Readers' anecdotes prove once again that travel is definitely stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction.
New Prize: A Tour of China!
The best response we receive between Oct. 1, 2007, and Oct. 31, 2007, wins a nine-day China tour from Champion Holidays. The prize includes round-trip air for two from Los Angeles International Airport or New York's JFK, all flights within China, seven nights at deluxe hotels, tours, airport transfers, and all meals. For more on Champion Holidays: 800/868-7658, china-discovery.com.
The winner of this month's contest is Trent Jones of Safety Harbor, Fla. His prize is a six-night trip to French Polynesia from Tahiti Legends.
In the Grenadines, my wife and I had a water taxi drop us off at a deserted island. We were enjoying our solitude when we saw a fisherman waving to us from his boat while holding a huge lobster. Seconds later he waded toward us, keeping the lobster out of the water. When he came ashore we realized that he had no clothes on. He tried to sell us the lobster--and even offered to cook it on the beach--but we graciously declined as we would've been too distracted by the scenery. Fortunately, he let my wife take a picture. (I'm the one in the hat.)
Sorry, It's Still Uncool
In the Bahamas, my daughter made friends with a group of young girls who were making crafts from seashells, beads, and string. Giggling, they asked my husband to close his eyes while they clipped an earring onto his ear. He agreed to model for the girls--who erupted in laughter after attaching a very cooperative lizard to his earlobe. Ursula Robertson-Moore, Crestwood, Ky.
The Young Sir Mix-a-Lot
During a six-month visit to Uganda, I learned that locals consider a small waist, wide hips, and a large backside to be prime assets on a woman--and that white people are often thought of as too slender. While my friend Helen and I were trekking on a narrow path, we came upon a group of boys, one of whom was mesmerized by my light skin and generous proportions. After staring for five seconds, he turned and ran toward the village. He screamed a rapid succession of syllables, only two words of which I understood: muzungu (white person) and kabina (butt). Helen sheepishly refused to translate. As we entered the village, people stared. It was then that I realized that the boy had run to tell everyone, "A white woman with a butt is coming! She's right here, and she has a big butt!" Monica Gallagher, Anchorage, Alaska
Upon arriving in Barcelona, my husband and I went to the tourist office on Plaça de Catalunya. There was a young man behind the counter, and I said, "We're so happy to be here in your wonderful city to celebrate my 60th birthday." He replied that we wouldn't like Barcelona since there's nothing to do. Astonished, I countered by saying that we'd only heard wonderful reports about the city and that we were really looking forward to our visit. "Barcelona is #&*%," he said, and recommended that we go elsewhere. Flabbergasted, I told him that I wanted to talk to someone with a better attitude, and then switched to another line. As we were leaving, two women with clipboards approached us and asked us to sign a release--we'd been filmed for Barcelona's equivalent of Candid Camera.
Peggy Hayden, Bristol, R.I.
Someone Needs a Second Amendment
The cities of Sofia and Plovdiv felt very much like boomtowns during my visit to Bulgaria. Charmingly decrepit buildings sat near new construction sites, and many businesses were trying to get a foothold in the new economy. Though I never saw any indication that the cities were less than safe, the presence of large, black-clad bodybuilders serving as security at most clubs, stores, and businesses took getting used to. Then I saw this sign at a bank where I cashed my traveler's checks. Lee Kennedy, Arlington, Va.
In May 2006, Pam Anderson won a pair of Aussie AirPasses, courtesy of Qantas, for her story about getting slathered with mud by strangers at a hot spring in Costa Rica. She and her husband, Scott, had a great time in Australia. "The Qantas experience was perfect during our flights to and from Sydney and cities within Australia," she says. "The food was magnificent, and the service was always top-notch."
On That Note...
This is a good time to say that readers who prefer their True Stories on the risqué side should go to our search box (in the upper right-hand corner of the page) and type the keywords "Rated R" (though "PG-13" is more like it). We have a slide show that may or may not make you blush--but it'll definitely make you laugh.