Reader Tales

Go World Travel Reader Tales
Couplehood 101

Some couples take lengthy premarital counseling to prepare for life’s challenges. For my husband and me, one revealing instant on a deserted beach as new loves did the trick.

Shortly after meeting, we savored a brief kayaking tour through the Broken Group Islands off Vancouver Island’s west coast. Ardently bedazzled with one another, we purchased and packed and navigated in perfect harmony. The weather was Edenesque, and we appropriated an entire island.

Pitching our little green-and-white tent overlooking golden powdery sands, we cooked and ate pebbly freeze-dried camp nosh with gusto and watched blazing tangerine sunsets with brimming hearts.

Our final morning, we decided on one last paddle before loading up to return. I picked up the bow toggles and waited for the go ahead to proceed to the water’s edge … and waited … and waited. One-hundred-twenty-eight pounds of fiberglass weighing heavily, I swiveled my head in frustration to see where my sweetheart was.

What I beheld revisits my thoughts frequently lo these 13 years past: My beloved was holding up his end of the boats, but facing the opposite direction along the shoreline. We had been standing back to back for some time like some absurd push-me-pull-me, oblivious to each other!

— Cindy Patten

A Most Unusual Love Story

Being in a wheelchair for nearly 20 years has not kept us from traveling. My husband and I have been on all seven continents, and one of our favorite stories comes from Botswana.

We went to a camp overlooking the Chobe River featuring animal viewing from open 4-wheel-drive vehicles. After several game drives, the camp director scheduled a cruise down the river itself in a small aluminum boat seating 10 or 12 people, permitting guests a different view of the

While we were floating along, our guide pulled near the shore and, after first making sure there were no alligators nearby, he pulled up a flower from the river, one of the lily family. Then he told us this story.

“Years ago, my grandfather was courting a certain girl. On the day he decided to make his intentions toward her known to her family, he came first to this river and plucked one of these lilies. He fashioned it into a necklace, like this.” And so saying, he began to show us how his
grandfather had made the necklace.

“He came from the river and went to the hut where the girl he loved lived. He told her parents of his love for their daughter and of his intention, if they would permit him, to marry their daughter. They gave him their permission, and he gave the flower necklace to her, like you Westerners would do with an engagement ring.”

Here, the guide placed the necklace he had made around my neck.

I knew immediately there was no way the girl of his dreams could have refused such a caring and tender declaration of love.

“It is true,” the guide continued, “and my grandfather and my grandmother were married and lived together for many years until the end of their lives.”

— Nancy Berger


When I reached the top the cliff, a man wasted no time in asking me if I wanted a ride. The look of sheer enthusiasm on my face must have been a dead giveaway. I was strapped up and receiving the well-rehearsed safety speech, my parachute laying idly behind me.

Luckily, a man who knew how to pilot it was strapped behind me. “All right, 1, 2, 3 … Go!” he yelled. We ran, full speed ahead, right off the edge of the hill I had climbed.

My heart fell, but the parachute caught it. We swung left, then right, catching the currents blowing off the hills. Over the beach, ocean and city we flew, faster than the cars below. The wind rushed past us, my feet almost skimming the trees. We made an even pass by the landing zone and
touched down.

“That,” I said, “was horrifyingly, addictive.” My stomach was in a thousand different places. Every time I looked from my third-floor balcony to the tiny men hanging from the sky, I could feel the wind rush past my face, and my stomach remembered the flutter when my feet first left the ground.

— Torey Novak

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