From our July/August issue: a hot encounter with a guinea pig in Peru, doing "the circle thing" with friars in Rome, a taste of holy water in Thailand, and more.
This Month's Prize!
Costa Rica The best response we receive between June 27, 2009, and Aug. 28, 2009, wins a 14-night trip for two to Costa Rica from Planeterra Foundation. Spend five days volunteering on a sea turtle conservation project and 10 days exploring. Prize includes flights, lodgings, transport, and some meals. Trip must be booked by May 31, 2010, and must be completed by Dec. 31, 2010. For more info: 800/465-5600, planeterra.org.
How to enter: E-mail us at TrueStories@BudgetTravel.com or mail us at True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., New York, NY 10018. Estimated value: $4,500. Taxes are the responsibility of the winner. Nontransferable; nonnegotiable; blackout dates may apply. Contest open to residents of the 50 United States and its territories, except Arizona. Full guidelines: BudgetTravel.com/truestories.
Trip Winner July/August's winner is Nadine Kosloski of Park Ridge, Ill. Her prize is a three-night all-inclusive trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, courtesy of Dreams Los Cabos Suites Golf Resort & Spa and Los Cabos Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In the Bahamas, our family visited the Straw Market. The colorful displays weren't enough to interest our 3-year-old daughter, and she fell asleep on my husband's shoulder. I continued through the market with our older daughter. After a while, we turned a corner and were surprised to see my husband and daughter behind a table selling hats. The vendor had graciously offered her chair to my husband and then asked if he would watch her table while she went to the washroom. He agreed, and joined the other vendors in vying for the buyers' attention. The woman was gone for only 15 minutes, but my husband managed to sell two hats!
Attack of the guinea pig
At Pisac Market in Peru's Sacred Valley, a man was cooking something I couldn't quite see. Then I realized what was smoking over the fire—cuy, or guinea pig, a local favorite. The chef picked up a fresh-grilled cuy for our photo op. Before I could move, hot juices poured from my soon-to-be entrée onto my legs and feet, and click—the photo was snapped. Allison Koester, Seattle, Wash.
Very slow on the uptake
On a trip to Greece with my best friend, Effie, we visited relatives on her mom's side in a tiny village. The toilet was a hole in the ground. To flush, you rinsed the bowl by dumping a bucket of water in. A few days later, we left for her dad's family home. Their bathroom was also outside and I saw no way to flush the toilet, so I assumed it worked like the other one. Every day for a week, I would fill a bucket with water, heave it to the outhouse, and whoosh it down the drain. I noticed that when I would finish, Effie's family would look at me with bewildered expressions. Finally, the day before we left, her uncle pulled me aside and said, "You Americans make things so hard on yourselves—work, work, work." He took me into the bathroom and pointed up—there was a cord hanging from the ceiling to flush the loo. They hadn't told me because they wanted to see how long it would take me to catch on. Elizabeth Mary Hickey, Swampscott, Mass.
Did he punch the friars?
My husband and his twin brother have a game they've played since they were kids. It involves making a circle over your heart with your thumb and forefinger—whoever does it first gets to punch the other one. (Must be a guy thing!) The game is now played via photos from vacations around the world. My brother-in-law and his wife went to Egypt last spring and sent us a picture of themselves doing the circle thing on camels with the pyramids in the background. Of course, my husband had to have a comeback, so when he and I visited Rome in May, he had three Franciscan friars do the circle thing in St. Peter's Basilica. His brother will have a hard time trumping this one. Michelle O'Nale, Palm Harbor, Fla.
At least you got some exercise
Before I headed to Scotland a couple of years ago, a colleague asked if I could bring him back some brown sauce from Chippy's. Thus began a daylong search for a restaurant called Chippy's. I walked into a fish-and-chips restaurant and saw some brown sauce, but I thought to myself, This isn't Chippy's. Defeated, I returned to the States and met with laughter. "A chippy, not Chippy's. It's slang for a fish-and-chips joint!" my friend said. Somehow, I had disregarded the "a." I had walked past six chippies, had eaten at one, and had even seen the brown sauce, but still came back empty-handed. Lola Akinmade, Owings Mills, Md.
Get Inspired with more from BudgetTravel.com
Budget Travel Real Deals