greetings from victoria, last post of the trip (days 13-15), plus the ethics of travel

Bluefin Tuna
Yesterday morning we packed up, drove to one of the big drugstore chains, and bought a soft cooler case and ice. The leftovers from Asadero were just too good and too plentiful to leave behind! We'll get good use out of the cold pack.

I also bought a Pyrex (glass food storage) container for our leftover milk. I'd rather add to my vast collection of Pyrex than throw away milk. No matter how many Pyrex containers I have, sometimes they are all in use.

After that, we hit the road and had an easy drive to Port Angeles. We stopped at Joshua's for food. Pro tip: don't plan on eating on the Black Ball Ferry. The offerings there barely qualify as food. BC Ferries, on the other hand, has a White Spot onboard, so you're safe, especially for breakfast.

Traveling by ferry involves a lot of waiting -- boarding, disembarking, clearing customs -- but eventually we made our way, first to BC Liquors for wine, then to the Airbnb in Esquimalt, just outside the Victoria downtown. 

We've been drinking wine on this trip, which has been a nice change. When we get home, we'll go back to hardly drinking or not drinking at all. This has been one of the biggest changes of our lives -- on par with moving west or buying a house! Even more amazing, it started with Allan. He stopped drinking completely a few years ago, and now will sometimes have a glass of wine or a beer when we go out, but not all the time, and very rarely more than one.

Today is Monday. We normally would spend one night in Victoria, then drive home the following day (today). However, on Tuesday morning I have an appointment for a fitting at Victoria Classic Lingerie. Getting to Victoria from Port Hardy is time-consuming and expensive, so it makes sense to take care of things while we're here. The store is closed on Mondays, so we get a free vacation day! (Funny, I believe our first-ever trip to Victoria was timed around a bra-fitting appointment!)

There is a downside to having an extra day of vacation: waiting another day to see Cookie and Kai! We miss them so much. I also wanted an extra day between travel and work, but we'll be home Tuesday night, and I do have Wednesday off before returning to work on Thursday.

Today we are doing "nothing" -- reading, maybe a walk. Tomorrow morning is breakfast at Jam Cafe, then bras, then we drive home, stopping in Campbell River for food shopping.

* * * *

The ethics of travel and eating

I know that many people oppose the use of VRBOs and Airbnbs. There are housing shortages everywhere, especially in large cities, and theoretically, many of the suites used as Airbnbs and VRBOs would be rented or sold. 

I've thought a lot about this. I believe that, like most problems, the housing shortage cannot be meaningfully addressed on the consumer level. Just like boycotting Walmart or Amazon will not change those stores' labour practices, not staying in an Airbnb will not change the housing situation. We live in a society that takes the most basic need, having a roof over one's head, and subjects it to "the market". The housing crisis is capitalism at its worst. 

I'm not suggesting that people should stay at Airbnbs or VRBOs if it troubles them to do so! Nor am I saying their actions are useless. I just don't believe one could ever induce enough people to make the same choice that it would make a significant difference. If we don't want Airbnbs or VRBOs in our communities, we have to join with others who agree, and collectively try to change the laws and regulations on the community level. That is a daunting and possibly fruitless tasks, but it's the only avenue that could make a difference. 

I wonder how many people who claim to never stay in Airbnbs actually travel. It's easy to boycott something when you have no occasion to use it. On this trip, we spent three nights in a comfortable mini apartment for less than the cost of one night in a downtown Seattle hotel. In Victoria, our former go-to hotel has raised its rates by 40-60%. In addition, most hotels have drastically cut back on labour costs, by eliminating services. I don't know many people who would willingly choose the more expensive option based solely on ethical considerations. Choosing hotels over Airbnbs also overlooks the grim state of hotel labour, which is notoriously exploitive.

As I write this, I know that many people will tell me that they do, in fact, eschew Airbnbs when they travel. Others will tell me they don't travel because travel is environmentally unsustainable. If you think something is making a difference and it fits into your life, then you go for it. I question how many people actually do this, and whether it makes any difference.

At least one person will also tell me that I'm a hypocrite and rationalizer. Well... whatever.

The other ethical question -- or questionable ethics -- that came up was at the sushi bar, when I heard the words bluefin tuna. I have learned enough to know there should be a worldwide moratorium on the bluefin. There are more than 25 different species of tuna, and many of them have healthy, sustainable stock. The bluefin is akin to a dolphin or a whale: humans should stop killing them.

Most of us never eat bluefin tuna. The worldwide appetite for high-end sushi, along with high-tech hunting and killing techniques, has tipped the balance. When the chef at Sushi Kashiba said bluefin, I balked. I muttered to Allan, "Bluefin tuna. We're not supposed to eat bluefin." I ate the sushi, then felt sad, and defeated. Today I still feel bad about it, but my feelings don't help the bluefin.

Obviously I could have passed on the two or three pieces that were bluefin, but I didn't -- mostly because I didn't want to learn what else I might have eaten that is similarly endangered. 

I'm not suggesting this is right. I'm just being honest. 

Much is being written about the ethics of travel, sustainable travel, decolonizing travel. It's important to be mindful, especially of how we treat the people and lands we visit. But if we want to change the world, only collective action can create a meaningful difference. 

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