Faces by Tim

Young monks in Bhutan, c 1976

If you’ve followed my blog for even a short while, you have probably seen me refer to my pal Tim.

Timothy Valentine Gibson, actually. (born 14 Feb after all)

Tim and I met up when he took a job with South African Airways at JFK, after his sponsor airline stopped flying to the USA.

It was go back to Gatwick or find a new sponsor. Tim became an overnight expert on South African wines and landed a job as Catering Manager for SAA, who British Airways handled.

Indonesian child in the sea c 1990


Tim was and is a compulsive traveller, albeit that he’s been restricted theses past many months to Brooklyn with his cat Oscar.

Oscar was a Brooklyn street cat who befriended a neighbor of Tim’s and came to Tim after his keeper died.

No more streets for Oscar. He now lives in a penthouse apartment.

And apparently misses the streets not at all!

He’s another of those cats that doesn’t like me. But that’s alright.

He’s not required to. I like him. Of course.

(This one is my photograph)

Tim never had a problem getting to know people and as I used to prepare weight and balance documents for SAA, we frequently got to work together. Although he was the Catering Manager, he got to fill in as Passenger Services Manager whenever his boss was off. BA did the basic passenger handling but when there was a problem, it got referred to the SAA manager on duty.

Tim has a lengthy and most entertaining list of these problems.

He also has a blog, I should tell you: timothyvalentinestravels, right here on WP. He does tend to write a fairly chatty airline-speak type of post, but his tales are always interesting, as he is a great observer of humanity on the move as well as the many diverse cultures he has visited.

View Posts

What Tim no longer is, sadly, is a photographer.

Any time he went off on holidays, we always looked forward to his slide shows. A few of us even got given a great dinner!

Back then, digital had not arrived. Tim had trays and trays of slides. That no longer exist! Often, I would have prints made to hang on my walls and when I was hunting for other things recently, I came upon my precious collection. Those that are not currently displayed on a wall.

Tim soon found out that I was keen to travel and the more unusual the destination, the better. (See my blogs about Sudan Nov 6-10 2019)

So, with the exception of the first two photographs here, the people Tim captured are faces I also met and have kept in my mind as little capsules of delight, reminders of long-ago encounters.

These two children we met somewhere along the road in Tibet in November, 1986.

Yes, they were covered in soot from the camp fires where they slept at night. They really had no means to keep themselves clean and had no real concept of what that was. We gave them a bag of fruit.

In those days, tourists were still rather an oddity and they were fascinated by Tim’s photographic gear.

The Tibetan people occupy a large space in my heart.

Tibet was in fact the last real “journey” I made, but I think it matters not that these photos are out of sequence, all these years on.

One of the “adventure cruises” we took stopped in the Trobriand Islands, the so-called “islands of love” where Margaret Mead did a great anthropological study.

The people were quite beautiful.

The islands are fairly remote. I remember palm trees and sandy beaches and lovely people. Including this small child.

The islanders made wonderful carvings which they were anxious to sell to us. Most of the items were too large, given that we would be flying home and really out of our humble airline-staff price range, but I have a bowl and a couple of small pieces that have moved around with me. I’ve had to repair them a few times, but can’t bear to dispose of them.

(See my post of May 19th, 2019, Bhungwane and Sipho)

How did we manage to travel on these expensive cruises? Tim always had “connections”. When the cruise company had a trip which was not sold out, they would allow us to travel at a significant discount which was too good to pass up.

We went to places I would never have had a chance to see otherwise.

Have I ever said how lucky I am?

This beautiful child sat quite happily with one of our fellow travellers, observing the strange people that had suddenly arrived in her village.

This was a tiny island in the Pacific, called Gawa.

We landed there in the rubber boats and walked a long way through the tropical jungle to the top of the island where the villagers met us.

To be certain I was thinking correctly, I had to refer to my own photograph album and I realized that I have quite a few images that I captured myself.

Also there is the little story of the trip that I was planning to post.

No time like the present, but that will have to be tomorrow!

The object hanging around the child’s neck is a New Guinea coin.

4 thoughts on “Faces by Tim

  1. This makes me want to go to Tibet. It sounds like a wonderful place. Hopefully in the future will visit! (and Tim sounds like an amazing travel buddy.

  2. I love these photo’s – a child’s face tells a real story 💌. And yes, you’ve been very lucky to travel to these places … what wonderful memories you have!
    And I hope Tim still have good things to say about our South African wines 🍷 … it sounds like he was THE guy to know when it comes to travel!

Leave a Reply