Top 10 Misadventures of 2017

Adventures and Misadventures often go hand in hand. Get Lost & Be Found is filled with pages about the marvels of travel around the world. But let’s get real. Not every travel experience is glorious. 

First, Let’s define it: A misadventure is an adventure gone wrong. It’s the “Oops” moment, the “WTF?!” moment, and the “Oh, no!” moment in travel. If you travel enough, you’ve had them too.

passportEven the less-than-wonderful moments are an opportunity to learn something new about life. Um… Right? Ok, maybe I am stretching to put a positive spin on those most irritating moments. But, you know, make limonda out of limones?

If nothing else, maybe you can learn from my mistakes and misadventures.

All-in-all, this has been a great year. I visited 10 foreign countries in 2017. I checked off several key bucket list items:

  • Snorkel in the Galapagos Islands
  • Experience a South American Carnaval Festival
  • Explore the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia
  • Island hop in Thailand
  • Wander the ruins of Petra, Jordan
  • Meet an elephant

Additionally, I discovered amazing things that I never knew should have been on my list in the first place:

  • Witness an Almsgiving Ceremony with the Monks in Laos
  • Bake Cassava bread with a traditional Amazon tribe in Ecuador
  • Hike to the Lost City in Colombia
  • Boat cruise through Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
  • Visit the Grand Mosque, U.A.E.
  • Camp in a Bedouin tent in Wadi Rum, Jordan

sunglassesBecause the year is coming to a close, I reflect.

This post takes you beyond the perfection of an Instagram feed. Because the truth is, my travels are full of bloopers and deleted scenes.

I present to you my top 10 misadventures of 2017…misadventures cover

 


1) Misadventure with a jellyfish

Where:

Railay Beach, Thailand

Say What?

It was my first time at a beach in months. I was SO excited to finally experience the world famous Thai beaches. Five minutes in the murky water at low tide was all it took.

My foot was on fire. I had no idea what was going on, but I knew something had attacked my left foot, and a small part of my right. I hauled ass out of the water as quickly as possible.

misadventures can

When I was on dry sand, I examined my burning foot. It was bright red and swelling. Not knowing exactly what to do, I scanned the beach for help. I eyed 5 or 6 guys together in official looking blue shirts. They must live and work here! I ran up to them and said in a panic, “WHAT IS THIS?”. These guys clearly did not speak english. But they new a  key word and enunciated it clearly. “Jellyfish”.

Yep, I got stung by a jellyfish.

At the sight of my red foot, one of the blue-shirted beach bums ran off to get something. He returned a moment later with leaves that had clearly just been pulled off a tree or shrub somewhere. He crushed them in his hands until the pieces were small and the juice was strong. Without exchanging any words, he rubbed the leaf juice all over my feet. Another blue-shirt said “Half hour”. That may be the extent of the english between these guys.

So I sat down and sulked on the beach at my misfortune. And sure enough, after a half hour the redness and sting started to wain. By the next day, other than a crazy looking mark on my foot, I felt like nothing had ever happened.

UNTIL, two weeks later. I was in bed, sleeping (more or less) when the most intense burning itch I have ever felt had me shooting up out of bed and ripping my sock off. The tentacle marks of the jellyfish were red and inflamed, again.

Apparently, there is a thing called delayed hypersensitivity reaction to severe jellyfish stings. Luckily all of the locals new the english word for “jellyfish”, so I was able to get a cream from the nearest pharmacy in Krabi Town.

* Many people have asked me if I peed on my wound. I did not. I didn’t even know that it was somehow common knowledge to treat a jellyfish sting by peeing on it. As far as I can gather, this key information comes directly from the beloved sitcom, Friends, and has no basis in reality.

jellyfish

It hurt a lot.  I do not recommend this experience.

Life Lesson:
Despite common belief, do not pee on a jellyfish sting.
“A sting from a jellyfish can be extremely painful, but trying to treat it with urine isn’t going to make your day any better”

2) Misadventure of a Missed Connection

Where:

Madrid, Spain

Oy. What happened?

