The Season Begins

By Dave Fox
Paris, France

It’s the beginning of my tour season – and my longest tour season ever. Other than two two-week breaks back in Seattle, I will be in Europe, living out of a backpack, guiding tours, and making up outrageous stories from now through October 18. It’s a cool Sunday morning here in Paris – my first time here in three or four years, and things are coming back to me, specifically that a metro system with 14 lines is a hell of a lot more confusing than the cute two- and three-line systems in Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Every year at the beginning of the season, I readjust to wearing my moneybelt – a pouch under my clothes that keeps safe my most important documents such as my passport, plane tickets, and Smurf coloring book pages. My moneybelt always feels a little bulky for the first few days. Then I stop noticing it. Within a week, I will panic, thinking it is missing, only to realize I am actually wearing it; I’ve just gotten used to it.

There is a special feeling at the end of the season, however, when I return home and take my moneybelt off for the last time. I feel free, less constricted by the bulk of the Smurfs.

Last night in my hotel, I was watching an autobiographical documentary by a CNN reporter in Iraq. He made the exact same comment about feeling less constricted or weighted down when he gets home. Only he wasn’t talking about taking off his moneybelt. He was talking about taking off his bullet-proof vest.

His comment made the stresses of tour guiding seem so wimpy.

Published on Sunday, May 13, 2007

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