” Oh, the Riviera“, she repeated. Yes, well its not always the leisurely life on the Riviera, I chuckled. I looked over at the young lady from the book store, smiled at Paula and added, some times we are camped out on a frozen desert in Wyoming or a steamy bayou in Louisiana. Its not all luxury and that is a good thing.
Deb, from this small bookstore in Gananoque Ontario was very knowledgeable. Travel narratives, adventure travel books, travel writing books, she had a good selection and had obviously read quite a few of the books she selected and recommended for our upcoming trip to Italy. These should be good reading sitting on the beach on the Riviera, she laughed.
Paula and I are accustomed to peoples envious reactions and comments when we tell them we’re headed to a seemingly exotic locale for several weeks. It may sound idyllic and it often is, but just as often it requires a very flexible attitude and ability to cope with a challenging situation. We do pretty well when it comes to facing adversity while miles from home. Each of us has skills that compliment the other. When our travels go awry or the situation turns sour we know that one of us needs to take charge or jump in to help depending on the particular problem.
I’m good at dealing with almost any physical crisis or problem. Flat tires, driving in tight streets, not getting stuck, getting unstuck (yes, I know you told me), fixing broken things, sometimes things that I broke in a bit of a snit. Paula is good at personal interactions and convincing people to help us when I would rather not (ever) ask for assistance. For example:
We climbed out of the pitching boat at the ferry terminal in down town Belize City. It had been a long wonderful day snorkeling the reef off Caye Caulker. Tired and happy we soon realize that most of the taxis and their drivers were sleeping off the Christmas day celebrations at home with friends and family. Walking into the heart of Belize City after dark is safe enough if you follow a few simple steps.
We stay to the main streets, walking purposefully to another taxi stand. No taxis. From the street to our left a voice says, “where you from?”
“Here” we respond in unison.
“Looking for a taxi to get home?”
Our new friend knows where there is a taxi. I check him out and give him the look that requires no words. Paula smiles and says thanks as we walk on. He leads the way and in a few minutes we have our taxi.
The taxi driver negotiates the fare with Paula who makes it known that we have made the Belize City to Cucumber Beach trip a few times and her regular driver charges less. I keep my eye on our friend and open the door for Paula after agreeing to the fare. Our friendly guide does not like the tip I am offering and says so. The driver stands by his door and I tell the driver that our friend here wants some of his tip money. The driver tells our friend to take the tip offered and take a walk. “That’s your problem mon”, he says to our guide and we are on our way home.
Another day we are stopped at a military check point. I never shut off the engine at these stops. You want to appear that you are not planning on parking. Just a quick couple of questions and we will be on our way.
Smiles all around as the man with the gun asks a few questions. Paula takes over after I have failed my Spanish interrogation. Yes, he can look inside. Does the dog bite he asks? Paula says no, no problema and I shrug my shoulders and say mas o menos. Zoey continues to bark and snarl. The side door of the RV is opened and Zoey goes wild barking, growling and snapping her teeth. Even more quickly the door is slammed shut.
The soldiers laugh at their obviously shaken comrade, who stands wide eyed outside the RV. Paula smiles sweetly out her window and says, “lo ciento,senor” (sorry). The soldiers laughing, wave us on with “Endele, buen viaje”
Zoey, runs to snarl out the back window and returns looking up breathlessly at Paula. ” Good job” we tell Zoey. Good job everyone.