Crazy airport shenanigans happened. Whatever could go wrong, went wrong.

The plan was as follows: fly from Bogota, Colombia to Istanbul with a 5 hour layover in Madrid. We checked our bags to arrive at our final destination in Istanbul.

I worry when a layover is only two hours or less, so I booked the most affordable set of flights I could find with a reasonable layover time through skytours.com – I will not hyperlink this page because I do not recommend booking with them.

Problem 1:
the experience

The first hiccup happened at the airport in Bogota, where we discovered our flight was delayed without further information. It ended up delayed 6 hours. So, we knew we would miss our connection. The gate attendants did not want to help us resolve the matter in Bogota, and insisted we had to go to the information counter in Madrid.

They were wrong. In fact, their bad advice cost us a lot of time, money and headaches. When we arrived in Madrid, the customer service workers were at a complete loss as to how to help us.

Problem 2:

Our missed flight was on a different airline. So the airline we arrived on had no information, nor were they responsible for placing us on a different flight.

Problem 3:

When we contacted the airline of our second flight, we were listed as “no show”. No show’s have no rights and are not placed on another flight. We were boxed into buying completely new tickets. A very expensive headache.

Problem 4:

The earliest flight we could leave on was 24 hours later.

Problem 5:

Nobody could tell us where our bags were or where they would end up.

Problem 6:

I was traveling with Miguel, a Bolivian. Bolivians are not permitted entry into Spain without a travel visa. Apparently, this also pertains to switching terminals at the airport.

We weren’t allowed to go to the check in desks, because it would mean clearing customs first. This was another incredible headache. Luckily, we had stupid amounts of time to spare. We bounced from help desk to help desk. And after 4 hours of nonsense, we were permitted to go through a back-alley-type security checkpoint at our final terminal. But we still did not have our tickets, luggage, or a place to sleep.

Problem 7:

We slept on chairs at the Madrid airport that night because we weren’t allowed to leave.

Problem 8:

Every hour or so we inquired about our boarding passes. We were repeatedly told “someone from downstairs will bring them to you”.

Through nervous sweats and panic, we were finally brought our boarding passes as the plane was boarding.

Problem 9:

Our luggage did not arrive with us in Istanbul. Shocking, right? We filed a lost baggage claim upon arrival. It took 5 days for our bags to arrive.

After the unplanned extra expense of new plane tickets, I was unwilling to buy new clothing that wouldn’t fit in my bag when it came. So we were dirty bums in the same clothing for a week. Everyday, we were told our bags would arrive “later that day” or “tomorrow morning”. You can only imagine how good it felt when they actually showed up.

Life Lessons:
  1.  Avoid changing airlines in transfer whenever possible.
  2.  Keep a change of clothing (or 2) in your carry on.
  3.  Make sure connections are long (although, I thought I had…).
  4.  Research regulations about visas in countries where you have airport transfers.


3) Happy Water Misadventure

Where:

Sapa, Vietnam

Did you say…“Happy Water”?

Indeed, I did.

We stayed with a lovely host family in a small mountain village while trekking around the rice paddies of Sapa.

They cooked us a feast and were gracious to include vegetarian options for me. Miguel and I ate the lovely dinner with about 8 local people and no common language.

the best stories

The only thing to drink that night was “Happy Water”. Another name for happy water is rice wine. But if you ask me, a more appropriate name would be “Gasoline Fueled Vodka”.

It was being poured in small shot glasses. The local family would raise their glasses and start shouting to drink every few minutes or so.

I wasn’t particularly fond of this drink. Nor am I much of a drinker. When I started to feel a bit tipsy I knew it was time to stop. So, when they began pouring another round I smiled and covered the glass to show that I did not wish to continue.

