I like to think that I am a good traveler. Like the chameleon, I can blend into almost all situations. People always struggle to guess my origins and I frequently get told “You look French. Wait! Maybe Brasilian. If not Brasilian, probably Swedish.” From doctors to marketeers to writers to wrestlers to strippers to evangelicals to politicians, we always have something to talk about. In 26 years of moving around on this earth, I do not have too many truly negative stories from my travels. A few forgotten passports or missed buses which incurred severe charges on various credit cards or the occasional over priced excursion. But never anything to write home about. However, a recurring negative theme in my travels is the fact that I lose my camera.
Camera One: Bangkok, Thailand
If there is one thing I learned in my two month journey through Europe, it was to pack a lot less. I still regret bringing a -10 degree Celsius sleeping bag to Europe in the middle of summer which was the size of three new born babies and probably weighed as much. So when I left for Thailand on another two month trip, I brought a backpack the size of a Teddy Ruxpin backpack. How is this possible? The secret is to wear the same thing everyday for two months and be sure to move quick enough so as to not be noticed by your fellow travelers who are slower than you since they packed to much. How do you do this without having stink lines all around you like the kid from the Charlie Brown comics? Have the “goto shorts.” I loved these shorts, and they walked me through four continents before they disintegrated in the middle of a heavily congested intersection while I was giving directions to a place I did not know in South America. Before that, I was sitting in a hostel in Bangkok, discussing how it would be very easy to distract a tuk-tuk driver and borrow his tuk-tuk for a joy ride around the dirtiest city I have ever known. Whilst sitting and talking, I did not feel my camera slip out of my pocket and as I departed the scene after convincing everyone to give it a go, the camera remained on that red vinyl seat for me to never see again. Of course the camera is not the important part, it is the photos and videos inside. What I lost with this camera?
- Photo sequence of me teaching homeless youth how to thumb wrestle. Then betting him bubble gum. Winning many times in a row although the look on my face is of severe concentration as the kid was getting better and better with each game. My mouth had more and more bubble gum in it. Finally he wins, and I then ignore him so as to not pay him the bubble gum. My argument is that he cheated.
- Stolen photos of the bangkok ping pong show.
- Video of me convincing a tuk-tuk driver to let me drive his tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are motorized versions of the carts that you might have seen people pulling to move people around. I convinced the driver to give up his means of earning a living by showing him pictures of my brand new Suzuki GSXR 600. I was very likely intoxicated. I immediately peeled out and slammed him and my buddy to the back of their seats unable to lean forward to try and control my movements. I gunned it for the sea of tuk-tuks and joined their terrifying dance of locomotion. At 60mph the speed wobbles were tremendous and the steering wheel was almost impossible to hang on to. For that reason, I decided I had to video the situation and with one hand, reached for my camera and video taped the steering wheel shaking so violently it was impossible to put my hand back on to it and I found it hilarious to video my other arm, which was still holding on, shaking so fast it was only a blur. Additional video of two faces behind me, one from England and the other from Thailand, with a universal look of fear and discomfort, all the while with this high pitched screaching laughter that sounded like the cackle from the wicked witch of the west from the Wizard of Oz.
Camera Two: Las Vegas, Nevada USA
You know when you have an idea in your head that looks so perfect, you cannot help but follow through with that idea. And the whole time you are blinded to the fact that this really is not a good idea despite what everyone else is saying or screaming in your direction. Well as I jumped into the luxury looking bath tub in the luxury hotel room with all my clothes on including my camera in my pocket, I was temporarily blinded from any sort of logic.
And the amazing logic does not end there. After desperately trying to repair the camera by keeping it in a bucket of rice for two weeks, I decided to purchase the exact same camera with a warranty. I then replaced the case and anything else I could think of that would distinguish the bad from the good camera and intended on returning it using the warranty. Ultimately I never followed through with this plan due to my fear of being apprehended for fraud. Pictures I wish I had from this camera:
- No idea. I would love to have a video of me, extremely inebriated, trying to get into the very posh club at the top of some hotel in Vegas. The bouncers wouldn’t let me in because apparently I looked “too” drunk. I requested that they quiz me and test my wits as I felt entirely in the moment and could not understand why they would not let me in. Their question to me was “What club are you at?” and as fast as lightning with an extremely smug look on my face, I replied with “Easy, this one of course.”
Camera Three: Cuzco, Peru
Let me tell you what not to do in Peru. Do not go to the main market in Cuzco, eat a fantastic and cheap lunch, purchase some very cheap clothes, drink a splendid fresh fruit shake, walk outside with your girl on your arm thinking that the world is your oyster, and think that a bird just shat in your eye. At that moment in time, you are being robbed. It was an amazingly accurate shot. They spit in your eye from behind or the side. As you attempt to recover, a lady conveniently hands you a napkin, which at the time seems incredibly lucky and fortunate. All the while, little midget Peruvians are rummaging through your pockets and sprinting away as fast as they arrived. By the end of the three seconds, I had no clue what the hell just happened. I was still looking in the sky for that damn bird. I have had bad luck in my life with birds shitting on me. I will never forget the seagulls that invaded the quad in high school with minutes to go before class. It was like the administration paid the birds to swarm the students to get them to go to class. I was in mid sprint and as I leaped for shelter a seagull received radio confirmation to dive bomb me and nailed me in my ear and shoulder. So to receive a shitting in my eye was not out of the question for me in this moment in Peru. Katherine, the girl on the arm, remained unscathed and seemed to realize before the fact that something was going on. I lost my camera and more importantly the memories on the four gig memory card which included:
- A video of “Rosita” and Katherine getting acquainted. Rosita was a pink dune buggy that we rented that was incredibly temperamental and ultimately she blew all her fluids all over us, and not in a pleasant way. The video was priceless and rare footage of Katherine trying to drive.
- Me and Katherine in g-strings posing our hot bodies on the beach.
- A sequence of hilarious and very telling faces made on a 8 hour bus in between La Paz and Copacabana on lake Titicaca. A true series of faces that could maybe never be repeated that I would love to prin and put on my wall.
- Scenic pictures of Copacabana on top of this mountain after some grueling hiking.
- Buzios Brazil where life was grand and we were larger than life.
Tomorrow I will attempt to have camera number two repaired here in Santiago Chile. Should this fail, I will purchase another and make sure that it is of inferior quality and has the ability to be chained to my leg. Additionally I will be sure to download the pictures frequently and not rely on the memory card to store everything. Stuuuuupid.