After a bit of haggling, I negotiated a nice group discount with the tour operator to get our pack of 12 out to the caves for a tubing adventure in Belize. So, we happily piled into the driver's van to set off for a great day enjoying a popular activity in this wonderful sun-splashed Central American country.
Colleen, my wife, had to sit on my lap, other wives and girlfriends did the same with their men, and there were nowhere near enough seatbelts for everyone. None of this fazed us as we set off on our ride. The cave tubing and hiking was a blast.
Our return trip, though, got a little too hairy. A tire on the van blew, and we swerved all over the road. I can still feel the wobbling of the unsteady van and see in my mind how close we came to the edge of the drop-off in the road, just certain in that moment in 2009 that we would be rolling over in the van and down a slight embankment, yet uncertain whether we would be living to tell this tale. The driver straightened the van at the last instant and came to a safe stop to change the tire, and everything ended up fine.
Whenever we talk about that day, we laugh a bit, but Colleen says she was sure we were going to die. We also wonder why we ever would get into a vehicle that was so overcrowded and without the proper safety equipment.
Do you see yourself piling in for a ride? Maybe you've already done this a few times.
We also realize that we have traveled a long way to get to our desired location, and our day of sightseeing or other excursion is at hand. We either climb aboard that bus or "we have come all this way for nothing."
These rationalizations or some version of them might play a part in our decisions. As travelers, we are forced to place a lot of trust into people in governments. We also understand that we are rolling the dice occasionally. I know major commercial airlines and cruise lines don't typically fit this bill, but these highly publicized incidents led me to the topic overall.
I mean, we never really know the qualifications of the person driving that ferry, boat or taxi or tuk tuk. Are there any regulations? Gut instinct often rules the day.
There is just no way I get onboard this train.
They still are pulling young bodies out of a capsized South Korean ferry. In addition, the search continues for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and we can't ever forget the Costa Concordia sinking that killed 32 people off the coast of an Italian island in January 2012.
A number of other tragedies dot history, and countless near-misses likely have gone unreported. I'm sure you might have a story to tell in your travels of that crammed chicken bus with overworn tires that you clambered aboard or a leaky boat with an outboard motor spewing oil you hopped into without a thought while exploring a remote river.
Ferries around the world are regularly packed tightly. Any rules in place?
- Research your destination as thoroughly as possible well before you arrive.
- Know your travel arrangements, and have a backup plan, if possible.
- If your instinct tells you something is not right, don't get in.
- Don't be bullied or forced to travel in a way you don't want to.
Please comment below to explain how you deal with these types of transportation challenges in your travels. Let's help each other be safe as possible.
Travel happy and travel safe!