Jess is a Wanderer 10 Disasters
Jess is a Wanderer has travelled to six continents and had many fantastic experiences along the way. Of course, with every up there must be a down. Here are my top 10 disasters from 10 different countries. I hope you enjoy and you'll be inspired to get out and have your own adventures!
1. Stolen passport. USA. As a traveller, you, your plans, your tickets, your foreign currency and your baggage are pretty much useless if you haven't got your passport. As I found out in 2012 in the USA.
Whilst travelling between Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, my passport was stolen. It had disappeared somewhere between the two destinations along with some Canadian dollars, cigarettes, my multi-travel bus ticket and other 'bits'. After enquiring at customer service, I was told it had been found in Orlando and was coming to the Atlanta Greyhound Bus Station. The bus arrived along with the aforementioned items but... you guessed it, no passport. There was only one thing I could do - take the next bus to Washington D.C and head on over to the British Embassy. For a huge fee and in less than seven days, I had a shiny new passport in my possession. Problem solved! There was never any need for panic.
2. Stolen debit card. Vietnam. I think I've just about lost one of my plastic cards on just about every continent but I'm focusing on Vietnam as I really think this one was stolen! We're jumping to July 2013.
I had acquired two backpackers whilst on my travels to Nha-Trang (about half way up the country - I don't recommend a visit, it was kind of lame). My two new backpacker friends were without accommodation and I had booked a two-bedroom apartment. Long story short, we headed down to the beach for a swim and when I came out of the water my debit card was missing. Of course, I couldn't accuse anyone but here we were and I had no card. The worst part was that I had a month of withdrawing on my credit card. Ouch! Those fees were painful at the end of the year! Fortunately, I always travel with a spare wad of cash and an extra card hidden somewhere in my luggage - usually in a paracetamol packet or similar. This came in handy on this particular occasion!
3. Mugged and bitten. Brazil. I've had my share of excitement on the road when it comes to pick-pockets and petty theft. However, in Brazil 2014, I experienced something I never hope to experience again!
Whilst wandering through an unlit and (looking back) rather dodgy part of Rio De Janeiro, I was approached from behind. A chap grabbed my phone and my story should have ended here. However, I decided to fight and ended up with a chunk bitten out of my shoulder, wrestling him on the floor. When I realised how stupid I was being, I lay flat on the floor and allowed him to rummage my pockets and run off. I lost my phone and some cash. Thanks to my trusty bum-bag, I kept my passport, subway ticket and credit card.
4. Contracted Malaria. Ghana 2004. I had only been in Ghana about three days when I started feeling ill. I was already covered in mosquito bites from day one so when the fever and vomitting kicked in, I knew it wasn't good news.
Hours later, I was in a hospital being diagnosed with a 'malarial infection' and given some pills to take for the next couple of weeks. This would contain and prevent full blown malaria from developing.
Six weeks later, I arrived back in the UK and was admitted into hospital on the brink of a coma. The parasites had been messing with my liver and spleen and I was in a very bad state. Two weeks in hospital fixed me and I have only had two minor reoccurrences since then!
5. No money, no fuel. Australia. When you're doing a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs, across to Brisbane and back to Sydney, you need to have enough money to sustain said road trip. Or if you have enough money then make sure you have enough physical cash.
We were heading east towards Emerald when disaster struck. We had hoped the next town on the map would have an ATM or service station which took cards. We couldn't have been more wrong! There was nothing we could do, we were out of money and fuel. Everything was on the plastic. After searching our pockets we had to stand on the side of the road and flag down passing drivers. A lovely elderly couple stopped and gave us $30 - more than enough to see us to Emerald. Once we arrived, we withdrew the cash and put it in an envelope to post back to them. They saved us 100%. We would probably still be there!
6. Summer clothes in winter. Argentina 2014. It might not sound like much of a disaster but when you're dressing for summer in the middle of a South American winter, it's frightfully cold.
We just about survived southern Brazil in the cold but when we arrived in Buenos Aires things got incredibly difficult! We had nothing but leggings, flip flops and thin cardigans. I don't know what gave us the idea that summer in the UK meant summer in the southern hemisphere. Sometimes I do think I should do more research. I ended up spending £200 on a ski jacket just to survive!! Eeeeeek!
7. Crashed hire car. Canada. We were possibly feeling a little too cocky when our Toyota Yaris had survived the trauma of the Canadian Rockies without hitch whilst driving from Vancouver to Banff over winter 2013. That's until we skidded across the road and ended up in a snow filled ditch.
When I replay the event, it really is in slow-motion. We are chatting away when suddenly we start drifting to the left. I turn away from the skid as gently as I can but it was like a magnet was sucking us in. Panic ensued until a wonderful Canadian couple on their way to do a spot of ice-fishing passed us, pulled us out and invited us to join them for the day. My heroes!
On a side note, the car wasn't damaged and our enormous deposit was returned!!
8. No train ticket. France - Italy.
We had crossed thousands of miles across and around Europe by train during May and June 2011. My 17 year old sister was due to meet me in Venice all I had to do was hop on a train from Paris and we were good to go - especially as this was before smart phones were a thing! Unfortunately, my ticket wasn't accepted and I ended up spending most of the journey hiding in the toilet of that fifteen hour train.
I did my best to move between the two mid-carriage cubicles so as not to arouse suspicion about one always being occupied. I was eight hours in when I was discovered and hauled out! Thinking I was going to be thrown off the train in some European countryside, I tried to explain my situation - with no French nor Italian language. I was led to a private cabin where I enjoyed a bed for the rest of my journey. They even brought me breakfast in the morning! I can't explain what happened but I certainly didn't complain.
9. No money. Dublin. Everything was planned down to the last detail. On our penultimate evening we had spent all of our money except for what was needed to take us from Dublin city centre on the bus to the ferry port the next morning. That was until someone decided to gamble those last few Euros away.
Not wanting to pass up the opportunity for a last meal or visit to the pub on our last night, I took our few Euros, certain I was going to win, and gambled them away. Needless to say, we were up at 4am the next morning to do the long walk to the ferry port. Gambling: it's a game of luck!
10. Lost in a hovel. Egypt. We had a few days planned in the Sinai Desert with Bedouins. All was going well until an unknown driver picked us up and took us off into the desert. Pulling over at a small shack, literally in the middle of nowhere, he demanded that we get out of the car. Extremely hesitant and puzzled, we took a moment to get our bearings (and say goodbye to the world). He led us over to a shack (aka the hovel). I lit a cigarette so I could stab the guy if he tried anything (Lara Croft strikes again!) I walked around the back of the hovel to see if we were going to be ambushed. There was no one around. We entered the dishevelled hovel, scratched messages into the wall to let people know about our final whereabouts and waited. I'll be honest, I was waiting to die or be sold, figuring I had already been kidnapped. It was a long wait until our Bedouin guide showed up and rescued us! It turns out that it was a huge misunderstanding and we were in the 'wrong hovel'. Phew!