Travel hell- when it all goes wrong

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Sometimes travelling can be downright difficult. There have been a lot of long and torturous journeys that I have unwittingly signed up for as a poor and somewhat spontaneous backpacker trying to save money. Here are the top three worst journeys that come to mind when I think of travel hell. They are the most memorable ones and those that I’m sure will repeat in my nightmares for a long time to come.

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Hell on the high seas- Colombia/ Panama

A couple of months ago I found what seemed to be a dream job sailing across the San Blas islands between Colombia and Panama; and getting paid well to do it. Unfortunately what wasn’t on the job description was dealing with a psychopathic tyrant and intense sea sickness. The captain was beyond crazy, I was abused for everything from not answering his phone for him to peeling the potatoes before boiling them (which apparently is a ridiculous thing to do). His screamingt was relentless as I tried between bouts of projectile vomit to cook for twenty people in the tiny, stifling galley. The five days dragged on as I went from doing night watch long into the night to being woken up early to cook every meal while being yelled at incessantly. When we arrived in Panama I never in my life been so happy to see dry land and it was adios to captain psycho, see you never.

An arctic ride- Peru

I was leaving a place called chontachuka in the Peruvian amazon to head back to civilisation in Cusco. The journey started off badly, the bus was around two hours late, I guess it was running on jungle time. When it finally arrived I jumped aboard and within around 2 minutes realised that I was woefully unprepared. The air-conditioning was set to mode ‘freezing’ and I was in shorts and a t-shirt. Needless to say the 11 hours overnight were not comfortable ones. The highlight was being awoken somewhere around three am by a local woman screaming at me in a Quechua dialect. My fuzzy sleep filled brain finally figured out from her hand gestures that she wanted me to smuggle some coca leaves in my bag for her. I sleepily refused just as some local police boarded the bus wielding machine guns. They confiscated her excess leaves, she was NOT happy with me. My companion in this artic journey spent the rest of the trip angrily huffing and puffing and giving me furious looks as I unsuccessfully tried to edge closer to her for some desperately needed body warmth. When we finally arrived in Cusco my feet were literally frozen in my shoes, I couldn’t feel my toes. The leaf thief gave me one more disgusted look and she slung her sack over her shoulder and left on her way ready to torture more unsuspecting gringos.

An assault on the senses- India

My beautiful friend harmony honeylove will remember this one. It was one of many challenging train journeys in the beautiful, colourful and crazy India. This one train ride stands out in my mind as it was filled with the unwanted sounds and smells of the bodily functions of four men in a very confined space. Our pot-bellied companions in the cramped train carriage kept us company with a chorus of farts and burps that went long into the night as the odours wafted up to our top bunks. The highlight of the trip though had to be the train “toilet” (hole in the ground). I won’t go into detail to describe it to you the filth and stench that was this foul space but let’s just say it was about as disgusting as you can possibly imagine. I don’t remember exactly how many hours the torturous journey was I think, around 15 but it sure as hell felt like the longest hours of my life.

The great travel writer Paul Theroux said:

Travel is only glamorous in retrospect

Wow was he right!

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One thought on “Travel hell- when it all goes wrong

  1. You are a great survivor missy!

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