Stanley Trollip and Detective Kubu on Tour

By |2015-01-07T09:05:32+00:00August 22, 2014|Categories: Africa, Experienced Travelers, Interviews, South Africa, United States|22 Comments

Stanley Trollip Detective Kubu Tour

Stanley Trollip Toasting Travel. Photo by Kittridge Communications.

You might meet Stanley Trollip in the U.S. or in South Africa, in a classroom or in the wild, in the air or on the ground, in person or through the pages of one of his Detective Kubu novels. Stan didn’t set out to be a globe trotter, it’s just the way his life works.

Born and raised in South Africa of parents who were also born and raised there, he completed his undergraduate studies in Mathematical Statistics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he was active in the anti-apartheid movement and played a lot of sport. His PhD degree in Educational Psychology was completed at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

These days, Stan divides his time between homes in Minneapolis and Cape Town. In Minnesota, he worked as a Professor of Educational Psychology, specializing in how to use computers to improve teaching and learning. In South Africa and Botswana, Trollip is ‘on location,’ absorbing the places that become a vivid backdrop to his stories. He’s also a licensed pilot and has taught aviation–for the fun of it and to help improve pilot training and pilot safety.

The series of Detective Kubu novels–there are four to date–are actually co-written by Trollip and Michael Sears, under the pen name Michael Stanley. The fifth will come out next year from St. Martin’s Press. The third, Death of the Mantiswon the Barry Award.

So, we friends and Detective Kubu readers aren’t the only ones trying to keep up with Stan’s whereabouts. How does he do it?

TO50: Let’s just go straight to the storytelling. Tell us about some of your outstanding experiences along the way.
Stan: Two stories stick out in my memory. In 1971, I was traveling with a friend around Europe. We more or less started in Malta and worked our way north with Spring until we reached Narvik in Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.

We were on Capri and had taken the chairlift to the top. We wandered around enjoying the magnificent scenery. When it came time to return, there was nobody to take our tickets to go back down, so we jumped on a seat. Halfway down, the chairlift stopped. We were about twenty feet above a steep slope strewn with rocks. Jumping was out of the question.

After some time, we saw a hunter appear over the top of the hill. We shouted, “Hello! Please can you help us?” or something similar. The hunter’s response was, “You’re from South Africa.”

It turns out that he had lived in South Africa for a while and recognized our accents. Anyway, he found a maintenance ladder that was long enough to reach our seat and we were able to get off. I guess we weren’t the only people to have been stuck there. He invited us back to his villa for a drink, which we accepted with pleasure. The villa was spectacular, overlooking the Bay of Naples. He and his lovely partner served us fine red wine and grapes that had been pickled in brandy. Of course, there was also some cheese. Delicious!

The second memorable occasion was a trip I and some friends from academia took to the Soviet Union as guests of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. This was at the time Gorbachev had just taken office. It was also the time when the Soviet Union had put a ban on the sale of alcohol to citizens. When we arrived there, our hosts were as interested in us visiting the shops open only to foreigners as they were in our potential intellectual contributions, if not more so.

So off we went and bought vast quantities of vodka–very good vodka–which we had to share with our new friends. I don’t remember much of the academic side of the visit, but remember distinctly the parties. The quality of what we imbibed was so good, I never had a hangover.

Stanley Trollip Detective Kubu Tour

Stanley Trollip Doing His Diplomatic Duty, 1989

TP50: Given your work schedule, we imagine you have to plan your travel well in advance.
Stan: I usually plan ahead two to three months. I know the start and end…and sometimes the route in between (but not always). I don’t plan what I do on a day to day basis while en route.

TP50: What search engines do you reference for air travel and hotel bookings?
Stan: Expedia.com, Expedia.dk, Travelocity, and Kayak. [Ed. Note: We, like Stan, have noticed that using the destination country’s website might lead to lower rates than the U.S. version. Then again, the transaction might bomb when you enter your U.S. credit card.]

TP50: Any packing tips?
Stan: Unless I am moving STUFF between my homes in Minneapolis and Cape Town, I try to travel with just carry-on luggage. Even then I carry items I often don’t used. I rely on my Eddie Bauer backpack all the time. It has useful pockets and a side zipper to get access to my computer.

As much as I love real books, since I am a fast reader I use my computer or iPad for reading now [to lighten the load]. I always use earplugs when I’m flying (and sometimes when trying to sleep in a noisy hotel). When flying, it reduces fatigue.

