"Tired of boring, canned info for tourists?" asks the Great Auk, a Web-based outfit that sells, exclusively, audiotapes of ambient sounds from Iceland.

At press time, the company, whose address is greatauk.cjb.net, had two tapes for sale, one of Reykjavik, the other of Gullfoss & Geysir. Surely this is a stocking stuffer for the well-traveled client who has everything.

On the Gullfoss tape, "you're ... listening to the soothing sounds of the waterfall meeting its destiny down below." (Oh, brother.)

On the Reykjavik tape, "you're sitting down and listening to the people doing their jobs, laughing kids, squeaking birds and the low buzz of the flies." Maybe we will stay home and listen to the tape, after all.

86 on the ipecac

We were tipped off to a product relatively new to North America: the clunkily if unambiguously named No-Jet-Lag, an over-the-counter, "homeopathic cure" for "the curse of modern jet travel."

A brochure Insider found at a local drugstore contains a number of testimonials, including one from a sports doctor for a New Zealand Rugby League team, who said players on tour benefited from the chewable tablets and passed their drug tests.

Other testimonials come from "a tour escort" and "a Hong Kong businessman," who said that hundreds of his associates "jumped up in the air" when they heard about his experiences with the medication.

The product was developed in New Zealand and is distributed in the U.S. by an outfit in Los Gatos, Calif.

Its ingredients (for all it means to Insider) are leopard's bane, daisy, wild chamomile, ipecac and club moss. The tablets are to be taken while in flight, and the chewability, the brochure points out, also helps counter the effects of changes in cabin pressure.

Directions for use seem rather complicated and can best be summed up, more or less, as "Take two tablets and call us yesterday morning."


We love small places, but Hope Town, Abacos -- one of the Bahamian Out Islands -- took even us by surprise.

Pictured below is Hope Town's Municipal Centre (pardon the British spelling; this is the Bahamas, remember).

2 story house near a beach.The building's little outcrop at the far left is the town jail. To our right, on the first floor, a wooden shingle announces the Dolphin & Whale Museum. Upstairs, left to right, are the entrances to the post office, the commissioner's office and the police station.

One local remarked that the commissioner bounces back and forth between selling stamps, welcoming visitors at the museum, doing paperwork and locking up rabble-rousers.

And we thought we were busy.

One if by car ...

We were driving -- or trying to drive -- to Le Meridien in Boston late one night and, guess what, found ourself lost in this beautiful town, a town once described, by its own traffic commissioner, as "designed to be approached only by water."

We'd have loved to be in one of those snazzy rental cars fixed up with a GPS -- global positioning system -- but alas we were not.

In desperation, we called the hotel and got one of its front-desk staff, Ronnie, on a cell phone.

Ronnie pulled out a wrinkled old street map and, street by street, calmly guided the tired and stressed Insider right up to the hotel's marquee.

So now, Le Meridien can advertise its own GPS: Just ask for Ronnie.


We've flown, in our time, on Bush Air and Gum Air, but we were a bit concerned when we showed up at an airfield in the islands and spied a fuel truck announcing Zig-Zag Airlines on its tank.

What kind of operation was this, and where, exactly, were we zigzagging to?

A few questions later, we learned that Zig-Zag actually was an airline at one point but now is in the business, exclusively, of delivering fuel. We were much relieved -- and, in truth, partly disappointed.

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