I knew there were tourists by the size of their engine. Their ship streak across the horizon, with a buzz somewhere between a motorbike and an old lawnmower. A patron at the bar rolled her eyes. They arrived wearing sunglasses and holding hands, and ordered drinks with umbrellas and pineapple in hurricane glasses.
I assumed they would be happy to talk about their experiences. They were. Moheen and Zelda had this to say about their hobby.
M: The first thing is that we are not hurting anybody. There are a hell of a lot worse things going on in the universe, and our only goal is to enjoy ourselves.
Z: Absolutely. If we find anyone on the planet, we leave straight away.
At this point the guy drinking next to them made a comment I won’t repeat here. I had to cool our patrons down before continuing. The rest of their response took place at a quiet booth near the back.
M: So we all know that there are a lot of abandoned planets out there ,yeah? Ones that aren’t going to be rehabilitated for a long time. They aren’t dangerous. It’s just not worth living there. No infrastructure. No crops.
Z: Absolutely. No-ones getting hurt. We pop down in our ship with lots of non-plant foods. Jerky, salami, food in cans. And we have a little holiday, don’t we?
M: Yeah. The parnsipheads don’t care about us. You have to ignore them too. Then you can have a fantastic time.
Z: Sure the restaurants don’t serve food anymore, but they still have amazing views, and top bottles of wine gathering dust in the cellar. There are no queues to some of the best tourist attractions in the universe. You can wild camp on planets without distraction, climb mountains, go down rivers without seeing another soul. Holidays that half a century ago would be ‘trips of a century’ are now a quick flight away.
M: Yes we’ve had to leave some places because of the smell. But last month we found a moon with an abandoned mansion. The parsnipheads pottered outside the locked up gates about the streets outside. To us they were less bother than flies.
Z: We can turn the music up as loud as we like. Not worry about a ten am check out. The swimming pools are pits of stagnant legionnaires, but most of the rivers are clean. Cleaner than they were before.
M: Look, I know some people call us scavengers. But the Haircut happened. Let’s accept the universe for what it is now. A playground. Enjoy it. Don’t dwell on the plants vanishing from the surface. Go and find the hidden bottles of champagne.
You might think their attitude is weird. But I have to agree with them. We have worse things to worry about.