As you know, I generally travel on my own. But from time to time I join a group - on this trip it was impossible to visit the rainforest or take a boat round the Galapagos Islands without joining a group. And since I've been home a few people have asked how I managed the group-thing.
I'll not, here, write about those groups in particular. Rather I'll think about travelling groups in general. From which it might become evident that I'm really not a groupy sort of person.
I know all groups are different. But some attract a set of participants who slot into predictable roles. Firstly, the person who irritates me more than anything is the one who doesn't listen. Not only do they not listen, they make a point of making sure everyone knows they've not listened by asking, loudly, just as we are returning to our rooms, 'WHAT TIME DID SHE SAY BREAKFAST IS TOMORROW.' Someone will reply, of course, as most of us are polite, only to get the follow-on question, 'SO WHEN ARE WE LEAVING ... DO I NEED WALKING BOOTS OR SANDALS.' By which time I've slipped away.
But, you say, I am being uncharitable. Maybe this person has a hearing problem. Then why, should his or her name pass your lips when you are half a table away and facing the other way and everyone is drinking and laughing, do they call out, 'HEY, DID I HEAR MY NAME ...' No, this is a person who makes a profession of not listening.
Secondly, there's the smoker. I do understand that some people are addicted, need to light up, etc etc. But this is the person who, every time we stop, steps away front the group, puffs away for five minutes and then rejoins us, whiffs of smoke still seeping from his or her nostrils, only to say, 'What have I missed?'
Thirdly, the people who never stop talking. Ever. As if they can only justify their own existence by hearing the sound of their own voices. In my limited experience the people with the most interesting stories are those who say the least.
On a walk, there are those who must be first, and those who are always last.
Me - you can see that I'm the grumbly one in the corner. Actually, it's not quite like that. I'm the grumbly one in the corner with the notebook. And the most interesting people often ask what I'm writing about, and some give me permission to tell their stories. The others find their way into blogs like this!