They seemed displeased. I got nervous that perhaps it was rude of me to say no. I often hear that it is rude in many cultures to reject food. Maybe rejecting a toast was rude too? My fear of insulting their customs convinced me to have one more…

Which turned into many more… which turned into Miguel carrying me up a ladder to bed. Followed by me vomiting into a bucket all night… followed by a 2-day-long hangover.

The next morning, we couldn’t do our last stretch of the trek. 10 months later, and I still get a pain in my stomach when I think of (un)happy water.

Life Lesson:

It’s better to look out for your well-being, even if you may come off as mildly offensive.

CNN Travel has an article all about Happy Water!

 


4) Misadventure of Searching for A Vaccine

Where:

Krabi / Phuket, Thailand

Seriously?

Yeah. So, remember that Bolivian I am traveling with? It turns out his passport brought on complications a number of times this year.

Some countries require proof (in the form of a stamped yellow-book entry) that you have a yellow fever vaccination if you come from “high-risk” countries. We discovered that Miguel needed this to enter Thailand at the border. Even beforehand, when we questioned in person at the Thai embassy what he needed, nobody had mentioned this. But to our fortune, the Thai’s are incredibly friendly and welcoming people. They took our word for it when we said that Miguel had the shot in the past. And they let us in.

We knew that this good luck would not hold out in every country. Luckily, Malaysia (and basically all other countries) had easier to find information online about vaccination requirements than Thailand did. And it was clear that the next countries we wanted to visit would require the yellow-book yellow-fever stamp. So, when we reached Krabi Town, we had a mission to accomplish.

Never in a million years would I have dreamt how challenging it is to find the yellow fever vaccine in Thailand.

better than noneThe Scavenger Hunt Begins

We started by asking in our hotel where we could find a walk-in clinic. They gave us a few in Krabi Town and Ao Nang (a half hour drive away). We went to every walk-in clinic we could find (5 or 6).

The answer was always the same, “We don’t carry the yellow fever vaccination”.

So I asked in each one if they could order the vaccine and we could come back on another day. The answer was a flat “no” from everyone.

Krabi Public Hospital

Next, we tried the hospital circuit. First, we went to the Krabi Town Public Hospital. In a way this entire experience was worth it to see this place. It wasn’t a good experience. In fact, it was a terrible experience. But it was eye-opening.

The Public Hospital was an unbearably depressing place. It was filthy. There was dirt and grime in every corner we turned. It was confusing. The first floor had a number of operation windows (like a bank), and an open-air seating area for waiting. What sort of medical attention you needed determined which window you approach. But none of the signs were in English. It was crowded and everyone looked miserable. It felt more like a bus terminal than a hospital. Imagine needing medical care from Port Authority bus terminal in NYC.

We finally found someone who spoke english that directed us to a window counter on the 2nd floor. This was promising, because she didn’t immediately tell us “we don’t have it”. But looking around, I honestly thought to myself, I don’t want someone I care about even getting a shot from this place. Nothing looks sterile. But we pressed on looking for the vaccine. It had already been days of searching.

Sure enough, after some waiting and confusion, another woman informed us that they did not have it. But this was a hospital. Surely they had access to the vaccine. When I asked, the woman sent us to the line for the pharmacy window. The pharmacy department was not friendly. I would even call them rude. They informed us that they cannot order the yellow-fever vaccine. And then they were done with us. I tried asking follow up questions, and they just ignored me and walked away.

We returned to our hotel that day mentally exhausted. We lamented to the reception workers at our hotel about our issues. When we mentioned we had come from Krabi Public Hospital, they scoffed. I was a bit relieved to know that the locals knew how horrific of a place it was. They recommended we try the better, private hospital nearby, Krabi International Hospital.

Krabi International Hospital

They didn’t have the vaccine either. However, this was the turning point in our hunt.

The difference between the public and private hospital was night and day. Krabi International was clean and well organized. Staff smiled at us and offered their help. This hospital would have fit in smoothly in more westernized countries.

