In Part 1, I chronicled my “adventures” in Mexico and Nova Scotia. Here, a three-star restaurant dining experience in France is beyond disappointing, a baboon is more than fascinating, and a revolution is less than terrifying.
My next mishap took place in France. We had eaten well in Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Agadir in Morocco, sampling a stew of camel meat and other food of unknown provenance. So far, so good, literally good.
My wife at the time and I then took a short flight to Lyon, where I had long before made a reservation to have dinner at a three-star restaurant that same evening.
We ordered a bit recklessly, and an extravagant feast was laid before us with ceremony unaccustomed to us. At the moment the first course appeared, each of us had the color drain from our faces as our stomachs started to churn.
Let’s just say that we became better acquainted with the lovely restrooms than with the food, with the waiters looking at us perplexedly and finally asking us if everything was all right. Obviously, it wasn’t, but we were too embarrassed by our condition to do more than murmur vague excuses.
I have no doubt that the sensuously presented meal must have been delicious.
In 1976, we were fortunate to take a longish trip to Africa. The gorgeous Garden Route in South Africa lived up to its reputation. We drove in a rented car, stopping at the Cape of Good Hope to watch a troupe of baboons by the side of the road. It was initially entertaining, then not so much after one hopped on the hood of the car.
The big toothy animal stubbornly started tearing at and gnawing the windshield wipers, blissfully ignoring my initial start-and-stop attempts to encourage its departure. Finally, I was able to buck the car enough for the baboon to choose retreat as the better part of savor.
When I went to Suriname in the late 1970s, I luckily had my expenses reimbursed by a (now defunct) magazine that asked me to write a freelance story about motoring down a river in a dugout canoe piloted by a local in the former Dutch colony.
Through rainforest on a waterway with piranha and other unsavory creatures, the journey required us to sleep in hammocks under the thatched roofs of huts with open sides, enabled us to see Indians catch fish with bows and arrows, and gave us the improbable opportunity to hear “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge over loudspeakers in a village where the women happen to go topless.
What we encountered along the river was somewhat surprising but nothing like finding ourselves in the middle of a revolution.
The revolution, or coup, was bloodless. However, the accompanying photographer and I were unable to learn for days why the small plane that was to take us back to the capital of Paramaribo didn’t arrive at the end of our week on the river. Although the commercial flight was late, we got to Paramaribo without further incident.
Repairing to our luxury hotel, I wrote my first draft contentedly by the pool as the revolution continued for a few more days. The only problem was that my friends and family were frantic with worry, and there was no communication available between us until close to our departure, which was routine.
Of course, they needn’t have been concerned, but how were they to know?
Next: Nepal, India and Russia