In these stay-at-home days I am cleaning out my cellar and finding all sorts of interesting memorabilia from a lifetime of writing about travel.

There is a keepsake piece of metal from a 1986 transatlantic crossing of the Queen Elizabeth II, on which I was a passenger.

There is a handsome set of prints commemorating the 400th anniversary, in 1972, of the Portuguese epic poem, The Lusiadas of Luis de Camoes. Along with them is a hand-decorated certificate bearing my name and welcoming me to Sintra, Portugal.

There is another certificate verifying that I kissed a dead codfish in Newfoundland in a pro-forma ceremony called a Screech In, required of all guests to that Canadian province.

Still another certificate reminds me that I have crossed the equator aboard a ship. And I have discovered that in 1990 I was dubbed “One Who Excels” in hula dancing in Hawaii. I am identified on this certificate as “Piliki”— apparently the Hawaiian translation of Phyllis — and I am congratulated on my “mastery of this beautiful dance” by the cruise director of American Hawaii Cruises.

I clearly remember my 1990 cruise around the Hawaiian Islands. There had been an eruption on the Big Island and red hot lava was pouring into the ocean, but I do not recall my hula expertise.

A cartoon of me on a clipping, however, brings back my harrowing journey on a donkey down a steep rocky trail on the island of Molokai on that same trip. The object of that journey was to see what remained of the once very active leper colony there.

Climbing rocks has never been my forte anywhere. In Zimbabwe, I am reminded by another yellowed newspaper account, I narrowly escaped an encounter with its deadliest snake, a black mambo, when I was rock-climbing. On another adventure there, a clip brings back the warning by my guide of how, if the wind had changed on our walking safari, a rogue elephant in front of me might smell me and there could have been an unfortunate encounter.

I had forgotten until I found a picture of me in wooden shoes that I had uncomfortably worn them once in Holland. No accolades there. I think I stumbled about.

I have donned a kimono in Japan and partaken of a tea ceremony. That, as I recall, was a rather solemn event.

Although there is no certificate lauding me for staying staunchly on the back of an ostrich in South Africa, a clipping reminds me that I did just that. There is no print record, however, of how, in a moment of foolhardiness in the same country, I and a group of friends entered an enclosure with two cheetahs in it. We fled for our lives when one of the cheetahs took off after us. Clearly, I was too embarrassed by my stupidity to record it publicly.

I have found an account of running from the top to the bottom of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt in the 1960s when that was still allowed. Naturally, I rode a camel there, too. He was named Christopher Columbus for my benefit and Sarah Bernhardt (after a quick change of sex) for the French woman who rode next to me.

In India, I have lumbered about for some distance on an elephant. Then in Saigon, Vietnam, another clipping reminds me that I careened about on the back of a motor scooter. On that escapade, we narrowly missed cars and other motor scooters laden with doors and windows and giant vases.

I have trekked around an icy Iceland on crutches and dipped into its Blue Lagoon in the snow.

And then I am reminded of how I once took Flamenco dancing lessons in Madrid. Clearly, this was an undistinguished escapade. I must have failed to swing my skirt and stamp my heels.

I did slightly better with tango lessons in Buenos Aires, another story I wrote recounts. That was because I had a good dance partner. Even so, I failed to twist one ankle around the other well enough to pass that course.

So having been forced by the coronavirus to clean up my cellar hasn’t been all bad. Once mass gatherings are allowed again, perhaps I’ll even be able to show off my Hula Master skills to the public. My award certificate says, after all, that I have “demonstrated a mastery of our beautiful dance and am, thereby authorized to perform the Hawaiian Hula!”