Funniest Thing

January, 2019 Issue

This month's winner is DOUGLAS MOLANDER of Fort Lauderdale, Florida:

Included in an Overseas Adventure Travel tour of Chile that I took in February 2017 was a 3-day visit to Torres del Paine National Park.

The morning of our entry into the park, we picked up a local guide. While driving into the park, the guide warned us that the weather could be very changeable and there could suddenly be rain, wind and cold temperatures. She also said that the likelihood of our seeing one of the indigenous deer was not great, since there were fewer than 10 breeding pairs in the area. Seeing pumas was also a remote hope; in 15 years of taking travelers into the park, she had seen just one puma.

During our three days, we enjoyed nice weather, and we were lucky enough to see one of the indigenous deer. Additionally, to everyone's amazement, we got to see five pumas! The last three were seen on our last day, just before exiting the park. There was a mother with two cubs, and we were able to observe them for more than 30 minutes until they walked up the hill and disappeared over the ridge.

Needless to say, everyone was very excited about our good fortune. As we settled into our seats on the bus and the driver pulled away, the local tour leader turned to us and asked, "Who ARE you people?!"

We were 16 very lucky travelers.


 

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.

 


December, 2018 Issue

This month's winner is KITTY CHEN DEAN of New York, New York:

While my husband, Richard, and I were checking in at our Ibis hotel in Budapest in October 2018, I asked the desk clerk, "Do you have an exercise room?"

The clerk, in perfect English, replied, "No, all our rooms are the same size."

"She means a gym," Richard said.

The clerk replied, "I thought you said an extra-size room."

"Richard is a big guy but not that big," I said.


 

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, 2018 Issue

This month's winner is HARRY PEARSON of Cape Canaveral, Florida:

A driver/guide, Paul, and I were scouting in our Jeep in Morocco several decades ago when, passing through a small village, we saw a commotion in the center of town. An older man and a younger man were shouting and waving their arms at each other. We stopped and joined the group gathered around.

I asked Paul, who is French but lived in Morocco and knew Arabic well, to ask someone what it was all about. He came back smiling.

He said that two days earlier, the younger man had married the daughter of the older man. As a wedding gift, the younger man had given the older man a goat. Off the wedded couple went to the young man's home in a nearby village.

The following night, for some reason, she became unhappy and ran away, returning to her village.

"I see," I said. "He has come for his wife."

"No," Paul said. "He wants his goat."


 

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, 2018 Issue

This month's winner is LISA ROBERTIELLO of Burbank, California:

While traversing Ireland many years back, my husband and I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon drive through the country and seaside areas of the southwestern coast. From the village of Doolin, we followed the R478 and stopped at the Cliffs of Moher on our way toward Hag's Head.

Looking south from the cliff's edge, I became fascinated with the crashing waves and the flow of water in and out of a cave below us. Transfixed, I told my husband how the sound of the waves down below reminded me of a jet.

That's when he directed my attention heavenward, pointing to the jet passing over us.


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, 2018 Issue

This month's winner is MARY JENKINS of Santa Rosa, California:

After I graduated from college in California, I decided to spend some time traveling around Europe. I traveled for a few months and then worked a few months. For a short time, I worked as a maid at a Sheraton in Munich.

One time when I was chatting with one of the guests from the USA, she said,"My goodness! You speak English ALMOST as well as an American."


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, 2018 Issue

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

On the last day of a technical-assistance assignment in Asunción, Paraguay, I decided to purchase some T-shirts for my family. I knew from experience that every Latin American country has its own word for T-shirt, so in the morning I asked one of my Paraguayan colleagues for the word and committed it to memory. My Spanish is excellent, and I was confident that I would remember it.

Late in the afternoon, I walked to a shop where I had seen souvenir T-shirts on display. I was greeted by a saleswoman and told her I wanted to purchase some T-shirts, at which point her smile disappeared and her eyes widened. She asked me again, as if she didn’t understand, and again I told her what I wanted.

She then called the other saleswoman over to participate in the conversation. They looked at me with an expression of incredulity.

Finally, I walked over to some T-shirts on display and gestured toward them, after which the women looked at each other and broke out in hysterical laughter. One laughed with a loud shriek which could have awakened the dead, and the other was doubled over, gasping for air and with tears in her eyes.

When they recovered enough to speak, they explained to me that the word for T-shirt is remera, but I had said ramera, which is equivalent to “hooker” in English.

We all had another good laugh, and I proceeded to select four shirts and stack them on the counter. When I went to pay, there were five shirts in the pile, which I brought to the attention of the saleswoman. The extra shirt was a gift, she said, because “You made our day.”


