rom time to time, I discover that some
industry colleague has what we may call a nonstandard travel
history, perhaps of youthful global jaunts or lengthy sojourns in
Third World countries.
Giants president Sue Shapiro is one of those colleagues. She got
my attention when she announced, "I've been to Burma, too."
I soon learned quite a bit more about an intrepid traveler whose
travel experiences are more than just interesting.
Imagine, if you can, a car tooling around Morocco, taking what
seems a reasonable turn onto a road straight across a patch of
desert. After some miles, the road turns to dirt, and soon after it
disappears, but the desert does not.
Sue is in that car with a friend, both unsure of the next move.
Along comes a man seated atop his loping camel.
With lots of sign language and frantic looks, Sue and friend
"explain" the problem. So, they finish their journey across the
desert with the Moroccan in their car as guide. The camel keeps
loping, right behind the car all the way.
Burma was part of a different trip, a mid-'70s around-the-world
journey that included about two dozen stops, most of them in
Sue left her job as a history teacher and part-time travel agent
and joined a male friend for the six-month adventure.
The pair stayed at a good hotel in about every fourth or fifth
city, Sue said. She particularly remembers the arrival at the
She said they couldn't wait for the bellman to get lost so they
could run to the bathroom -- and get reacquainted with hot, running
She remembers being invited to a private home for dinner in
Tehran, attending Yom Kippur services in Rangoon, being stoned over
a short-sleeved shirt in Kabul, traveling by public bus from Kabul
to Peshawar. And there was the day the pair meant to complain about
the local driver whose Mount Everest trip was a ripoff; they gave
that up when they found their nemesis socializing with the police
outside the Kathmandu station.
After months of collecting such memories, Sue returned to New
York and the travel agency where she eventually planned and led
tours, then joined friends as an owner and operator of a hotel on
Fire Island ("Never again," she said).
Giants came next, and that was 21 years ago.
So, I asked, where does the nonstandard travel fit into her life
She said she is "still as passionate about the value of travel
to me and others" for the ways it "enhances us as human
I figure it also puts into proper perspective any hassles
associated with trips on a domestic airline.