Vegan Vagabond

Vegan Vagabond

Posted February 24, 2010

Published in Food, Health, Lifestyle

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The secret to surviving international adventure travel? CLIFF BARS!

Read More: cliff bars, diving, food, travel, vegan

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OK, this is probably something that every vegan already knows, but as I am planning my next big adventure, and as I communicate with the resort and establish my dietary needs, and hear, "No problem. We take good care of you," I am reminded of the many trips (most) in the past where there was a problem and they didn't take good care of me. Let's face it, they want your business and many hotels, resorts, and tour operators will tell you just about anything they think you want to hear in order to get you to spend your money with them.

I am reminded of the two times I went to the Galapagos Islands to go scuba diving. I called and spoke with the dive operator in the Galapagos and spoke with the owner, rather than dealing with their office in Quito, Ecuador. I was diving on day trips, where we would leave early morning and come back late afternoon, and lunch and snacks were served on the boat. I was assured, "No problem. We have lots of vegans." As we went out on the first day, I had a nice chicken sandwich served to me. I reached for a Cliff Bar. I spoke to the owner when we got back that day. I got, "No problem. They got the lunches mixed up, but we have you taken care of for tomorrow." The next day, I was presented with a lovely egg salad sandwhich. I reached for a Cliff Bar. I spoke to the owner again and he apologized all over himself and yelled at his staff and assured me that he would personally see to it himself. That next day, and I know you are now going to think I am making this up, I was served grilled fish with a side of rice and some salad. I reached for my Cliff Bar. After the usual apologies and assurances, we went out the next day, and as we were just out of sight of land, a small boat appeared on the horizon, speeding towards us from the port. It was the owner. Guess what they forgot to pack? For that day, and for the remaining days, I got white rice, some raw vegetables and some fruit. I was hardly taken care of and I thanked god for Cliff Bars.

I had such an incredible experience diving in the Galapagos and was so impressed by the flora and fauna of the Islands, I had to go back the next year and do a 8 day live-aboard dive trip. I called the owner, reminded him of my previous year's experience, he acknowledged that he remembered me and assured me he had his act together and the chef on the boat is fully aware of how to cook for me. I told him that the previous year was mildly amusing and, as my wife continually reminds me, I can always stand to miss a meal, but this is all meals for 8 days. I really need him to deliver. He gave me his personal guarantee (Am I gullible, or what?). I fly back down, load up on the boat, and away we go. 2 hours outside of port (you see this coming, don't you?), here comes the small boat. They did not load my food. The owner was apologizing all over himself and yelling at the crew. They loaded up the food and away we went. For the first 2 or 3 days, I had to fight with the "chef" through every meal and I ate a lot of Cliff Bars. Finally, after picking up a knife and helping him in the galley, he got it and, I have to admit, I ate very well and several of the other people on the trip started requesting to be served whatever I was being served. By the last day or two, he was getting pretty creative.

So, as I am planning on going diving in the Maldives in April and, as I am arranging my accommodations with the resort and establishing their ability to feed me, I am hearing, "No problem. We have lots of vegans. You will love the food." And, so, like I have done so many times before, I am on ordering two cases of Cliff Bars. The island I will be on can only be reached by sea plane and is so small that half the resort, like the villa we will be staying in, is actually on stilts over the water. For 7 days, I will be at their mercy. It won't be like I can hop in a cab and head down the road to a restaurant when they screw up. I am hopeful, but I am suspicious that my ole buddy Cliff and I are going to be pretty tight on this trip.