I think every traveler has had his/her insane moments. Those moments when things don’t happen as expected. Moments where you want to cry, scream, or pull your hair. And, pull it really hard.
No matter how experienced a traveler I claim to be, crazy and perturbing moments always take place. I bet they have happened to you too. And, I bet you were angry, sad, confused, or shocked at those moments. But we have made it through and here we are.
In my case, I have learned from those experiences. Now is the moment to laugh about them (hopefully, we can laugh really hard).
So, here they are. The most outrageous and insane moments I have experienced during my travels.
Riding with Stoned People in Belize
From Ambergris Cay, we wanted to take a bus to San Ignacio (close to the Guatemala border, we had to cross the entire length of the country). I had the brilliant idea of taking public transportation. When I arrived at the dilapidated bus station, a guy ripped a suitcase from my hand.
I stood there thinking I was robbed. My husband followed the guy. I learned some people offer their “luggage carrying services” at the station. They take your suitcases and carry them to the bus you intend to ride. Then, they charge you money for that. The thing is that they don’t even offer their services; they just rip the bags from your hands. I gave the guy a few bucks (with a very angry face) and recuperated my bag. Let me just say, he scared me to death and I sweat profusely while fearing the worst.
But that is not it. The story does not end there. Taking that bus was probably one of the most stressful situations I have been involved in. I had to share my ride with people selling stolen goods and guys jumping around because they were high on something. Plus, people were getting in and out of the bus every five minutes.
Ok, the bus wasn’t even stopping for them to do that. They were jumping in and out. I felt like something bad was going to happen at any moment.
But not everything was bad. There was a curious case of a couple carrying a cake covered in a transparent film. I saw them on the ferry from Ambergris Cay to the mainland and on the bus. I wonder how the cake tasted.
No Place to Stay in Guatemala
I guess it is advisable to have at least a remote, tiny, minimal idea of where to stay in a big city. Well, I think I wasn’t in my five senses when I decided to take a bus from San Salvador to Guatemala City without a hotel reservation at all. I thought we were going to have enough daylight to find a place upon arrival.
I was dead wrong!!!! The trip took double the amount of time because of the heavy rain we experienced once we crossed into Guatemala. I am not exaggerating when I say it was raining cats and dogs. Result? We arrived really late in a dangerous city without any idea of what to do. So, what else? I asked for hotel information at the bus station.
Somebody in the station called a nearby hotel and a worker picked us up. As you may imagine, the price was exorbitant but we didn’t feel like we had a lot of options. A little bit later, we were hungry and went out to eat. We were followed by all the gazes of security guards with long, semi-automatic rifles. We ended up in Mc Donalds eating weird tasting Big Macs.
Vomit Eating Dogs in Guatemala
Do you think what I described in the previous paragraph was the end of my Guatemala City adventures? Of course not. The next morning, we were waiting for a friend at the hotel lobby. There were two Chihuahuas running around. They got close to us and one ended licking my husband toes (he had sandals). My husband, who dislikes dogs, got kind of pissed off. I told him it wasn’t the end of the world. Well, when I finished that sentence we noticed the dogs were eating their own vomit in one of the living room corners. My husband almost passed out.
A Different Kind of Toilet Paper in El Salvador
I have more restroom-related stories than fingers in my hands. One time my husband and I were visiting friends in the western part of El Salvador. I asked for permission to use the restroom and the house owner gave me instructions. I started to worry when she asked me to go outside the house.
The restroom ended up being a latrine. I entered it in total disbelieve. I stayed there for a few minutes pretending I was doing something. The worst part is that they had pieces of newspaper stuck in the door. Somebody made newspaper balls to soften them before passing them through you know where. After that, I had to wait more than 2 hours to use a real restroom.
Get Out of the Bus in Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, I took an express bus from San Jose to Manuel Antonio National Park. The ride went smoothly until the moment we were about 5 or 6 miles from our final destination. At that point, the bus driver commanded everybody to get out of the bus. A lot of people started to complain.
“I am going back to San Jose, so get out now,” the driver repeated. The thing is that he didn’t want to take the risk to cross a bridge that was in a deplorable state. I had to cross the bridge on foot. I must admit that that thing was about to fall at any moment. Thank God, another bus stopped and picked up the stranded passengers.
Crying in Brazil
One of my most stressful moments while traveling happened in Brazil. I am not going to get in much detail because it was so bad that I don’t want to remember it. Let just say it involves a shortage of reales (money) to return to Rio de Janeiro from Petropolis, a woman kicking us out of a change house, and me crying in public. Lesson: make sure you have enough local currency before going outside the main city.
A Gun Pointing at my Face is not Exactly my Dearest Travel Moment
While visiting Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, a friend raved and raved about this restaurant located at a swanky hotel. Well, she ended up convincing the entire group to have dinner there. We dressed as best as possible and took a taxi to the hotel.
We passed through the security gate without problems. When we were about to enter the property, two guards with long weapons started to run towards us. They pointed the rifles at us and started to yell: “What are you guys doing here?”. With a finicky voice, one of the girls said: “We just want to go to the restaurant”. The guys stopped their menacing moves and told us we couldn’t enter through the front door and told us to go around.
