The World of Being on a 'Tour'...
July 23, 2006

Okay. My views of tours have only been confirmed. And I am solely speaking from experiencing a non-tour ‘tour’. While this
sounds confusing, I mainly mean that this trip was booked through a company and I was with the same five other people (six
in total) for the entire 15 days. And while in most tours you share a room with the person that you went on the trip with, this
was not the case on this one. It’s not too often that you share a room…day in, day out…with everyone that you are spending
the fifteen days with. Throw into the mix that one person out of the six is a guy and you can, therefore, not even feel at ease
getting changed in your own room for two weeks. While in some cases this would be the worst part of doing a tour, that would
not be the case in this particular situation…

Now let me first state that I have been working on ‘patience’ skills for the past few months. I have been very successful in the
sense that I know transportation will be late. I know that while I might make it on a form of transportation on time, that does
n-o’t mean it will
leave on time. I know that even if I am hungry, I won’t necessarily get food soon after I order it. I know
these things and I can roll with them. I have been fortunate while traveling by myself because I have truly enjoyed everyone I
have met along the way. However, if I did
not particularly like a person, the beauty is that I would not have to deal with that
person five minutes after meeting them if I did not want to.

Such is not the case on a tour. I toyed with the idea of mentioning this in a journal. I realize that I might come across as a ‘not
nice’ person by expressing my opinions right now. But this is my journal and if I was driven crazy for two weeks, I think I
should be allowed to address it…

The female-half of the couple from Massachusetts drove me up a wall. Words can not fully describe it. One just had to
experience it. It would take a mere ten minutes of conversation and you would know what I am talking about. Wait. Let me
take that back (as conversation is what two people participate in). It would be more like a ten-minute monologue. About her
working at a boarding school. About her living at the boarding school. About the kids coming to their apartment for help at the
boarding school. About their dogs. About their cats. About things their cats play with. About her horse. About her family living
on a farm. About her riding horses. About some house on Nantucket. About the rocks on the unpaved road leading up to her
mom’s house (I am not kidding when I say that we had to have heard about this at least five times). This was just a small
sampling of painful, painful ramblings (because that’s what they were) that we had to hear incessantly about. I think it can go
unsaid that she never asked
one question to any of us in our group. Not one.

If only it ended there. But it didn’t. We haven’t gotten to the sound of her voice and the intonation. She was
that American.
Loud, loud, loud. She and her husband were on this trip using a grant from their boarding school. He had never been outside of
Canada (which he considered ‘being out of the country’) and I highly doubt she had been much further than that. Ignorant
comments flowed freely.

Example: There was a sign for a resort that said ‘Luxury African Accommodation’ to which she said “Well that’s an oxymoron.”
I was at my wits end (this was on Day #3) and quickly called her out on this. Somebody had to. I did not want this person
opening her mouth in public and tarnishing my image as an American. I know, I know…kind of selfish. I admit it. But I think I
was just looking for any excuse to say something and she gave me the ammunition. My patience skills that I had picked up in
the first three months had now diminished to next-to-nothing.

At first I felt bad for her husband. How could he put up with this day in and day out? After many more days I no longer felt
bad for him as his voice and ramblings had the same ‘fingernails on a chalkboard’ effect on me.

Every time we went out to do something, we would all be ‘all inclusive’ so that nobody felt left out. This is how it was for the
nice dinner we went to in Oudtshoorn. Truth be told, this was along the lines of ‘fine dining’ (an amuse bouche, truffles with the
check, sorbet as a palate cleanser if you opted, etc.) and everything was exceptional. Well, the male-counterpart of the couple
had to say several times (in his loud annoying American voice) that the stew he ordered was far different than what he was
expecting and that ‘stew’ wasn’t like that at home, etc. I was just like “Well, they stewed the lamb so that it’s tender and falls
off the bone so just eat it.” In all honesty, by this point I was totally done with them and tuned them out altogether. It was my
only way of staying sane considering we were all working together and living together.

In the end, neither of them ever asked me any questions about myself, what I did at home, etc. They probably also couldn’t
name any two or three previous countries I have visited on my trip as they never asked one question about it. Yes, there were
times I felt bad about my feelings of annoyance as they weren’t ‘bad’ people and they weren’t ‘mean’ people…they were just
‘annoying’ people. Due to guilt, there were a couple times I made a mistake and asked a question about something they were
rambling about. One time as she was going on and on about Massachusetts, I asked if the foliage was really pretty where they
lived. I was literally given a twenty-minute answer. Guilt sucks, but having to hear about the leaves at their boarding school
sucked much worse.

I would not be expressing any of this if I had shared any of my contact information with them before leaving. But I didn’t so I
feel like I can write freely and say that this is what sucks about doing tours. I couldn’t be more relieved about telling my travel
agent before leaving on this trip that I was in no way, shape or form doing a 21-day tour through India that she suggested. She
was concerned about my safety and was acting as a motherly voice. I told her it was appreciated even though it wasn’t going to
happen. And this is the exact reason why. You never know who you’re going to end up with.

Tomorrow Lori and I begin our one-week safari. We are both curious to see who our bunch consists of…

But let me just leave you with one more topic that the girl-who-nearly-annoyed-me-to-death rambled on about. When we
were wine tasting she went on and on to the wineries about how her favorite wine at home…okay, get ready for this…is a $3
Sutter Home White Zinfandel. Enough said…
Back to South Africa.
Definitely ended up being a bit too much time