Lessons from the mountains

I have a tendency to overthink, no doubt about that. However, I find it useful to take the time to reflect when I experience some sort of distress. I need to know where it comes from, if there is something I could have done differently, if there is a lesson to learn. I believe this helps me deal better with similar situations in the future and hopefully avoid making the same mistake.

In a previous post, I wrote about a trip we took with my in-laws to a national park. We hadn’t seen them for three years, and we felt it was a good way to get together. I also wrote about the place where we stayed and how it didn’t meet our expectations. We expected higher standard and better service, but we decided to take it with a smile and enjoy our stay instead of complaining or even more wasting time on finding somewhere else to stay.

However, the most challenging part of the whole situation came when it was time to pay for our stay. I had imagined that we were going to divide the bill fairly: we are five, my in-laws are two, but generous as they are, my husband’s parents insisted on paying for everyone. To be completely honest, to begin with, instead of feeling thankful I felt ashamed because I had booked the place which turned out way too expensive and very low standard.

As I tried to convince them to let us at least pay half the bill, things turned awkward and slightly unpleasant, so I decided to drop it. I explained that it just didn’t feel right that they pay for a stay that wasn’t worth the high price, but that I was thankful for their gesture and I wouldn’t insist anymore.

That day, the weather was lousy so we couldn’t go hiking. This left a lot of time for me to go around and ruminate on the whole situation. Why didn’t I investigate better? Why didn’t I insist on getting a clear price for the meals? Why didn’t I complain from the start?

I then felt bad because I reduced the whole experience to the money spent because I felt it wasn’t worth the service. How much money are the good moments spent worth? There is no price for it really.

The conclusion I came to was the same I come to very often when it comes to human interactions, namely, the importance of clarity. I had written several emails to the place specifying how many meals we were planing to have and the number of people, and I had asked for prices. I never received an answer, and to be honest, I forgot about it. I should have called and agreed on a price before our stay. I also think I should have talked with my in-laws about how we were dividing the bill, and maybe even ask them for a budget if they insisted on paying everything.

I think also I tend to feel responsible for things that are out of my hands, so although I could have planned this better, I am not responsible for other people’s actions. How could I have known that the description of the place does not match reality?

It is also interesting to reflect on what I think could improve the running of the place. I think that the owner also lacks clarity. On one side the place has traditional Norwegian cabins as you find many places with just the essentials to stay comfortably. This kind of cabins are usually used by people who want to hike in the mountains and the tradition is that you bring your own food, sheets and towels and you clean the cabin when you leave. Prices can vary, but they tend to be affordable. The problem is that the place where we stayed has different types of cabins, some more modern than others. The price should be according to what the cabin offers and not a fixed price. The place has also hotel rooms, and apparently, there was a time where the place was known for its good food prepared from local products. Maybe they had more staff? During our stay, the place was run by one man on his own who seemed to struggle to keep track of who the guests were, where they were staying, and what they had ordered- as some people eat meals at the hotel and others don’t. He doesn’t seem to manage the place well anymore but he still wants to charge high prices. He could simplify the running of the place by only renting out the cabins, and by hiring more staff to maintain the place and take care of the logistics. Instead of pretending to serve gourmet food, serve simpler meals to more affordable prices. OR continue charging as much but improve the quality of his services. I guess he’s used to see this place function in a certain way and it is difficult to see that he needs to make some adjustments.

After some time of trying to calm my mind and make some sense of my distress, I decided to let go. I am thankful for my in-laws’ generosity, I am thankful for having spent this time with them, I am thankful for seeing my kids enjoying our stay and being with their grandparents. I will say what I think to the owner in a constructive way and I think because it is not fair for other guests to not know that he advertises with lies.

Luckily, the weather improved during last evening and we went for a nice hike. We enjoyed the landscapes, the fresh air and each other’s company. That is what we came here for.

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