We’ve all had times when travelling – whether for business or pleasure – when things have not gone to plan… flights delayed or cancelled, hotels not booked when we’ve arrived… but there are also times when things happen that are more than just an inconvenience, they are actually quite scary! So here are my scariest travel experiences so far…
Witnessing a Highway Robbery in Mexico
I was on an overnight bus journey (alone) in the Yucatan Peninsula when I saw the bus ahead drive off the road and into a ditch with its hazard lights flashing, followed by some garbled radio message from the other bus driver… we pulled over and after a little while lots of (shaken) people got on to our bus. An American girl sat next to me and I asked her what had happened. They had been driving along just ahead of us when a van had forced them off the road and armed men had boarded the bus and demanded all their valuables!! When our bus had pulled up behind, the men had ran off (largely empty-handed I believe)… I spent the rest of the journey looking out of the window, terrified that the same fate might befall us!
Oxygen Supply Failure on an Internal Flight
I regularly flew from Southampton Airport up to either Glasgow or Edinburgh for work so knew the route very well. One day we were cruising along, as normal, when suddenly our little plane banked hard. At the same time, the air hostesses frantically grabbed back the breakfast trays from those who had already been served and then disappeared back to their seats… Immediately, the Captain came on and said that the back-up oxygen supply had failed (meaning the flight had to be returned to the nearest airport) and that we needed to head straight back to Southampton as it was closer to return there than carry on to our destination (it was only a 45 minute journey). Whilst I think we all knew it was unlikely that we would need the back-up oxygen, the atmosphere on the plane for the 10 minutes or so until we landed was tense to say the least! And, if you read one of my previous posts, you will know that flying is not my favourite thing to do at the best of times!
A Few Hours in a Dodgy Hotel in Brazil
When you pick a hotel out of the guide book – particularly if you are on a tight budget like I was – you never really know what you’re going to get… on this occasion, the hotel in Florianopolis was clearly more or a brothel than a hotel!! As soon as I arrived I was on edge… lots of men hanging around and a girl at the desk asking how much they charged per hour! But I was already in the door and had paid for the night so thought I would risk it… it was light then and I wasn’t too fazed. So I went out for dinner and came back to the room (by now it was dark), only to find that the walls were paper thin and the door to the shared balcony had no lock. Panic set in and I hurriedly packed my stuff and fled (after checking my guidebook for another more suitable hotel nearby). Luckily my next choice was vastly better and I felt much safer!
A White-Knuckle Bus Ride through Chiapas, Mexico
Another bus in Mexico, another overnight bus journey… but this time in the southern state of Chiapas. I was heading from San Cristbal de las Casas to Oaxaca (a journey of approximately 11 hours) and we had pulled in at a small bus station to collect more passengers – but it turned out that that was not the only reason we had stopped there. More and more buses had arrived yet none had departed again… until, all at once, every bus started to leave at the same time. Weird, I thought. So I asked the lady next to me who told me that most drivers were terrified of driving this route as it was considered hugely dangerous – firstly because of the precarious mountain roads and secondly because highway robbery was common along the route – so they always travelled in convey for safety. Great. The other minor inconvenience on this journey was that we were pulled over a total of three times by the Mexican Army at roadblocks – soldiers got on and nosed around a bit before waving us on our way! Not sure what or whom they were looking for… But, to be quite honest, the most frightening thing about this journey was the hair-raising speed at which our driver took those sharp bends with the terrifyingly steep drops at one side! I have never, ever been so relieved to get off a bus in my whole life!
So, those are my scariest travel experiences so far… Have you ever had any scary moments whilst travelling?
*The majority of the photos above were taken on a film camera, hence the grainy appearance.