I am at heart a novelist. I wrote a terror thriller called "Nine Lives Too" and a suspicious, modern paranormal story called "The Demon in Our Dreams." A new novel dealing with rice nuts is coming out soon. Most of my fictional efforts are chronicled on my website – http://www.senneffhouse.com. From time to time I like to go back to my beginnings as a travel writer. I especially love travel writing with humor covered. My novel "The Demon in Our Dreams" is actually a travel novel full of many travel guides.
Have you heard any good guide lately?
On a tour of Alaska, our female guide said, "Here in Alaska we have a saying. There are nine men for every woman. Odds are good, but the goods are unusual."
But male guides reciprocate in this battle of the sexes. One man said he had a T-shirt that read, "Girls, remember when you go back to your forty-eight, you will be ugly again."
Day Two An Alaskan man runs the next day, "Here in Alaska, men are men, and women are too."
Every time I land a new city or a new port on a boat, I embark on a guided tour. They call them cultural orientations when they stop at a museum instead of a craft market where relatives of the guide work.
Guides can joke, propagate, scapegoat, recite poetry, and donkeys. They have a captive audience for several hours, daily and in some cases a week or more. For some reason, Alaska tourist guides are the best. Here are some illustrations of the breed from all over:
On Moorea, a sister island from Tahiti, our guide Ben said:
"This is a church where members of a particular denomination 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 of mine."
Alaskan guides are full of stories about eagles and bears. One guide told us about a black bear wandering into the airport and into the arrival area. He boarded the luggage case and started to drive it around. They thought they would get rid of him if they turned off the carousel. He growled and seemed threatening, so they had to let him continue driving until the gamekeepers caught him and took him away.
The guide told this story:
"Two bears, a male and a female, attack and eat two men who were hiking in the forest. One man was a Pole and one man was Czech. Two bears were shot by hunters. Autopsies were performed. knew the Czech was in the male. "
On a Princess Alaska ship while we were having martinis in the observation lounge, the captain would come to the pope "This is Captain Glug from the bridge. There are two bald eagles on the side of the arch on the tallest tree. About fifteen minutes later he will announce:" On the middle tree, again on the dock, you'll see two more bald eagles. "
Our bartender said, "I think the captain has a picture of two eagles glued to his glasses. When he looks at him from the corner of his eye, he sees them among the trees."
A comedian on board would imitate the captain, "On the right board are three killer whales, seven jumping fishes and three sea otters with calves floating in icebergs. On the port side, two grizzly bears are washing salmon along the shore, and there are two bald eagles that Princess Lines pays to follow the ship to Seward. "
Guides can give very different versions of the same thing. At Bora Bora in French Polynesia, the vastly abandoned Hyatt Hotel with only its foundations stands by the sea. A local guide said the reason for leaving the hotel was because of the & # 39; greed and the costs of mismanagement, privation and corruption.
Anthropologist Bill Kolans on Raiatea gave a different version. The Polynesians never give up their land. Relatives are often buried in the yard, which helps to ensure that the land will remain in the family. After the Hyatt builders collected the land for their hotel, hundreds of Boranans emerged with land claims. Buying them all would be terribly expensive, so the project gave up.
In touring French Polynesia, outraging Chinese sellers was not easy. "There is such and such a supermarket. They are owned by the Chinese, and groceries are expensive there." The Chinese, who were originally brought to Tahiti to work in the sugar fields, remained after field work had ceased. They gradually became a trading class and now own many banks and businesses.
One Tahitian guide said: "The French bake our bread. The Chinese ship and sell it, and the Tahitians pay for it."
In Bora Bora one tourist guide was furious when a tourist asked him if they had ever eaten dogs. In his book on Oceania, Paul Theroux found that some islanders ate dogs in some archipelagos. He thought that is why island dogs often seem so nasty because they knew what was available to them. Our guide said, "Of course we wouldn't eat dogs. They are our pets, family members. What do you think we are, wild animals?"
Then his whole mood suddenly changed, and he miserably said, "They're Americans now. It's a different story. They're really delicious, especially the fingers. We call it finger food."
Hundreds of years ago, Captain Cook detailed cannibalism in the South Seas.
In Alaska, tour guides specialize in poetic recitations at the end of the tour. Their favorite is the Robert Service, the Kipling Yukon, and on many bus tours just before tip, you'll hear "Dan McGrew's Shoot", "Sam McGee's Cremation" or "Yukon Spell". "They were recited from memory, and somehow the lines seem more instantaneous as you travel around town with a gold rush like Skagway.
We rode a steam engine train in vintage rail cars that followed the golden rush trail from Skagway across the mountains to the take-off point for Dawson. In 1898, thousands of gold seekers endured terrible conditions and thousands of packs of packs collapsed. Through a loud speaker on the train, a female tour guide read from an account of Jack London in which he derogatoryly described how these animals fell or were thrown over steep mountain paths.
In Skagwag, our guide took us to the old cemetery where Soapy Smith and Frank Reid were buried. Soapy Smith was a gang leader who terrorized the city in Gold Rush days. Reid shot Soapy, and on his grave is a banner saying he gave his life to honor Skagway. Nearby is the tomb of a woman of pleasure. She writes on her tombstone, "She attributed her honor to the life of Skagway."
In Hamburg, Germany, a tour guide strives for patriotic ecology at work. In a block away from the infamous red-light district on Reeperbahn, he pointed out some women he said were prostitutes. "Good for them. They save valuable energy. They go to work."
I have met many good guides over the years and have laughed and learned from most of them.