By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Doesn't he trust us to pick his next adventure?

Doesn’t he trust us to pick his next adventure?

Well, here we are, back from our travels with Bob.  Based on the comments he received on his posts, it would appear that many of you are like me – let’s let my crazy brother explore the challenging places on Earth while we lounge in our living rooms eating Doritos.  So purely for our own entertainment purposes, where do we want Linda to send Bob on his next birthday?  It would have to be someplace beautiful with just a twinge of excitement and adventure.  After all, if he’s going to do the traveling for us we want him to go someplace that will give us an adrenaline fix.  Clearly sending him to Kathmandu didn’t kill him off so I think we can up the game a bit.  Let’s consider some of the world’s “garden spots” that might be options for his next trip:



1.  Brazil – Ah yes, white sandy beaches, girls in bikinis, slow jazz played in the background.  As Bob himself admits, he is a huge Jimmy Buffett fan and Brazil comes very close to wasting away in Margaritaville.  Unfortunately, Brazil also has one of the highest crime rates going.  It boasts (if that is the right word) 14 of the world’s most violent cities. There is lots of gang violence and what they refer to as “quicknappings“, whereby the victim is kidnapped, thrown in a car, taken to the nearest ATM to withdraw money, and then released.  HAH!  Bob could thwart them in no time – he can never remember his ATM pin.

2. Haiti  – Only 8% of the cocaine that comes into the U.S. comes from Haiti, but apparently that’s enough to make it bustling – and dangerous.  Crime in rampant in Haiti but here’s the great thing about Bob visiting there – the carjackings, murders, armed robberies and kidnappings are almost  always against other Haitians.  So as long as he doesn’t a) become a Haitian or b) start dealing cocaine, I think he could be our man on the street in Haiti.

A Honduras hotel with swim-up bar.  That's so Bob.

A Honduras hotel with swim-up bar.

3.  Honduras – Oh my.  Honduras as a country currently has the highest murder rate in the world.  And most of them go unsolved.  Partly because it is very common for the crooks to set up fake police checkpoints and then either rob or – it would appear – murder the people who they have stopped.  There are beautiful places to visit in Honduras and some of the hotels even have swim-up bars (see right) but the travel websites warn that the high level of violence deters all but the most reckless of tourists.  Bob – reckless?  No…but he is certainly adventurous and can see right through imposters who say “Badges?  We don’t need to show you no stinkin’ badges“.  Yep – I think he’s our guy to explore the verdant climes of Honduras.  Plus, he’s never been one to bypass a good swim-up bar.

4. Yemen – This country has been in the Top Ten of perilous places for tourists for years.  Travel on roads between cities is dangerous. Armed carjackings, especially of four-wheel-drive vehicles, occur in many parts of the country.  Motorcycles are commonly unlicensed and used as taxis. Well, heck, we already have proof that Bob will climb on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle and take off for parts unknown.  And Yemen has extensive mountain highlands where many people love to trek.  And they don’t have any of those damn stone steps.  Perfect!


They are no match for the Parrot Head.

They are no match for the Parrot Head.

5.  Somalia – The Shamo Hotel in Mogadishu serves lobster on their rooftop overlooking the beautiful sea.  The concierge is also nice enought to advise that when you depart the hotel for the airport – a mere four miles away – you hire at least 10 armed guards to escort you.  And of course, anyone who has read about what is going on in that country or at a minimum has seen the film “Capt. Phillips” knows all about the pirates that abound in the region.  BUT…Bob is a steely eyed retired Naval officer.  He could overcome any rogue raiders and take command of their ship.  I can just hear him yelling at the pirates – “Who is the Parrot Head now?”.  Somalia is definitely in his wheelhouse.


So let’s take a vote.  Where should Linda send him next?  The outcome of the poll probably won’t matter – I don’t think he’s going anywhere,  exotic or otherwise,  until his knees and hips recover.  But this much I do know, no matter where we might send him he would maintain a great attitude, he would find the best beer, and he would make friends with the locals.  He is a great ambassador for American travelers.

As for me, as you read this we are on our way to Sun Valley, Idaho for the summer.  I will travel through Ely, Nevada and Twin Falls, Idaho.  Believe me, neither of them are anywhere near as exciting as Somalia.  But I hope to have some good travel posts from Idaho, including rafting on the River of No Return.  That is, of course, assuming we do return.

Day 2-3 – Nepal Diary: In the Mountains

Tuesday, June 3 – A Change of Itinerary

When we awoke this morning, the clouds had cleared and we had an amazing view of Annapurna I. I’ll have pictures at some point, but they won’t do it justice. We left Ghandruk at 7:30 this morning feeling better than we should have. I liked Ghandruk a lot; it is a small village built on the side of a mountain. The trail we are on, which is a 5 foot wide stone path, would be considered ‘Main Street’ here. There are no cars, no motorbikes, no motor anything. There is a school somewhere in the village, but other than that, no central gathering place. Many of the homes that line the path offer food and drink for sale for hikers. While their life seems dull and meager to us, every villager I saw had a smile on their face. As we traveled out of the village we ran into young kids coming down the path we were going up, headed for school. They were neatly dressed in uniforms and I watch a group of boys about 9-10 years old stop along a creek and were laughing and having the greatest time throwing rocks a something in a tree. Not a bicycle or video game in sight. They walk 2-3 miles, one-way, to school everyday . . . with smiles on their faces.

We received our second dose of ‘ass-kicking’ today as we left around 7:30 and trekked for 7 hours with some significant ups and downs, the ups being more significant than the downs. I’ve come to understand the real definition of ‘trekking’ here in Nepal. What Patrick and I have done is ‘hiking’, we tend to meander, our trails up a mountain have switchbacks to lessen the degree of incline. In Nepal there is no lessening the degree of incline, when they build a path they use the ‘shortest distance between two points is a straight line’ theory and build a stone ‘stairway to hell’.

Exhausted (again), we ended our trek today in Chumrong, an even smaller village than Ghandruk and even closer to the Annapurna mountains. After we arrived we got a short thunderstorm and thus the clouds have covered our view, so we’re hoping that the morning is clear.

Due to the last two ‘ass-kickings’ we’ve received, we asked our Sherpa, Dom how these first couple of days compare to what is ahead. The news was not encouraging, the trail gets steeper and the air gets thinner. Dom tells us that we can actually get better views if we take a different route down the mountain rather than continuing up. That was his way of saying, “There’s no frickin’ way you guys are making it to Annapurna Base Camp and I don’t want to be carrying one of you out of here on my back (I felt him looking right at me!). We concluded that the views were the most important thing and who were we to argue with a Sherpa. Whew!!! So we changed our itinerary to something that we think will be more fun and less . . . life threatening.

We awoke this morning to beautiful views of the sun rising over the Annapurna Mountains, and with smiles on our faces we head DOWN the mountain.