Expect the unexpected.
A blog post by Felicity.
I like organisation. My friends and family often joke about how my lists have lists. Not only do I list, research and plan everything, I also often put little picture icons next to each thing on my list so I can know what I’m looking at with a quick glance. I like to be prepared. I like schedules. Even when booking our wedding and honeymoon, some of the people we booked with were amused at how far in advance we were booking them!
My husband is not usually what I would call organised. I sometimes call him ‘last-minute.com’. He copes well under pressure and can make something up last minute. His shows don’t need the scripts and weeks of rehearsals I would need were they mine.
I have come to realise that, although it’s a bit of a cliche, in life you should expect the unexpected.
Despite what most people likely think, I consider myself a bit shy. I was worse as a child. I’ve always been chatty and a bit hyper behind closed doors but in public I was well behaved and quiet. I’ve never been a fan of huge crowds and if you had told me back then that one day my job would involve public speaking to large groups of adults as well as school groups…. I would have laughed and then freaked out when I realised you’re not joking. Yet that is what the fossil hunting side to my life involves. Despite the idea of public speaking still knotting my stomach, I do actually enjoy that job. (Most of the time!)
My point is, you can’t always predict and plan for things. Expect the unexpected. This is very much true with the travelling part of my life too.
Greg and I plan our adventures. We research what we want to do or see in the country we are heading to. We find prices, opening days and times, nearby hotels, how long it takes to get everywhere, how long each thing usually takes to do or explore… everything we can think of, we plan for. It doesn’t mean the trip will go as planned and I’ve learned to expect that. All sorts of things can and often will go wrong.
When we were in Mexico we struggled to find a few of the hotels and attractions which hurts the timings (If you haven’t yet watched ‘Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty’ and want to do so first without any spoilers, you can below!).
One accommodation in Palenque was not a private bungalow as the website had described. Instead they tried to put us in an upstairs room of a back packer hostel which had a broken door, floorboards we could see through the cracks to the room below and no glass or anything in the window frames… I didn’t even need to see the shared bathroom before deciding to leave!
By this point it was after dark, in an unfamiliar country where most people didn’t understand English and our Spanish was rudimentary at best.
I learned then that Greg and I make a great team. Our travel adventures are well organised and structured thanks to the advanced planning but when things go wrong, Greg can fix them! That night I picked a hotel I liked the look of (likely the most expensive one in the area!) and Greg went in and (with the help of a lovely American guest who helped translate our situation to the hotel desk staff) got us a beautiful room at a great price.
We had a similar story in our recent trip to Romania- we had a gorgeous looking hotel booked but, thanks to some unexpected road works, we couldn’t reach the hotel without getting stuck in about a mile of deep mud!
That night we changed our schedule and drove a few hours to the next destination and picked a hotel at random. It happens.
If you haven’t watched ‘Romania: Seeking Dracula’s Castle’, you can do that here:
Another big change was in Mexico – we had a full schedule planned, but we hadn’t allowed for us catching a delightful bug known as Montezuma’s Revenge. A lot of travellers get this bug. It is caught when you drink contaminated water (it is best to try not to think about what it is contaminated with!). We were well aware of this and tried to be very careful. So much so that I know when and where we caught it – in one of the cafes in Isla Mujeres. I always stressed when ordering a drink ‘no ice cubes’ and only half of the places actually listened. I always fished them out and disposed of them. This cafe was the only place where they weren’t proper ice cubes but shards of ice – they apparently didn’t use bottled water and I wasn’t fast enough at fishing them out.
Montezuma’s Revenge caused me to be violently sick and unwell for a week or so (despite having the antibiotics with me to clear it up) and Greg had a bad stomach for a few days. While laying in bed sick all day Greg went through our schedule, contacting people and rearranging everything so we missed out on only two activities rather than a whole weeks worth. It meant longer days with extra driving and hassle later but was well worth it so as not to miss out on anything. The man is a genius, even when locked in a bathroom for most of the day!
Then on another occasion, when in Romania, I mentioned how I wished we could include the country’s large bear population and explain about some of the conservation issues the country is facing and Greg then spent an evening researching how we could add them to our video in a sanctuary as we had been unsuccessful at finding them in the wild. More shuffling and rescheduling followed and it was so very well worth it to be able to include them.
There is also always the weather to consider. When on the Isle of Man, for example, Greg was in charge of the schedule (such as it was!) and even he had to rearrange a few things as he had planned for us to explore a castle (Castle Rushen) and on one occasion we had to reschedule due to a heavy downpour and on another as he couldn’t drag me away from the Seals at The Sound quickly enough but that’s another story! (If you want to watch ‘The Isle of Man: Railways, Castles and Seals’, you can do that below. To read about the gorgeous seals, click here!)
The weather even affected our visit to Turkey. One very memorable morning saw us walking around the ruins of Heirapolis and the Cotton Castles of Pammukale or at least they would have seen us do that had anything at all been visible through the incredibly dense fog which cloaked just about everything that morning!
We squeezed our afternoon plans into the next morning’s already busy schedule in order to stay at the Cotton Castles long enough for the conditions to improve so we could actually see this incredible natural wonder (you can watch our adventure in Turkey below!).
Thick fog also nearly caught us out on the Isle of Man when we tried to admire the scenic view from atop the Snaefell Mountain. Luckily the fog cleared while we enjoyed a slice of cake in the café, so that in the end we did get to admire the view before catching the tram back to the bottom. You get the idea, weather is bad when trying to plan in advance. Naughty weather!
Speaking of naughty things, another unexpected thing which can catch you out is when you have booked diving experiences for your honeymoon, have organised things so that you can qualify to Scuba dive before said honeymoon and then your husband gets an infected ear which results in a blown eardrum. This too required much rearranging and rescheduling for our honeymoon. Luckily in most places we had planned to dive, we were able to snorkel instead. This seemingly devastating (not to mention very painful for Greg!) situation actually led to one of my favourite memories from our honeymoon.
When initially researching Mexico I discovered that you can swim with whale sharks there but found that this is usually done in the summer months. We were due to be there in February and March as this is the time the grey whales are there. (To read about the whales click here)
Disappointed that we couldn’t swim with my favourite shark species I kept researching to see what we could swim with instead and found that it is possible to dive with bull sharks. One of the few shark species which makes me somewhat nervous. Naturally we booked this dive experience.
Greg’s blown eardrum took this dive experience off the table. On our third round of research Greg found a review for swimming with sealions which mentioned whale sharks. Deeper research revealed that in this one location you can swim with both the sea lions and the whale sharks during the winter months! Elated we booked this experience instead and it is now a treasured memory which shall be with me forever (plus Greg made a full recovery if any of you were wondering!?)
At the end of the day, I love travelling. It can be stressful, things can go wrong, the unexpected happens and sometimes you weren’t strict enough and you can end up spending more of your trip in the toilet than you hoped… but it all adds to that sense of adventure and so long as you have a positive outlook (being with the right traveling companion works wonders too!) every moment is worth it. That goes for life too. Take the unexpected and run with it wherever possible.
Thanks for reading,
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