He looked at me, middle-aged, more red than tanned. “Oh yes, you pick it up you know, when you travel about as I do.”
“You travel a lot do you?”
“Travel? Me? Do nothing but! You’d struggle to think of a place that I haven’t been.”
“You been to America then?”
A frown crossed his face. “America? Why would I want to go there? I travel for culture, history, and the people. They’ve got none of that there, it’s all new, just hamburgers and Coke. Why would I go to see that? No, the destinations that I prefer are a little more off the beaten track you might say.”
“What, like Tuvalu?”
“Where? Never even heard of the place!”
“Nor had I but it came up in a pub quiz once. It’s an island.”
“Come to think of it, I have heard of it. May have been there too actually, on one of my Caribbean cruises. So many islands in the Caribbean you know, all beautiful and all unique.”
“So you been to Thailand?”
“Oh yes, I’ve been there, the Land of Smiles! Green coconut curry at sunset on Koh Samui for only fifty baht. Imagine that!”
“Very, but there’s plenty more. When you’ve travelled like I have you amass so many memories. Early morning in Paris, walking through Montmartre for a pain au chocolat from the boulangerie. Imagine that!”
Even my French was up to it so I tried. “Sounds lovely.”
“Or Cuba, La Habana, sipping a mojito on the Malecon, the strains of Guantanamera drifting through the air. Imagine that!”
“Sounds like a dream!”
“A dream that I have lived, my friend, a dream that I have lived. Or what about the Djamma al-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco; humus and falafels whilst all around the Call to Prayer sounds. Imagine that!”
“Or maybe Jamaica, rice and peas with curried goat to a reggae beat in the town where Bob Marley was born. Oh yes, I’ve sampled plenty of Jamaican cuisine, excellent indeed. Imagine that!”
Judging by the size of him, I guessed that he’d sampled plenty of food full-stop, wherever it may have originated from. “It all sounds amazing,” I said, “but there’s just one thing I don’t understand.”
“Fire away young man!”
“Well, if you’re so into all this ‘off the beaten track’ stuff, then what are you doing here, staying in an all-inclusive hotel in Benidorm?”
A cloud crossed his face. “It was a cheap deal,” he said.
“Imagine that,” I replied.
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