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A Sucker for the Right Celebrity

I blame my years working in performing arts on my lack of excitement about running into celebrities on my travels. I was thrilled to meet some of my heroes, but otherwise, working with famous artists was part of my job. So when I’m somewhere and I’m told that the latest superstar is “just over there, walking this way” I’m not likely to go running after them.

Sure, there are a handful of people that I’d definitely love to meet. I was skeptical when Doug called me from Guanaja last April and asked, “Do you want to have lunch with Jimmy Carter when you’re here?” The former president is definitely on that list. I once considered going to Plains, Georgia, to stay at the B&B he and his wife have—just so I’d have a chance to shoot the breeze with him. But with my luck, he’d be out of town, building a house or monitoring an election.

Carter really did show up on Guanaja, with some fishing buddies, Rosalynn and a bunch of Secret Service agents. Even though a couple of his friends stopped by the dock of the home where we stayed, the former president didn’t—so the jerk chicken we prepared in advance became our dinner. Whenever we saw three boats speeding together inside the reef, we knew he was on one of them. But we didn’t go looking. If we were going to see him, it just had to happen.

And it did. One morning, after we finished breakfast in Mangrove Bight, we walked toward the water. The road was clogged with people. In the inlet were those three boats, and I could see both Carters on the low-profile fly-fishing boat. We joined the crowd, watching them fish, until they took off—likely for a quieter spot. It lasted less than an hour. I may not have had lunch with him, shook his hand, or chatted about the state of the world, but I was happy.

Check out my article for the San Francisco Chronicle Travel section about the Carter visit to Guanaja for more details.