Sunday, December 31, 2017

Garry Marchant the Enthusiastic Traveler - 1941-2017

In Belgrade

One time, Vancouver Magazine editor Malcolm Parry (sometime in the late 80s) threw a 20mm Pentax lens (mine) at me and told me, “You are making the motions. Go back and do your job.”

Garry Marchant, 1941-2017, never made the motions of being a travel writer. Even though Antarctica was one of the few places he had never gone to in his travels, I can attest to the fact that he was always enthusiastic.

It was when Yugoslavia was still under the spell of Tito (even though he had died in 1980), that I accompanied Marchant on an all-expenses paid junket trip to that country. The purpose was for him to write for his monthly Vancouver Magazine colum Far Away Places. In this case his piece would be accompanied by my photographs.

It was one evening in Split that we journalists were having a splendid dinner in a sidewalk restaurant. Marchant always made fun of the fact that in every restaurant we ever went to we always found towering white, heavily starched napkins resembling the Matterhorn on our plates.

Suddenly Marchant pushed his chair away and went running to the corner. Ten minutes later he returned with a grin on his face, “I spotted a woman walking a Dalmatian and after all we are on the Dalmatian Coast.”

And that was Marchant in action.

There is one story about him that I remember with glee. He had been traveling in some obscure African country all day and he was exhausted when he arrived at a hostel. He was also very hungry. Hanging in a fireplace there was a big pot with stew. He observed and using his arms as wings he gesticulated to the host. The host nodded positively. Marchant went at the chicken stew. It was only later, when he was spooning it, that he found remnants of a bat wing.

And few of us who are still alive (I called Mac Parry today to inform him of Marchant’s death. I told him, “And then there were none,” to which he instantly replied, “But some are left.”) can forget this article by Mati Laansoo in which he and Marchant sampled the culinary pleasure of eating dog in Manila.

On the roof of Vancouver Magazine on Davie & Richards. Garry, left, Les Wiseman, right. Tiffany bottom left & Ruby top right

In this age of staring at our smart phones I can only but remember Marchant and his enthusiasm for life, for food (except bats) and drink.

Garry Marchant died in Vence, France on December 23.

Courtesy of Kerry McPhedran here is a link to a Garry Marchant talk about the second oldest profession.

Marchant's long-time partner Marnie has informed that Gary did get to Antarctica and that he managed to visit more than 260 countries.