We lived through a lot of different emotions on this trip. Everything was amplified – joy, boredom, the sense of freedom, loneliness, fun. The purest emotion of all though, was undiluted terror. Here are our ‘top’ ten moments, in chronological order…
- Gerry 180’s the car in Costa Rica
Yes, after hours of experience, I thought I could take-on one poxy lonesome pot-hole. The pot-hole won. The tiny, sewing-machine car, which I had giddily navigated across a river 20 minutes before, caught the edge of the tarmac, and swerved 180 degrees across the road, intent on crashing right over onto its side / roof. Terrifying, slow-motion stuff. We were mercifully saved by a huge, completely random ant pile, that cradled our fall, and pushed the car gently back onto its wheels. It was one of the few places on the road without a steep, metal-crushing drop. Gorgeous Ticos ministered to us, and we continued on our way, shaken, stirred, but the car miraculously unscratched
- White-water rafting during a massive thunderstorm with constant lightning, in a leaking boat.
I’m not sure any of us ever worked harder to bail, hang on, and paddle, paddle paddle. Veteran guide was white-faced with terror, and admitted later that he was really scared. Freezing, soaking, half-blinded by rain and lightning, we all kind of thought we were going to die. Hurrah for our gorgeous, hard-working (slightly hysterically crying) children, and the eventual sighting of our bus!
- Stranded on the side of the Pan American highway, Ecuador
With 25 minutes to go until our flight, and after a tortuous 3 hour journey (covering 60 miles), our bus finally groaned and gave up, 5 minutes away from the airport. Trying not to remember the tales of gruesome murders on the side of this same road, we hopped and jiggled and waved our hands and prayed that a free taxi would emerge. Unbelievably, it did; incomprehensively, we squeezed into it, and incredibly, we made our flight.
- Rappelling in Banos, Ecuador
Luke abandoned at the side of the road with a few chickens. Truly terrible guides. Girls in 3 wetsuits clambering up a sheer hillside. Then nothing but a series of 30-40 feet cliff drops with cascading water, and a rope. This, the only way back to Luke and life. I’ve never known terror like it.
- Thalie’s chunder central in India
Thalie in an Indian hospital. Everything you can imagine, and worse. They did their best to kill her; miraculously, they failed
- Sacha and the New Zealand sinkhole
We saw a lot of sinkholes in NZ, and a lot of sheep bones in the dark caves beneath these sinkholes. Sacha was so, so nearly, added to the haul. I still shake whenever I think of the incredibly steep slope she was on, nothing to hold on to, and the inexorable chute stretching beneath her down a 300 foot deep cavern
- Stuck in a fiery tunnel in Sydney
Folks, this even made the British and American news! We were returning to central Sydney with our magic friend Kit when a car burst into flames 30 feet in front of us. Heat, poisonous fumes, best Hollywood-style evacuation action. If you look closely at the photo, you can just see us emerging from the tunnel
- Juicy van jinx, middle of nowhere,
Parked in a forest in the middle of nowhere, trapped in our tiny van due to perilous roads, a torrential rainstorm, and a swarm of swearing Australians, our (engine off) van was over-heating to the extent that it exploded our bottles of sunscreen. We thought it was going to go up in flames at any moment but had absolutely nowhere to go and no phone service. Eventually we manned up, drove off into the darkness and were rescued at 2am by an angel in a restaurant.
- Luke sheds some toe in Thailand
Don’t EVER google ‘toe cut by barnacle’ on a remote Thai island about 10 hours from the nearest hospital, because it will tell you that a tiny scratch can easily get infected – especially in warm, bacteria-laden, tropical waters – and that people often DIE from this. Do not do this and then look at your son, blood dripping from a deep cut, who has started to vomit profusely.
- Lou goes to prison in Turkey
The last day of the whole trip, and he ends up in a cell, being challenged by a fellow inmate for his bed. Amazingly, he didn’t disappear (as others have been known to), but was deported back home after 24 hours. Morale – don’t buy anything in Turkey (especially from ‘reputable’ shopkeepers), and stay charming at all times.