Thursday, 19 May 2011

a big city boy

Remember when I went to Orinda and I complained?

Well, I'm now in Santa Rosa for Tribal Fest 11. The festival is actually in Sebastopol, that's about 20 minutes by car from Santa Rosa. However, I couldn't get a room in a near hotel called Sebastopol Inn because it was fully booked, so I'm staying in Travelodge Downtown Santa Rosa (see, I can be a budget traveler).

The hotel is decent. With the price, I can't really complain much. It's an old hotel but the room is spacious and there's a little nook to do ironing as well as an electronic safe.

Here comes the however part.

I just don't know why Tribal Fest is held in Sebastopol. I mean, this place is a suburban nightmare. Sure, it's scenic and the weather is amazing (made me wish I hadn't brought my jackets with me - San Francisco had been raining for three days when I left, so it was cold there), but the transportation system is so... unpredictable and archaic. There's no digital cards (I paid five buck for a one-way-trip that normally cost USD 1.80. I didn't know neither the machine nor the driver would not provide a change), no digital signs (there were friendly CityBus staffers who told me where to go, though), no frequent services (a thirty minute interval if you're lucky??).

So, on my way back from the remote Sebastopol Youth Center, I couldn't find the bus stop (!!) so I went to Sebastopol Inn and asked a very nice Indian gentleman to call me a cab. We chatted briefly and I learned that apparently, Travelodge Downtown was also owned by the Indian family who ran Sebastopol Inn.

After about 15 minutes, my cab arrived. The driver's a very friendly, albeit chatty, big guy, who answered his phones while driving on the freeway (!!!!).

"No, I can't pick you up and fix your tire!" he said over the phone.

"Because that means I'll lose thirty minutes of my time and my money! My time! My money!" he answered to the voice that was unintelligible to my ears.

"No, I'm not being a dick! But I also can't afford to lose my time and my money! Look, I'm on a fare right now. I can't talk," and he hung up.

"I hate women," he said. And I just sat there in the back seat, smiling. I didn't know if I was smiling because of his statement or because I was just glad he turned off the phone and concentrated on the road.

"So, what brought you to Santa Rosa?" he asked.

"Oh, there's a dance festival. I'm staying until Monday. It's a beautiful city, but I don't understand the transportation system," I confessed.

"Well, sometimes you'll have to wait two to three hours for a bus," he said. My jaw fell. I wondered if that was the truth or if he was just trying to squeeze some buck out of me. However, I did notice that the local bus schedule was just unbelievable: one bus for the whole day. Getting to Sebastopol from Santa Rosa was fairly easy, but getting back to the downtown was another thing.

"Tell you what," he continues, "I'll take you to and from Sebastopol to your hotel for 50 bucks a day."

I looked at the meter and my pupils dilated. It was already USD 30 and we hadn't arrived yet! For the same time and the same mile, it would cost me USD 10 in San Francisco! I guess that was another sign that the public transportation in from Sebastopol sucked: expensive taxis (does that happen in New York?).

Well, at least now I think I know how I'm going to commute here.

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