Travelers' Tales


From our November issue: Readers share anecdotes about a police escort in Mexico City, mistaken identity in Sicily, and a bridge under troubled water.

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This month's winner is Tom Dryden of Wilton, Conn. His prize is an eight-night trip to Tasmania, Australia, courtesy of Tourism Tasmania and Goway Travel.
My wife and I spent two days in Casablanca on our way to Greece. A taxi took us to our hotel via a highway. Coming home, we spent one more night in Casablanca at the same hotel. Night had fallen by the time we landed. This time, the driver who picked us up took a different route, turning off the highway onto an unpaved, unlit road on which ours was the only vehicle. The road seemed to lead away from the city. My wife, who had been reading a true-crime book, clutched my arm and said, "This isn't the way to our hotel. He's taking us out into the country to kill us!" Our driver brought the taxi to a stop and turned to his wide-eyed passengers. "I am not," he said in perfect English. "This is a shortcut."

The pony express
Looking for a taxi stand in Mexico City, I asked some mounted policemen in a park for directions; I spoke little Spanish, but after some gesturing on both sides, I set off in what I thought was the right direction. Half an hour later, the same policemen trotted up to me. One of the officers dismounted and had me get on his horse. Then he handed me his sombrero and led the horse out of the park, across four lanes of traffic, and all the way to the taxi stand. People waved and honked, and a few even took pictures. I guess they thought I was a celebrity. Jennifer Ochoa, Long Beach, Calif.

Bridge under troubled water
Our group left Matema, Tanzania, for the drive back to Dar es Salaam for our flight home. The roads were flooded by heavy rains and driving was difficult, so I was relieved when we reached a bridge. But the support under the bridge was broken, and the car ended up in the water. Our bags were lost, but we were saved. People came from miles around to help. My fondest memory of the trip is of the kindness of those villagers. Laurie Hodgson, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Try Chincoteague Island
When I booked a trip to Mackinac Island, Mich., I thought we would land on the island. Someone at our hotel told me we wouldn't have a problem getting a horse-drawn taxi at midnight, when our flight would get in. When we landed and saw cars, my husband was puzzled and said he thought there were no cars on the island. What was the problem? We'd landed at Pellston airport, which is 15 miles away—on the mainland! I called the horse-taxi service, and the dispatcher said, "Lady, my horses don't swim that well." Anne Curwin, Little Canada, Minn.

Modesty is overrated
After my daughter became engaged to an Italian Air Force pilot, we planned an extended stay in Italy. We found an apartment in a town close to her fiancé's base. Using the washing machine to do our laundry was easy, but drying our clothes meant hanging them on a drying rack on the balcony. We didn't want people to see our unmentionables, so we hung them at the back of the rack. But on one of our morning strolls, we saw an old woman sitting below her clothesline, where her big white granny underwear was waving like a banner! Deborah Vivona, Edmond, Okla.

She put Rudolph out of work
The night before my visit to Camelot Adventure Lodge in Moab, Utah, I was so excited about riding a camel that I was unable to sleep, so I took a sleep aid. As I swallowed the tablet, I realized I had also swallowed a tooth from a partial plate. The next morning, I found a dentist, only to be told to come back in four hours. So my cousins and I searched through a store's Halloween decorations and found a set of glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth. We replaced my tooth with one that also acted as a night-light, and I didn't miss my camel ride. Judy Patterson, Florence, Ala.

Not quite Italy's most wanted
Our visit to Sicily was interrupted when the police picked me and my wife up off the street and took us to the station. Someone had identified me as one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives. They suspected me of murder, drug trafficking, and money laundering. I was about the right age, height, and weight, and looked similar to an FBI picture. After four hours, I was released, to the disappointment of the FBI and the Italian police—and my wife, who had offered to identify me as the fugitive to get the reported million-dollar reward. J.E. Lee, Las Cruces, N.M.

But did they buy the bridge?
My friend Myrt and I were walking to our car in Santa Fe, N.M., when we came upon two Native American boys. They had a box of ordinary-looking rocks and a sign that said rocks $5.00. "So are there crystals in these rocks?" I asked. The boys said no. Myrt guessed, "Are these some kind of ceremonial rocks?" No again. Myrt asked, "Why would anybody pay five dollars for an ordinary rock?" One of the boys smiled and said, "We don't know, but we've sold six of them!" Diane Kay, Albuquerque, N.M.

Wonder if it works for guys
I stayed in a hostel while in Florence, Italy, and woke with bedbug bites on my stomach and face. I found a pharmacy, but the pharmacist didn't speak English. Fortunately, the man in line behind me spoke a little, and with a few words and gestures, I told him my problem. He explained it to the pharmacist, and she gave me a tube of cream for the itching. I was thrilled at how quickly it worked. When I returned to the U.S., I showed the tube to my boyfriend's mom, who is fluent in Italian. It turns out my miracle cream was not for bug bites, but for feminine itching. Beth Riley, Downers Grove, Ill.

We prefer Cinderella Barbie
In 2005, my partner and I traveled to Madagascar. We never told our guide or other people we encountered that we were gay. Halfway into our trip, we checked in to a hotel for the night. When we went into the bathroom, we saw a beach towel emblazoned with a large pink image of Nutcracker Barbie. We turned to each other and smiled, and then my partner said, "Word's out now!" Shawn McDermott, Baltimore, Md.

The boy is a bad influence
My husband and I took our son on a Danube cruise from Passau, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, and back. I love to take photos, and the scenery was so beautiful that I had ample opportunity. Like many boys, my son hates to have his picture taken. To show his dislike on this trip, he stuck out his tongue in every photo. One day, we took a carriage ride through Vienna and, of course, had our picture taken. When I printed the photo, I noticed that the horse had also stuck out its tongue. I guess it was tired of photos, too. Karen Zygmunt, Carmel, N.Y.

Paging the National Guard
When I was in Lesotho recently, a local man asked where we were from. Our group leader said the U.S., and the man asked where Georgia was. She gave him a rough idea, and he said, "Russia is bombing Georgia. How is George Bush going to react?" Annalisa Lazzaro, New York, N.Y.

Obligatory monkey story
When my mother and I visited the Rock of Gibraltar, we opened our car windows and took pictures of the monkeys there. Suddenly, I heard a thud on the roof. A monkey climbed through the window and sat on my shoulder. Then it dove to the floor, grabbed something from our grocery bag, and leaped back over me and out the window. Yikes! Feeding the monkeys is illegal. Sure enough, I walked to the back of our car and found the little guy eating bread sticks. Brittany Hill, Sagamore Hills, Ohio

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