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, 2018 Issue

This month’s winner is JANE B. HOLT of Hinesburg, Vermont:

Kyoto was booked solid for the 2018 sakura (cherry blossom) season, so my husband, Clyde, and I stayed a 9-minute train ride away in Otsu at the Prince Hotel, on the shores of Lake Biwa. We took the hotel’s free shuttle to the train station to dine at a different nearby restaurant each night.

On April 13th, we lucked into Toriraku, a 3-minute walk from the station. Toriraku is a small izakaya (pub), and it was filled with parties of locals, who were discreetly curious about us interloping gaijin (foreigners).

We have no Japanese to speak of so were pleased to be given an English menu, but the list of specials for the day was in Japanese only. Happily, my iPhone and the Google Translate service worked for those.

I wanted to confirm that Google was right and the duck special really was duck. I asked the waiter in English and got a blank stare, so I tried “Quack, quack?”

The waiter was much relieved and said (using the Japanese pronunciation), “Hai! Quoc, quoc!”

I still wasn’t certain so returned with “Aflac?!” (As in the US, the insurance company has a big presence in Japan, where their spokesmascot is the same quacking duck.)

This the waiter thought was great, and the adjacent table of men, who had secretly been watching us, broke into cheers. The other tables in the restaurant saluted us, and the waiter even relayed the story to the chef.

When the duck arrived, it was presented by the chef, himself, who, with a great flourish, announced, “Aflac!” This resulted in another round of laughing and cheers.

The duck, which we’d assumed would be roasted, was, in fact, duck sashimi, cured in black tea and presented very thinly sliced. It was very, very good, indeed, despite my initial dismay over the edge of raw fat on each slice.

As we were about to leave, the chef peeked out from the open kitchen, and Clyde gave him a thumbs-up for the Aflac. As we put on our shoes and made our exit, the other tables all gave us high-fives and thumbs-upand waved good-bye.


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, 2018 Issue

This month, the winners are DENZIL and JENNIE VERARDO of Elk Grove, California:

In October 2017, we went on an Adventures Abroad safari-tour to Tanzania to see the spectacular wildlife within its national parks. In our trip preparations, we had read an article in the Los Angeles Times on the Tinga Tinga folk art painting style developed in the late 20th century by the Tanzanian artist Edward Tingatinga. He is no longer alive, but his style is being emulated by young artists in East Africa. We felt that a piece by him would be a unique souvenir and a nice addition to our home.

While our guide was exceptional in his wildlife knowledge, he was not really into regional art. When we asked if he would let us know where we could stop to purchase a Tinga Tinga, he was truly puzzled about why we wanted to purchase one in Tanzania. He also said that it would be very expensive and that the shipping might not be possible. 

We said that we hoped a copy might not be as costly and said that we would just roll it up, put it in a tube and take it back, ourselves. 

He quizzically asked us what we thought a Tinga Tinga was. We showed him the Times article and he began to laugh, so we asked what was so funny. 

He explained that in Swahili, tingatinga means “tractor” or “bulldozer”!

He did take us to an area in Zanzibar with numerous artists’ shops, where we purchased a Tinga Tinga art piece. The artist rolled up our purchase and we easily carried it home.


 

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, 2018 Issue

This month’s winner is ELLEN RADO of Hollis, New York:

My husband and I were traveling north from Guatemala City one morning by bus. People would just stop the bus at various points to board.

When we got on, the bus was already crammed with people and chickens. There was not a free seat for us and the other newly boarding passengers. 

The driver got some planks from the back and put them across the aisle from one side to the other. This meant the aisle was blocked — clearly illegal. So, as he drove, the driver kept his eyes peeled for policemen, and if he saw one, he loudly shouted, “¡Todos abajo! ¡Todos abajo!” (“Everyone down!”), at which all plank sitters had to slide down so they wouldn’t be seen.

We got more exercise on that bus ride than we thought we would.


 

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.

 


April, 2018 Issue

This month’s winner is JOHN MAAS of Raleigh, North Carolina:

At the Iglesia de San Pedro de la Rúa in Estella, Navarra, Spain, there is a long set of stairs to climb up to its portal and cloister. However, 100 meters down the street, my wife, Aura, and I took the easier elevator to the entrance of the church’s beautiful cloister. We went inside.

I’m a faster sightseer (no dawdling), so I went ahead into the church, where almost immediately the caretaker asked me to leave because he was locking up for a couple of hours to go to lunch. 

My wife was still behind in the cloister. I went back around to the outside of the cloister looking for her and saw from above, through some iron fencing, that she was searching for a way out. Then I realized she was locked in.

She waved at me from afar, and we started chatting through our cell phones. She found a long ladder, but, thankfully, it was all chained up. Finally, I found the phone number of the town hall and called, and, soon enough, a young woman came with a key and let my wife out.  

My wife and I shared a laugh at her learning what it means to be cloistered!


 

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.