A teacher’s trip to Paris would be so much more relaxing if it didn’t require wrangling a pack of high school students, trying to interest them in language, art and history, and occasionally bribing them with les Big Macs.
Identifying call: ‘You do that again, son, and you’ll be on the next plane home!’
Illustration by Simon Letch, graduate cum laude of the University of Life. First published Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age 2015.
In towns that offer public bicycles, you may spot pairs of these intrepid visitors, uncertainly reading instructions and pressing buttons at the parking stations, then wobbling unsteadily through speeding traffic on their clunky steeds.
Identifying call: ‘Are you sure we’re allowed on the autobahn?’
Illustration by Simon Letch, who seldom wobbles unsteadily. First published, Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age 2015.
Hosts are always upbeat about their outer suburban ghettos, enthusiastically referring their guests to fascinating 40-minute strolling routes to the nearest public transport and hip little joints serving the best Chinese takeaway in Kazakhstan.
Identifying call: ‘You’ll love it here, guys; this is a cool neighbourhood the tourists don’t know about.’
Illustration from the outer reaches of the far-flung Simon Letch. First published, Melbourne Age and Sydney Morning Herald, 2015.
Identifiable by a shuffling gait, designer sneakers, rhythmic hiss escaping from earplugs and fingers tapping at phone screen. Pubertae may appear solitary, though closer inspection often reveals related adults walking ten paces ahead.
Identifying call: ‘Why did you bring us here, Dad? What’s so good about Florence?’
Illustration by Simon Letch. First published, Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age 2015.
Two perspectivi are required to pull off this stunt. One aims the camera while the other props up the Leaning Tower of Pisa or pinches the point of a pyramid. Sure, Instagram may have seen it all before, but great humour must be shared.
Identifying call: ‘A little to the left, up a bit…perfect!’
Lovely work on the illustration, Simon Letch, and thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age for running our efforts each week.
A telltale sign that an obstructus is ahead is the traffic jam of passengers in a plane’s aisle. Within minutes, you may encounter the creature itself, awkwardly wrestling camera, overcoat, duty free and tribal mask into the overhead locker.
Identifying call: ‘Could you help me with my case? I’ve got this bad back.’
Simon Letch did the picture. The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age first published it. Thanks again to all.
These creatures are generally, though not exclusively, male. They can commonly be seen in labyrinthine old cities, guidebook in hand, confidently leading family groups into blind alleys.
Identifying call: ‘No, we don’t need to ask directions. I know exactly where we are.’
* Illustrator Simon Letch and I have been contributing a weekly cartoon to the Traveller section of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age, introducing readers to the curious species we meet on the road. I’m releasing some of them into the wilds of cyberspace…one at a time.