I had never heard of a Haimish Line before reading this New York Times article but after reading about it, I totally understand it.
This article points out the exact reasoning of why I enjoy staying in locally owned bed and breakfasts, and try to partake in locally owned business for tours and activities. It’s all about the local experience and the truly familial feel.
Do the boyfriend and I remember Malania and her husband, the owners of the B&B in Arenal, Costa Rica and their kindness? Do we remmber Malania’s husband, who spoke zero English, who kindly drove us to his favorite restaurant down the road from the B&B in the pouring rain (because we didn’t yet have a rental car)? Yes.
Do we remember Alejandro, Marta, Elda and Elda’s husband at the family run B&B in El Calafate, Argentina? They repeatedly brought me fresh ice for my knee after my glacier hike and told me the word for knee so I could get a brace for my aching knee. Do we remember how Elda kept telling me I would be fine when she was booking our horseback riding excursion, and not laughing when I asked her if she would come to the hospital if I happened to get hurt? Do we remember being dropped off by the Alejandro’s brother (Elda’s husband) at the airport, not just at the curb, but inside at check-in where there were hugs and handshakes and tears? Only my tears, but still. Of course we do.
What about having breakfast in the kitchen of the family, with the family, in Monteverde, Costa Rica where Reina, the mom, easily handed the boyfriend their baby daughter while she made our eggs…straight from their neighbor’s chickens. Again, yes.
What about Zoran who picked us up in Dubrovnik and drove us to Bosnia-Hercegovina, with one other couple from London in his family’s van? He took us to a local restaurant, did the ordering and introduced us to local Bosnian fare like burek (amazing doughy goodness stuffed with cheese or sausage or spinach) and cevapcici (spicy sausage sandwiches with a red pepper paste).
Zoran was our own personal guide and because we were such a small group, he was able to take us to see several towns along the way to Mostar. He spoke about the turbulent history from an extremely personal perspective (to be fair, everyone we met in Croatia that spoke about the war, had a very personal perspective). And as he handed over all of our passports at the border, he knew we all (well three of the four of us – guess who was indifferent) coveted a stamp from Bosnia, so he asked Border Patrol in the local language to stamp each of our passports, which they did.
What about the feeling at some of the wineries on the Finger Lakes where they treat you like family, and not just another taster? Yes agains.
And what about Bube and her mother in Dubrovnik? Her mother, who spoke a few words of English, was the only one there to greet us after our 13 hour expedition to get from Newark, NJ to Dubrovnik, Croatia by way of a race through the airport in Frankfurt.
Bube’s mother showed us to our cottage where we dropped our bags, and then she brought us up to her roof, for an amazing view of Dubrovnik.
Once we realized that the walk up 300 or so steps (cars were not allowed where we were going) was absolutely, positively worth it, she asked us “Drink?”
After spending ten minutes with this lovely woman, we realized that her English vocabulary was limited. Wanting to make this as easy as possible I replied, “Water?”
She replied “Beer?”
And that was that! Yet another resounding yes.
These are just a few of these memories that make me smile. You don’t, typically, have these experiences in hotels where you are one of hundreds of guests. There are very few fond memories from my time staying in hotels. Do I remember the kindness and the hospitality they had? Yes, of course. But do I remember those memories as fondly as these truly personal touches of kindness and local hospitality? No, of course not.