“Even when you think you have your life all mapped out – things happen that shape your destiny in ways you might never have imagined.” – Deepak Chopra
A key motivating factor for my insatiable need for travel is to experience life outside of my comfort zone, so I suppose it is inevitable that my journeys often include going astray from pre-determined routes. Such “missteps” have rarely been negative – but rather have enriched my experience and often have exposed hidden personal strengths and attributes. They have also provided some very funny tales that I want to share.
There are quite a few of these “misadventures” on my travels so far, and as I await the green light to resume my journeys, I thought I would review some of these favorite WTDGAP (When Things Don’t Go As Planned) moments,
1) Wandering Jew in the Sahara – Giza Plateau, Egypt – Taken quite a few years ago, my journey through Egypt trip still is quite vivid in my mind. The magnificence and incredible longevity of an ancient civilization that can date back to almost 4000 BC is truly staggering – the immensity and beauty of the tombs in the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, the temples of Karnak and Luxor, the hieroglyphs and paintings in their original colors (due to lack of humidity and other erosive factors) are almost inconceivable. My trip, however did have a rather inauspicious start.
I was with a small group led by a brilliant Egyptologist, Sameh Taha. Our second stop was the Giza Plateau, the site of the most iconic of Egyptian structures – The Pyramids of Menkaure, Khafre and Khufu and The Guardian of the Giza – The Sphinx, known to the locals as Abu al-Hol, the “Father of Terror.” It is here that a major WTDGAP moment occurred.
At the time (1999) cameras were not digital – a roll of photographic film had to be inserted into the camera, allowing for approximately 35 pictures per roll. I used over 30 rolls of film in Egypt, all kept in individually capped containers – yes, travelling in those days was very cumbersome. I had just purchased a new 35mm Nikon and stupidly did not become totally familiar with its workings before embarking on this journey. Of course, just as we approached the entrance to the Pyramids and Sphinx I ran out of film. Sameh was just explaining that we MUST stay close to him as he planned to move very quickly to ensure we got to the best vantage points before the throngs. While trotting to keep up, I looked down desperately trying to fit the leader holes of the film into the camera’s sprockets. When it finally clicked in I looked up – to find myself in a very ironic situation – a Jewish woman, wandering lost and alone in the Sahara Desert.
Strangely, I wasn’t frightened – it was a time of relative stability in the Middle East so I didn’t feel in any imminent danger. I was more annoyed that I was missing out on those great vantage points and the sun was setting spectacularly behind the Pyramids and Sphinx. So, throwing caution to the wind, I went on my own and took some photos – remember this is film so the quality is not great:
Does that last pic look familiar? It is the cover of my blog. Obviously I did not take that by myself – a little bit far for a selfie. Instead, as I ran around looking for the best shots, I noticed that my traveling companion was right near me – having been similarly “stranded.” Emboldened by having each other in sight, we eagerly snapped pictures until we felt it was time to hunt down our group’s van to await the rest of our crew – and they soon arrived with a very angry guide Sameh at the helm. Needless to say I remained at Sameh’s hip the rest of this trip.
More WTDGAP to come!