Editor’s Note: This is the first in a periodic series on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism providers across the globe.
Back in the late 1960s, when I was still mostly fantasizing about globetrotting, I picked up a paperback book called Bargain Paradises of the World.
Although all the pictures were in black and white and the information inside was perhaps overly colorful, it was the kind of book that got my travel juices flowing.
One particular “paradise” that caught my eye was Ceylon, the tear-drop-shaped Indian Ocean island nation that has been known as Sri Lanka since 1972.
My fantasy Ceylon — which had been colonized by Britain until 1948 and was known in the West mostly for its tea exports — was pictured by Bargain Paradises as an idyllic place where… Continue reading
For those planning their post-COVID travels, or who just like a good read, our roving contributing writer Robert Waite sets foot this time in the fabulous Mayan ruins of Tikal and Yaxha, which flourished two millennia ago in the jungles of what is now Guatemala.
It was the New York of its day, a massive complex complete with “skyscraper” temples, plazas, and palaces. When it seems safe to go, you may well want to add it to your future travel plans.
By Robert Waite
Tikal, Guatemala – Anyone who still buys into the myth that the Americas needed to be discovered by Columbus to be “civilized” has not wandered among the pyramids or across the expansive plazas of Tikal.
Beginning around 350 B.C. and stretching into the 5th century A.D., at a time… Continue reading
I have no idea why I came to trust Dave.
The man loved snakes, scorpions, and spiders. I hate spiders — and I’m not too keen on snakes or scorpions.
But this was the rain forest, where Dave seemed at home, and where, to me, everything seemed strange and foreboding.
I watched as a line of ants, dwarfed by the leaves they were hauling, marched past my feet.
I listened as distant howler monkeys made eerie noises like the wind wailing through the trees.
I cringed as a bright yellow spider made its resolute journey across the shoulder of one of my companions. Dave’s face lit up as he snatched the spider and held it in his palm, showing it off like a trophy.
“Completely harmless!” he announced. Anne, the young woman who provided the shoulder, merely shuddered.… Continue reading
Bob says that he and his wife, Karen, had purposely decided to travel to Laos and Cambodia in January of this year — “because January is somewhat cooler and a lot drier than, say, July. As it happened, that was just as COVID-19 was beginning to wend its way out of Wuhan.”
And so, just in time, Bob finally made it to Angkor Wat, one of the top destinations on his life list and the featured topic of Part I of his two-part series about the memorable sights and activities in the area around Siem Reap, Cambodia. Here are Bob’s reflections on visiting one of the… Continue reading
Here is the third installment in contributing writer Robert Waite’s literary tour of what I call “countries that I really want to visit but haven’t yet.”
I came tantalizingly close to the latter a few years ago while on a cruise that stopped in Corfu, Greece, just 22 miles (35 kilometres) from Albania. Ferry boats heading to Albania beckoned, but the cruise ship — during just a four-hour stop in Corfu — would not wait.
Longtime readers of this blog might also recall that I’m something… Continue reading
Here’s part II of contributing writer Robert Waite’s riveting account from his trip to Rwanda, following up on his previous post about tracking endangered mountain gorillas in that tiny central African country.
In this post, Bob and his wife, Karen, discover a national park teeming with wildlife (including amorous hippos), a sobering genocide museum, an oddly shaped palace, a “killer” lake, and the “joys” of experiencing a “Rwandan massage.”
By Robert Waite
Kigali, Rwanda – Most people, if they are aware of Rwanda at all, likely only know two things: 1) It is an excellent place to observe the mountain gorilla in its natural habitat and, 2) The country experienced a horrific genocide in the 1990’s. The former inspired the film “Gorillas in the Mist”; the latter, “Hotel Rwanda”. Neither movie had a happy ending.… Continue reading
In this guest post about unforgettable encounters with endangered mountain gorillas in the tiny African nation of Rwanda, contributing writer Robert Waite also provides an update on the status of the gorillas in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic — and sees hope for optimism.
In his next post, Bob will detail the rest of his trip to Rwanda, a nation that endured a devastating genocide in the 1990’s and has now become one of Africa’s success stories.
By Robert Waite
Ruhengeri, Rwanda – As devastating as COVID-19 is to human populations, the consequences could be equally adverse for rhinos, elephants, gorillas and other sub-Saharan wildlife.
With flights suspended, borders closed and organized tours cancelled or indefinitely postponed, the region’s national parks and game reserves are struggling to protect animals that, at the… Continue reading
What, a place in California where there are hardly any people — and yet is so strikingly beautiful that it’s been called the Switzerland of California?
OK, I’ll ‘fess up — I’m the one who called it the Switzerland of California, as I hiked recently along a mountain trail bordering meadows blanketed with wildflowers and sporting gorgeous views of 11,000-foot peaks that still displayed pockets of snow in early August.
And its very name — Alpine County — certainly evokes Switzerland as well, as does its semi-official nickname, the “California Alps.”
The area was first explored by non-native Americans when John C. Fremont and his scout, Kit Carson, passed through in 1844. Soon after came contingents of Mormon settlers and gold prospectors, and much later still vacationers and second-home owners.
Alpine County isn’t very large — it’s the eighth smallest… Continue reading
Today’s guest post, by Canadian resident Robert Waite, argues that baby boomers should slow down a bit in pursuing bucket list items and spend more quality time in a destination to absorb the culture and life of the people there.
As Bob told me, his piece is meant to stir debate, and I found myself debating his points within my own mind — which is exactly what a good piece of journalism should provoke.
I’ll share my opinions on this topic in a later post, but for now I’ll yield the floor to Bob:
By Robert Waite
Those of us of a certain age might recall the film “If It’s Tuesday, This Must be Belgium,” a 1969 United Artists release that poked fun at American tourists for their penchant for rushing from European… Continue reading
As a follow-up to our recent post “5 Great Reasons to Take an African Safari,” we bring you this offer from Kenya Airways:
A free safari with the Nairobi National Park Stopover Package!
Yes, passengers traveling on Kenya Airways flight 101 from London’s Heathrow Airport to Nairobi and transiting to one of seven other East African destinations can spend a long layover looking for wild animals rather than vegetating in Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport waiting for their onward flight.
Animals you might see include rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and birds (with over 400 bird species recorded).
If you have at least six hours to kill between flights, and book the arrangements in advance, you’ll be:
* Met on arrival at the transit terminal by the “KQ Karibu” hospitality team
* Fast-tracked through immigration using your granted eVisa
* Transferred… Continue reading