My Favorite Travel Blunders

Traveling is super popular on social media. Right now, you can go on Pinterest, Instagram, and any other social media app and see hundreds of pictures from the perfect and ideal trips.

There are women who spent 20 minutes getting the right pose, in the right city, at the right time are a dime a dozen! Couples who take astonishing engagement photos in the with the perfect sunset. Families who take pictures of their babies while living on the road in Europe.

The pictures are all amazing and astonishing! Every single one of them! And of course, there is usually a great story about something the travelers experienced, learned, or overcame that is detailed below the picture.

It’s inspiring! I totally do the same thing.

You know what you don’t hear enough?
Travel blunder stories.

Like in real life, traveling has these silly moments that create memories that stick in the mind just as well as a perfect moment. They’re not always caught on camera. They aren’t ones that you can prepare for. And they certainly aren’t ones that you expect.

I have plenty of these blunder stories from all over the world. Some of them are funny, some of them cost me money, while others taught me a lesson.

Here is My Favorite Travel Blunders pt. 1 (because with how awkward I am, there will certainly be more)

 

Chicago, Illinois, USA 
I’ll start with a month long road trip I did in the States. Over the course of this road trip, I drove my Red MINI Cooper through 19 states and a piece of Canada. I likely covered about 2,000 miles (3200kms) during this time. I decided I was going to spend as little money as possible on housing. I would camp or sleep in parking lots.

Through most of the trip, this worked perfectly! Except in Chicago. It was one of my longer driving days and I couldn’t find any good places to end the day. Without finding any spots outside the city, I ended up driving into Chicago looking for a place to sleep.

Eventually, I found my way to a hospital parking lot. I practiced a line I would say if I was asked why I was asleep here, “My relative is having surgery and I’m just waiting until it’s done to hear the news!” That should work, right?

At 2am, a security guard came to my window and started banging to wake me up. “You can’t stay here!” He repeated it at least 3 times, before I was awake enough to understand what he was telling me. I rolled down my window just a crack and said coyly, “Can I help you?”

His response was the same as before, “You can’t stay here.”

I was ready to say my line. I’d been rehearsing for this. But before I could get out the words to say, he walked away. As soon as he finished saying his line, he turned around and got into his car. I was a little shocked by this and shouted to him, “Where should I go?”

No response.

So, heeding his words, I turned on my car, drove back to the other side of the hospital parking lot and went to sleep. Apparently, this side of the parking lot was fine, because he never came to tell me to move. However, every now and then when I sleep in my car, I have a dream that I am yet again being woken by the security guard in Chicago.

 

Dominican Republic
In the DR, I was on a service journey with Denver Community Church. As we helped erect a house in the area, we were given permission to enter this older woman’s house to use her bathroom.

I, of course, like to stay very hydrated. So, I was commonly going in to use her bathroom. Using my broken Spanish, I was able to chat with the elderly woman a bit every time I went inside.

During the second day of work, I causally walked into the house, through her room, and into the bathroom as usual. However, this time when I entered her room, I saw here there, topless next to her bed.

Whoops.

Immediately, I decided I didn’t have to use the bathroom in that moment and I walked away.

On our last day, I wanted to take a picture of myself with some contrasting colors. I was asking the locals to borrow a chair. Guess who had a plastic chair for me? Yes, sweet little old lady.

I placed the chair down and set up the camera where I wanted it. Without relooking at the chair I sat down.

Without me realizing it, the little old woman snuck behind me and sat on the chair. Therefore, I ended up sitting on her fragile little lap. I’m not sure where we got lost in translation, but I don’t think either of us were expecting the other one to be in the chair.

Not only did I see her half nude this week, but I also sat on her lap. This mission trip ended up way more kinky than I expected.

 

Paris, France 
This one I will never forget. I was with my wonderful sister, Angelita, and my darling niece, Milana.

After spending a day in Paris, we were taking a bus to the beach. It’s about a three and one half hour drive. Keeping babies entertained is a full time job. Sometimes it’s difficult on a trip because they wont just fall asleep whenever it’s convenient.

