Proving once and for all that travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction
This issue's winner is Jessica Drollette, of Tahoe City, Calif. Her prize: a six-night trip to Malta, courtesy of Amelia International. On a four-week bicycle tour from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, my boyfriend and I always got a friendly welcome from the locals. In La Paz, we met a barber and avid cyclist who invited us to spend the night; he wouldn't take no for an answer. His wife, however, was sick and tired of stinky cyclists in her house and politely said, "Absolutely not." So instead of the guest bedroom, we slept on the floor of the barber's shop. We loved it! It was clean, and the barber visited with us late into the night as we shared cycling stories and practiced our Spanish.
When you get seized by the portuguese, you'll know it
On a cruise from Boston to Canada, my husband and I didn't know that our ship was in bankruptcy proceedings. On our fifth night, the ship turned around and began heading toward Nova Scotia. The captain, who spoke fairly limited English, made an announcement that we had been "seized by the Portuguese," and we were not being allowed to return to the United States. When did we go to war with Portugal? I thought to myself. After much confusion, we realized that the captain had intended to say we'd been seized by the mortgagees and the cruise line was doing what it could to save the ship. --Donna Chita, Blackstone, Mass.
Perhaps he was showing off his "WWJD" bracelet
Moving from California to Washington, D.C., after college was a big step for me, so I thought, Why not discover what lies between the two coasts and drive cross-country? My best friend and I packed up a big brown van and headed east. Just when we hit Oklahoma, we saw a bumper sticker that said honk if you love jesus. Excited to see some actual Bible action in the Bible Belt, I honked the horn with great zeal. To our surprise, the driver rolled down the car window and gave us the finger. --Stina Skewes-Cox, Washington, D.C.
It takes a kiwi to make polystyrene sound cute
My husband and I rented a car to visit remote areas of the South Island of New Zealand. Along the way, we stopped at a store to buy a Styrofoam cooler for our drinks and sandwiches. Suddenly, I wondered if I had landed in an alternate existence. Here were people who looked like me and spoke the same language but had no clue what I was asking for. With wide eyes, the lady at the counter indicated I should wait, then she ran from the store. After a few minutes, she returned with a man who asked if he could help. Again I requested a Styrofoam cooler. "Ah, yes, you'll be wanting a polystyrene chilly bin." Who would've thought you'd need a translator in New Zealand? --Stacy Ewing, Denton, Md.
The poor guy weeps every time he sees it taped to the fridge
My husband climbed a rugged peak of lava rock to capture the spectacular sunset on our last evening in Maui. He tore his pants, lost our condo keys, and spent more than 90 minutes snapping the shutter on his fancy camera. Playing on the beach with the kids, I looked up and with my cheap digital point-and-shoot got what turned out to be the most interesting image of our entire week. --Cynthia Smith, Tacoma, Wash.
Camels? Haggling? Monty hall would definitely be pleased
Having argued for more than an hour over a lower price for a camel ride around the pyramids outside Cairo, I felt exceedingly proud that I'd gotten my stubborn guide's $20 price reduced to $10. Upon returning from my ride of a lifetime, I patiently waited for the guide to cue the camel to lower me down. Finally tired of the delay, I asked him if he would let me down--to which he angrily replied, "Ten dollars to ride on camel, ten dollars to get off!" --Suzanne Murrell, Orlando, Fla.
One woman's disappointment is another woman's relief
My friend and I wanted to try some new and unusual things while in New Orleans. Perusing the paper, we came across an ad for a "bottomless brunch" at Lucky Cheng's. We'd heard the restaurant employed waiters who were men dressed as women, and we were curious how they could pass themselves off while going bottomless. When we arrived, a fully clothed, attractive transvestite approached our table and asked if we wanted a glass of champagne. A bit perplexed, I went ahead and said, "You advertised a bottomless brunch, but we see you are clothed." The waiter laughed and told us that "bottomless brunch" meant our champagne glasses would never be empty. Not the adventure we had imagined, but fun nonetheless. --Louise Minnick, San Francisco, Calif.