Exotic Travels

Not wanting to be outdone by Tripgood, we ventured on a semi-exotic journey from West to East via the Panama canal. It was an interesting and exciting trip, but as usual, not without incident.

We hadn’t left our home airport before the first issue arose. Unknown to me, my wife had packed our overnight gear in my carry-on bag. The first I knew was when a security guard pointed accusingly at me, waving a near-empty tube of toothpaste. “This is too large”, he said. “It’s almost empty”, I replied. “No matter, it says 400g”, was the response and it was then confiscated. Can anyone explain to me why a large, near-empty tube of toothpaste is more dangerous than a small, full one? …..

We made the short-hop to our neighboring airport but the pilot must have known I was onboard because we then followed the same procedure as my last flight. The wheels went down, we pretended to land and then there was a sudden change of plan and up we went, circling around for a while. Either the pilot was having too much fun, or maybe he was still searching for the airport in the fog. The delay didn’t really matter because they were busy changing the wheel on our next aircraft, so we all watched, to make sure they did it properly.

When we finally arrived, our hotel with swimming pool was “without” swimming pool. It’s funny how they forgot to mention the renovation work when we booked. I could sense that this was going to be one of our great vacations, since everything was going really well so far!

We enjoyed San Diego but I’m not sure whether they enjoyed us. We decided to try out the public transport system for sightseeing. However, on boarding the local bus, I managed to “crash” the driver’s ticket machine, by feeding it too quickly. The driver spent several minutes on the intercom, receiving instructions for the “reboot”. Strangely, none of the other passengers were amused. We got the impression that they were not on holiday, relaxing like us! The driver was very helpful, especially considering the abuse being thrown at him by some impatient passengers. San Diego was our favorite place on the whole trip and we’ll definitely be going back there, especially now that we know how to use the ticket machines!

We boarded our ship and cruised from West to East, passing through such famous places as Acapulco, where we watched the unbelievable “cliff divers”, the amazing historic Panama Canal, where nobody went ashore and Columbia, where we did a guarded – I mean a guided – tour. There’s nothing more exhilarating than walking in the midday sun, with 100% humidity, then drinking a few beers and hopping back on a tour bus with a freezing air-conditioner. You can’t beat that for healthy recreation! Nevertheless, I have to admit that it was all very interesting and educational and everyone was very friendly and I took hundreds of photographs.

The final stop was Florida, where we rented a car at the airport and headed for the Everglades Park. I had printed out several maps from the internet and this was good because everyone else wanted to send me in the wrong direction. I, at least, knew where I was going, even if nobody else did. Ignoring all instructions, I headed Southwest, through Miami and we eventually arrived at Shark Valley, where there are no sharks but lots of alligators.

We parked the car and headed to the tram tour station, where my wife spotted a plastic alligator placed at the roadside. She moved up close and I took a few pictures. Then, suddenly, it occurred to us that this replica looked a little too realistic, so we asked some other tourists if they would poke it, so we can be sure it’s a fake. While they were contemplating this, the object suddenly blinked an eye and everybody jumped backwards. Apparently, unlike Disneyland, everything in the Everglades is real!

We survived the Everglades too and after a few days in Naples, we headed home. Meanwhile, Winter was closing in, so we arrived none too soon before the big snowstorms hit everywhere. As Neatstep always says, the only problem with going away is coming back. After catching up on everything else, I have finally got round to typing my travel blog, as much as I can remember. The rest is history!