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Day 21

The Group

Jim Cheryl Becky Tarah Charles Becky Jennifer Valerie Olivia Carol D. Loretta Alex Andrew Adam Carol M. Paul Sandy Ellen Logan Marilyn Bill Sue Cindy Lisa Ben Don Me

Group Anatomy (Note: author’s opinions only):

Jim and Cheryl R.:

They’re a very nice couple, middle aged.  Jim is one of those people who happily makes mistakes just so that you can laugh about it later, because in the end it doesn’t matter.  In fact he is very wise, but never flaunts it.  Cheryl is always smiling, and her voice has a calming effect on me whenever I talk to her (perhaps because she was a professional singer).  Like me, they had originally been scheduled for the July 26th tour, but after it was cancelled joined this one.


Becky and Tarah W.:

They’re a single mother and teenage daughter.  Becky is the protective mother, a little on the nervous side, and from the outside appears a bit flighty; but once I got to know her I have decided that she is a most straightforward, intuitive person.  Of course all she wants is the best for her daughter.  Tarah is often aloof, and sometimes seems bored.  Yet occasionally she’s completely open and a fun-loving teenager appears.  Both are thin, almost like models.


Charles, Loretta, Carol, Valerie, Jennifer, Becky and Olivia D.:

They’re a big friendly family with 5 daughters.  The parents appear to be real friends with the kids, a wonder in this day and age.  Carol seems to be the most outcast, although it appears to be her choice, as she really has fun being different.  Becky is the bright-eyed grinner of the family.  Valerie seems the practical one.  Jenny, always joking, is almost Becky’s twin, and Olivia is the often pouting, but creative, youngest.  Loretta and Charles are easy going with a “if it happens it happens” attitude.  One aspect that is impossible to ignore is that all of the females in the family, despite their age spread, are almost exactly the same height, making it challenging to tell them apart from a distance.


Paul, Carol, Andrew, Adam, and Alex M.:

The first thought that comes to mind is “well-behaved.”  The 3 boys certainly are, they remind me of military school cadets (although not quite that strict).  The family has traveled before in Europe.  Paul is an Anesthesiologist, and is a pleasant, matter-of-fact person, who is also used to getting what he wants.  Alex, at 11, is the youngest person on the tour, and naturally zones out of many conversations.  I’ve had short conversations with Adam and Andrew, and they both seem intent, polite, and well groomed kids.  Like me, they were originally scheduled for the 26th tour.  However, they switched on their own accord to the 28th before the 26th tour was cancelled.


Sandy D.:

She’s not to be confused with the Trisket lady; pencil thin, matter of fact, and likes to shop.  A steady, practical woman.


Ellen S.:

She’s a semi-retired author.  Aristocratic, she speaks with English and German accents mixed together; reminds me of a younger athletic Julia Child with a good sense of humor; she’s very independent.


Marilyn and Logan B.:

They’re a single mother and a teenage son.  He smokes, and although is the most aloof person in the whole group seems fairly well behaved.  She is a down-to-earth, hearty laughing person.  I like her but have trouble conversing with her.  Lack of common ground, I suppose.


Bill and Sue B.:

These two have done tons of travel, often with school-kids, and seem to hike for a living.  Both have multiple cameras and are constantly looking for shots.  An older couple, they keep to themselves a lot, although they do join in on the group conversations as well.  They are early risers.  Bill is often sarcastic (like me), and seems to be trying to test people by saying the opposite of what he means.  Bill is my “buddy” for the trip.  Buddy checks are done to make sure no one gets left behind.


Cindy F.:

The bubbliest of all the “adults” (and the youngest as well at 28), she’s excited to see and try everything.  Often sarcastic, I find her a good match to my own strange wit.  She’s a physical therapist who works with children a lot.  She was my closest friend of the trip.


Ben and Lisa K.:

He’s an Electrical Engineering instructor; she’s an Opthamologist.  Mid-thirties, they’ve been together since their teens.  Ben has a slight problem with heights, but that hasn’t stopped them from trekking to true nosebleed territory.  Lisa is unendingly enthusiastic and somewhat flighty of thought, balanced well by Ben’s practicality.


Jean Jans: - Driver

He’s a relaxed, humorous man, and one of the most honest people I think I have ever met.  “Those that do not enjoy themselves do not live,” he told me once.  He’s a great dancer, loves good wine and Belgian beer, and drives the big Heidebloem bus like it’s a Civic.


Ian Watson: - Assistant Guide

He’s a hard worker, master linguist, and keeps track of every detail.  He’s always one step ahead of the group, with room assignments, picnics, and local restaurant suggestions bubbling from him without end.  Still in college, his edges haven’t smoothed as Don’s have.  Always working so hard he goes to bed early and misses the get-acquainted after-dinner conversations; so he remains an enigma – even to me, his roommate for most of the trip.


Don Chmura: - Lead Guide

He’s a homeless traveler, life loving, history know-it-all, friendly, easy-going, smoker, drinker, and all around chummy guy.  He enjoys the spotlight of being our leader, and is truly talented at keeping us corralled.  I still owe him a beer.  Perhaps at the reunion in February…


Bob W. (Me):

Often seeming aloof, he is an introverted, shy engineer.  He hides behind his camera but opens up when confronted with new and different things.  He thinks he is a philosopher, artist and writer, but does not consider himself very good at any of them.  Really enjoys hanging out in Europe.  Probably a workaholic.  Talks too much when he drinks.  In his early thirties, he was the only single male adult on the tour (not counting the guides).  (Update: He's married now)

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Last updated 11/12/2005 .  Email me at bob@besttravelbarcelona.com.