As promised from yesterday, here are 7 embarrassing moments in travel.
1) Once, I accidentally over drugged myself. I get motion sickness, and I regularly take medication for it. In 2006 in London, I realized what a bad idea it was to take a full pill, not eat for several hours, and drink wine on an empty stomach. When we finally did eat, because my coordination was severely impaired, I ended up knocking an entire bowl of tomato basil soup onto my lap. It was so embarrassing and also scalding hot. I stumbled downstairs to the bathroom to try to wash the orange soup off my jeans. Chris had to lead me out of the restaurant because I couldn’t walk in a straight line.
2) I sleep walk. I feel a bit bad when I agree to split a hotel room with friends and then tell them upon arrival, “Surprise! I sleepwalk.” On a college service-learning trip, I was sharing a room with several girls, and I got up in my sleep and went over to the other bed. In my dream, I thought one of my shirts was over there, and my brain told me to look for it. The girls in that bed were pretty disturbed that was rummaging through their sheets while they were trying to sleep. I’m not in touch with any of them today.
3) One of my majors in college was Spanish, and afterward, I tried to plan vacations to remote areas in Spanish-speaking countries for practice. During planning, Chris called a bed and breakfast in Costa Rica for me one day, but when I came home, he told me he didn’t think he had succeeded with the booking. I called back that evening to confirm the room. “Esteban,” the woman said to me after I asked about it. “No,” I said in Spanish, “My husband’s name is Chris like Cristóbal, not Esteban.” “Sí,” she said, “Esteban.” This conversation went on for a ridiculous amount of time before I realized she was really saying, “Está bien.” (It’s fine or it’s all set.) All I could say was, “Lo siento,” (I’m sorry) and hope she wouldn’t remember this when we checked in.
4) When I lived in the UK, I had to change my accent in order to be understood by my colleagues. Upon returning to the U.S., I was able to do an excellent rendition of “A Spoonful of Sugar” on command, complete with the British accent. A year later, I was so arrogant thinking that I could pull off a native-British accent that the next time I flew through London Heathrow, I ordered my coffee and muffin with a fake British accent. I didn’t intend to, but some loud Americans were near me, and I wanted to distance myself from them and seem more “local.” I don’t think I pulled it off.
5) I hate mice, and we went to Brazil after a small mice infestation in our apartment, so I was still on edge. We were staying on the remote island of Morro de São Paolo in a small resort with no more than 5 other couples or families. It was paradise, and I was completely relaxed until one night at dinner in the open-air restaurant I heard something rustling in the leaves by my head. I jumped up, and the waiter asked me what was wrong. I didn’t know the Portuguese word for “mouse,” and I couldn’t even remember the Spanish word. All I could remember was the sound Spanish speakers make when they imitate a mouse’s noise: “Esqui, esqui!” (“Squeak, squeak!”) I don’t think this really translated into Portuguese, and I was left jumping around saying “Esqui, esqui!” The remaining meals, I refused to eat anywhere except at the table in the exact center of the restaurant, which the waiter did not question.
6) My longest solo trip was 27 hours from Boston to the Canary Islands to meet Chris, who was there at a conference. I took the subway, a bus, a plane, a bus, a plane, a bus, another bus, and a taxi. In the middle of the trip, I was exhausted and surrounded by people only speaking German. I was falling asleep in the airport when I needed to be awake, so I ate an entire bag of candy (spice drops, to be specific). I found that if my mouth was moving, I wouldn’t fall asleep. The Germans probably thought I was a pig, but I know I did it in order to survive my journey.
And, finally, Chris is letting me share his most embarrassing travel moments (and it’s one of my favorites).
7) A few years ago, Chris was traveling for work in Austria and went out for breakfast with a colleague. He saw a German menu on the table and assumed it was the breakfast menu. Thinking he could “wing” the language, he ordered what he thought was a pastry assortment. Afterward, a server came to the table with a huge ice cream sundae with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, nuts- the works. Chris turned her away wondering who would order ice cream for breakfast. However, a moment later, the server came back and put it down on the table without a word having confirmed with the waitress that Chris was the person who had ordered it. Too embarrassed to admit his mistake with the German language, he sat there and ate the entire sundae for breakfast as if he had intended on ordering it. He now regularly remembers to bring a language dictionary to restaurants.