I usually wear a Travelsmith blue jacket. It has zippers on several pockets, which improves security for wallets and passports. I believe it helps get better service when I need it, too. For everyday use, I have a pouch that attaches to my belt and hangs inside my trousers. It protects against pickpockets; I’ve been a victim a couple of times.

TP50: Beyond the essential electronics and passport, what do you always take along with you?
Stan: Earplugs, mask, and ATM card.

TP50: Which camera is for you: iPhone, a little point-and-shoot, or a fullblown SLR?
I used to travel with a large SLR camera and lenses. Now I use my iPhone and a point-and-shoot with at least 12X optical.

TP50: What phone apps do you rely on when traveling?
Stan: Maps, airline apps, text apps, email, browser, and music.

TP50: Do you earn an ungodly number of frequent flyer points?
Stan: I belong to several airline programs and have found them reasonably useful, particularly U.S. ones. Overseas ones sometimes have incredibly high taxes and airline fees, so it’s barely worth the effort. Once I wanted to make a side trip from England to Frankfurt. The cost of using miles + fees and taxes was actually higher than buying a real ticket. That was on British Airlines. I think that is close to fraud. I belong to several hotel plans, but don’t use them much as I usually can cadge off friends.

TP50: What’s your preferred mode of travel on land?
Stan: I enjoy walking or using a bicycle or public transportation.

TP50: Where have your travels taken you? How many countries have you visited? Which country stands out?
Stan: I haven’t counted, but I expect it is around 60 countries. The country that I found most fascinating was Egypt. Botswana and Namibia are also spectacular countries if you like nature, animals, and birds, as is South Africa. In general, all over the world, people are friendlier when they don’t live in cities.

TP50:What have you sacrificed to live the traveling life?
Stan: Roots. I wish some of my friends were as open to travel as I am.

TP50: What country surprised you the most, and why?
Probably Vietnam. I was surprised at how friendly and upbeat the people were despite what they had been through.

TP50: Do you have any other travel disasters to share, beside being stuck in a chair lift?
I don’t think I’ve ever had a disaster. I’m not phased too much when plans go awry. Usually the unexpected turns into something positive. I’m pretty good at making quick alternate plans if flights are cancelled or are late.

TP50: Detective Kubu enjoys a Steelworks(made with ginger beer and cola) when he wants a refreshing drink. What’s your favorite beverage? And what’s your go-to comfort food?
Stan: Wine, from almost anywhere except Minnesota! I also enjoy good beer. Cheese and bread with wine is always satisfying.

TP50: Do you collect anything along the way? Dead animals, cuff links?
Stan: When young I used to collect STUFF, but I don’t anymore. Most things I brought home I never looked at again.

TP50: What, if anything, do you miss when you’re away from home?
Stan: My big bed and my art collection: African masks and sculptures, old maps, and paintings.

TP50: What are your indulgences on the road?
Stan: Taking a taxi when I could have taken public transportation.

TP50: What’s unique or unusual about your traveling style or habits?
Stan: Traveling across the globe is no big deal for me. I actually often look forward to 20-hour trips, because it is a time for me to regroup and reflect. I rarely talk to people seated next to me. I create a bubble around me. And there is no internet and there are no phone calls. Heaven.

I learn something from everyplace I visit or revisit. More even than reading, I think travel broadens the mind and softens prejudice. If I had a lot of money, I would provide scholarships for young people to travel.

I also encourage everyone to go abroad and hang out for six months or a year, either after high school or after college. However, I find so many parents these days are fearful of what will happen to their kids and pressure them not to go. They also think getting a job right away is more beneficial that an extended time traveling. I disagree. People who have traveled end up with a more productive perspective than those who don’t.

TP50: Where will your travels take you in the future?
Other than the USA and South Africa, where I have homes, I will go back to Botswana (particularly the Okavango Delta, which has just been proclaimed the 1000th World Heritage Site) and Namibia. My partner has a home in Denmark, so I spend time there when she’s visiting family. These days, I am much more interested in visiting friends than seeing another cathedral or church or mountain or river.

TP50: Thanks, Stan! Dear Readers, find Mr. Trollip via the following sites or social highways. When we meet again, we’ll toast transcontinental life, with a glass of wine, beer, or Steelworks. Maybe not vodka.

