I like to think of myself as a relatively wise traveler. I’ve watched Hostel, I know what can happen. And, while being kidnapped and sold to a twisted, ‘Men’s Club’, isn’t, I hope, a likely scenario, I would still like to try and do everything in my power to prevent such an event from actually taking place. All of this being said, on our most recent travels I must admit to doing something exceptionally stupid. But, I will premise this with a story leading up to the stupid act in hopes you will understand why my judgement slipped and I agreed to something that could have potentially ended very poorly.
It was the final day of our most recent trip. We had just stepped off of a nine hour flight and were getting ready for our final aviation journey which would take us home to our fuzzy housemates and comfy bed. I was tired, hungry, and quite ready for our last stretch of travel. Unfortunately the weather had other intentions. The snow was angrily falling from the sky creating chaos throughout the airport. As expected, our flight, along with 250 other flights, was cancelled. After waiting in long lineups of irate customers and warming my ear listening to elevator music, hoping an operator would tell me what to do in such a situation, we were finally granted tickets home for the following day and reservations at a hotel to spend the night. Little did we know that not having toothbrushes or a change of underwear would be the least of our problems…
With new tickets and reservations in hand we headed outside with 2000+ disgruntled travelers, all attempting to squeeze onto one of the five eight-passenger hotel shuttles forever on their thirty minute loops, seemingly to never empty with each new circuit. Needless to say, our situation wasn’t improving. Two hours in the wet, stormy weather later and our shuttle still hadn’t driven by. After tracking down a phone that would allow us to dial out, we were greeted with the information that we were expected to call for the shuttle to come pick us up. Also, it was booked solid for the next two hours. Fantastic. At this point the $100 cab ride to our hotel was sounding extremely appealing.
Now enters the young backpacker we had been conversing with on and off throughout our evening. We find out he has a reservation number for the same hotel as us and we agree to share a cab and split the fee. This should have been the first red flag but I was hungry, cold, wet, tired, frustrated and clearly wasn’t on the top of my game. He only told us he was staying at the same hotel after we told him where we were headed. Never offer information like this. Ever. Strangers do not need to know where you are staying. I don’t know why we told him.
So together we call a taxi and wait. And we wait longer. Many other taxis pull up, but ours does not. We have now been standing outside in a blizzard for close to three hours waiting for a shuttle bus that didn’t know we were expecting it and a taxi cab which was much less enthusiastic than it’s ten minute expected arrival time. Somewhere in the mess of people, shuttles, and snow, we were separated from our new traveling-companion.
While scanning the busy lanes for someone willing to take us to a hotel, any hotel, our ‘friend’ pulls up in the front seat of a ‘taxi’ and tells us to hop in. Red flag number two. There is no hood mount or door decal on the car. Of course, these things didn’t occur to me until I was already buckled into the back seat of the vehicle.
I make very concerned eye-contact with my husband but he doesn’t understanding where my horror-movie-driven-fear is coming from. I send him a text so as not to say these things out loud, asking where the trip meter was and why there were fast-food wrappers all over the vehicle and why our camping-savvy friend is conversing with the driver as though they are long lost friends. My hands are clammy, my heat-rate has quickened, and I am starting to worry. We are in an unfamiliar city, inside a smelly vehicle driven by a man who I was quite convinced wants to sell my kidneys on the black market and there wasn’t a soul within ear shot. In the distant I can see a convenience store and pondered if he would stop if I tell him I just got my period and needed tampons. I assume not. A man who is willing to perform bathtub surgery surely wouldn’t be put off by the sight of blood. The 15 minute drive felt like 45 and even when we finally spot the street our hotel is on I am still convinced the two men in the front seat are plotting whose appendix they are going to put on ice first.
I’m here, weeks later with all of my internal organs so obviously we escaped alive. However, this experience was a little too realistic for my horror-movie-loving self and I do not care to press rewind and watch again.