A TV comedy in the 1960’s featured a group of seven castaways on a tropical island left stranded by a storm on a three-hour sightseeing tour. Been there, done that, but alas, no t-shirt.
If you’ve traveled much and explored to any degree, you’ve probably experienced something that feels like the same. Our first time was in Florence, Italy, when the skies opened up with downpours as we traversed the old part of the city where no motor vehicles are allowed. Our tour guide, Agnes, excused herself for a moment to rant at the heavens in Italian, complete with grand hand gestures, as her charges huddled under a tiny portico and got soaked anyway.
Later that day in Pisa, the high-speed rail track crossing arms were stuck in the down position. The train comes through at speeds in excess of a hundred miles an hour. Besides being illegal to cross the tracks, it would be downright stupid. At those speeds, you wouldn’t see the engine until it ran you over.
Poor Agnes. We then engaged in a long – and I mean long – forced march through the vehicle-clogged (they couldn’t go anywhere either) streets of Pisa, under a viaduct that allowed us to reach our bus in its distant parking lot. It was hot – high 90’s. We were tired and thirsty. I truly believe Agnes was shocked when we all stuffed big tips into her hands at the end of the day-long excursion. It wasn’t her fault.
It happened again in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. A parade honoring Mexico’s revolution a century ago meant the only way we could access the sights we were meant to see was on foot. It wouldn’t have been so bad if Pirate and I hadn’t spent the day before in an extensive hours-long walking tour in another port. The motorcoach we should have been on had A/C and seats. The streets, heat and cobblestones.
In truth, though, when your three-hour tour turns into an adventure, you capture some of the best memories. Like Gilligan and his guests, you learn about yourself. Can you lift yourself above the harping about what went wrong and experience what’s around you? You’re going to miss the nuances if you’re hiding in social media while it’s happening.
In PV, we would have missed seeing so much of the city at the street level, developing an understanding about how people live outside of the tourist sites. My mind’s eye will never forget Agnes and her tirade at the weather gods. That experience was over 10 years ago, and it is still a clear picture for me, as is the kind waiter in Rome who took pity on the drowned rats we’d become touring that city.
When you’re washed up on Gilligan’s Island, don’t waste your energy complaining about it. It’s an adventure you’re on, one you can tell your friends about when you get home. (And you will get home eventually.) Are you seeing a side of a place others won’t? That’s where the story lies, in the unexpected.
And that, friends, is the wonder of travel. It will never go smoothly. Go with the flow and enjoy your island!
What Gilligan’s Island adventures have you had on your travels? How did you make a story out of the hilarity?