“Kid-friendly Europe on a budget.” So reads a headline in the travel section in the Vancouver Sun.
When I was a kid a dazzling vacation was for the family to decamp from Burnaby and head to the Okanagan. Now, for us, that was exotic and even a bit alien, what with the sagebrush and tumbleweeds. Europe? The only kids I even knew who went to Europe were the ones across the street, but they were a millionaire family.
Albeit some of the tykes I went to school with were born in Europe. They came to us as refugee brats. In the context of today we would be construed as poor, even impoverished. My dad drove an aged beater of a car – as did most men in the neighborhood – and we had a house that was limited in size and did not boast such accouterments as a den or playroom. Downstairs was an unfinished basement replete with a dirty coal-bin. And Mom did the laundry in a ringer machine and in that she was fortunate since some women of her generation were still using scrub-boards.
This morning I walked to the supermarket and on the way noted the numbers of BMWs, Audis and Mercedes driving by. Posh cars. Ironically German cars, but that is another matter. Most of the remaining cars were Asian. Not a problem, we have two Asian vehicles. Most of them were new or at least ‘newish’. My car is elderly, but it’s kind of a collectible so I hope to keep it around for a while longer. But, I don’t have it because I can’t afford something else. I just happen to like it.
The men of the old neighborhood had ‘old’ cars because that was all they could afford. Relics that burned oil by the quart and often had to be push started. One of my uncles drove an Essex. It had wood spoke wheels. You don’t see a lot of those around in this, the age of the ‘Beemer’.
You see the real estate ads in the papers. Look at the Vancouver and Victoria papers. A half million, a million, multi-millions. For 600 grand in Vancouver you can get a piece of shit hovel. For a cool million you can get a moderately attractive though not huge dwelling. Who buys these fucking things? According to rumor, Asians. Probably so in some places. What we can or cannot afford is of little consequence to them in any case.
Closer to this community, and it’s all relative, you also have some very substantial real estate prices. The Comox Valley pays crap wages so most people who buy haven’t amassed a nest-egg via Valley remuneration. Those who cannot afford to buy must rent. But when the pay-rate is paltry the rental options are slim. Squalor or something decent and safe? Good luck with that when rental demands surpass both availability and affordability. You know, once you’ve paid the rent you’d like a little left over to feed the kiddies.
Nobody ever suggested life was fair but it seems that the unfairness has become a glaring affront for many. Hmm, might as well just pack up the kids and take them on a European tour.