I'm a novelist at heart. I wrote a terrorist thriller entitled "Nine Lives Too Much" and one tense, modern paranormal story called "The Demon in Our Dreams." I have a new novel soon that deals with the Queen of Rice. Most of my fictional efforts have been chronicled on my website – http://www.senneffhouse.com. From time to time I like to go back to my beginning as a traveler. I particularly like writing travel with inscribed humor. My novel, The Demon in Our Dreams, is essentially a travel novel inhabited by many guides.
Have you heard of any good guides lately?
On a tour in Alaska, our female guide said, "We have a saying here in Alaska. There are nine men for every woman. The odds are good, but the goods are weird."
But the male leaders are fighting in this battle of the sexes. One man said he had a T-shirt that read, "Girls, remember that when you return to the bottom forty-eight, you will be ugly again."
Another Alaskan male driver the next day: "Here in Alaska, men are men and women are too."
Whenever I hit a new land trip or a new cruise ship port, I take a guided tour. These are called cultural orientations when stopping at a museum, not at the craft market where the tour guide works.
Guides can joke, advocate, scapegoat, recite poetry, and tell courses. They have a captive audience for a few hours, a day or in some cases a week or more. For some reason, Alaska guides are the best. Here are some illustrations of the breed from all over:
On Moorea, Tahiti's sister island, our guide Ben said:
"This is the church where members of a particular religion worship. They come to my door two or three times a week with pamphlets. Please give me your address so I can give it to them, and they can visit your house instead mine. "
Alaskan guides are full of bald eagle and bear stories. A guide told us about a black bear that flew into the airport and into the arrival area. He got on the luggage carousel and started to drive her around. They thought they would get rid of him by turning off the carousel. He grunted and acted threateningly, so they had to let him continue his ride until the gamekeepers caught him and took him away.
Management told this story:
"Two bears, a man and a woman, attack and eat two men who were hiking in the forest. One man is a Pole and one man is a Czech. Both bears are shot by hunters. Autopsies are performed. so they knew that the Czech was in the male. "
On a Princess Alaska ship while we were martinis in the observation lounge, the captain would reach "This is Captain Glug from the bridge. There are two bald eagles on the port side of the tallest tree. He will announce later. "On the middle tree, again at the harbor, you will see two more bald eagles."
Our barmaid said, "I think the captain has a picture of two eagles glued to his glasses. When he looks from the corner of his eye, he sees them in the trees."
The ship's comedian would imitate the captain: "To the starboard side are three hair killers, seven jumps and three sea otters with calves floating on icebergs. On the port side, two grizzly bears wash salmon off the coast, and there are two bald eagles that Princess Lines paid to follow the ship to Seward. "
Guides can give many different versions of the same thing. Bora Bora in French Polynesia has a huge, abandoned Haat hotel site with only the basics standing by the sea. A local guide said the reason the hotel was abandoned was because of the builders & # 39; greed and the costs of mismanagement, graft and corruption.
Anthropologist Bill Colance on Raiateia gave a different version. The Polynesians never give up their land. Relatives are often buried in the backyard, which helps ensure that the land remains in the family. After Hyatt builders collected land for their hotel, hundreds of Bora Borans came up with land claims. Buying them all would be terribly expensive, so the project was abandoned.
While touring French Polynesia, resentment against Chinese traders will surface. "There is such and such a supermarket. It is owned by Chinese, and groceries are expensive there." The Chinese, who were initially brought to Tahiti to work in the sugar fields, remained after work in the fields ceased. They gradually became the class of merchants and now own many banks and companies.
A Tahitian leader said, "The French bake our bread, the Chinese ship and sell it, and the Tahiti pay it."
In Bora Bora, a guide got angry when a tourist asked him if they had ever eaten dogs. Paul Theroux in his book on Oceania found that some islanders in some archipelagoes ate a dog. He thought that was why island dogs often looked so badly hardened because they knew what was wrong with them. Our guide said, "Of course we wouldn't eat dogs. They are our pets, family members. What do you think we are, weirdos?"
Then his whole mood changed abruptly, and he said wickedly, "Now Americans, that's another story. They're really delicious, especially on your fingers. We call it finger food."
Captain Cook hundreds of years ago detailed cannibalism in the Southern Seas.
In Alaska, guides specialize in reciting poetry at the end of the tour. Their favorite is Robert Service, the Yukon Kipling, and on many bus tours just before giving a tip, you'll hear "Dan McGrew's Shooting," "Sam McGee's Cremation" or "The Yukon Spell." "They are recited from memory and somehow the lines look more immediate as you travel through a golden border city like Skagway.
We took a steam train train in vintage rail cars, which followed the golden tide path from Skagway over the mountains to the Dawson take-off spot. In 1898, thousands of gold prospectors endured the terrible conditions and thousands of gluttonous animals died. Through the loudspeaker on the train, a female guide read from a story by Jack London, who touchingly described how these animals fell or were thrown down steep mountain paths.
At Skagwag, our guide takes us to the old cemetery where Soapy Smith and Frank Reid are buried. Soapie Smith was the leader of a gang that terrorized the city during the Gold Rush days. Reed filmed Soapy and there is an inscription on his grave saying that he gave his life for the honor of Skagway. Nearby is the grave of a woman of pleasure. On his tombstone it reads: "She gave her honor to Skagway's life."
In Hamburg, Germany, a tour guide pipes the patriotic work environment. On a block from the notorious Red Light District of Repperbach, he identified some women he said were prostitutes. "Good for them. They save valuable energy. They go to work."
Over the years I have met many good guides and laughed and learned from most of them.