Don’t you just hate getting stranded in crocodile-infested waters? Me too. Like the time in Belize, when our flat-bed boat – more of a motorized raft, really – kept getting its propeller tangled in the weeds. “Run to the front of the boat,” our captain would shout, and our little group would rush forward until the prow dipped and the propeller cleared. Unfortunately, lowering the prow allowed water to flood the deck – and all our luggage. “Run to the back of the boat,” the captain would then shout. And we’d all race the other way until the luggage was high and dry. In minutes, the propeller would snag on the weeds once more, and the seesaw would begin again…
As much fun as this was, it inevitably led to a complete breakdown (of the boat, although the captain wasn’t far behind) in the middle of the river. A large, well-fed crocodile sunning himself on the shore lifted his head and began regarding us with professional interest.
“Get ready to swim for it,” Rich whispered to me.
“Are you insane? We can’t outswim a crocodile,” I hissed back.
“We don’t have to. We just have to outswim the other people on this boat.”
Good point. Luckily, this potentially Darwinian situation had a happy ending for everyone (except the crocodile) when a speedboat came along and took us to safety. But as Rich always reminds me, it pays to get in shape before a trip and to make sure you stay fit while you’re on the road.
Pool in Varna, Bulgaria
Since most of the places we stay (see A Flophouse for Nightcrawlers) are unlikely to feature a gym, we walk a lot, and we’ve found other ways to stay in shape during long journeys.
Rich, whose favorite form of exercise in doing laps, was delighted to discover the Swimmers Guide, a website listing public pools in more than 100 countries, with details about length and access. It covers most of the larger cities we’ll visit this summer (see The Next Big Adventure on my home page), so he’s definitely packing his swim suit and goggles.
The 7-minute workout from hell
When there is no pool, he’s planning to follow the Fit for Fifty exercise program, based on the system developed to keep the Royal Canadian Air Force in fighting trim. Best features: it requires no equipment and takes just 11 minutes a day.
For days when 11 minutes sounds like too much, there’s a 7-minute “scientific” workout that was recently published in the New York Times. I liked the sound of all that efficiency – until I read the intensity made this workout “about an 8 on a discomfort scale of 1 to 10.” Ouch! I’d rather budget the extra four minutes.
Actually, I like my exercise even more leisurely, so I often turn to exercise videos on YouTube. And there are an endless number of them. For instance, eFit has a whole series of 30-minute Pilates videos, from beginners to those with such alarming titles as “Ab Attack” and “Butt Blaster.”
And there’s every form of yoga you can think of, from the gentle “Flexibility and Range of Motion Beginner Yoga” with Tara Stiles to Power Yoga with Rodney Yee. Yes, the same Rodney Yee we all worked out to in the nineties; at 57, he is still looking so buff it’s hard to believe he’s not PhotoShopped.
Staying fit on the road has never been easier. And whether you’re running for a train, fleeing a mugger, chasing a mugger, or just hauling a suitcase up four flights of stairs, you’ll be glad you did.
As for escaping from crocodiles, YouTube has a video for that, too. Check out “Never Give Up (Monkey Fights with Crocodile).” A young baboon, her head trapped in the jaws of a crocodile, flails around wildly until by chance her hind claw pokes the croc’s eye, and the startled reptile lets her go. I’m not saying it’s easy, I’m just saying it’s a strategy to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in his situation. I don’t know if there is a yoga pose that can prepare you to execute this maneuver, but if there is, I’m sure it’s somewhere on YouTube, probably being demonstrated by Rodney Yee.
This post was written in response to questions I've been asked about preparing for long and varied trips. Unlike some of my better-organized and more practical blogger friends, I haven't obtained any free or discounted services, gear or supplies in return for promoting anything on this blog. I'm just letting you know about stuff that Rich and I consider to be the most useful for our kind of travel.
I'm an American writer living in Seville, Spain and traveling the world with my husband, Rich. We've recently completed a five-month Mediterranean Comfort Food Tour, exploring the world's favorite cuisine to discover more about European culture — and our own.
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