I have been having amazing “luck” recently while traveling. It is if the planets align, the stars shine bright and Mother Earth does her part as well, sort of.
For some reason, every time I’ve planned to go on a large trip within the past year, some sort of impeding natural disaster looms in my destinations of choice, threatening to derail months (well weeks) of planning, money and time invested. Here are three castrophic events in the past year that almost thwarted my big escapes.
1. Massive Earthquake in Turkey
Last October, I had finally planned a big trip to visit Istanbul and Bulgaria, two locations on my rather short travel bucket list. Istanbul had always fascinated me as a city where east meets west, religions commingle and live semi-harmoniously, and where it’s cool to just dance with your arms and shoulders and go “ya ya ya” (salsa is too hard for white people like me).
Bags packed, ready to go and just hours before leaving I was informed by a friend that there had just been a massive earthquake in Turkey. I began freaking out and tried to find any info I could online. It seemed terrible, and all in all, 217 people ended up losing their lives. The quake was in the eastern part of the country. Contemplating if my trip would be foiled, I took another look at Turkey on the map – it’s a big country.
Trying to rationalize still going, I figured that if there were an earthquake in New York City, I’d still go to Chicago, so I got on my plane and made my way to Istanbul (in the way west of the country). Things were fine there, besides everyone glued to the TVs, but I have to admit, walking underneath rickety old wooden buildings still scared me with the thought of an aftershock. I survived and had a great trip too.
2. Volcanic Eruption in Mexico
My favorite band is Radiohead. So when I finally had the chance to see them in Miami (those bastards only come stateside twice a decade), I was seriously pumped. I made the mistake of letting a friend’s friend choose the seats. I didn’t think the aneurysm section existed, but I found out that night.
After enjoying the sounds of the concert (I couldn’t see shit), I rushed home and looked up the next few stops on their tour. Kansas City, nah, Dallas, nahh, Mexico City, boom.
I booked a flight, a hostel in the center of town and planned to leave the following week.
My mom called me two days before going and asked if I saw that the closest volcano to the city, “PoPo” had just begun erupting and was actually spewing lava and putting up a big billowing cloud of smoke. Shit.
My mom is obsessed with weather and natural disasters so she tried to hype it up more than it really was. She said flights have been grounded there for days in the past as the smoke from the volcano has interfered with Benito Juarez Airport.
I kept checking my flight to see if it was on time. It was, so I headed to the airport and hoped for the best. I ended up making it in fine the day of the concert and made it in to dance with my amigos en El D.F. to the best band in the world. There was dust and soot on everything in the city though, pretty wild.
3. Tsunami in The Philippines
Well, I don’t want to jinx myself on this one, as I write this from San Francisco where I am spending a couple of days before heading to The Philippines, but, my brother (of all people) warned me of my third natural “disaster” yesterday, threatening to piss all over my vacation for the third time in 12 months.
This time, a massive 7.9 magnitude earthquake was reported under the ocean yesterday less than a 100 miles off the eastern coast of The Philippines. A tsunami warning went into effect immediately and coastal dwellers began fleeing inward. Fortunately, nothing serious happened, and I believe there was just one confirmed death, an elderly woman whose house was built over the water that fell down. With my track record over the past year, I was smart enough to opt for some travel insurance this time which I got on TripInsurance.com to cover my ass in case I really couldn’t make it to my trip.
To top things off, I was walking out of my apartment yesterday to head to the pharmacy for a few last things, and as I took my first step onto my doormat, I heard a smush, and looked down to see my sandal two inches deep in a massive pile of dog shit. It was so big, I even slipped and smeared even more of the evil canine crap all over my stoop. In some countries, this is viewed as good luck. In America, it just means you stepped in a big mound of shit and lost 30 minutes of your day cleaning it all up. I’m going to opt for the good luck omen on this one!
Have you ever almost, or actually missed a vacation because of mother nature?