In a paragraph, a poem or a page, use the words
It wasn't the travel experience I thought it would be.
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With nothing but a toothbrush and 10 rand in my pocket, I got into the first train to Cape Town. I can't even remember if I bought a ticket or if I just got in with the chattering crowd.
There was a student off to start her final year of high school, a bride travelling to meet her husband and a divorcee with her court documents. In the 18 years of her life, my daughter had been all three of them.
But now, I go to see yet another celebration of her life - her funeral. It wasn't the travel experience I thought it would be.
It was November 8, 2016 - US election day. I was seriously jet lagged, after a long flight from Boston, Massachusetts, and not enough sleep.As I was to attend a meeting the following day I was grateful there were no jangling slot machines in the lobby of my Las Vegas hotel.
I was determined to get some fresh air so I dropped my bags and headed out. My walk reminded me how skin deep Las Vegas is. A block off the strip, it was hard to walk. No sidewalks - all parking lots and iffy convenience (and other) stores. My destination was the Wynn casino. I wanted to see what it looked like, because they were about to build one within walking distance of my home in Boston.
The Wynn was what I expected - a lot of surface glitz and noise. Why our governor decided to allow gambling in Massachusetts as a stop-gap budget measure, escaped me and still does. I stumbled back to the hotel, exhausted. The polls had just closed on the east coast. I desperately wanted to go to sleep, but I needed to know. Was Hillary (Clinton) winning, as everyone thought she would?
I took a seat at the bar, in front of the big-screen TV. I picked at a nondescript dinner and wine while watching the commentators trying to make sense of the data that was coming in. It started out as typical, cheerful commentator banter - explaining that the early results were from parts of the States that tended to vote Republican. But as more results came in, their rationales became more convoluted. Everyone knew Hillary would win, but it became harder to explain just how that was going to happen.
I was surrounded by Trump supporters, who became more cheerful - and intoxicated - as the evening progressed. Finally, I could sit there no longer. I went upstairs and collapsed into bed. At 3am I woke up and turned on the TV to confirm what I feared. Four years of Trump.
Las Vegas wasn’t the travel experience I thought it would be.Now, it’s another election day - November 3, 2020. Thankfully I am in Boston, and I will stay up. But part of me will be back on that bar stool in Vegas, fearing the worst.
A stunning sunny day on Sydney Harbour in the summer of 1970. Blue water sparkling like millions of sapphires. Yachts, cruisers, ferries traversing the magical scene.
I was off on a romantic adventure to travel from Watsons Bay Wharf across the harbour to Lavender Bay on a date with my relatively new boyfriend.
As my ‘chariot’ arrived I was struck by the fact it was a small, aluminium dinghy with a scout at the tiller, and four cub scouts on board.
My date, the scout master, had decided to multitask, giving the boys an opportunity to earn their badges while he took me on a romantic date on the harbour.
Leaving the wharf, I was already nervous as I’m not a fan of water sports but decided to give this travel experience a try. With such an unexpected start to the day surely it would turn out fun and could only improve!
Puttering across the water, skimming on the wake of other much larger vessels and taking in the beauty of the views, I started to relax and enjoy myself. The boys chattered excitedly and Colin, the scout in charge of navigation was funny, and extremely proud of his prowess at the tiller.
My mother always said ‘pride cometh before a fall’. That’s when it all went wrong!
The air was suddenly filled with shouts of, ‘GET OUT OF THE WAY!’ ‘GIVE WAY!’ The white bow of a huge yacht was just meters from our dinghy.
Colin tried to change course, but it was all too late. The cubs somehow managed to claw their way up the side of the yacht to safety as it ploughed straight over the top of our rapidly capsizing craft. Before I knew it, I was under the dinghy and someone was pulling me out and up to cling onto the wreck. Small cruisers came out of nowhere and strong arms lifted me out of the water to safety.
My date and Colin, the young scout, managed to pull themselves onto the cruiser and we were all taken to Shark Beach at Nielsen Park. The rest of the day is blur. Maybe I’ve expunged it from my memory as it certainly wasn’t the travel experience I thought it would be.
New York, Fall 301 Park Avenue
Waldorf Astoria NY 10022
10th September 2001
Wow !!! I can't believe we are finally here in New York - it's Amazing, so vibrant, busy and alive, it really is the city that doesn't sleep ! We are loving every minute :-)
It's been Wonderful to see John and Stella and the kids again, their new home in Connecticut is beautiful and so big! - very New England. Sam is having so much fun playing with their kids. We've told John and Stella about "Bump" as I've been a bit nauseous, so it makes things easier if they know, needless to say they are thrilled for us.
John has become just like a real New Yorker, and yesterday he took us for a Fabulous day around the city, we rode the carousel in Central Park; ate hot dogs from a street vendor on 5th Avenue; saw the Rockefeller Centre and the Trump Tower (owned by Donald Trump, he really has ideas above his station) and Times Square, but the highlight was a trip to the top of the Empire State Building (we bought Sam a Dinkie car of a NY yellow taxi cab there, and he hasn't put it down since) the view was breathtaking, taking in the whole city right out to the Statue of Liberty.
We'll be seeing another great view when we visit John's new office early tomorrow morning, it's on the 99th floor of one of the Twin Towers ! We can't wait - I'll take loads of photos to show you.
The weather's been beautiful, clear blue skies with a hint of Autumn in the air, or "Fall" as the locals call it. The hotel was such a lovely surprise that Tim had arranged, a real treat, full of character and that old world charm that I love.
We miss you and can't wait to see you when we get back to Sydney, we're looking forward to our next stop in Florida ... Disney here we come !
Lots of Love from All of us,
Chloe, Tim, Sam and Bump XXXX
p.s. When we get back we must set you up with email xoxox
She was inspired to ‘rediscover her creative side' after reading stories from challenge 1. I'm sure you'll love her poignant letter from New York. It's dated September 10, 2001!
Claire was reading entries from challenge 1 so she could vote for her favourite.
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