Just like that. No explanations. We later learned the president of the republic was at the hotel and the security was really tight that night. Our appetite disappeared after that terrifying moment (and was replaced by tears in some cases). Super insane moment!
The Day Some Little Kids Almost Kill me in Myanmar
From Thailand, we crossed for a few hours to Myanmar. What an experience!!! Our first stop was the Tachilek Pagoda. We stayed there for about an hour. The pagoda is located above the street level.
Therefore, to enter, you have to ascend through a steep (but short) road (to go back to the street you have to descend through the same road). Why am I explaining this? Ok, when we were leaving the pagoda grounds we got a little surprise.
We were moving around in motorized rickshaws. While we were descending to the street, I started to heard loud noises. Some kids, at the pagoda level, were throwing clay pots to us (a group of about 10). One of the pots broke really close to my leg. I am not exaggerating when I say this could have killed any of us. I am not sure what happened. Thank God we escaped unharmed.
Punched in the Face in Verona
While visiting Verona’s famous Piazza dell Erbe, I experienced another “I don’t understand what happened “ moment. The piazza was full of stands (think of a farmer’s market). I was walking around with a friend admiring the goods. A product caught my attention and I wanted to show it to my friend.
While I moved my arm to point to the object (think about it in slow motion), the stand owner punched me in the face, to be exact, in the forehead. I stood there not knowing what to do. She started to yell at me in Italian. Apparently, you are not allowed to touch goods there. The most surprising thing is that I didn’t even have the intention of touching anything. Definitely, one of the most bizarre and insane moments of my travels.
The Really Kick out People of Restaurants in France
When I was in college, I visited Europe two times in low budget guided tours. On those types of trips, accommodations are located far from city centers. In Paris, I don’t even remember at what neighborhood we stayed (at least there was a train station really close to the hotel). The positive is that we were in the middle of a common, normal, non-touristic place.
One evening, we were really surprised when we spotted a three-course meal for a ridiculously low price. We entered and asked for a table. But, we asked in English. Big, big error. Just out of the blue, one guy started to scream to us in French. One of the girls in the group understood what the guy was saying since she was taking French lessons. He said, “How do you dare to approach me in English? Get out of my restaurant now!!”.
We were about to leave when a nice lady told us to stay and led us to a table. The food was really good. The guy who yelled at us ended up cracking jokes when he realized we were native Spanish speakers.
How my Ride in the London Eye Ended up as a Nightmare
My ride on the London Eye was beautiful. I took the ride at sunset when a warm light was bathing the city. Well, that spectacular moment faded when it was time to exit the big wheel. We were hurried out of the cart and there was a big mess with people running all over around.
An evacuation of the area was ordered while I was up in the wheel. My sister and other friends hid at a corner because they wanted to wait for me and others. When I exited, I reunited with the group and ran in the same direction as the multitude. It was a big, scary mess.
A lot of the Tube stations were closed and we had to walk miles before finding one open. My heart broke when I learned about the London bombings that took place two days after my experience (I was already in Paris).
Germaphobes in Greece
I wasn’t involved in this situation but I witness it A group of friends entered a shop in Mykonos. One of the girls tried on a dress. She didn’t like how it looked on her so she took it off and was about to leave the store. The owner asked her: “Where are you going?” My friend was like: “Excuse me, sir”. The owner said: “You impregnated all your germs on my dress. Now, you have to buy it”. I don’t know what to say about this. It was difficult to exit that store.
That Time my Friend was Called a Moron in Madrid
Here is another situation I witnessed. A friend and I were washing our hands after using a restroom in Madrid. My friend had an elastic hairband around her wrist. A local noticed it was a little bit tight on her arm and said: “Watch out. That band is cutting your blood flow”. My friend replied: “Don’t worry. It is not hurting me”. The lady replied: “Whatever, moron” and left very mad. My friend was not offensive at all. We just looked at each other and laughed.
The Time a Horse Threw me in a Puddle of Mud in Costa Rica
I can’t believe I haven’t written about the time I fell from a horse in Costa Rica. We were returning from zip lining in the forest. The tour included horse riding before and after the main activity. Everything was fine until my horse decided to start fighting with another horse. The horse’s brusque movements twisted the saddle to the one side of the beast.
I ended up hanging on the side while the horse kept walking. One of the guides saw everything and ordered the horse to stop. The horse stopped but one of my feet was trapped in the saddle. I pulled and pulled until I broke free and ended in the ground.
Do you know how rainy Costa Rica is? So the ground was a big puddle of mud. I seriously looked like a pig. At least, I didn’t fall over horse poop. I had another activity planned right after the zip lining. I had no time to change so I ended up going in my pig custom. People on the street were stopping me to ask what happened. Enough said!!
My First Visit to a Clandestine Clinic in El Salvador
When we visited El Salvador earlier this year, my husband kept complaining about throat pain. We decided to visit the clinic of a doctor we have known for years. When we arrived at the place, the receptionist informed us the doctor moved to another location. A different doctor was renting the space. Since we were there, my husband asked if the doctor (the new one renting the space) was available.
