At other times, it’s a bit harder to laugh. Recently, thanks to an out-of-date cruising guide, we attempted to clear into Lombok, Indonesia. Five officials flooded aboard, each having stepped from a shiny new flag-snapping, air-conditioned vehicle. They wore skin-tight tailored uniforms, and each sported an expensive-looking pen, watch and ring — in a country where few citizens have shoes, and many, if not most, lack food.
Now, there are two ways to look at what came next: One is that these were exploiters and horrible people — or else they were expert go-getters and having the time of their entrepreneurial lives. Regardless of which one you pick, the fact that they were worldly-naive and somewhat childlike was undeniable.