Sidenote: It’s tragic that such contrasting medical care facilities exist so close to each other, and most locals cannot afford the care that is undeniably better.

The pharmacy department sat with us and made a number of phone calls on our behalf. They called around the region, and around Thailand, speaking in Thai to pharmacy departments around the country.

The result was three phone numbers that we could follow up with. One was in Bangkok, a plane ride or full day bus away. Another was the health department at the airport in Phuket. Phuket was a 2.5-3 hour drive away. And the last was for the Krabi City Health Department. Being as though we were in Krabi, we decided to start there.

City Health Departments

We couldn’t reach anyone by phone at the Krabi City Health Department who spoke English. So, we went there. It was mildly hard to find and is not a place set up for visitors. It’s a government office.

Here, we found the friendliest people. They immediately took us in and clearly wanted to help. But communication was tough. We were able to convey that we needed the yellow-fever vaccine and yellow-book documentation for it.

They also did not have the vaccine. But, one of the men had a friend at the health department of Phuket’s airport. So he put in a call for us.

At long last! Someone has the vaccine. It was a few hours away, but we didn’t care. We were more concerned with getting into the airport clinic without tickets for a flight. The friendly man cleared that up for us as well. He wrote down the name and cell phone number of his friend in Phuket, and sent us to his office in the Phuket Town Public Health Office.

I am not going to lie, after all of this nonsense, we were skeptical. We sort of believed when we showed up in Phuket the next day, that they wouldn’t have the vaccine. But amazingly, they had it. Administered it. And gave us a documented and stamped yellow-book for Miguel to keep with his passport.

white-heavy-check-mark

 

Check! Done forever.

 

Side-note: The truly unfortunate part of this insane scavenger hunt for a vaccine, is that Miguel had the vac when he was younger. It was a requirement when he joined the Bolivian military as a teenager. But we were unable to access information to prove it. Bolivian filing and record-keeping is not exactly top-notch.

Life Lessons:
  1. Keep a yellow-book of your vaccine records with your passport.
  2. Yellow-fever vaccines used to be required every 10 years, but recent studies have shown that it lasts much longer. Now once in your life is enough. Who knew?
  3. Like many important medicines, there is a worldwide yellow-fever vac shortage.
  4. As bad as our health care system is in the states, it could be worse.
  5. You can’t really get to know a place you visit until you need something. Then doors you didn’t expect open up and you experience the core of a place.

* The World Health Organization offers important information about yellow fever vaccinations and country requirements around the world  (as well as malaria and other infectious diseases). World travelers, this document can come in handy: http://www.who.int/ith/ITH_country_list.pdf


5) Misadventure of Walking in on a Naked Couple in Their Bungalow

Where:

Kampot, Cambodia

Say What?!

Yeah… It’s actually worse than it sounds. That was the tip of the iceberg in one of the worst housing accommodations I’ve stayed in.

It was laughable how much went wrong with our two-night bungalow stay.

We arrived during a downpour. When we tried to check in, there was water gushing through the roof onto the hotel’s electronics. It also gushed onto tourist luggage being stored for safe keeping (I hope nobody had a computer in those bags). The staff hadn’t even noticed until we pointed out their indoor waterfall.

Get a room. Preferably, your own.

When that debacle was over, the staff tried to check us in. One man led us to a room through pouring rain. The private bungalows were elevated. We had to walk up a flight of stairs to access our front door. The man didn’t want to get wet by leading us upstairs, so he pointed to our staircase and handed me a key.

I hurried up, trying to avoid getting drenched. I noticed that the lock wasn’t on the outside of the door. That seemed strange. But it was pouring and I wasn’t thinking. I swung open the door. And there, I rudely interrupted a naked couple in bed together…

So, that was awkward.

unpredictable

Mortified, I stormed down the bungalow steps. The employee’s response was simply, “Oh sorry, it’s actually the one next door”. Argh!

