Are you one of those people who always seem to find themselves in awkward predicaments and you’re always saying “This only ever happens to me”?
I am totally one of those people.
When I was 19 I went overseas for the first time. Not only was it my first ever trip outside of New Zealand but I was travelling alone. I had worked two jobs through my last years of high school in anticipation of my big adventure to the United States to do Camp America, which was a program offered to become a camp counselor over the summer in exchange for a chunk of spending money.
It was a running joke before I left that I would end up arriving without my luggage. ‘I bet it gets lost!’, I would laugh ‘That would totally happen to me!’.
And of course, what happened? I landed in LA and my luggage didn’t.
And that was just the start of what has become the curse of travelling with Haidee. Or the good luck, it depends which way you choose to look at it! I seem to have some weird connections to some of the biggest events in recent history for a little old Kiwi girl like myself.
NEW YORK CITY, 2001
Here I am in early September 2001. I can’t remember the exact date this photo was taken but it was about 10 days before 9/11.
It was quite the experience being so close to it all, I remember calling my mum to tell her what was happening. My American friends were hysterical, we could hear the jets flying overhead and we knew it was big and actually saw live on TV the second plane hit. It was about 5am in New Zealand at the time as I recall, and my parents told me to ring back in an hour after I tried to call and tell them what was happening. They certainly didn’t get the enormity and thought I meant that a plane accident had taken place, not what actually transpired. I believe about 10 minutes after I had called they started getting other phone calls from family members who had woken to the news, so by the time I rang back my mum was freaking out.
I attended a candlelight vigil that night with people who had loved ones who were missing. It was a very moving experience, one I will never forget. Some of them had parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and friends who worked in the towers that they couldn’t reach. Or who were first responders and inside when they came down. They got up and spoke about it at the vigil and it was just surreal.
Flying home from JFK a week later was very eery. For such a huge airport it was dead quiet. No one was flying except a few people like me as they were too scared. I had delayed my flight once already and if I hadn’t then my flight would have likely been in the midst of it all so someone was watching out for me on that trip.
I happened to also do my European trip in 2005. Incidentally I had stayed in a hotel very close to where one of the buses blew up during the London Bombings. Exactly one week after I had checked out.
While flatting I bought my bed off a guy who was going overseas. A few days later he was one of the victims of the Bali Bombing (thankfully a surviving one).
OTHER TRAVEL MISHAPS OF NOTE:
- While doing Camp America I worked as an Arts and Crafts instructor and while unrolling some brown paper from one of those big rolls I came face to face with a massive bloody spider and screamed my ass off. The South African guy working with me rolled his eyes at me being such a girl until he saw what it was. Only one of these:
- I was chased by squirrels. Squirrels are scary! Especially the black ones. I told my workmates about this experience and they laughed at me and said I had imagined it but seriously, they were getting ready to ambush me. I was walking through the camp woods at night by myself (it was a shortcut from my cabin to the main hall) and their beady little eyes started moving towards me until I was surrounded. I was terrified and ran back the opposite way taking the long way around. Let that be a lesson to you.
- The wolf encounter mentioned in the other weeks Food For Thought Friday.
Then came the fun and games of the after camp travel!
- I was approached outside my hostel in New York City to work as a call girl. Just for the record, I turned them down!
- While trying to flag down a cab by myself in NYC and having zero luck, a limousine pulled over and offered me a ride and told me I could just pay what I liked. I’m talking black stretch limousine with leather interior and a fridge and TV in the back. How do I know this? Because I got in! In hindsight, probably not my smartest move but I survived to tell the tale so the driver wasn’t a human traffiker or serial killer as far as I can tell!
- I joined a tour group and we got ourselves in so many weird predicaments like a tornado warning siren going off at our campground and then a flood (resulting in an impromtu trip to an ice-cream parlour cos ya know, that’s a safe place and all).
- One night at our campground about 10 emergency vehicles turned up. We still don’t know why.
- In Cape Cod we were sitting on the edge of the coastline at our campground having a chat, stood up and moved away and BOOM! Something exploded in the ground and left a gaping hole where we had been sitting. I could seriously not make this shit up. What?!
Though I am still alive to tell the tale, flying and I are never a smooth experience.
- Auckland to LA: I arrive, my luggage doesn’t.
- LA to Auckland: Auckland was closed due to fog so diverted to a military base where we sat for 6 hours on the tarmac with no food or water as it had been dumped prior to landing. When my mum called to find out where my flight was they told her ‘Sorry ma’m, I can’t find that flight, we’re not sure where it is but hopefully we find it soon’. Great customer service!
- London to Singapore: We sat on the tarmac for 2 hours due to a severe thunderstorm before the pilot came on the loudpeaker to announce we would be taking off because ‘Apparently it is too hard to unload everyone’ so we were instructed to keep our window shades down at all times and brace for a bumpy ride. And bumpy it was! Lovely!
- Singapore to Auckland: I get pulled aside for having knives in my hand luggage. Yes, you read that right. Oops! I had bought Swiss Army knives in Switzerland and had the super bright idea to carry them in my hand luggage so I wouldn’t lose them! I got through Healthrow with them though which is worrying in itself! A week later with the London Bombings I am sure security would have been cracked up a notch! One would hope so anyway.
So who wants to come travelling with me next?!
Have you had any crazy travel experiences? Where were you when you found out about the events taking place on 9/11?
Linking with Jess for IBOT today.