When people find out that Kim and I have traveled all over the world, one of the first questions they ask is “What’s your favorite country you’ve visited?” They rarely ask a follow-up question to this – they don’t necessarily care about the why behind it, they just want to know what country is my #1.
This line of questioning isn’t limited to just a favorite country – people want to know what country has the friendliest people, what was the most beautiful place, what country had the best food, wine, beer…you get the point. Folks only seem to care about what’s tops in whatever category they ask about.
And who am I to deny the people what they want?
So, I’ve compiled a list of my Top Ten Travel Moments to help answer some of these questions. All together, it’s a little too long to be one blog post, so these will be published in a series of sorts. And, just in case you were wondering – this will be my #1 blog post series yet. (ok, it’s the first too, but that just means we start at the top, right?)
So, in the best David Letterman voice impersonation I can muster, here are #10 and #9 of my Top Travel Moments:
10. Strangest Food Eaten
This is going to be a huge disappointment to a lot of people, but the strangest food I ate in our international travels was something that’s available as an appetizer in most coastal areas around the world: Ceviche. Yup, raw fish bathed in lime juice.
Before you audibly roll your eyes at this, let me explain one thing: I grew up in Ohio, and for all intents and purposes, Ohio is a landlocked state. A state that was once so polluted, one of its rivers caught on fire. It’s also downstream from the American home of steel manufacturing and has abandoned pig iron furnaces that dot its rural areas. That’s right, regular ol’ iron wasn’t dirty enough, so we Buckeyes added some pig into it to get that nice, deliciously fatty blend of iron that the Heartland likes. And all the sus ferrum byproducts found their way into all the lakes and streams of my youth.
Add all this up, and it’s understandable why I didn’t eat anything that came out of the water when I was growing up.
Also, I’m not exactly what you would call an adventurous eater. In my book, there is a reason why you can find some version of chicken and rice throughout the world: it’s a good meal.
I wish I were more adventurous. I wish I could say that I ate an entire guinea pig off a spit, or that I dined on braised lamb intestines, or munched on fried kangaroo testicles like popcorn. But the fact of the matter is, I ate what most locals ate wherever we visited, which more often than not meant I ate more rice than I care to think about, noodles out the wazoo, and a coopload of chicken.
9. Biggest Rookie Mistake
On our first series of flights out of the United States on our way to Ecuador, Kim and I had the first of what came to be way too many nights spent in airports. This particular night was spent in the Lima airport (an airport I later spent 2 more nights in, but that’s a story for another day). During our approximately 17 hours to kill, we had found ourselves some benches and settled in.
Despite the all-night floor polishers that work in Peru, we were able to get a few hours of sleep. I was woken up early in the morning when a fellow airport guest woke me up with what seemed like the most important phone call that ever took place at 4:37 am. (I could barely say hola then, so I really had no idea what was going on – it was just a very impassioned conversation.)
Figuring that I wasn’t getting any more sleep, I got up and made my way to the bathroom. On my way, I tried to shake the sleep-deprived fuzziness from my head, knowing that I still had about an hour before I could purchase a cup of coffee – and still many more hours to spend in the airport.
As I entered the bathroom, I noted that there were no urinals in the bathroom. In my head I thought, funny, they must not use urinals in South America. What a wacky place! In my half dreamlike state, this made complete sense, and I readied myself for urinal-free life for the next few months.
But as quickly as I prepared to sit-n-pee through South America, it all came shattering down even faster when I heard the unmistakable click-click, click-click of high heels on tile floors.
Ahh, shit. I’m in the woman’s restroom, I thought to myself. Immediately I was awake and my mind was racing to find a way out of the ladies room.
So I did what any self-respecting man would do: I hid in a stall until it was quiet.
I sat there for a while, trying to gauge when I could make an unnoticed escape. I don’t remember exactly how long I waited there, but it was a while. Finally, there was a break in the activity outside of my hiding place, so I unlocked the door and made a bee-line for the exit.
And if it wasn’t for the elderly woman I almost knocked over on my hasty escape, my biggest rookie mistake wouldn’t have been noticed.
That’s it for now, but be sure to check back in a couple of days to read all about the dumbest decision I made while traveling abroad.