkler valve; problem solved (and no, the lawn was not harmed).

Before there, my longtime girlfriend, Kim Bowen, and I rented a small Airbnb in Lisbon to get over jet lag and enjoy the city. The Airbnb looked yummy in the photos but was a dump and we fled.

Finding an open hotel room was difficult, but we found one high on a touristy hill that had Disneyland-dense crowds. No matter, after years of lockdowns, the crowd partied, the outdoor cafes rocked, and Lisbon is gorgeous.

Back at our rented hot house, it is near the Straits of Gibraltar and the region is not yet ruined by too many tourist hotels and their hordes, and I would bet not much has changed in the last 100 years. The Portuguese are fishermen, and one evening we had an early dinner at a café where the local fishing boats dock. The fishermen were on one side drinking beer and laughing about the day’s catch. Their women were on the other side drinking coffee and waiting for the men to get drunk enough to take home. Even attempting to comment on this ancient-seeming scene is worthless; it is what it is.

After Portugal, Kim had to return home for a major gig. She is a costume designer and one of her best clients is preparing something new and needs Kim’s attention.

By myself, I flew to Stockholm where I had rented a room in The Grand Hotel (which wasn’t grand). I had determined I would stay there until I finished writing my novel, a kind-of biography of Donald Trump as told by “Petra The Hot Blonde,” a fictional character I invented for this column. I started the book at the beginning of the pandemic, and had thought it would be done long ago, but…. sigh.

I wrote a daily minimum of four hours, after which my brain was fried, and I strolled all over Stockholm. The city is a series of small islands connected by bridges and tunnels. It has the best infrastructure of any place I’ve ever been. In front of my hotel is a large promenade; the first day I sat in a bench there and heard a giant sucking sound emerge from a trash can, a 30-inch diameter cylinder affixed to the ground, and realized the trash was being vacuumed to another place.

And yes, the rumors are true. The people are blond and beautiful, but not friendly unless they’re drunk. A professor friend said the looks are simply a genetic consequence of living so far north; and the not-friendly thing is a lack of normal “socialization” because for nine months out of the year, it is dark 20 hours a day and people stay home. When they go out, they go to bars and drink.

Finally, I followed America’s and Laguna’s politics from afar. When it became clear America finally would pass major legislation on climate change, the Swedes knew it and asked me why we had taken so long. As for Laguna, I read The Indy and so on, and boy-oh-boy, do we have an interesting election coming up.

Hey Village Laguna, please guys, really, let’s debate.

Michael is a Laguna Beach resident and principal officer emeritus of Laguna Forward PAC.

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