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What was your closest close call while traveling?

What was your closest close call while traveling?

Jun 13th, 2000, 01:57 PM
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What was your closest close call while traveling?

I thought it might be interesting to hear about close calls others have had while traveling. My husband likes to tell the tale of being on a tiny commuter plane during a storm and listening to the automated voice from the cockpit repeatedly call out "Pull up! Pull up! Pull up!" For me, it was the time I singlehandedly thwarted a gang of pickpockets in Mexico. We were riding the crowded subway, and I had my wallet, money and passport in my gigantic, canary-yellow canvas bag with "Esprit" in big letters on the side. I should have just painted a giant bullseye on it, too. Someone bumped me, and I thought nothing of it. We got off of the train, and we were confused that this group of men was following us for quite a while for no apparent reason. When I next reached for my wallet, I found someone had slashed the bottom of my bag. My wallet was still sticking out of the bottom. But I got the last laugh. There were so many wadded tissues, maps, ink pens, hard candies, keys, gum wrappers and other garbage in the purse that they could not wrestle my bloated checkbook/wallet combination out of the bag. I fixed the gaping hole with the collection of safety pins I carried with me.

How about you?
Jun 13th, 2000, 02:57 PM
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The "slashed bag" seems to be a favorite tactic in Mexico City. Going back about 10 years ago my wife and I rode the Metro to the Formula 1 venue, just past the velodrome. Watched the qualifications, took the Metro back and my wife found her tooled leather purse had been slashed, but only the leather, not the inner liner. Happens everywhere, we've run afoul of petty thieves in Rome, Paris, London etc. but to have a razor or something similar so close to your body is a different experience.
Jun 13th, 2000, 08:47 PM
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We were stationed in the military in Germany in the late 60s. We were driving to Paris in a VW camping bus with the USA sticker on the bumper. A frenchmen stopped us a gun-point & screamed to us in french. Of course, we were terrified
of the situation since he had a gun & out of control. Also we don't speak french. Finally, he said "allez" and I did know that meant *go*. I told my husband go, go! And we sped off with our
hearts racing! We have visited France again many years later with no problem.
Jun 13th, 2000, 10:19 PM
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That would be the time our plane from Curacao to Jamaica was hit by lightning. It may not have been a close call, but from the jolting drop in altitude I think everyone aboard believed they were going to die, me included. In the frozen silence I only thought of how sad it was that I couldn't say good-bye to my family.
Sep 28th, 2000, 09:40 AM
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Summer's over. Did we make it back in one piece?
Sep 28th, 2000, 11:00 AM
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Not life threatening, but a scare: My wife and I were in Rothenburg. I had my video camera in a bag that also held our passports, car keys, traveler's checks and tickets home. While using the video camera in the back garden, I placed the bag on the stone wall. I then walked off and continued filming as I assumed my wife had seen me do this and would carry the bag. About thirty minutes later I sat down on a bench in the back of the garden. My wife joined me and I asked her for the bag. She said "what bag?". She had not seen me leave the bag on the wall. I ran as fast as I could about 200 yards to the wall. The bag was still sitting there and people were all over the park. Needless to say, we dodged a major problem on that one.
Sep 28th, 2000, 12:41 PM
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The more you travel, the more things happen: The two week drive around India--dust, no lights, people and animals wandering the roads, trucks flipped over every 10 miles or so, cars passing around curves, a dead man lying by the side of the road like a dog--I just closed my eyes and let the driver do his thing. Class 3 rapids turned into a raging torrent when a dam was opened on a river in Costa Rica (several others thrown from the raft). Mugged at knifepoint in the middle of Stockholm (yes--Stockholm!!). Scariest of all, though nothing happened to me, flew from Athens to New York on TWA in June of 1996. That very plane probably went down a month later on the third leg of its flight path, NYC to Paris, as flight 800.
Sep 28th, 2000, 02:18 PM
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Here's a weird one. In the mid-'80s, a friend and I were in Paris and decided to go to the Eiffel Tower. When we boarded the elevator to ride to the observation platforms, I was the first one on. I reached the back of the elevator (which also had a door) and turned around so that I was facing in. When the elevator was full, the elevator operator closed the door and up we went.

After awhile, the elevator stopped. The door behind me opened, so, being the closest person to the door and figuring that we were where we needed to get off, I turned around and walked out. Onto a wide beam--not a platform--quite a ways above the ground. I don't know how wide the beam was, but I could see the open space in the middle of the tower just beyond it. There were no railings or anything--just the wide beam.

Just as I thought, "What the ****?", I turned and saw the elevator door closing again. Just before the door closed completely, I slung my camera bag and managed to keep the elevator door slightly ajar. I then had to physically grab the door and force it back open just wide enough to allow myself to slip back into the elevator. (I was a star athlete in high school and college, and opening the door required a considerable amount of effort. Glad I was still in decent physical shape at the time.) I looked around at everyone in the elevator, and they were wide-eyed and in shock. Relieved at being back in the elevator, I made a comment about how nice the view was out there, which caused a few ripples of nervous laughter.

