Sunday, March 18, 2007

List of Bad Travel Experiences (Updated March – 07)

People always want to hear about the things that have gone wrong (or close calls) during my trip so I thought I would keep a running list of the larger events. This does not include what I consider minor like harassment and extortion from local police or customs officers which was prevalent through Belize, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Bolivia, but served as more of a headache than anything else and cost $20 per incident (after much negotiation) at the most. Also it does not include so of the minor thefts such as a bus incident in Ecuador and pick pockets in Rio. However, it does include things that ‘could’ve’ happened to me. This is not for sensationalism but just as a reminder that life can be short and that I’m not in control.

1. Disease in Belize (Belize – February 2005) – they call it ‘Che Chim’ and it’s from a local tree in Belize with an oil in the bark that causes an outbreak like I’ve never seen. It covered many parts of my body including my face making it swell up enough to crack the skin. It last about four days, and two of them I could barely see. These are my ‘elephant man’ pics:

2. Car Accident (Belize – March 2005) – while driving down a gravel road in Belize my truck hit a huge pot hole and flipped injuring the three of us in the car. It took us a few hours to get to the hospital and by the time I made it back to the truck most of my belongings had been stolen. I ended up breaking my AC joint in my left shoulder and becoming a true backpacker because I lost the few remaining possessions I had. Here are some before and after pics:

3. Dengue Fever (Cost Rica – July 2005) – ok this one really sucked and was one of the worst things I have been through. Dengue Fever is the most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans today and there is no vaccination or cure, you just have to ride it out and hope to survive. Each year, there are tens of millions of cases occur with a mortality rate of 5% in some countries. The first sign is fever, with severe headache, followed by muscle and joint pains (myalgias and arthralgias), rashes that can cover most of the body, as well as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. I went through 7 days of back to back fever and chills. For 24 hours a day I laid in bed sweating and hallucinating and then spasms and intense chills. They also call it ‘Break-Bone Fever’ or ‘Bonecrusher Disease’ because every time you turn over or get up you feel like you’re made of glass. If you try to eat you just puke it out and basically try to stay hydrated and let your body eat itself for fuel. In the end I lost 35 lbs (16 kilos) and on my last day had to drag my butt to the border because it was my 90th day in the country and didn’t want to get deported. For more info check out this (Wikipedia Article).

4. Bus Accident (Bolivia – January 2006) – this was on the famous Yungas Road or ‘World’s Most Dangerous Road’ where hundreds of people traveling north of La Paz die each year. It’s a 40 mile (64 km) stretch of winding mountain-hugging cliff 3 miles (almost 5 km) above sea level. The bus in front of us slid over the side killing everyone on board. We were in the back of our bus and did not actually witness the accident but stopped to see if there was anything we could do. For more info check out this (Wikipedia Article). Here are some pics of the road (some are my pics):

5. Torres del Paine (Chile – March 2006) – this was a tragic occurrence in a Chilean national park famous for 5 to 9 days hiking treks. On our last night of the trek we went to sleep in tents under the trees and were awoken by a loud crack and screams coming from the tent next to ours. A large branch had fallen and hit our friend Leo, who we had met that night, in the head. For more info please see my (See Blog).

6. Mountain Biking Accident (Argentina – April 2006) – while mountain biking in the lake district of Argentina I ended flying over the handlebars and breaking my collarbone on the left side. Thanks to my buddies I was traveling with at the time I was able to backpack two more weeks in South America until I could reach my flight in Santiago to go home and heal before heading off to Europe.

7. Plane Crash (Indonesia – March 2007) – I flew from Singapore to Yogyakarta on March 8th and soon learned that the flight I almost booked for the day before crashed upon landing killing 21. There have been many concerns about airline safety in the region due to aging aircrafts, lack of maintenance, and the need to keep flights cheap. Here is a link to one of the articles (click here).

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