Life's a Wild Trip

It's a Real, Real, Real, Real World

Mar 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

One advantage in this dicey new world: "Adventure travel" is finally living up to its name. While it's true that previously unimaginable roadblocks are now as common as Oldsmobiles outside a Lions Club luncheon, odds are you won't run up against them. But in case you find yourself S.O.L. in Sulawesi, our quick fixes for your worst nightmares.

Dilemma: A Third World crossing guard won't let you into the Fourth World nation through which your third-rate travel agent booked your flight home. Creative Solution: High time you learned the ancient art of bribery. Cash is good, but don't bother if it's less than a $50. Low on bills? Freak out so they'll pay you just to leave. Eat a couple pages of your passport or develop a contagious itch.
Dilemma: You're trying to look like everyone else buying yak butter at the market in Hostilistan, but your clothing, gear, and pearly-whites scream U-S-A! Creative Solution: Memorize "I am Canadian" in 20 languages. Here's a start: Je suis canadien. Ich bin Kanadier. Soy candiense. Wo sher jianada ren. Ana Kanady...

Dilemma: Your guide seemed like such a stable fellow when he loaded the duffels into the Land Cruiser. But three days later, he's foaming at the mouth and stealing your tent poles to build an altar to Zolac, the God of Dead Ecotourists. Creative Solution: Finally, all that Survivor tube time pays off. Size up your group for an impromptu insurrection: Identify anyone who's a telemarketer or attorney. Offer him/her as a ritual sacrifice to Zolac. Run like hell.

Dilemma: All you needed to bring, your carefree island-hopping friends said, was a bikini bottom and a cash card. Two weeks later, one is full of sand, the other completely drained. Creative Solution: (1) Get to an Internet portal, auction the bikini bottom on eBay, invest proceeds in bargain-priced Enron stock, wait. (2) Using rusty Craftsman pliers you found on the beach, extract gold crowns from the teeth of your carefree island-hopping friends, sell to village black-market jeweler. (3) Bite the bullet and call Mom collect.

Dilemma: Revolutionaries are headed for your remote camp with less than neighborly intentions. Creative Solution: (1) Climb a cliff, spend night on portaledge (be sure to push suspected militants off the edge first), wait for Kyrgyz Army to save you. (2) Booby-trap your campsite. First, turn fire pit into flaming cauldron of hell by greasing surrounding uphill slope with copious amounts of Gu. Carve a figurine out of campfire log, leave it propped against tent with Leatherman blade stuck directly through its head. Finally, rig a tent-pole snare and trip wire to hurl your ultra-crusty SmartWools directly at encroachers.

Dilemma: The airport security guy is sizing you up with a leer that says only one thing: Strip search. Creative Solution: (1) Preempt the search and voluntarily get naked, then start humming "Dueling Banjos." (2) Ask him if he understands the phrase "uncoverable oozing lesions."(3) Snap your teeth, bark, and threaten to bite.

Dilemma: To all the other revelers, it's just your average disco ball and smoke machine. But when it comes to public places, you've got pre-traumatic stress disorder. To you it's a stun-grenade precursor to absolute mayhem. Creative Solution: Relax, already. Get your groove on. It's likely all that screaming is a just an overzealous reaction to techno-punk. But if not, what better way to go out than in a sequined halter?

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