SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Who IS Cinco de Mayo?
By Dave Kiffer


June 01, 2006

Ketchikan, Alaska - I was skulking about downtown the other day when I noticed two Amish couples walking down the sidewalk. They were most definitely "plainly dressed" and the men had remarkable facial hair.

They were even engaged in that time honored tradition of trying to read jewelry store brochures and determine whether or not their "lucky" state room number would get them a 10 percent discount.

Actually they were probably Mennonites because Old Older Amish would not likely "get thee to a cruise ship," but it still made me do a double take.

Ketchikan has all manner of usual headwear but black hats and white lace head coverings do stand out. All worlds come to Ketchikan in the summer.

And with them comes all sorts of world views. Especially those views that seem to come from people who don't seem to be of this world.

It's time again to start collecting all those zany/wacky cruise ship passenger stories so we tell them next fall at the Monthly Grind. As usual it seems that an awful lot of folks are checking their brains with the purser when then get on board.

Standing on the dock earlier this week, I heard a woman say to her companion somewhat nervously "I don't see any exchange places. All we have is American money!"

A couple of active young visitors were spotted last weekend hoofing it up into the Forest Drive area far above the normal visitor haunts. They said they were looking for places to do "rock climbing."

A friend reports hearing this conversation outside one of the more prominent downtown attractions.

"It's the US versus the Canadians."


"Because the Canadians were against us in the Civil War."

A restauranteur reports that a visitor sat down a couple of weeks ago and asked for a "French fish."

She had a bit of an accent, so he thought she was asking for a "fresh fish."

Turns out she wanted a "French salmon" and not one of those "English cods."

A dock denizen reports the following conversation was held a couple of weeks ago outside one of the tour kiosks.

"This tour says we'll see bears."

"I wonder if they'll let us feed them?"

A local who works in one of the jewelry store emporiums reports the following exchange.

"I want some Alaskan tanzanite!"

"I'm sorry Ma'am, but tanzanite comes from Africa."

"Honey, if I wanted African tanzanite, I'd go to Africa!"

I heard the following while standing in line at the post office sub station.

"Yeah, she's still in the stateroom. She's afraid the acid rain will cause her skin to break out."

Of course, it's early in the season and I'm sure we have barely begun to hear some of the best absurdities. And We will hear plenty of questions about Ketchikan's elevation and that "lake" next to the dock. You could do a whole TV show on "Visitors Say The Cutest Things."

Last year I did a column on weird visitor utterances and a friend accused me of making some of it up. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. No one is that "creative." I don't know what color the sky is in these folks' world, but it sure isn't blue.

For example, this story come from the museum/library last week.

A visitor was stranding in the joint museum/library entryway a few days ago and saw the bulletin board advertising May events.

"Who is Cinco de Mayo?' she asked out loud. "And why is he speaking at the Library?"



Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2006

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