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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 1998-12-13

Travel Tales
By Eric Risberg / Associated Press

CUBA---Before going on my first trip to Cuba in May of '96 I was told to bring lots of little soaps, perfumes, shampoos etc. to give to people as gifts. The people there have a very tough time finding these things and the quality of the soap is very poor in Cuba. So my wife hands me a huge bag before I leave.

After arriving at Jose Marti Airport in Havana I get stopped in customs and soon this woman customs inspector is going through everything. My traveling companion, Dan Coyro of the Santa Cruz Sentinel, nudges me and whispers that the fuss may be over all the soaps and shampoos. I then pull out the bag of hotel freebie soaps, hand the agent a soap and shampoo. Next thing I know the agent is hugging me and the search is over.

Moral of the story: Whenever I had any problem or needed some help, I dug into my bag and handed out this stuff and things became easier and friendlier.

BAHRAIN---In the late 80's I got sent to the Middle East to take part in the Pentagon Press Pool that accompanied the Navy escorting tankers through the Persian Gulf. I spent 24 hours traveling from San Francisco to Manama, Bahrain. This was the longest trip of my life flying on Cathay Pacific from SF to Vancouver, Vancouver to Hong Kong and finally Hong Kong to Bahrain.

I knew it would be a long trip, but never imagined that once I finally got there in the middle of the night on a Sunday morning that there was no visa waiting there like there was supposed to be, that there was no phone I could use to call anyone, that I was to be detained until the Minister of Information came and gave the customs people my invitation to be in their country, and that my gear was being held in a locked room until the mess
was sorted out. Some 10 hours later the Minister of Information was found and I was "released."

Moral of the story: Be prepared for anything. If I get mad about being delayed now I always think of that time when I was really hung up and try to put things in perspective. Always carry that extra cd, book, or medication. You never know when you might need it when you are really tied up.



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