Funniest Thing

February, 2020 Issue

This month’s winner is LOREN PARKS of Chico, California:

My wife and I arrived at the Napo Wildlife Center on New Year’s Eve 2018. This lodge in the Ecuadorian Amazon jungle is so remote that the only access for people and supplies is paddle canoe.

Upon arrival, we were informed of a big party with a special banquet that evening, so with great anticipation we entered the dining area and took our seats along with about 60 other guests. The setting was spectacular, and the buffet tables were set up with a variety of exotic foods, including a whole roasted pig with an apple in its mouth. The servers poured wine and champagne without limits, and the general mood of the guests was exhilaration.

As dining came to an end, the dance music started, and the resort manager moved from table to table encouraging people to dance. The response was tepid. We were reluctant because we are in our 70s, had not danced in several years and simply could not identify with the music being played.

When the manager got to our table, I responded to his exhortations to dance by telling him that we old-timers could only dance to rock-and-roll from the 1950s. He said “OK” and moved on. We were relieved, thinking we were off the hook.

About 10 minutes later, a local merengue dance ended and on came the quintessential music of the 1950s: Chuck Berry singing “Johnny B. Goode.” The floor and rafters were shaking with the big bass sound and Berry’s guitar licks.

Immediately the manager appeared before us with a big grin on his face, saying nothing but communicating with his eyes. We were trapped. With great trepidation, my wife and I danced the old-fashioned swing, complete with twirls and twists and every trick we could remember and do. The other dancers cleared the floor for us, and even the kitchen staff came out to watch.

We never realized how long that song is. Exhausted and sucking air by the time the song finally ended, we practically collapsed into our chairs, receiving great applause and taking away a memory we will never forget.


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.


January, 2020 Issue

While traveling in China this October, I decided to enjoy the buffet dinner at my hotel. At the dessert bar, there was a beautiful layer cake of red, light brown and dark brown. I asked the chef what kind it was.

She took out her phone and began furiously typing into Google Translate. After about a minute, she turned her phone to me so I could read the answer. 

The translation was “3 color cake.”


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged. This month’s winner is AMY GOLTZ of Dallas, Texas:


December, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is KAREN WAGNER of Monarch Beach, California:

A few years ago, my husband, Gery, and I were traveling on a 2-week land tour around South Africa. As a special treat one day, our small group stopped at a lovely resort on the east coast near Port Elizabeth and was hosted for lunch in a private dining area.

The waitress presented us with beautifully printed special menus from which we could choose between two entrées to have with the salad and dessert. We all chose the sesame chicken entrée.

While ordering, I asked the waitress if we could choose between white or dark meat, and she said, “Of course you can!” My husband and I chose dark meat, while the others all chose white meat.

Chatting and admiring the beautiful view of the coastline, we finished our salads. The other folks were served their entrées first, and the sesame chicken was a luscious golden brown. When my husband’s and mine arrived, the chicken was charred a dark, dark brown, almost black. Think burned to a crisp!

I called the waitress over and asked if we could have our chicken more like the golden-brown chicken on the other plates. She looked surprised and said, “Well, you did order dark meat, and yours is dark, right?”

We agreed and ate the crispy, black chicken without further comment.


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.


November, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is ED DEATON of San Diego, California:

First, an explanation — “Brown Swiss” is a breed of milk cow.

In 1998, my friend Melanie and I were climbing and hiking in the Mont Blanc area of France, close to where France, Italy and Switzerland come together.

One day, we were descending from a hut across a wide, treeless area overlooking a large valley to beautiful meadows on the other side. There was a herd of cattle grazing on the grass, and I said, “Those are Brown Swiss cattle.”

Melanie said, “How can you tell their nationality?”


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.


October, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is NIEL THOMAS of Kamuela, Hawaii:

In Florence, Italy, in 2015, drawn repeatedly to Mercato Centrale, I had a question for the cheese merchant. I particularly like aged hard cheeses with crystallization, and I was deciding between a sheep-milk cheese of this type and a goat cheese.

