Friday Five, on Travel 10:27 a.m. 2003-08-08

Drive Time: 40 minutes
Current Listening: On Writing by Stephen King
Current Reading:Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana by Isadora Tattlin
Recipe of the Day: Lower Calorie Pepperoni Individual Pizza and Individual Veggie Pizza

The Friday Five:

1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?

Well, thanks for asking! As a matter of fact, I went to Mexico, and you can read about the trip in my entries from July... ;-)

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?

Hmmm... Nothing stands out, although that is not to say that bizarre things have not happened. Maybe, when you travel often, so many unusual things happen that that becomes the norm. Such as:

Mexico:

-Getting stopped by the federales in the mountains, and waiting for them to search our car or accept a bribe. They were going through my 12 year old sister's purse when they say a picture of one of my sister's friends hanging upside down so that her hair looked like one of those wacky dwarf dolls. They started laughing, and let us go.

-Being picked up by an old college friend of my uncle's in Queretero (he was 70 years old), and being driven to their family hacienda (a six hour trip, even though we achieved speeds of 100 miles per hour and drove through Mexico City). He drank beer and nipped at orange liquor and gave a running commentary on everything from a happy marriage to political conspiracy the whole way.

-Attending a shabbat, that is, the Jewish traditional Friday meal, at a Catholic monastery in Atlixco!!

France:

-Helping friends move, while staying in the vacant household with no electricity. We also rented a car then, and got stopped for a breathalizer test on our way home.

-I lived in France for 2 years, and have traveled there twice more, so nothing that the French do surprise me now. I was actually surprised that a man - the director of the riding center I frequented - really did not like me. I don't know if it was an American prejudice, or just my disdain for some of the rules: he didn't want my dog to be tied outside of the center - I won that one.

I also brought champagne to my riding class, for consumption afterward. I was told that, if you fell from your horse, you had to bring a cake or pastry for the class. Being short-legged, I fell off often - even four times during one jumping lesson (on a horse named Crazy...), so I asked what you did then! I was told that you should bring something to drink. When I brought champagne, all of the instructors who came in the break room said it was not allowed (What? In France?!!!), but they also did nothing to get rid of it. They hid it instead. The jig was up the second time I did it.

Chile:

-I was surprised, expecially since I was on a church missions trip, that pisco sours were a standard beverage at all social functions - even at lunch! Woo hoo!

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?

Oh, that's easy. The Seychelles. While I was at LSU, I developed quite an obsession with those islands in the Indian Ocean. I read everything I could about them, and even - oh, I am afraid to admit this - found out that there were a group of Mauritians (read carefully, that is, as in people from Mauritius, which is another island in the Indian Ocean) attending LSU. One night, I spent a lot of time obsessively combing the student directory for their names. No, I did not call them (although I met a woman who said she knew them, and said that they were snotty...). Yes, I did flunk out of LSU shortly afterward - amazing what you will do to waste your time in college! One day, I hope to visit. Until then, I will just have to be satisfied with the Mac OS-10 screensaver with views of the islands!

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?

Well, I've done all three, and there are pros to all three. I don't mind flying, but I do mind the pain in the neck that air travel has become. I know that it's for our safety, but it sometimes defeats the time advantage of the flight itself.

I like train travel, especially in France, where things are so efficient. I like the fact that you can walk around, and that there are places to buy food. I once took an Amtrak train with my mother and sister from Lafayette, LA to Sanderson, TX to visit my grandparents. Although the trip was long, it was still pretty fun. Unfortunately, the cost of taking a train right now is not very competitive (with air travel or driving), so I don't take trains in the US.

My family is a one of drivers - every year - even at least twice a year - we would pile into our car to make the 14 or more hour road trip on I-10 to my mother's parents' ranch (and then, house) in West Texas (Fort Stockton, to be exact). And, no, we didn't have the TV-VCR option that my sister now has with her kids (Cheater!). We read books, mostly. We also took a one-month-long trip through Mexico in our van. While I was in graduate school, I made the 11-hour trip from Lafayette to Atlanta at least 4 times. Driving allows freedom of movement, flexibility, and the ability to take your dog with you!

No one mentioned bus or boat. I took a lot of busses in Mexico, and they are very nice - the first class ones, are, anyway. There are spacious seats (although not engineered for a 5'2" frame) and they show movies - many in English. I once took a Greyhound bus to meet my dad in another part of Louisiana, and it wasn't that nice. Plus, I lost $300 on that bus!

My favorite way to travel is by boat - ferries are nice (we took one in Washington State, and I am also familiar with the Calais-Dover ferry from France to England) - the same as a train as far as mobility, although, if you want to sleep, that can be a problem. I once hoped to sleep on an overnight England crossing, but could not find a place to camp, except just under the children's play area. By the way, children do not sleep on overnight crossings - they play! Loudly.

I know that I have said too much already, but I have to give kudos to cruise ships as a means of travel. Yes, they may seem expensive, but how else can you travel to different islands or places (We touched on 4 on our trip) and not have to unpack and move into a different room evertime - your room goes with you. And the food is great! And, on the Princess Cruise we took, there was even a refrigerator in our room - the better to avoid those pesky soft drink (and even liquor) charges. I bet they don't do that anymore!

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?

Well, right now, I am planning on attending the Southeast TESOL Conference in New Orleans, LA. I have been to New Orleans countless times, but still love going there!

My husband had made me promise not to make any more plans for travel until the spring, and I hope I can hold out until then! As far as short trips are concerned, I would like to visit New York, and maybe Miami. As for the longer/farther trips, we may still do England, but we have yet to take advantage of our connections in Japan, China, and Thailand. I also miss France.

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