First, we had to walk through rotten wood stairs. I felt like we were going to fall at any moment. Then, the “doctor’s office” was like nothing I have ever seen before. The room was dark, only a small lamp was lighting the huge space. The doctor was sitting behind a small desk. That was the only piece of furniture in the room. There wasn’t any medical equipment in sight, not even a stethoscope. And I am not kidding, there was a syringe full of blood over the desk.
The doctor greeted us and asked my husband why we were visiting. My husband said he had throat pain and difficulty swallowing. Right away, without performing any tests, she told him he had an infection. She said the infection was probably going to develop into cancer in the future (what??). Apparently, her treatment consisting of natural herbs was the best way to get cured. At that point, we knew what was going on. She tried to convince us to buy her stuff by appealing to the power of God. We left even though she was giving us a nasty look.
When we told the story to our friends, they couldn’t believe we ended as victims of that type of scheme. Apparently, a group of impostors from South America has been cheating people in different countries. By the way, we found the doctor we intended to visit in the first place. My husband had a throat infection and we got a prescription to buy antibiotics.
A Not So Small Fall in Honduras
My husband and I were trying to find a nice spot for breakfast in the town of Santa Rosa de Copan. The sidewalk pavement was uneven. Suddenly, I stepped over a dip, lost my balance, and fell. My husband was walking in front of me. When he heard the commotion he looked back and found me on the floor. For a second, he tough somebody robbed me. I was in pain and could talk for a couple of seconds.
He understood what happened when he saw my bloody left knee. A group of ladies stopped to help. One of them told us about a clinic in the main plaza. When I was able to stand, we decided to stop by the clinic because the cuts and bruises looked kind of serious.
Once at the clinic (not a clandestine one this time), the doctor told me I needed stitches. I got really nervous at that moment. Seeing myself in a hospital bed waiting to be sewn like a piece of cloth is not my ideal vision of a trip.
Once the affected area was cleaned, the doctor informed me I didn’t need the stitches because the main cut wasn’t that deep. Uffff, I breathed with relief. We left after I was bandaged. I continued with the trip as normal as possible even though I couldn’t walk that well.
Update: That fall left permanent damage on my knee. It has never been the same after that day.
My First Encounter with a Snake in the Wild (El Salvador)
I hate snakes. They are one of my biggest phobias. I can’t even see a picture of them.
Ironically, I love to hike in rainforests were, well, a lot of snakes live. I have been lucky. I have never seen a snake in the wild. My luck changed earlier this year while I was hiking in El Imposible National Park in El Salvador.
While hiking the trails of the park, I saw a strange pattern in the path. I saw circles in a bed of leaves. I knew it was a snake. I was behind the group of four in the trail. I don’t understand how any of us didn’t step over it. I ran to tell my husband I saw a snake.
One of our friends went back to try to spot it. He told me I was paranoiac. Then, he saw it. My husband ran to see it while I stood there almost crying. The guide told them to keep a prudent distance. She went to see it too but couldn’t tell the species because it was coiled. She just knew it was poisonous (just what I needed to hear).
You know, I tried to contain myself but I just wanted to get out of there. I continued walking in shock like for 45 minutes. Oh, forgot to mention I was hiking in Tevas. I am buying hiking boots after the experience.
My Idea of Moving from Point A to Point B Does not Include Racing Buses
We were staying only one night in Santa Rosa de Copan (Honduras). The plan was to have breakfast and leave for Copan Ruinas afterward. The plans changed when I fell (see above). My husband asked if I wanted to stay in town to rest.
I replied by saying it was better to continue with our original plans. We got to the bus terminal and a rapidito (small bus) was leaving soon. A big bus was about to leave too. Right away, I noticed the rivalry between rapiditos and big buses. Drivers of both transportation modes were aggressively trying to get customers. We choose the rapidito because they claimed it was an express ride.
The trip was literally a race. We sat in the front seat with the rapidito driver so I witnessed the horror first hand. The driver accelerated to incomprehensible speeds. I understand you can go fast on a road in decent shape. This road looked like the moon (craters everywhere).
Therefore, the guy was driving super fast while maneuvering to avoid the potholes. And, did I mention the road does not have any lines or signals on it? So, the driver didn’t care of they were driving against traffic. I closed my eyes every time a car was approaching from the opposite direction.
Then, we discovered there is a big rivalry between the people who drive motorcoaches (big buses) and rapiditos (small buses). They compete on different routes because the rapiditos take away a lot of business. At one moment during the ride, we approached a big bus. Of course, our rapidito wanted to pass the big bus. Every time we tried to pass, the big bus blocked the way. The big bus driver was even throwing the bus’s body against the rapidito.
The whole situation was crazy dangerous. The money collector of the big bus was hanging from one side while giving us obscene hand gestures and dirty words. I am not sure where I was more nervous: on the clinic or on that bus. We made it in one piece to our destination. And yes, the rapidito (us) won the race. It passed the big bus when it stopped to pick a passenger.
What do you think? What insane moment cab you share? Let me know in the comments section below.