“Please,” I asked in English, not willing to attempt it in my inadequate Italian, “can you tell me how these cheeses differ?”

Giving me the ‘dumb American tourist’ roll of the eyes, she feigned patience: “Well, sir, one is a sheep cheese and one is a goat cheese… and they are very different animals, you know.”


 

Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

 


September, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is GLADYS SHELDON of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin:

One of the most enjoyable trips I have taken recently was a tour with Road Scholar to the Lake District of England, in June 2018. A large part of my enjoyment was due to the presence of Anne, our driver/guide, who took our group all over the district in a small van.

Anne said that when she’s not on the job, she does a lot of hiking in the hills of the district. In fact, she mentioned that on a previous trip, she told the van occupants that she’d been bitten by Scottish midges on a recent hike.

One of those passengers later told her that he thought she said she’d been bitten by Scottish midgets. He’d spent the rest of the day trying to visualize how this would have happened.


 

Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

 


August, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is JAY SNYDER of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

Some years ago in Seoul, South Korea, my wife and I bought way too many souvenirs and needed to buy an extra suitcase to hold all our treasures on our trip home.

Finding a luggage dealer in the famous Itaewon market district, we selected the perfect suitcase and, after suitable bargaining, settled on a price.

When I asked the vendor what brand of luggage it was, he opened a drawer full of labels and replied, “What brand would you like?”


 

Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.

 


July, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is MICHELE SMITH of Hickory Corners, Michigan:

While I was kayaking on the River Avon in England during vacation, the British kayak leader kept referring to me as “The American.”

We were about an hour into our trip down the river when he turned and yelled to me, “We’re ahead. Pass it on!”

I turned around in my kayak, facing aft, and shouted, “We’re ahead. Pass it on!,” and heard the echo refrain go down the river while watching the British tourists quickly paddle toward the shore.

When I turned around to face forward, I went over a 6-foot waterfall, somehow remaining upright.

“Great job, American!,” the kayak leader beamed. It was then I found out he was actually yelling, “Weir ahead,” referring to a man-made dam and its overflow.


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.


June, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is MAXWELL J. TAUB of Forest Hills, New York:

On a solo trip to Naples, Italy, a few years ago, I was wandering around, just taking in the sights, when a local young man approached me. He asked, “What are you looking for?”

He continued following me, asking, “What do you want to see? What do you want to buy?”

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get rid of him. I couldn’t shake him. Finally, in desperation, I said, “What I really want, what I want to buy… is a machine gun.”

He was silent for a few moments, then he looked up at me and asked, “What caliber?”


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.


May, 2019 Issue

This month’s winner is GORDON W. DRAPER of Livonia, Michigan:

While on a tour of Burkina Faso in West Africa in 2011, we stopped at its capital, Ouagadougou. As in many economically developing countries, getting small-value currency there could be a problem, yet you need this type of money to tip for taking pictures or to go into WCs.

Banks don’t like to exchange bills smaller than $50 or $100, however, and shops usually don’t have small bills to give in change. Forget about travelers’ checks, charge or debit cards or even ATMs!

I was heading back to my hotel and saw a shoeshine man by the front door. Knowing I didn’t have anything small in local currency, which I assumed I would need in order to pay him, I went into the hotel thinking that surely the largest hotel in the nation’s capital would be able to give me something smaller.

I presented the smallest bill I had to the desk clerk. He looked inside his cash drawer and shrugged his shoulders. But he knew where to get change. He took my bill outside to the shoeshine man!

The shoeshine man gave him bills in change, which the clerk handed to me. I then handed a few of the scarce bills back to the “banker” for my shine.


Tell us about the funniest thing that happened to you while traveling in a foreign country. (ITN prints no info on destinations in the United States.) There are no restrictions on length. ITN staff will choose each month’s winner, who will receive a free one-year subscription to ITN. Include your full mailing address. Entries not chosen cannot be acknowledged.