I keep threatening that one of these days I am going to write a book about my travel experiences – both as a traveller and a travel agent! The only thing I am struggling with is a title. I thought I had it when I announced to the girls in the office that I was going to call it Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (WTF) but apparently that title has been taken already. I then wondered if Oscar Michael Golf (OMG) might work. It certainly would describe some of my reactions over the years.
Like the time our car was stopped by a tree across the road in Mozambique during the time of the revolution. Yeah I know – bad time to travel there. The rebels didn’t have uniforms so it was a bit confusing – but we did notice that they had guns (big ones). I managed to drench up a bit of my rusty Portuguese and gave them a motherly telling off. They stood there with their guns and shuffled their feet while looking down at the ground. They were very young.
By the time we got to Maputo I was definitely in need of some peri peri prawns (local specialty) and some very cold white wine.
Then there was the time we went camping in our trailer on the beach in Natal, South Africa. It was a national park so very undeveloped but a lovely camp ground surrounded by trees and therefore protected from the wind. There was also a fair amount of wildlife around but nothing like lions or elephants – just lots of monkeys which were a real nuisance as they could get into anything. I recall coming back after our trip down to the beach and opening the trailer door to come face to face with a very large Samango monkey. We both got quite the shock. He stood there stock still with the loaf of bread in his hands and then shot out the window which I had mistakenly left open. It was just that moment of face to face for both of us that I will not forget. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had spoken to me – “Oh hey, sorry! Just came to pick up a loaf. Thanks!”
I recall when we first opened our travel agency back in 1996. We were brand new to Canada and to the travel industry. Just days after we opened up someone in the neighbouring office came in and said that they were looking for flights to “Turks”. I said we could definitely help and I would get some information to him. After he left I thought – what the hell – what does he mean by Turks? Did he want to go to Turkey and meet some local people? I could have given him great information for Europe, Africa, Indian Ocean islands but I had no idea until I went through some brochures. There was no google in those days. Oh, he meant Turks and Caicos – some islands in the Caribbean – about which I knew nothing!! It’s what you would call a steep learning curve.
But we got it eventually …..
We relied a lot on fax machines. That’s how we would get our newsletter out in the old days. We had three or four computers wired up which would just churn out the newsletter to our fax list. If someone didn’t want to receive the fax they might phone us and say take me off your list – or they might just fax us back 10 black pages which would totally screw up the fax printer and deplete the ink cartridge.
And the travel agent stories – the crazy things that people request, the bookings for the mistress, the falling out with travel companions half a world away, the lady that had to be moved because wildlife (ants) were threatening her …… that will all have to wait until I retire!!!