I'VE been writing travel for more than 20 years. I'm slack. I should have started 40 years ago.
I could have. I was in an almost unique position of being able to travel the world without cost, and with so much time I could have written endless articles, several books and a series of travel guides. If only I'd thought to.
There were very few travel writers in the late 60s, early 70s and even less outlets for their photos and stories.
I was able to travel the globe due to my good sense in marrying an engineering officer in the Merchant Navy in the late 60s who rose through the ranks from humble 4th engineer, to 'I'm-the-boss-don't-mess with me' chief engineer.
As chief engineer he was permitted to take his wife to sea.
With him I sailed many times into New York Harbour, up and down the Mississippi River, around the Cape of Good Hope, regularly in and out of the (then called) Persian Gulf, around the myriad islands of the Philippines and... oh, now I'm just showing off.
What enthralled me most in the travels - and here's the pity, I never wrote about it at the time - was the number of times I sailed through the Panama Canal. I recall this heady adventure taking more than a day or two to complete each time, first lining up with other ships to wait our turn to enter the enormous locks where our huge ship filled the space to capacity leaving only a centimetre or two on each side.
I stood on deck for hours looking at this mighty feat of engineering dreaming about what lay above, below and beyond the horizon.
There was exoticness about Panama I have never experienced since.
I always felt I was at the top of a continent where countries with thrilling and mysterious names - Ecuador, Peru, Lima - waited for only the most fearless tourist to explore.
About the same time as I was gazing at the Panama Canal, a far-sighted fellow called Ted Dziadkiewicz was nearby venturing into Latin America, not in the least perturbed by its lack of infrastructure or tourism facilities.
He loved what he saw so much he founded Contours Travel and now, four decades later his company is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary and is Australia's longest running Latin America operator. Why didn't I think to do that?
It's a different narrative today in many South American countries where the 21st century brings good infrastructure, relative safety and easy accessibility.
Find out for yourself with a deluxe nine day package with Contours Travel combining three experiences including three nights in the historic Casa Gangotena in Quito, two nights at the contemporary Mashpi Lodge and three nights on the Pinta Galapagos Cruise. Highlights include the historical and natural assets of Ecuador, the volcanic Galapagos Islands and the region's extraordinary wildlife.
The Contours Travel 9 day package is usually priced at $7192 per person twin share, but bookings made within 2015 will receive a $996 credit to be used towards the package, paying $6156.
Blackout periods (December 15 - 31)
More information at contourstravel.com.au or call 1300 135 391.
About Contours Travel
With experience dating back to 1975, Contours Travel is Australia's most experienced and longest running South and Central American tour operator specialising in tailor-made and small group itineraries, special interest tours as well as the Caribbean Islands.
Visit contourstravel.com.au or call 1300 135 391 for further information.
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