Why the travels are never the same as the stories

The fasten seat belt light goes on.

“Finally”, you think, “after nine hours of flying I’ll be soon setting foot on ground in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica”. Your legs started to hurt two hours ago, your ass is numb, you’re tired and you’re about to kill that little crying bastard in front of you. All you can think of is getting out of this damn airplane. The sooner the better.

You take back that travel story you’ve printed from the net and you read the first sentence again.

“After my flight arrived in Kingston I took a cab to the hotel to freshen up before I went to explore the city”.

That sounds like a plan, actually it sounds exactly like what you’re going to do! Your mood gets better, you can see yourself at the back of the cab talking to the Rasta driver and you can almost feel the refreshing shower on your sticky skin.

jamaicaairportThe plane touches ground, and before the fasten seatbelt sign goes out everybody stands up to pick their hand luggage, laptops, suitcases, sweaters, vests, umbrellas, paintings and every other thing you’d never imagined someone would take with him on the plane. You’re quite sure you even noticed someone with a horse in a bag and you wonder “Why would people find it necessary to take all that crap on a flight to Jamaica?”.

When the doors open, the pushing starts. That little old lady of whom you thought she would probably not survive the flight suddenly seems very quick to push you back on your seat and get in front of you on the alley.

Once outside of the plane there’s a bus waiting to get you and everyone else to the airport building. Of course all the seats are taken by the quick little old ladies and from the corner of your eye you notice that the screaming kid takes two places because it has a booboo on his stomach. “Screw him”, you think, “there isn’t a single place on my body that doesn’t hurt at this moment”, but of course you’re too polite to say anything, so you just stand. How long could the ride take?

Right about then you notice that you’re not the only sticky person on the bus. Everybody sticks, to you. Not to mention the smell of the guy whose armpit is right in front of your nose.

The bus driver must have thought that you would appreciate a tour around the airport, and manages to take twenty minutes to get you to the building. The pushing starts again.

Once inside of the building there’s a queue of which you have no idea how long it is because it goes all the way behind a corner. So you wait, do one step forward, wait again, again a step, wait, wait, wait, another step, wait… When you finally step around the corner you see that you’re barely half way to the immigration desk. Of all five desks there’s of course only one open. So you wait some more. You start thinking that it would be pretty annoying if someone had to go to the toilet. You notice that you have to go. “Think of something else, think of something else, my stomach hurts a little…How long has it been since I had decent food? Did I actually eat something in the last 24 hours?”.

Finally it’s your turn at immigration. The officer scratches his head, his balls and most other parts of his body, takes a bite from his sandwich and says:

“Name”

You answer your name.

“Date of birth”

You tell him your birthday, of course you say the current year instead of your actual year of birth and after you corrected yourself the guy looks even more grumpy.

“Reason for your stay in Jamaica”

“Holiday”

“For how long?”

“three weeks”

“Which hotel?”

Crap, you can’t remember the name of the hotel, so you have to search you whole luggage before you find the reservation form.

The officer looks very suspicious at you and at the moment you think you’re going to end up being some big Rasta’s bitch in Kingston jail you get your stamp.

“Move on!”

Next stop: baggage claim.

The carrousel just started, even though you’re probably already spending an hour at the airport.

While looking at the suitcases you think: “not my bag, not my bag, not my bag, should have gone to the toilet first, not my bag, not my bag, hungry, not my bag, my bag isn’t coming, not my bag, what will I do when my bag doesn’t come? Not my bag, not my bag…my bag!”

Finally you get out of the airport and it’s hot, much hotter than you expected. While you were at the bathroom two minutes ago, you might as well have switched your clothes, but you didn’t think of that.

Crap, there are the beggars. “Sorry dude, no money”, “all money finished”, “no speak Jamaican”, “no English too”. At last you grab into your pocket and give a child a dollar but now all other beggars are coming back to you. You start running to the taxi stop.

“Taxi taxi taxi! I take you everywhere in Kingston!”

“How much to Paradise hostel?”, You ask.

“800 Jamaican dollars”

The smartass in you wakes up and you say: “My Lonely Planet says it’s only 300 dollars”.

“800 Jamaican dollars”.

“No, listen, my… guidebook… says… three hundred”.

“800 dollars”.

“Look, look at this page, here it says 300″.

“Listen buddy, you want a ride or not? You’re wasting my time”.

Next thing you know, you pay 800 Jamaican dollars for a five minute ride. At least you got away from the beggars, but not from the flies. Oh no, not from the flies around your head.

The check-in at the hostel runs smoothly, you go to your room, take off all your clothes, jump under the shower, press the button and… nothing. Press the button again, nothing. Press press press! Nothing.

You go back to the room, take the phone, call reception and say: “Listen dumbass, I paid lots of money to get to this dust hole, the least I expected was some water. Now you go to the river with two buckets and come back with some water to throw over my head, capiche?”.

Of course that’s what you wanted to say, what you actually say is: “excuse me, is it possible that there’s no water in my bathroom?”. “Sorry sir, water only from 5 PM to 10 PM”.

You lay down on your bed and you ask yourself “What happened? This wasn’t mentioned in the travel story, or in the brochure, or anywhere else on internet.”

Now fast forward.

You’re back home, your holiday is already a couple of weeks behind you and it was magnificent. It was one of the best holidays ever. Jamaica rules!

You get behind your computer to start writing your travel story, and you think back of where it all started.

Your first line is:

“After my flight arrived in Kingston I took a cab to the hotel to freshen up before I went to explore the city”.

Does this sound familiar to you? Maybe a bit, maybe not at all. That’s totally normal.

The mind works like a filter, as time goes by a lot of things fade away. The night of your arrival you remember all the previous stuff very clearly. The day after you still remember it, but a little vague. A couple of days later your mind is already filled with lots of new things, so you remember only very small parts of your arrival.

When you finally get home, probably the only thing you tell your friends is that at some days you only had water in the shower at certain times. But is that worth to mention in the first sentence of your travel story? I guess not.

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photo by sun dazed

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Older comments on Why the travels are never the same as the stories

parisgirl
02 January 2010

Thanks for the reality check. It’s so true.

Dustyshoes
05 January 2010

I agree. So true. You even forget the flies and the mosquitoes.