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Petting a Lethal Snake

“Is Common Sense in Travel Dead?”

Christopher Elliott, writing for USA Today (February 7, 2014), asks that question.

Coming off a vacation in which we took a cruise to the Caribbean with Sandy’s parents, I’m going to answer in the affirmative.

In fact, I’m going to go further. I think the American traveler has lost their perspective of not only common sense, but also common courtesy. I’ve seen enough to conclude the Ugly American has returned (or did they ever leave?).

For the time being, let’s stay on track with the extinction of common sense.

We’re on a shore excursion in Guatemala, in a bus, and full of the ship’s passengers. Sitting diagonally across from us is a woman who is hacking up such a cough that I honestly thought she was going to die (her companion told her to quit smoking—we found out later that she was deathly ill in addition to the smoking issue). Common sense would have told her to stay on board the ship so as not to potentially infect the rest of us. Perhaps that falls under common courtesy?

Our bus stops at the local cemetery. Since the water table is about a foot below the surface, people are buried above ground. Our guide makes it a point to tell us this. Boxes, coffins, and other assorted final resting places were stacked one above another. Sometimes these were 12 high. The colors were beautiful. Everything was painted in pastel colors: orange, yellow, blue, mauve, purple, etc. I thought I was in Miami Beach.

On our way back, we pass the cemetery again. The lady sitting diagonally from us asks the tour guide whether the bodies are buried above ground or below ground.

I have a feeling this is probably the same lady who wants to know which are the window seats on a diagram of the aircraft (true story according to the USA Today article).

How many times have you been to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, or some other national park where you’ve watched a tourist go right up to the edge of the cliff? They have no clue that the sandstone edge is starting to crumble beneath them.

I’ve Never Been on an African Safari

I would like to but having trouble convincing Sandy that it’s safe. But Richard Lilley, an adventure guide, talks about the tourists who want to touch the lethal snakes—again, a true story. Please don’t tell Sandy there are lethal snakes in Africa. I’ll never get to photograph an elephant.

I know this doesn’t have anything to do with Paris or the books I’m writing. It was just such a coincidence that I saw this article right after our trip and I had to write this blog post.

Here’s an update on the books

I had so much information that I decided to split the first book into two volumes. Remember, this is the one entitled, Where Did They Put the Guillotine? A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris (1789-1794).

The first book will be Versailles to the Faubourgs and the second book is Marie Antoinette’s Last Ride. Both manuscripts are finished. The first book is completely edited and we are finishing the editing on the second one. Shortly, I will turn both manuscripts over to the book designer. I’m anticipating publishing both volumes by the end of the summer if not sooner.

I’ve started researching the next book, Where Did They Burn the Last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, A Walking Tour of Medieval Paris. All the walks have been designed and laid out. I expect to have the manuscript completed no later than the end of 2014 with publication in the first quarter of 2015.

After these will come Nazi Occupation of Paris and Where Did They Bury Jim Morrison, The Lizard King. Again, both books will be walking tours.

Stay tuned for further updates. In the meantime, I have to go down to the local pet shop to pet one of their snakes.

Do we have a lot of stories? Of course we do. I’m looking forward to sharing these with you. Please continue to visit our blog and perhaps subscribe so that you don’t miss out on the most recent blog posts.

Thanks so much for following my blog and my little journey through this incredibly interesting process of writing a series of niche historical travel books and then getting the bloody things published.

Please note that I do not and will not take compensation from individuals or companies I mention or promote in my blog.


Please note that I do not and will not take compensation from individuals or companies I mention or promote in my blog.

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Copyright © 2014 Stew Ross






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