Travel has given us some of the best moments of our lives, but like anything, it isn’t always plain sailing. Things go wrong. Accidents happen. Occasionally, you get sick. Often, it’s just the small things that can get to you – when the weather adversely affects your plans or you get lost trying to find your guest house in a strange city. When you’ve been travelling hard, all kinds of things can have an impact on your mood. Sometimes, you simply feel jaded and need a break to revive your travelling mojo. Highs and lows are all part of long-term travelling.
The Worst of Times….
Of course, the highs far outweigh the lows, which is why we still love to travel. Indeed, nothing can beat seeing the magnificent ruins of Angkor Wat for the first time or camping on a beautiful beach in Hawaii. It’s experiences such as these that easily make up for the rough days, time and time again.
We have been travelling together for over twenty years and consequently it’s inevitable that we have had a few unfortunate experiences. In fact, just for the record, our most traumatic incidents in all the years we’ve been travelling have included:
The time we got car-jacked at some traffic lights in Lima. We had been in Peru for less than an hour. Ku was in the back of the car when the back window was smashed and our friend’s backpack was grabbed.
When our flight from Leh in the Himalayas was cancelled and we weren’t informed. We consequently missed our flight back to the UK from Delhi, causing a great deal of stress and costing a substantial amount of cash.
The day we were forced to buy an Australian visa each at a total cost of two hundred dollars. We were en route to New Zealand and weren’t even leaving the airport terminal in Sydney. Outrageous!
Being stranded in Bogota, Colombia after our flight was cancelled due to COVID-19 and not knowing if we would get back to the UK.
T fracturing her wrist when she fell while hiking in the mountains at Semuc Champey in Guatemala.
And that’s it – not bad for a lifetime of travel and adventure!
Protected by the Travel Gods
Like most travellers, we have been ripped off a few times and have had an occasional day (or more!) where sickness has thwarted our plans. However, generally speaking and considering the number and length of trips that we have taken, the travel gods have been on our side.
In all honesty, T’s accident in Guatemala, although it could have been much worse, was probably the incident which had most affect on a trip. Here’s what happened: After a seven hour journey including two hours of bumpy dirt track, we found ourselves in the remote village of Lanquin, high up in the Guatemalan mountains. We could have just caught a bus directly to the cosmopolitan city of Antigua. It certainly would have saved a lot of hassle. We had, however, come to experience the sublime waterfalls and pools of Semuc Champey.
The next day, we headed to the fabled Semuc. After another fifteen miles of being thrown around in the back of a jeep on a winding mountain dirt track, we arrived. We discovered the pools were deep emerald and were, indeed, as stunning as we had heard. Before taking a dip, we decided to head up a steep trail to view them from a high vantage point.
What happened next affected the rest of our trip. T slipped over. Not once, but twice. The second time, she went down on her hand and something cracked in her wrist. In immense pain and feeling faint, she somehow made it back to the foot of the trail, moving slowly and resting frequently. We were in the middle of nowhere and four hours from the nearest hospital.
We always travel with a supply of painkillers. The following day, with the help of Tylenol, we made it to Antigua, six hours away. For a couple of days T rested up while Ku investigated hospitals in the area. It seemed that the main hospital had a terrible reputation – not only did it misdiagnose and carry out unnecessary treatment, but routinely ripped off foreigners. We weren’t exactly thrilled by the prospect seeking medical advice at that particular hospital.
After a few days, we contacted a local doctor who was recommended by a woman we were due to housesit for in Antigua. He suggested that T should attend a small hospital in Antigua and emailed us the address. It was there that we saw a doctor who proclaimed that the wrist wasn’t broken, but infected. Although we were extremely doubtful about his diagnosis, we purchased the expensive anti-biotics that he prescribed and hoped for the best.
On top of everything, and probably because she was at a low ebb, she also suffered from a bad cold, severe back pain and additionally, an abundance of mosquito bites! Travel-wise, we missed out on exploring other areas of Guatemala and didn’t make it to Copan in Honduras. It also ruled out white-water river rafting, mountain biking and challenging hikes! There were some miserable moments, but we got through it. In the midst of it, we even discussed returning home early, but ultimately decided to continue with our trip.
Onwards to Costa Rica
Of course the wrist wasn’t infected. It was, as we suspected, fractured, but the house-sit gave T the opportunity to rest up. We considered returning to the UK for medical attention, but decided to continue with our trip and see how things went. Thankfully the wrist healed itself over time.
We continued to Costa Rica and took things relatively easy. Indeed, being in Costa Rica and surrounded by nature, was the best therapy. We took gentle walks by the beach and sat in the jungle garden where we were staying, watching the waves crashing in. We spotted monkeys, sloths, tree frogs and beautiful butterflies. Our love of travel was restored in such a stunning natural setting.
The Good Times
It’s only natural that travel doesn’t always go according to plan and highs and lows are an inevitable aspect of long-term travel. However, the lows are far outweighed by the highs. Ultimately, it’s the good times that we remember and although we may get knocked back temporarily, it’s never long before we start planning the next trip.