We have experienced a lot of crazy situations when traveling. Many of those close calls could have gone badly, but we were lucky enough to always make it back in one piece.
Here is part 1 of our list of tense situations while traveling abroad:
5.Bear in the Camp at Algonquin Park. This happened right in our own back yard, Ontario. We were on a 10 day canoe trip in Algonquin park and had definitely managed to get off the beaten path. At this point, 4 of us were nearing the end of our trip in a secluded campsite with not another soul around. We had some pepperettes that were going bad, so we decided to throw them in the fire before we went to bed. This was not a smart idea. After we had all turned in, I went out to use the loo and heard someone by the fire pit. I called out, thinking it was Marcia or Ken, but no one answered. That's when I knew something was wrong. I ran back to the tent and yelled that there was something out there. With all of our commotion and noise, it moved, and it was now confirmed that it was something big. We all yelled and slapped our paddles, but we could still hear it. Branches were breaking and we heard it grunting, but could not see it anywhere. We all stood together and kept yelling for a very long time. A while later we heard a big splash in the water and assumed that it had jumped in and swam away. It never came back, but I was sleepless all night and frustrated with Dave for napping like a baby.
4.Train to Machu Picchu. Our entire time in Peru, local people kept warning us about how dangerous the country is. They warned us to watch our belongings and whenever we were alone on a street or bus, they would always tell us to watch out for dangerous people. We actually had a man chase us down the street blowing a whistle all the way to our motel while in Pisco. We were so paranoid by now that we thought he was going to attack us! That is, until we got to the front door and the owner explained that he was security and making sure that we were safe. So, you can't blame us for over reacting on the train to Machu Picchu. We were sitting in our seats enjoying the scenery when Dave suddenly tells me to hide the camera and stuff our valuables under the seat. Up in the front compartment, he saw a couple of guys putting on masks and he was sure it was a stick up. It turns out that they were the entertainment performing a traditional dance just for us.
3. Coasting down a mountain in the back of a pick up in Cambodia. We had hired a truck to take us to see the hill station of Kampot, and had a wonderful day checking out the abandoned casino, the waterfall, and the scenery. The sun was about to go down, so we had to go. Of course, as usual, our truck broke down part way down. It was now dark and we were in the middle of the jungle. It is also Cambodia, so you can't stumble along in the dark for fear of stepping off the path and onto a land mine. We stupidly didn't bring flashlights with us because we were on a day trip with a guide, and had no idea that we would be leaving so late in the day. The driver really wasn't telling us anything that was going on, so we decided to walk. At least there were 5 of us, so we felt sort of safe from the animals. We were walking for about an hour when we heard a honk behind us. Alright, they had fixed it! No such luck…They were simply coasting down the winding road with vertical drops. No power steering or power brakes, barely any control, but we didn't have a choice. We couldn't stay out all night in the jungle. We hopped in the back of the box and held on for dear life. We made it in one piece, called a cab, and had a lot of beer at our guest house.
2. Aborted take off in Tanzania. All signs were telling us not to go to Zanzibar. We made a last minute decision after climbing Kilimanjaro that we deserved a break and instead of going on safari, we beelined it for the airport. We didn't have any US Cash on us, but hey, they have a bank machine there. No luck though, the machine was out of order. Oh, and they don't take credit card either.We ended up having to pool our money with a travel companion and we somehow came up with the right amount. By the time we got our tickets, we almost missed the plane. We were sitting on the runway feeling pretty proud of ourselves and take off started. We gained speed and then the plane started fishtailing and shaking. I was sure we were going to crash, but suddenly we veered to a stop. I couple of seconds later a violent sand storm came through, shaking the plane once again and blackening the sky, we could barely see anything out the window. After it had passed the pilot told us that we had to abort because of the storm. It had passed now, so we were free to go. I thought that we should have gone back to check the plane and make sure that nothing was plugged up with sand, but we flew off anyway into the sunset.
1. Dune Buggy in Peru. This was supposed to be an exciting experience in Huachachina. We had always wanted to ride through giant dunes, strapped into a buggy with the threat of rolling. That is until we were strapped in with no place to go. We were about a half hour into our ride when police came charging up behind us. A heated discussion ensued, which I could not understand, and then the officer turned to us and told us that were seriously taking our lives in our hands going with this man. It is very dangerous and they were not supposed to be driving here because a tourist was killed last week. I definitely wanted to get off, but the police left and we continued on our way. I told the driver that I didn't want to do this anymore, but he ignored me and off we went. It was an insane experience. We climbed giant, almost vertical dunes, and then rolled over the edge to a free fall into oblivion. It was a thrill and we made it through for sure, but the whole time I was sure that I was going to be killed. When we finally came to the end, I got down on my knees and kissed the sand.