Friday, August 19, 2011

Travels with Jungle Mom... never boring...

I was asked...

What has been your scariest travel experience?
 and I am stumped for an answer.

Its not that I have not had interesting experiences in my many travels, it is that I am finding it difficult to decide which one would be the scariest! Partly, because as I look back on each event, I now find them to be hilarious, even though at the time, they were frightening.

Would it be the time our Cessna landed on a grass strip in the rain and the water wall splashed so high we could not see where we were going until we stopped? Then we realized we were about 3 feet from the jungle trees at the end of the strip?

Or was it the time the engine cut off in the single engine Cessna while we were climbing? I did scream that time!

Or the time my daughter and I were left on a strip alone with indians who had never seen a non-indian female? They were very interested in confirming that we were indeed female...

Or when the three girls and I were, once again, left waiting in the middle of the jungle on a grass strip. The one where the jaguar liked to sun himself? The one where they killed the jaguar a few days later for chasing after an old man? My loving husband left us with his Leatherman knife, so I guess we were safe enough! (There's more to this story, but I must save some things for the book or you all will not purchase it!)

Once we needed to land on a small strip but found it occupied with buffalo. Kind of like playing that old video game 'Frogger' but with a plane and buffalo...and only one life!

Or maybe driving along the border with Colombia in an area known to be infested with FARC guerrillas? A few times we had to go in caravans and have a military escort until the military guys ended up being about as bad as the FARC.However, I think the huge pot holes on that road were by far the scariest aspect of that route.

Once, we were fording a river in a Land Rover (GREAT VEHICLES!) and we were meeting up with a ferry in the middle of the river. The car became stuck on something and the ferry moved off , dragging us along into deeper water. The back of the car, where the small children and I were, began filling up with water. I started throwing babies up to Clint in the front and then decided we should save the video camera as well. I grabbed the heavy camera case and lobbed it with all my might towards the dry, front of the car. I hit our driver in the back of the head! Obviously, we all survived and no one was harmed...well, except for the driver. He never would drive for us again.

There was that flight in the middle of the national strike.We managed to get tickets on the last flight leaving Barquisimeto for Caracas. Some Venezuelans did not think Gringos should get the last spots, even though we had tickets and they did not. Nor did it matter that some of those 'Gringos' were actually Venezuelan citizens. A small 'riot' began to break out and we were separated form our girls. The girls thought they were being kidnapped, when actually some airport workers were trying to place them in a protected spot. The, NAZIonal Guards (as some call them), National Guards, came over and began hitting people off with their machetes. We were told to, "Go quickly to gate one!" I don't remember much more. A big blurr of grabbing kids, wondering about luggage, listening to Spanish curses, and just getting our very white selves hidden away in the plane!

But truth be told, there was one trip that terrified me for the entire two hour flight! We were flying in a small commuter Turbo Prop from Puerto Ayacucho to Caracas. This plane had no lavatory facilities, and that was the problem! It turned out that I had E coli and very much needed those facilities! I was horrified I would not make it to Caracas. Those were, by far, the longest, scariest two hours of my entire life!

Except, there was that other time...

6 comments:

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

You always have the best stories!

My scariest travel tale took place in the back and beyond of Uganda. A drunk police man with an audience of 12 truck drivers from the Congo took our passports and told us to follow him and he'd put us in jail.

Danica Newton said...

Amazing to see God's hand of provision in the midst off all that chaos!

My scariest travel experience has got to be the time we were caught in a tropical storm. Right as we made it to a sheltering island, the ship's engine broke down. We were five yards from the reeef, on very rough seas, taking on water, in a stalled ship. My siblings and I were loaded onto a dinghy and taken ashore, and left there amongst strangers (I was debating where on the beach we could all sleep - at 10 I was the eldest). Some islanders took us in, and I spent the night praying my parents would make it off the boat alive.

Jen said...

I love the humor in your writing! I know at the time it was scary, but to look back and laugh about it is great! Thanks for sharing.

Melanie Bowman said...

Rita, When is this book going to be written. I would love a copy!

Melanie Bowman said...

Rita, When is this book going to be done? I want to buy a copy!

Anonymous said...

YES YES !!!! BRING IT ON... I WILL BUY ONE FOR SURE AND MAYBE MORE TO GIVE TO MY FRIENDS WHO DON'T FOLLOW YOUR BLOG... DON

AND IT WILL BE READY WHEN ??????