After posting this encore, I got a request from John Stockwell to tell the 'counterfeit $ scam' story listed under Worst Incident, so here goes. It was my last day in Buenos Aires and I learned there was a street market near the hotel. I walked the market, being mindful of security and pickpocket threat which is always a possibility. Typically, I will go slowly to one side of the market then the other, pausing to glance for anyone watching, then occasionally do a full stop against a wall to scan the whole scene. These are things you pick up living and working in hazard areas around the world.
At the end of the market there were several taxis and I chose one (did not go with anyone who chose me) and we headed back to the hotel. The cab pulls up 2 blocks from my hotel and points to the meter demanding the payment in local currency, of which I had none. My plan to was to pay via the concierge at the hotel and add it to my bill. It turned into quite a fuss with me saying 'go to the hotel' and him saying 'pay here' and neither understanding much of the other's english. Finally, I pull out my wallet and show him I only have a US $100 bill, which he quickly grabs. Before I could react (10-15 seconds max) he hands it back and kicks me out of the cab, I walk to the hotel and fly back stateside that night.
Back home, our yard guy shows up needing to be paid for several visits, about $100, so I pay him cash. He is back at the house in an hour saying, 'The $100 was counterfeit, the bank took it, and the FBI may be looking for you. Oh, and you still owe me $100.' Processing this shocking news, and paying him, I thought back to the cab incident in Argentina. The cabbie must have done a quick switch of my $100 bill, pro quality stuff. When I told this whole story to my daughter Sam, she said: 'It was worth $100 just for the story.' I tend to agree.
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When my son David was in the Boy Scouts, the troop would often go camping or on a high adventure hiking trip. We had the tradition of taking a few minutes after each long day to reflect on events. Each boy was asked to name the day's rose (best thing) and thorn (bad thing). With so many boys in tight quarters tempers were sure to flare. These events were often the thorns and the reflection time gave the adult leaders a chance to talk it out with the group and then follow up with all the good things that happened.
In that vein, I humbly offer this list of roses and thorns from my year as DISC instructor for 2012.
Most amazing place: Sugar loaf mountain (Rio)
Favorite place: Narita, Japan
Most amazing event: Earthquake (Milan)
Most traffic: Moscow
Least traffic: Midland
Worst passport line: 5 hours (Saudi Arabia)
Least crowded: Stavanger
Most graffiti: Paris
Most expensive hotel: Moscow
Most expensive taxi ride: Milan
Most expensive beer: Stavanger
Biggest airport: Beijing
Largest class: 110 (Calgary)
Smallest class: 5 (Copenhagen)
31F/-1C (Istanbul in Dec)
Best pub: Little Creatures Brew Pub (Perth)
Antiquarian book fair (London)
Antiquarian book fair (London)