On this particular drive, my sister and I were taking turns playing with the little one who was wide awake and ready to play! Roughly an hour into the drive, my sister noticed something was starting to smell bad.

uh oh

Milana had pooped. But what was even worse was that the poop had escaped her diaper!

Yup

In an effort to entertain her, I was bouncing my darling niece on my lap. Little did I know but with each bounce, the poo seeped out. It dripped onto me. It got on her back. It splashed on my sister. It got on the chair in front of us.

It was like a war scene, poo EVERYWHERE. We were blissfully unaware of all the splattered poo now scattered throughout our area of the bus.

It was a stinky situation, but my sister couldn’t help but to laugh at the silly moment.

 

Traveling has its blunders.

Be prepared to make good stories out of them.

Remind Me, Who I Am

I get asked sometimes if I brought a lot of stuff with me from America.

Kinda?

I did bring 3 large suitcases, 1 75L backpacking bag and 1 tote. All full of stuff. However, all of it are thing I use frequently! Except for a few special occasion things (like my batman onesie) -That’s a topic for another post

One of the most important items I brought with me is a pair of canvas with notes glued to them.

F L A S H B A C K

It was the summer of ’10. I was working at Frontier Ranch in Scott’s Valley, CA. It’s a great summer camp for kids. Tons of fun! As a counselor there, I was able to play around with children, do sketch comedy, and meet other people from different states and countries. It was a total blast.

At one point during the day, there was ‘mail time’. It was the time when the kids would receive the care packages that their parents gave them so they didn’t miss home as much. For the counselors, it was a time when notes were handed out from other counselors or employees.

Often, these notes were a joke from friends, making fun of something a kid did the day before, or laughing at someone’s camp name.
Side note: My name was Scorching Raven, because I’ve always had a cool nic name in my life 😉 *except for the time as a freshman in high school when I tried to get “the surprise” as my nic name. It was my AIM username, my email address, and I’m sure I wrote it down on my Facebook originally. It never caught on.

Sometimes, those notes would be more meaningful. They would be little thank you’s for helping out here. Or perhaps a “you’re a great guy” thanks for letting me vent. Being a counselor is tons of fun, but it gets exhausting at times, and you rely on people to help you get through the week.

These notes were the most sincere ones, as people needed genuine time with someone aside from the chaos of summer camp with kids.

I kept plenty of those notes.

A year later, I worked nearby at a Kampground of America in Watsonville, CA. During that summer doing similar duties with a closer knit group, we would take time at the end of the summer to write more intentional notes to one another.

I kept those notes too.

F L A S H F O R W A R D 

I don’t like to keep trinkets or little souvenirs too often. Sure, I’ll keep the more meaningful ones, but if I come across something I own and I’m not (a) using it within a year or (b) can’t remember who gave it to me, it’s getting donated (Please stop trashing good things, when you can donate it)

However, one day after college, I was going through a lot of my school papers, and tossing them out. I found a bunch of these notes piled up. I started reading them. They read…

  • I’m thankful of Michael’s excellent positive outlook
  • I’ve never met someone so willing to listen and open to comfort as you…
  • Your love and acceptance for people is awesome…
  • We just wanted to let you know how handsome we think you are…
    (I promise I didn’t make this one up. PEOPLE ACTUALLY WROTE THIS)
  • Thanks for putting up with my high maintenance all summer…
  • …I just love being around you!

Post university life wasn’t great for me. I felt like I was poorly adjusting to my expectations of life, the reality of adulthood, and a horrible job. I was not happy. My unhappiness overflowed into my friendships, romances, and employment.

Then I found these notes. 

Reading the notes reminded me of how much I’d changed. People enjoyed being around me, people opened up to me, and I was known for being loving. I was reading these notes and I felt the urge to return to myself. I wasn’t sure how to but I needed to get back to being the person that people recognized me as.

I decided to glue those notes to a canvas and put those canvases on my wall. They were placed in a location where I would be forced to see that every day.

I was reminding myself of who I was.