Moving on. I walked up to the next entrance to find a room that was filthy. It was 4:00 pm, well after check in time (We had a reservation, so they knew we were coming). The bed had not been changed, and was clearly slept in. There was garbage all over the floor.

I marched down yet another set of bungalow steps. This time, very irritated (and soaking). I simply said “no”.

“Someone will come by later to clean”. Umm… What does later mean?

I asked if they had somewhere we could sit and relax while we waited for the room to be made up. This seemed to make the staff anxious.

Finally, one woman kindly suggested we take an upgraded room on the water. She clearly stated that we could stay both nights at the cost of the room we booked. We were more than satisfied with that solution, and made ourselves comfortable.

Until, of course, the next day. That morning we were greeted by a knock on the door. It was the same woman instructing us to vacate the room immediately to accommodate the arrival that had previously reserved that room. She completely denied saying we could stay both nights.

I wish I could say the nightmare ended there. But it went on. A number of similar mishaps continued to unfold. I won’t bore you with every detail in between.

A restaurant that can’t feed its patrons

However, the final day was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I ultimately left a scathing review.

That morning, I ordered breakfast at the bungalow restaurant. I ordered a vegetable curry dish (they assured me it was vegetarian) and an iced tea.

After about half an hour, it seemed strange that there was no sign of food or drink. So, I inquired. They apologized and said they were waiting for gas to arrive. They couldn’t cook until then. It was arriving any second. Ok. I understand these things happen. “Can I at least drink my iced tea while I wait?”.

Apparently not. Ice was also a thing they were lacking that morning. After two hours, I hungrily decided it wasn’t worth waiting for. So I asked for my final bill to check out of the bungalow. I could get food elsewhere. Again, nervous reactions. They had apparently just begun cooking my food. Argh. So I waited. It arrived. It was loaded with chunks of beef. ARGH!

Worst of all, they ended up charging us for the room upgrade. BAH!

Life Lesson:
Ummmmmm….? I don’t even know. Suggestions?

6) Misadventure at the Border

Where:

Aqaba, Jordan / Eilat, Israel border

Borders Can Be Very Misadventurous.

We wanted to head into Israel after our visit to Jordan.

Bad Research

I had a suspicion that we would have a problem getting Miguel into the country. So I researched. And the unfortunate reality is… there wasn’t decent information online about this. I found many sources which seemed reputable, and each source gave conflicting information about what requirements were necessary for a Bolivian passport holder.

If he needed a visa, it seemed that this was a process that needed to be dealt with far in advance. It would possibly require lots of documents that we didn’t have access to on the road. And we may not be able to get one from Jordan, where we were.

But then I spoke with a Peruvian girl who said she had visited visa-free and that she didn’t believe we would have a problem. I was very skeptical. But she also sent me a link to a site that has information about what visa requirements are in different countries. You enter your passport country in a drop down box, followed by where you want to visit in another. The site clearly showed that he did not need a visa to enter.

misadventures oy vey.jpgCrossing the Border

We scratched our heads, and decided to give it a go. But, having heard horror stories about people going through extreme vetting trying to enter on foot at the Aqaba/Eilat border – we planned a lot more than we normally would. We spent a day creating a complete itinerary of where we were staying for an entire month. This was entirely in case the border patrol asked where we were staying. We also bought return flights and printed flight itineraries to show proof that we would leave the country.

The border crossing was surprisingly easier than we anticipated. We breezed through security check-points. The only question that they asked was how we knew each other. And that would be a reasonable question from anyone, anywhere (A bolivian jungle indian with a white american girl is an odd pair).

Everything was going great. Until, (until has become a dirty word in this post), we arrived at a window for obtaining our tourist cards. Tourist cards are now given in place of passport stamps in Israel.

Ouch.

Miguel needed a visa and there was no way to obtain one at the border. The only good news, we finally had a definitive answer about the matter. They suggested we go to the embassy in Amman, which was a day away from us. But even there, they weren’t sure if we would have success.