Anyway, as soon as I let go of the door, it closed behind me and the elevator immediately proceeded to rise and eventually reached an actual elevator stop. Needless to say, when I heard the door open, I checked to see where we were before I stepped out.

The elevator operator didn't say anything during the entire time any of this was happening. My friend and I have discussed this a time or two since then, and we still don't know whether the operator just made a mistake or something. And I went back to the Eiffel Tower several years later on my honeymoon, and the elevator didn't make any intermediate stops. So I guess I'll never know why I was given the opportunity to walk off an elevator onto a beam way, way up on the Eiffel Tower.

But I'm still looking forward to my next trip to Paris!
Sep 28th, 2000, 03:10 PM
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My husband took the flight TWA 800 from NYC to Paris two weeks before the tragic one. On that ocassion, I flew from Philladelphia (he was on business; I took a cheaper flight). I remembered shaking like a leave when I heard the news.
Oct 9th, 2000, 02:11 PM
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Just returned from Greece on Saturday so I was there during the Paros ferry disaster.We had taken a ferry from Santorini to Crete which was called El Greco. On returning home I read on this board that the El Greco was one of the greek ferries which was pulled out of service following the diaster
Oct 10th, 2000, 05:44 AM
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Hey Martha! I think I can top yours a bit. I just got back from Greece on Sunday. We were supposed to take the Express Artemis on September 29 as an overnighter. Earlier that day it ran aground at Naxos, but they managed to power back and continue back to Athens. When we saw the boat at Piraeus, it was definitely listing. It took them hours before they decided to pull it out of service. I think there were over 60 boats that didn't pass inspection.
Oct 10th, 2000, 07:31 AM
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My friend and I went to Costa Rica in Sept 99 . . . being adventurous and from Texas (cowgirls, right?), we let a guide talk us into taking the horseback riding trip cross the mountains from Arenal to Monteverde (and thus avoid a 7 hr. horrible bus ride). The ride was supposed to take about 2-3 hours and we were assured it was VERY safe.

First off, the weather had been (and was still) terrible, it rained constantly all day, everyday (fallout from a hurricane that hit Honduras a few weeks earlier). Our horses were very small.
Long story shortened, horses were too small for the steep, muddy paths, raging rivers, sheer dropoffs that we encountered. My friend fell off her horse and was injured enough that it made riding extremely unpleasant and she was terrified. I can ride well and it was all I could do to stay on and stay safe, as my horse fell twice and got mired in chest-deep mud once.

Ride ended up taking about 5 gruelling hours. Once off and calmed down, other guides in Monteverde told us our guide should NEVER have attempted the trail, that the horses were too small and the conditions too bad . . . plus, the guide's own father was killed last year on the same trail, when his horse fell on him!

Needless to say, I won't be getting her back on a horse, ever . . . and it will be a while before I take another horseback ride in a foreign country.

Oct 10th, 2000, 08:33 AM
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Driving on a sharp curve on a slender road in Wales in a large car to hold all family and luggage. One inch to the left, vine covered stone wall 10 feet high. No inches to the right, speeding delivery truck. The only one with eyes open is my father who was driving. Not sure how we made it through that one.
Oct 13th, 2000, 01:39 PM
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1. Visiting East Berlin in 1965. Got into a discussion with an East German guard (Vopo). Got nervious and stated that it was time I got back to freedom. He asked which freedom, "We're free here". I replied that the sign on the nearby bombed out building stated 15 years building for the happiness of the East German people, but the only thing that I'd seen build was the Soviatt Consulete and the wall to imprisson the people. At that point I noticed that 2 guards had their weapons leveled at me so I got the hell out of there. The American MP at checkpoint charlie gave me a good dressing down and mentioned that an American serviceman had been gunned down the prevous week.
2. Last trip after living in Germany 7 years we had decided to visit Prague. This was in August 1968 during the uprisings. We arrived at the Czech border 2 hours after the Soviet tanks and troops. Imagine if we'd arrived 3 or 4 hours earlier and had gotton in!!!
Oct 13th, 2000, 03:03 PM
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Wow Sandy, I don't think I'd ever get on a horse again either! Art, yours sounded a little scary, too.

Here's one from my misspent youth. I was working on a kibbutz near Haifa. One day I decided to hitchhike over to see Caesarea. On the way back, someone approached me and offered to sell me some marijuana. I, being much younger and stupider then, said okay.

Immediately thereafter I came to the conclusion that it had been a sting and went to hide in the bathroom stall at the bus station until the bus came to take me back to the kibbutz. Every time I saw an Israeli soldier or policeman with a machine gun, I assumed they were looking for me.

Eventually, I got back and shared the "great dope" with the rest of the volunteers. It turned out to be horse...t or something, as nobody even got high. Now you know why they call it "dope".

Eventually I came home and got married. We were watching "Midnight Express" one night and I told my wife that I could have been in that situation. Slight exaggeration maybe, but it certainly taught me a lesson that I have never forgotten!

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