"A Stingray Bit My Nipple!," the new collection of our best-ever True Stories, is pretty much guaranteed to provoke an array of reactions. To give you a taste of the book, here's a bonus excerpt of some of our favorites.
If you have an anecdote, please send it in to TrueStories@BudgetTravel.com! You might win a Celebrity cruise to Alaska, Hawaii, the Caribbean, or South America.
Kids, meet your new teacher
On a motorcycle trip through the Alps, my friend Bill and I stopped for lunch at a café in Ponte di Legno, a village in northern Italy. It was a local hangout with lively conversation, great food, and even a guitar-carrying nun. After we sat down, we noticed people filing outside, followed by a series of loud noises. "Are those firecrackers?" Bill asked. I looked out the window, and I couldn't believe my eyes. The nun, all of five feet tall, was cracking a bullwhip to the cheers of the crowd. With her feet planted, habit flying, and whip snapping, she ought to have been in a rodeo! David A. Swezey, Everett, Wash.
Some kids dream of being Superman, others Lex Luthor
I was in a phone booth in London when two boys began circling it with duct tape! I had to wait some time for a passerby to free me. Walking down the street, I saw the boys in an alley, and they smiled and waved. I couldn't help but smile back. Stephanie Fallon, West Chester, Pa.
So the giraffe says, "Hey, baby, wanna neck?"
The giraffes we encountered at a Kenyan reserve will eat from your hand, but if you put a nugget of food in your mouth, they'll take it from there, too. My grandson Andrew was eager to try it—and he got the best kiss of all. French, anyone? Aileen Saunders, College Place, Wash.
You try doing it in high winds
My friend and I were in Buenos Aires, and our guidebook recommended Tierra Santa, a religious theme park that resembles Jerusalem. "We regret to inform you that Christ will not be resurrected due to high winds," said a voice over the loudspeaker as we entered. "We will resume the resurrection as soon as possible." Twenty minutes later, the winds died, and sure enough, an eight-foot-tall Jesus emerged from a mountain. "Ave Maria" played, and everyone stopped to watch. Caroline Friesen, Seattle, Wash.
Now that's a filthy story
In Guanacaste, Costa Rica, my husband, Scott, and I hurried back from a hike to make it in time for our mud bath. The other guests in our group were already coated in mud and baking in the sun. When we entered the hut, two men motioned Scott to leave while they studiously painted me with mud from head to toe, leaving no skin uncovered and following close around my bikini. When I emerged from the hut, the people in our group asked how I got my mud on so perfectly; theirs was streaky and uneven. I said that was how the two men applied it. "What men?" they said. "We were all instructed to put it on ourselves!" Scott and I never did see those two guys again. Pam Anderson, Sussex, Wis.
If you were a bidet, you'd probably be angry, too
As we settled into our Florence hotel, we discovered an out-of-control bidet frothing all over. I found a maid, whose eyes got big when she saw the mess. She yelled down the hall, and another maid came in. They exchanged a few words, glanced at me, and burst into laughter. We'll never know what they said, but I suspect it was something like, "Was she trying to shampoo her hair in the bidet?" Maryka Biaggio, Portland, Ore.
Sorry, but only her best friends get to call her that
In Thailand, I came down with dengue fever and had to check in to a guesthouse for a few weeks. The innkeeper introduced herself as what I understood to be "So." She took wonderful care of me, and we became friends. When the time came for me to leave, she sat me down and explained that all this time I'd been calling her by the wrong name. Because I'd been using the wrong emphasis and tone, I'd been calling her "Three-Colored Pork." Samantha Kersten, Ham Lake, Minn.
Everyone knows that a priest doesn't want a wife
As a young cleric in Rome, I ventured to purchase a sweater. I'd been studying Italian and decided I was ready for a test run. Dressed in my religious habit, I went to a clothing store in Trastevere. I told the young shopkeeper that I was there to buy a sweater, but instead of saying maglia (sweater), I said moglie (wife). She smiled and asked me what kind of moglie I'd like. A moglie negra, I said—a black wife. By that time, a small group of women had gathered. She asked me to be more specific. I said I wanted a pesante negra moglie—a heavy black wife. The audience giggled. She then asked why I wanted a heavy black wife. "Riscaldarmi," I responded—to keep me warm. Everybody howled, and the shopkeeper told me in English that she might not have a heavy black wife for me, but she did happen to have a very nice sweater. Philip Traynor, Fresno, Calif.
He's just bitter because he never evolved
At a raja's palace in India, my friend Howard suggested I take a photo of him with one of the many monkeys that roam the grounds. He handed me his camera and inched over to a monkey sitting calmly on a wall. I snapped the first picture, of the two peacefully making eye contact—and by luck, I also captured the moment that followed. Fortunately for Howard, the monkey didn't pursue further. Dean Divis, Greenfield Center, N.Y.