Dave – Dave - Dave
do you have the camera out

take the -  no, no over there - 
no - to the left

Jim, try to get Albania
In the background

get that branch in the foreground 

John what are you taking a picture of?
over here – look at that temple

Peter, don’t allow strangers in the photo

Are you focused?
Sometimes you forget to focus

Albania, this was my first trip on a tour populated with local friends.  My mother, husband, son and I were days away from an OAT trip to China, when my mother’s dear friend dropped off an OAT catalog with the Dalmatian Coast circled and a sharpie scrawled note – we need two more people to join the tour.  Mom said yes – especially since I would share a room with her – my mother, not the friend.

I was completely unfamiliar with the Dalmatian Coast, thinking of the dog breed, but agreed to travel with my mother and these people I did not know.   

It worked out beautifully. Aside from spectacular scenery and friendly locals, it was endlessly entertaining to observe the dynamics of the group.  These were a collection of friends from college who went on to careers in education.  These were cousins and spouses of cousins.  

Based on years of group experience, there were two rules:  be on time and you can comment, but not complain.

Good rules, for more than just a tour.

Do I like tours?  They have their place.  In the case of traveling with my mother, a tour simplifies the process, takes care of the hotels and the transportation and in doing so, short circuits many possible cantankerous conversations (comments) about getting from point A to B.  

A tour helps me since I need to manage my mother and her luggage as well as my own.   We stayed in much nicer hotels than we could afford on our own.

The downside?  You are with other people. The down, downside?  I’m traveling with a parent 25 years older and 100 years slower than me.

Again the upside? Those other people talked with, helped with, and entertained my mother for up to hours at a time.

Giving me a break.

So I could observe and write.

About them.

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