Get The Fuck Out of San Francisco
Seven words and three consecutive exclamation points: Get the fuck out of San Francisco!!!
There. I said it. But wait — this has nothing to do with high rents. Nor does it have to do with tech busses, $7 coffee or anything else akin to getting ear-fucked by a sharp pencil soaked in fish sauce and Vegemite. This has to do with our favorite word that starts with a V (other than vacillate, of course): I’m talking about Vacation!
What does the short, iconic phrase “I want to go home” mean to you? To many, it could very well mean you’ve wet your pants in a busy shopping district and need to get home before the ridicule amplifies exponentially. For others, it could hark back to the darker days of childhood, when you wanted to leave the cold, gray playground and sink back into your carpeted bedroom (again, possibly with wet underwear). Me personally, I think of “I want to go home” when I sense there’s another realm somewhere exotic—one gloriously devoid of San Francisco daily life’s pressure-cooked inferno of social stressors, bureaucratic entanglement and exhaust-fume-choked pandering to overflowing digitial shared calandars. Living here is sometimes like taking it up the ass from Satan, except in a beautiful park where there’s excellent esperesso nearby. “Home” is a place to escape to for now.
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Do you work in tech? As you read this, are you “working from home” while sprawled out on Railay beach in Thailand? If not, you’re only a few degrees from being dead. That’s because you’re not alive. That’s right, you can improve your life tenfold by working abroad for three reasons. One, you’ll earn your regular salary while living in a utopia where expensive haircuts cost 50 cents. Two, you will remove yourself from the deafening shrieks of the crybabies bemoaning anti-tech sentiments with their often horrible breath. Three, you’ll be on Railay Beach, Thailand.
There are even a few of us non-tech people left in San Francisco. (I used to know HTML back in 1995, but that was a long time ago). Other than penning the occasional piece for Broke Ass Stuart’s Goddamn Website because I can write good, by trade I’m a self-employed massage therapist. This relative proximity on the outskirts of society’s financial matrix allows me to travel for extended periods of time with little to no repercussion other than a much higher risk of getting the shits.
I spent January 2015 in Colombia and Ecuador. I’m not sure why these two contenders beat the other places I’d wanted to visit (Chiapas, Oaxaca, Peru, Bolivia, India) but they did. I listened to my gut, and it said “Go to Colombia, Pablo Escobar is dead, it’s all good mate.” Clearly my gut is from Melbourne, Australia—a contender for a future trip.
Many things were accomplished on my trip. I experimented with behavior like not speaking to another human being for three days at a time (very centering), not having any sort of itinerary whatsoever (quite liberating) and eating a slice of cow placenta from a street vendor in Quito (highly not-recommended).
I didn’t have any friends to visit down there. My Spanish was pathetic. Zero accommodation was pre-booked. I drifted with the tides, and they took me places—sweltering beach towns. Cities at 10,000 feet in elevation. Coffee farms. Hare Krishna hideouts. Indigenous towns where at least two people told me I was the first white person they’d ever seen.
I met locals. Expats. Lunatics. Sexy dancers. Bus drivers. And at least one unabashed pederast.
It got to a point where I missed the prolific hugging that’s ubiquitous in San Francisco. Ironically, I also missed quinoa (there’s no quinoa in South America, the world’s source of quinoa). This segued into my eventual return back home (naturally, carrying bags and bags of hand-woven alpaca goods). San Francisco was a new city—bright, clean and buzzing. The irks and neuroses that characterized my thought processes pre-trip were gone, gloriously gone. And everyone was looking really, really hot all of a sudden.
Success—I’d vanished for a month, dazzled my senses and come back feeling like 100,000,000 pesos.
OK, enough about me (and pederasts and cow placenta). Here is your guide to getting the fuck out of San Francisco for a month.
Pick a spot. Zurich, Switzerland? With all due respect to Swiss people, don’t be a fool. Go someplace exotic, where a salad doesn’t cost as much as an hour with a hooker. Simply put, if a place is at least moderately dangerous and has spicy cuisine, go there. Immerse yourself in all that is not San Francisco. You’ll have plenty of time with Facebook, artisan coffee, kale salads and balsamic scones when you get home. Eat street food, make friends with the peculiar man on the park bench, smile at the obese prostitute in front of the church, menacingly roam the vegetable markets. Why else are you here?
Don’t be an idiot. This isn’t Disneyland. It can be Disneyland in your head, but at least conduct yourself with grace. You might make a lot of money and have impeccable knowledge of Wes Anderson movie trivia, but nobody here gives a shit. Outside of San Francisco you are a mere human being with a heart like everyone else’s. Be humble, be in awe, be respectful, and be alive.
Write / photograph. So when you get back home and everyone and their mother vomits the words “how was your trip?!” every 90 seconds, you can smile and say “hey, just read my goddamn blog.”
Photos courtesy of the author.