Dejected, we returned to Jordan and changed course. We had to cancel a whole lot of reservations, including flights from Israel to Peru.

Life Lessons:
  1.  There’s a lot of false information online regarding visa requirements.
  2.  Call the embassies and speak with a human who can answer visa questions before planning anything.
  3. Border experiences are never what you expect (I knew this one, but it was reaffirmed that day).

7) Seasickness Misadventure

Where:

Playa Blanca, Colombia

That Doesn’t Sound Pleasant.

That’s because it’s not.

Miguel was very excited to go fishing in the ocean. We worked out a price with a local boat owner that ran hustles on the tourist beach. He agreed to take us out at sunrise and teach Miguel the basics of ocean fishing. Miguel is not accustomed to salt water fishing and really wanted to learn.

unpleasantFishing is not my thing at all. But being out on the ocean at sunrise sounded like a lovely idea. When Miguel goes river fishing, I usually bring a book and soak up the sunshine. I could do the same here. So, why not?

Extreme sea-sickness is why not. I started to feel at as soon as the boat stopped and the fishing began. I tried so hard not to let my nausea ruin the experience for Miguel. I laid down on the side of the boat and tried to tune out everything. It didn’t work.

After about 15 minutes of fishing, Miguel could tell something wasn’t right. I didn’t say a word, but he told the boat owner to take us back. I was grateful. The boat owner didn’t understand why. “But you paid for 4 hours!”

He realized why we needed head back to shore when I started vomiting off the side of his boat.

Everything about it was awful. I felt like crap physically. Plus, I was totally embarrassed. And worse, I felt guilty for ruining Miguel’s first ever opportunity to fish in the ocean. Bleh.

Life Lesson:

Anti-nausea meds, or skip the boat ride.

My personal favorite anti-nausea solution is the Transderm Scop pach for the behind the ear, because it didn’t make me drowsy like alternatives I have tried. For more info: Anti-nausea patches can help.


8) Currency and Banking Misadventure

Where:
Ataturk Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
Oh no!

It was my third time ever arriving in Istanbul. So, you would think I had this down. I did not. Not even close.

Couldn’t purchase a visa. Yikes.

My second time in Istanbul I was impressed by the swift e-visa process. It was a great improvement over the long airport line I dealt with my first time there. I had intended to e-visa it up this time around too.

Being that I had booked the flight the day before, I only had one evening to try and get an e-visa. I had no success. I assumed the issue was poor internet connection at my hotel in Jordan. Luckily, I found information suggesting that I could still purchase the visa at the airport using cash or credit card. So, I really was not overly worried.

test yoselfStill couldn’t purchase a visa. Double yikes.

When I arrived at the airport in Jordan I went to an exchange desk and changed all of my remaining Jordanian Dinah’s for Turkish Lyra.

Upon arrival in Turkey, I went straight to the visa purchase counter and tried to pay for my $30 USD visa.

I started with my debit card from my main bank. Denied. I tried with my credit card from my second bank. Denied. Uh oh. This is not good.

“I have cash. I will pay in cash. I don’t know why the machine won’t take my cards.”

“No problem. That will be $30 USD or $25.30 Euro”.

“I have Lyra”.

“We don’t accept Lyra.”

“But this is Turkey. You don’t accept your own currency?”

“We accept USD and Euro.”

“I don’t know what to do right now. What can I do?”

“The ATM behind the you will dispense dollars.”

Ok… so, next I was at the ATM. The ATM didn’t want to give me any money.

What went wrong?

I had called one of the banks the day before so they would make a note in their system of where I would be. Apparently that didn’t help. Even if I inform the bank ahead of time, so long as I travel to “high risk” countries, the bank cannot guarantee I won’t get locked out of my accounts.

The second bank did not have a policy requiring me to inform them before traveling. I had been traveling for nearly 10 months at this point, never informed this bank where I was, and never had a problem with this card. Apparently, they had changed their policy just a few weeks before. And I missed the memo.

