By Amanda Cardini, Staff Writer
Last week I wrote about an experience I had when traveling in Italy in which I missed my train stop, got stuck in an elevator, missed a second train and ultimately arrived at my destination hours later than planned. I reached out to other T-birds to see if they had similar stories and was surprised at the amount of responses I received! So, in the spirit of traveling for the upcoming holidays and winter break, I have a few more T-bird stories of not-so-smooth travel to share.
Laura (MAGAM ‘18) – Caught up on the way to Colombia
In the summer of 2014, I was traveling from Phoenix to Colombia to go on a cruise with my parents. I was supposed to arrive in Colombia two days before the cruise so that I could spend time with my parents before our trip. I flew from Phoenix to Houston and had a layover before boarding my next flight to Colombia. Shortly into the flight to Colombia, a drunk lady began hitting her husband and trying to open the door of the plane. We were forced to turn around and go back to Houston where this woman was arrested. Everyone on the plane then had to get a new flight. I had to stand in a three-hour line while the airline employees tried to sort everyone out. This was around 5 a.m., and I wasn’t able to get a new flight until 6 p.m. I was given a voucher for food and a hotel, so I was at least able to sleep the time away. But when I finally boarded my new flight there was a storm, and we experienced a four or five-second free fall. Another issue occurred as a result, and we had to go back to Houston. At this point I became very concerned that I wasn’t going to make the cruise! I had to wait in another long line and was finally scheduled for a new flight taking off at 10 p.m. Right after I got off the phone with my parents to tell them my new arrival time, my flight was cancelled. I ended up having no choice but to catch a flight to Miami the next morning, so I spent the night in another hotel that the airline provided and was able to connect to Colombia from Miami the next day. Fortunately, I made it in time for the cruise!
Bryce (MAGAM ‘19) – Costly ventures in London
I traveled with some friends a couple years ago when I was studying in France. We had been in London for a few days and were flying to Geneva on the cheapest ticket we could find — an 8 a.m. flight on Easyjet. We figured we would just sleep in the airport and not have to pay for lodging that night. What we didn’t know was that we had booked our flights out of an airport about 50 kilometers away. We had finished watching Thor 2 in theaters pretty late and were throwing the frisbee around by a specific bus stop that we (falsely) assumed would provide us with transportation to the supposedly nearby airport. It was 2 a.m. when we realized our mistake and started panicking. We eventually found a taxi company nearby (which turned out to be more like two Turkish guys with cars) who were willing to take the seven of us to the airport an hour away at 3 in the morning. What started off as a laid-back night ended up being a costly and harrowing ordeal.
Priscila (MAGAM ‘19) – Transportation in Peru and Paris
I was traveling to Peru and upon arriving at the airport asked for help finding the best way to get to where I was going. I was told Uber, so I requested a ride on the app. Shortly after, a car pulled up that was the same car as the one I had requested on Uber. I got in, and the driver asked how I was paying. I was confused because the Uber app pulls payment automatically from your bank account. It was at this point that I found out there’s a taxi company called “Uber” in Peru. The taxi driver became angry and stopped the car in an alley, demanding that I pay him immediately. I was essentially forced to give him all the money in my wallet — 80 Peruvian pesos. He still drove me to my destination, and I had no choice but to finish the ride with him as I didn’t have a working cell phone or any other cash!
A few months later, I was in Paris and had a similar experience. Two guards stopped me at a train station and told me that I had the wrong ticket to go the airport and that if I wanted to exit the station I needed to pay 50 euros. I was once again forced to give up all the money in my wallet. Lesson learned — don’t carry a lot of cash when traveling!
Dray (MAGAM ‘19) – Miscommunications in Ukraine
When I was in Ukraine, I didn’t immediately realize that some of my hand gestures meant very different things there than they do in the United States. I often walk around making the “hang loose” sign to strangers to say hello, and for a while my younger sister in my host family would laugh when I did this. Eventually she told me that in Ukraine that hand signal is associated with marijuana. I also frequently snap my fingers and then clap my hand to my fist while walking around. Again, I had been doing this without realizing what it meant in Ukraine, although I did notice it was attracting extra attention. Later I found out that what I was doing can be interpreted as wanting to take someone to bed. I realized that I had been doing both of these things for three months to a variety of people on the street and immediately stopped.