COLUMN: Avoiding the cramps and contractions in a foreign land

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“Harry, my globe-trotting honey,” said Dearest Duck several days after we returned from our trip to foreign lands, “you ought to share our adventures with others.”

Harold N. Walters

“Why, my Duck?” said I.

“To encourage them to see the world if the opportunity arises,” said Dearest, her chops as serious as a tropical lightning strike.

“Why?” said I.

“Stop being difficult,” said Dearest Duck. “Share.”

“Fine,” said I.

Dearest Duck blames my reluctance for travelling, blames my dragging feet, for our missing the slow boat to wherever I mentioned a while back.

P’raps she’s correct, eh b’ys?

Nevertheless, we eventually wound up in a foreign land where a sign posted in the bus that shuttled us from the airport to our economy resort, reminded passengers — in six different languages, for frig sake! — to tip the driver.

The whole troop of pasty-cheeked vacationers was unloaded in the open-air lobby of said all-inclusive resort where employees immediately confiscated our luggage and held it hostage until we tripped the driver in our chosen language and negotiated the release of our batter bags by handing out American dollar bills like Costco greeters passing out discount flyers.

Speaking of assorted languages, the lingua franca of our foreign lodgings caused me to feel like I had been twilight-zoned into a Dora the Explorer cartoon.

Friendly folk — waiters, grounds keepers, chambermaids, hawkers of trinkets — universally greeted all and sundry with a chipper, “Hola.”

Hola. Hola. Hola.

Dearest Duck lambasted me with her recently released — Shades of Dora the Explorer! — backpack when I behaved like a jackass by hollering, “Swiper, if you’re hiding in the shrubbery, no swiping!”

“Stop being foolish,” she said, backpack still in swing.

Sensibly, I stopped.

Later, after battling through a gambit of trinket traders and T-shirt peddlers, Dearest Duck and I, hand-in-romantically-held-hand, strolled on the brown sugar beach outside the resort’s back fence, so to speak.

Shoeless, we dabbled our twinkly northern toes in the surf, allowing breaking waves to splash us up to our erstwhile aching plane-bound butts.

I did anyway. The throbbing in my right buttock haunted me with the foreboding suggestion of a hip replacement in my future. Assuming I had a future.

Dearest Duck, almost unbecomingly for a woman of her vintage, pranced like a filly in lops, until a brazen wave with ambitions of becoming a rogue, caught her off guard, tripped her at the ankles and capsized her arse-up in the rollers where she flowsed in the foam like a fisherman’s lost net.

Of course, after a moment, I rescued her. Gallantly.

“Harry,” she said, spitting sand and sea water. The tropical air frosted. The late afternoon sun shivered and ducked behind the topknot fronds of a coconut palm.

“My Duck,” said I, cautiously using the tail of my holiday shirt to drab her dry, “Shall we go dress for supper?”

Ah, supper, at the All You Can’t Eat Buffet.

All I couldn’t eat, anyway. Dearest Duck and a banquet hall crowd of famished diners, fisted into the grub as if they were gut-foundered, as if they’d spent the last 40 years wandering in a desert gobbing down manna.

I couldn’t get pass the grouper.

As you may know, a grouper is a huge brute of a fish with a mouth the size of a sculpin’s. The buffet table featured one such fishy fully cooked — eyeballs and all — skin and fin and scale nestled among steaming vegetable foreign to my provincial palate — plantains, or some such — so that the roasted critter appeared to be nesting at home on the bottom rocks of a reef.

Well, actually, I did get pass the grouper, all the way to the bread baskets where I baled a half-dozen rolls in a napkin and grabbed several packets of margarine before seating myself beside Dearest Duck and her several plates for my feast of buttered buns.

On the third day of our stay friends we’d travelled with and acquaintances we’d met by the pool who’d behaved like feudal lords in the banquet hall, suffered the acute cramps and contractions characteristic of travellers’ gastronomical complaint.

Because of Dearest Duck’s gentile disposition — and her still stogged backpack — I dare not comment on whether or not she succumbed to the miseries of travellers’ trots.

Thanks to the spectacle of the broiled grouper carcass and my daily diet of buttered buns my intestinal tract believed it was still at home, not far away in distant lands.

But I dare not gloat.

We’re back home now. Any would be traveller whose face even vaguely resembles mine might turn an eye to eBay where a passport has been posted, where bids are open.

Thank you for reading.


— Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at

Organizations: Costco, EBay

Geographic location: Dunville

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