Both banks flagged my activity as fraudulent.

Annoying. But just call them!

I don’t have a SIM card. Like most cell phones from the US, it is locked. So, I can’t use one. I rely heavily on WiFi in order to make phone calls through Skype, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

Of course, in this moment, when I was stuck at the airport and desperately needed to make a phone call, I couldn’t connect to Ataturk’s WiFi.

Ultimately, I had to take my phone off airplane mode and pay excessive charges to reach one of my banks in order to clear up the matter.

It all worked out in the end. I was reactivated and took out U.S. dollars in Turkey to pay for my Turkish travel visa.

Go figure.

*Sidenote: Shortly after I left Turkey, a reciprocal travel ban has been enacted between Turkey and The U.S. Boooooo! I am very saddened by the ridiculous political state around the entire world – and hope this piece of it is resolved quickly. Turkey is a wonderful and diverse country. I hope to go back soon.

Life Lesson:
  1. Customs and border crossings have weird rules – ok not a “lesson” but a reinforced idea. I mean really, why would a country’s government division not accept it’s own currency in it’s own country?
  2. Research this crap in advance.
  3. Have the right currency on you.
  4. It never hurts to have a secret stash of American dollars or Euros on you when traveling.

Another blogger’s recent account of failure to enter Turkey due to the US travel ban.


9) Misadventure of a Towed Rental Car

Where:

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

misadventures can happen anywhereGosh, Darn it!

This is a pretty straight-forward case of not reading the signs properly. I even paid at the parking meter and placed my proof of payment in the dashboard. It didn’t matter. If I had parked a few feet over, I would have been safe. But I f***ed up. I accept full responsibility for this careless, expensive and upsetting mistake.

Life Lesson:

This one is pretty obvious, no? Read signs. Follow Laws. Argh. *Bows head in shame*

 


10) Misadventure of the Weirdest Hostel Ever

Where:

Mocoa, Colombia

How wierd Was it?
Very.
I have actually written about this before. So, if you are one of my avid followers this one is old news. This is the slightly abridged version (though still a long story). For more detail scroll to the end of Mocoa, Colombia ~ Jungle-lite.
The Check-in:

We arrived around 3 in the afternoon and nobody who worked at the hostel was present. So, we sat around on a couch at the entrance and twiddled our thumbs for about an hour, waiting for someone to show up.

When the hostel manager finally appeared, he seemed very surprised to see us. We introduced ourselves. This guy was completely unaware of the reservation. There was no room available for us. I asked if we could stay in a shared-room until the next day. There was NO space for us. But, the manager had an idea. “No te preocupes” he said. Although in my experience, when a Latin American tells you nonchalantly, “not to worry”, it’s usually cause for concern.

He picked up my bag and carried it above his head. So, we followed. He led us off of the property, next door. Here, there was a family eating dinner on the front porch, teenagers running around the yard, at least one woman working in the kitchen, and a kid inside watching TV.

misadventures ****The hostel manager said something to the group and they immediately dropped what they were doing (and eating), and scrambled to clean everything. I tried to tell them to stop – we would find another option. But nobody was listening.

Inside the run-down house, we were greeted by an enormous pit-bill in a chain collar. They placed our bags in the bedroom and made up a bed.

Are we displacing a family from their home? We were completely confused and trying not to be rude. We were handed a key by a woman who said “We need to leave the dog here”.  Then the family scurried out and disappeared. It all happened so fast, our heads were spinning.

The bathroom was very dirty and the smell took over. Miguel was afraid of the giant dog. Then, I saw two rat-sized cockroaches run across the bed.

“Oh, NO!” I can’t stay here. This is gross. This is weird. This is someone’s home.

We spent the next hour running up and down the street (there’s only one) asking at each hotel/hostel for a place to stay. Sadly, all were fully booked.

Things got better for a while:

A bit of luck struck when a friendly Argentinian staying at the hostel approached us and offered us his tent. We were thrilled.

