I am just another travel man

by Captain Bill

I am just another travel man

We were also joined on this dolphin trip to Pacaya Samiria by Eric Angus Sutherland. He was a delightful traveling companion who entertained us with stories of his travels around the world. He is the most traveled individual I have ever met. As an ex-chairman of the Association of British Travel Agents, with 50 years in the travel business, many of those years as upper management of Thomas Cook Travel, and with 83 years of experience, he has led the travel life to the fullest. Here is his story in his own words.

I am just another travel man who loves to see people and places. Everyone has heard of the Amazon, especially travel people, and I had always wanted to come here. My first opportunity came in February 2000, and I absolutely fell in love with the place. I have been coming back every year since then. This year I wanted to come back to a place I first visited in 2001, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a place that I consider to be heaven on earth. I wish everyone, particularly people living in an urban setting, could see what we have seen these last 8 days. You really owe it to yourselves to get out of the city, whether it is London or New York or San Francisco, and to travel to the upper Amazon region of Peru. I am 83 years old, and that is the best advice I can share with you.

Of course there are two directions to go from Iquitos, the main port on the Peruvian Amazon. You can go down river to the triple frontier to a stinky little town called Leticia, which is actually in Columbia, where the boat turns around and comes back up again, three days down and three or four days back, or you can go up river which is the trip we are on now, which goes to a part of the country where it’s…well, there is only one word to describe it, magical. This is my third trip to this heaven on earth. This trip that we are now completing is far and away my best ever to this magical land of Pacaya Samiria. Going up river the Amazon changes character, becomes smaller, and changes its name. When we pull off into the Pacaya River fork it is no longer a big, muddy, brown river, but changes to a narrow, clear, black, incredibly beautiful reflective stream, with magnificent trees that grow down to the waters edge, close on both sides of you, and you see their reflection in the water, the mirror of the jungle, right in front of you. It is magical.

I am so grateful to have lived as long as I have and to have traveled the world, but I am also grateful that I have not finished. With a bit of luck, I will not be finished for a while yet, because as long as I can travel I am living.

I lost my beloved Italian wife, Penny, with whom I shared 40 years. I was working with Thomas Cook in Rome when I met her. Then I was transferred to Paris where we had the best 6 years of our life, until I was called back, kicking and screaming, to the Thomas Cook headquarters in London.

Since Penny died of leukemia nearly 13 years ago…I have been traveling for pleasure instead of work. In my time I have traveled nearly everywhere but I have found Latin America is really the lost continent, waiting to be discovered by travelers from all over the world.

I have been fortunate enough to have discovered the delights of scuba diving. I have been several times to the Galapagos Islands, which I think are the ultimate for scuba divers. But those diving days are over since I have a dicky heart.

But I am 83 and I can still travel and enjoy myself, and I came on this trip because I had a chance to meet Bill Grimes, who operates this quite incredible boat in which we have been traveling now back from Pacaya Samiria. I will write a story about our Amazon adventure for the Thomas Cook Newsletter, which is distributed to a bunch of ex-Thomas Cook managers called the 1841 Club, to which I feed stories of my travels, and of course it will include Bill’s gorgeous boat, Dawn on the Amazon III, with the amazing eagle figurehead, as well as the unlikely story of David taking sonar soundings of dolphins…a truth so much stranger than fiction. For me it was my best ever trip to the best part of the Amazon.

I just hope the Lord lets me live a little while longer so that I might come back again, because you can never get enough of this place. It’s not something you can ever walk away from and say, “Well, that is it. I’ve done it, I am finished.” No, your appetite is constantly whetted and you want to see more. I want to come back. So, I hope I can.

As I say to my darling Penny when I have a dry martini at night, I always raise my glass at home, never before 7:00… I raise my glass…”Cheers, darling, I know you are waiting for me, but please not just yet, have patience, allow me to travel to these treasures in the world.”

I am past seeking new treasures, I have found so many. Now I am very happy to bet on certainty, to go back to places I know are beautiful. There are no more beautiful places on earth than Pacaya Samiria on the upper reaches of the Amazon…I recommend it.

I am just another travel man

Bill Grimes,  Pacaya Samiria National ReserveDawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises 

Links to other posts related to our Amazon cruise to study Pink Dolphin communication in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve;

Observations about our study of Pink River Dolphin Communication in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

An Interview with David Bonnett, Acoustical Engineer Studying Pink Dolphin Communication

Our Adventure Apprehending Paiche Poachers in Pacaya Samiria National Reserve

The Pacaya River

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Linda Sprankle March 27, 2007 at 1:02 pm

My word! What an enticing account. The Amazon is high on my list of must visits some day. May that day come sooner rather than later, and I will definitely look into Pacaya Samiria and Bill Grimes when I am about to book a trip. Congratulations on living such a full life! My favorite trip so far was with Natural Habitat to the Galapagos Islands with Roberto.

2 Dawson March 29, 2007 at 6:27 am

Impressive assessment from a man with evident accumulated wisdom. I love his perspective of “betting on certainty”…..clearly a man who ‘digests’ his environment…instead of superficially passing through the world. Makes me long to return to the Pacaya Samiria again…..and Bill’s Dawn III river boat sounds like the natural and intelligent choice…

3 Bill June 10, 2007 at 10:21 pm

Thanks Linda and Dawson, for reading and being interested in Eric’s account of our adventure together. He is a remarkable man, living his life to the fullest.


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