P R E S E N T

I still have those canvases on my wall here in Auckland. I’ve added a few notes over time that are reminders of who I am and the positive ways people see me. They are just as helpful in my life now as they were in the past.

There are times when I don’t act like myself. When I act out irrationally, when I act with envy, or when I act out of hurt.
Even when I don’t act like myself, these notes remind me of who I am.

There are times when I admit to people, I’m an egotistical prick, who taunts others from my high horse, and sets out to push others down as the only way to be lifted up. Ouch.
Even when I don’t believe what they say, these notes remind me of who I am.

There are times when people don’t recognize who I am and in their moments of acting outside of who they are will call me something like worthless, stupid (I was called that a lot as a child), or useless, either in their words or in their actions.
Even when I’m told something different, these notes remind me of who I am.

There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “Put these words in your heart and in your soul. Bind them as a sign on your hand. Place them in front of your eyes.”

I came across this verse after I posted these canvas notes on my wall. To be honest, it makes sense why it would say to do this. With these reminders, I stay closer to who I am everyday. I am a better person in my friendships, romances, and employment. I am confident in myself because I’m reminded daily of who I am.

I will have days when my foundation is shaken. A person may act unlike themself and label me something I am not. I will have days when I don’t believe in myself.
Nevertheless, these notes will remind me of who I am.

Third Impressions of New Zealand

Woo!!! Third Impressions of New Zealand!!!!
I may never get tired of my “impressions” posts. So I’ll keep on cranking them out! In case you missed it here are Part 1 and Part 2.

This is going to be a fun one because I’m not going to be talking about what is different. Instead, I’l talking about what is the SAME.

Obviously, I’m living in a different country, so I expected things to be different for me here. However, There are quite a few things that are pretty much the same as my home in the States. Here is a list of a few of them.

Breweries 
Just like my home in Denver, there are plenty of small craft brews in and around New Zealand. I’m not much of a beer drinker, it all taste bad to me (hence why I’m a cocktail guy), but there are so many different places that are aspiring to make their small time beer a house hold name! If you are a hipster that likes a small name brewski, New Zealand may already be on your list of favorite beers.

Bike lanes!
I ride my bike a lot. So it’s super nice to have plenty of bike lanes for me to safely ride the road. It’s also very scary every time a bus sneaks up next to me, as I’m too into my new favorite podcasts The Mouthfull and Melanted Stamps. I know the bus isn’t actually sneaking up next to me, but somehow I am blissfully unaware anytime the behemoth of a vehicle is driving next to me. I can hear the engine of a car or truck, but a bus is like the ninja of the car world.

Ridiculous people running for office…
Let’s start with 2016 President Candidate from North Carolina, Deez Nuts. Seriously, look him up he tallied 9% of the vote if I remember correctly. In California, a special election was held in 2003 for governor. In the running was TV star Gary Coleman, movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a porn star. Gary Coleman said of himself as a candidate, “I’m probably the least qualified for the job.”
Currently, it’s election season here in Auckland. Let me tell you, they have some equally hilarious candidates! One that comes to mind is comedian Tom Sainsbury. He has different characters that he uses, one of which is Fiona. Fiona is running for mayor.

Burgers
I used to think that no one does burgers like America. Then I came to New Zealand. I’ll admit, no one makes a burger quite like In-n-out in California or 5280 in Colorado, but There are some great options here. I’ve found some Korean burger fusion thats delicious! I frequent a my local burger shop, Ice & Fire, which is an Indian burger cuisine. And a vegan burger place that is equally delicious! Burgers are everywhere, and I’m not mad about it.
(I should not have talked about burgers, cuz now i’m going to have to buy a burger)

If there is one superficial thing I could ask for from the States to be here, I think one thing that I wish was here that isn’t is…tape delay. I would prefer to watch my American sports games in primetime so I don’t have to wake up at 5am to watch my favorite teams.

The People
People are the same everywhere you go. I travel a lot, and I always see hard working people. I find communities thriving. I see people trying to become famous. I see men vying for love of another. The people of New Zealand are the same as those back at home. They are doing their best to prosper their family, friends, and find happiness!