After that, things were looking up. We were happy in our borrowed tent. The shared bathroom, however, was too gross for me to use. I opted to find places to pee outside, and didn’t shower for two days. But other guests were friendly and we were enjoying ourselves. The manager kindly offered laundry soap so we didn’t have to buy any.  We also got along great in the kitchen, making all of our meals.

We looked forward to having a private clean bathroom to shower in. So the day our room was ready, we decided to spend in the hostel to wash our clothes, change rooms, shower, etc.

Things got weird again:

But, that morning, the manager’s girlfriend showed up. And things got weird again.

Disappointingly, the bathroom was dirty, had only a squatter toilet (no seat), and the space reeked of mold. But hey, at least the mosquitos were welcoming.

When the washing machine was free, we started loading it. But we were approached by The Girlfriend. She informed us that the washing machine is not for guests. Umm… we have already used it. Umm… Everyone has been using it. Your boyfriend gave us soap. It says on your website, as a selling point, that you have laundry facilities. There is literally nowher else that we can do laundry otherwise.

She was adamant. We were pissed. But what could we do?

While Miguel and I were out the next day, The Girlfriend had accused our friend of trying to sleep with her boyfriend. Sadly, our friend left the hostel over it.

That night, as we cooked our dinner in the kitchen, the manager and The Girlfriend had their weird on. They decided to clean the kitchen around us while we were cooking. You can imagine our irritation as they started cleaning dishes we were still using. At one point, she actually took the cup I was still drinking from off the counter, dumped my juice down the sink, washed the glass, and then walked out of the kitchen. Umm… “What. The. Fuck.?!”

We had 2 more nights reserved when we noticed that fewer and fewer people were in the hostel. We didn’t give it much thought though.

fuckThe morning of our last night, we awoke to The Girlfriend anxiously asking us for money. The policy was to pay at check-out. But apparently the owner would be paying a visit, and they needed money now. We didn’t mind, although it was strange.

We went off and enjoyed our last day in Mocoa. On our way back, we bought veggies and pasta to cook. We arrived at our hostel tired and hungry from a day of hiking.

But we arrived to more weird. A strange nothingness. Nobody was there. Seriously, nobody. No manager, no The Girlfriend, no housekeeper, none of the last remaining guests… nobody. The power was turned off.

Well, this isn’t normal. “Again, what the fuck?”

We decided to just cook our dinner in the open air kitchen while there was still daylight. But, when we got to the kitchen, we discovered there was no gas. It was gone. They took it with them, along with most of the dishes.

The hostel had just closed down while we were out. Nobody bothered to tell us. We still had our room key. So, we did the only thing we could think of to do at that moment. We went to sleep.

Life Lesson:

Ummmmm…? Yeah, no lesson learned here. Just WTF?!backpacker1Salud. Salut. Prost. Nostrovia. L’chiam. Santé. Cheers to 2018! May it be filled with many grand adventures and mild misadventures. <3

6 thoughts on “Top 10 Misadventures of 2017

  1. 3&4 are my faves.
    For 5, the bungalow, I learned (1) not to expect bungalows to lock and (2) if I’m desiring privacy in a bungalow that’s doesn’t lock, consider blocking the door.
    Good posts. Happy holidays and 2018!

  2. When I read all these I think what a disastrous year, but I know that this is minimal when compared to the amazing experiences you’ve had! And about Barajas, that airport is a disaster 😂. They have lost my carry on five times hahaha. Better luck for next year!

    1. Thank you! It was actually a phenomenal year! Haha but in order to have a lot of awesome moments, unfortunately there are also a lot of “oh no” moments, too!

  3. OMG! I am so in awe and proud you made it through all these AH HA, OY VEY moments! And sorry you and Miguel had to go through them.
    XXX
    leigh ann

    1. As you well know, these misadventures are just annoyances in scale of crap life can throw at you! So I accept the hiccups as part of it all.

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