our travel dreams are highjacked by the Travel Goddess.
When that happens there's nothing to do but accept and
take the road she sets out for you.
the embedded blogger on Semester
At Sea's Enrichment Voyage of Central America and
the Panama Canal. When I was offered the opportunity to
interview Archbishop Tutu aboard the MV Explorer I was
delighted. ‘Sure,’ I said.
was to discuss travel. In my mind’s eye the Archbishop
and I would be sitting on the deck enjoying the sun and
having a chat about where’s he’s been and
which piece of clothing he never leaves home without.
it didn’t turn out that way at all. Instead of one
meeting, our resident Nobel Prize winner and I met several
times but I never got that interview. I have to blame
it solely on illness.
I flew to meet the ship I woke with a very nasty head
cold. My eyes were runny. I sneezed, I coughed, I wheezed,
I was miserable.
morning aboard, Archbishop Tutu came into the dining room
for breakfast. Wearing his trademark baseball cap, blue
shorts and blue kneesocks he passed through the room stopping
at tables to shake peoples’ hands.
when he began heading straight for me. In that split second
I had to make a decision about whether to extend my hand
and ‘hand off’ my nasty germs or say nothing
and for the rest of my life be able to casually say (anytime
I chose), ‘I remember the time I sailed with Archbishop
Tutu and shook his hand.’
Archbishop approached, my body made the decision for me.
Up went my hand like a cop directing traffic. The Archbishop
stopped in his tracks; his smile wavered.
don’t come any closer,’ I said.’ I’m
sick; YOU don’t want to be.’
credit, Dr. Tutu slapped his own hand several times (as
if to admonish it for even trying to shake a hand), smiled,
thanked me and walked to his table. I was utterly relieved
and also, utterly disappointed.
Journeywoman was invited to sit in on an official taping
with the Archbishop. The plan was that once that interview
was over, I’d sit in the interviewer’s chair
and I’d ask four questions of my own. Every effort
was made to keep the room completely silent so that the
sound track would be perfect.
began to tickle during the third question. I thought to
myself. I. will. NOT. cough. I discreetly cleared my throat.
No relief. I tried again. Nothing. My cheeks began to
burn with the fear that I was ruining the interview. When
I could no longer hold back. I bunched up my shawl, covered
my complete face with it and, hoping the sound was muffled,
coughed and coughed and coughed
stopped long enough for me to leave the room. With it
went my opportunity to ask any questions at all.
Despite my disappointment, I think there is a definite
upside to this story. Honestly, I don’t think Archbishop
Tutu will ever, ever forget me.