Facebook Michael Stanley
Twitter: @detectivekubu
Detective Kubu website

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22 Comments

  1. Drienie Hattingh August 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    Great interview! It was like catching up with my dear friend, Stan! Wish he would include Utah in his travels 🙂 Pass my sentiments on… 🙂

    • Kristin Henning August 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      I will do that, Drienie. Thanks for reading. It’s hard to cross paths when ‘some people’ travel the Great Circle Route!

  2. Kit Naylor August 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    Photo by Kit Naylor, 2009!

    • Kristin Henning August 26, 2014 at 4:40 pm - Reply

      Kit, I thought that was familiar! Nice shot! And thanks for taking credit where credit is due.

      • Kit Naylor August 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm - Reply

        Thanks, Kris. Knew you wouldn’t mind my speaking up!

  3. Corinne August 31, 2014 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Kristin, I had never heard of Detective Kubu before, but I’ll check it out. I love the visiting of friends rather than cathedrals and the kids need to travel more bits. I agree with it all. Get those kids out in the real world. It is a fantastic education!

  4. Kristin Henning September 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm - Reply

    Hi Corinne,
    Today, as we start off in a new direction (driving west to Colorado, Utah), I woke up thinking about that quote of Stan’s, too. This road trip is mostly directed by where friends are, or are going to be.
    Thanks.

  5. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go September 11, 2014 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Thanks for the introduction to Stanley Trollip, an interesting gentleman with fabulous stories of travel. He sounds like a man who has made his own niche in the world and found his happiness. I’ll have to check out Amazon e-books for the Detective Kubu series and settle in for a long read!

  6. Carole Terwilliger Meyers September 11, 2014 at 10:17 am - Reply

    I can related to Stan’s comment: Traveling across the globe is no big deal for me. I actually often look forward to 20-hour trips, because it is a time for me to regroup and reflect. I rarely talk to people seated next to me. I create a bubble around me. And there is no internet and there are no phone calls. Heaven.
    I will be traveling from San Francisco to Iceland tomorrow, doing a similar lengthy journey, and I am looking forward to the regrouping time. I would, however, rather not be confined to my tiny space allotment on a plane.

    • Kristin Henning September 14, 2014 at 9:09 am - Reply

      Carole, I too enjoy cocooning with headphones, a book, a notebook, etc. Maybe it is to overcome my slight claustrophobia, although airlines don’t need to go to such great lengths to press the point.

  7. Michelle September 12, 2014 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    Very interesting interview. I have never known anyone who has visited 60 countries – that is amazing! I agree with him when he says that he wishes more people would be open to traveling more.

    • Kristin Henning September 14, 2014 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Thanks, Michelle. It’s easy to interview someone as full of stories – and willing to tell them – as Stan! I agree his perspective on traveling is right on, and especially that parents shouldn’t let their own fears get in the way of their children’s explorations.

  8. Leigh September 13, 2014 at 12:11 am - Reply

    Great introduction and extremely interesting man. Loved the mis-adventures he’s had and agree that travel is a great education. Disagree with not talking to someone beside me on a plane. As a courtesy I like to say a few words – maybe more if you read the social nuances. I’ve had some superb conversations on planes with seatmates.

    • Kristin Henning September 14, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

      Hi Leigh, thanks for the comment. I’m looking forward to reading more on your site. As for me, I think the tendency to keep to myself inflight is I have no other exit plan! Greetings are great, feeling obligated to keep up my end of a conversation is tiring. But that’s just me.

  9. Betsy Wuebker | PassingThru September 13, 2014 at 1:10 am - Reply

    What an interesting friend! Having lived in MSP for 35 years, I can honestly say I never met a soul who divided his time between the Twin Cities and South Africa. I was even more intrigued by the preference for Namibia, which is on my travel list. Great interview.

    • Kristin Henning September 14, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Thanks, Betsy. And how is it you and I haven’t met? Let’s keep in touch.

  10. alison September 14, 2014 at 7:39 am - Reply

    I always love reading about someone else’s travel-especially the whys and hows. That chairlift story is a good one!

    • Kristin Henning September 14, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Alison, I would have responded earlier, but I can’t take my eyes off that gorgeous photo of eggplants! Thanks for sharing the veggie grilling graphic.

  11. [email protected] September 14, 2014 at 8:32 am - Reply

    You’ve confirmed that travel makes people more interesting. Don’t you think so?

    • Kristin Henning September 14, 2014 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Ha, Irene, yes, I do! But I might be accused of having a heavily skewed viewpoint on the matter.

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