What Were We Thinking?

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A few weeks before we left Canada in 2009 to begin our vagabonding ways, we were excited to spend an evening at a local pub to say goodbye to many of our closest friends.

One of our dearest friends wanted to make the evening a little interesting for us all.  With a sharpie and an empty pizza box lid, she constructed a betting pool, and titled it: Pete & Dalene’s WTFWWTLGH date!  Translation: Pete & Dalene’s What-The-F#$%- Were-We-Thinking-Let’s-Go-Home Date.

Throughout the night, our friends and family chose the square with the month and year that they thought we would call it quits and head back home to resume our suburbanite lives.  The guessing was all over the place, some thought it would only take us six months for us to get the crazy outta our system, others guessed we would never return.

The jury is still out, but all signs are pointing to “never” as the correct answer.  Not once in the history of all our travels, have Peter or I turned to each other and muttered: WTFWWTLGH, and neither of us can see that happening soon.

We have, however, used the shorter phrase of WTFWWT during our travels on account of some real missteps.  Several times.  And thus we became inspired to construct a list of our favorite What The F&$% Were We Thinking Moments: Travel Edition.

1. How ridiculous is this? We spent months and months planning to make our travels happen.  Where to go?  What to see?  How to pack? And then, after all that planning and a very long day traveling from Canada to Peru, I opened my backpack to discover that it never occurred to me to bring pajamas.  How does one forget to bring their jammies?  WTFWIT?

2.  Um, where’s my purse? Tired of being squished in a tiny bus seat by all the things I was carrying, I took my purse off from across my shoulder and gave it to Pete to hold.  Once he tired of holding it, he shoved  iton the seat in between the two of us.  Two hours after our arrival into the Puerto Natales bus station in southern Chile, while we were getting organized for dinner at a nearby hostel, we realized that that is exactly where we left it.  Panic! A quick sprint back to the bus station, we held our breath after asking two employees if they knew anything about a black purse that was left behind.  “Ah, esta bolsa?” the employee asked, as he brought it out from behind the counter.  Inside, all credit cards, passports and other documents remained untouched.  Breathe out.  WTF.

3. Yay!  Let’s go hiking in Peru during rainy season! Due to the torrential rains and tragic landslide that occurred just a month before, we weren’t able to hike Machu Picchu when we had planned to.  So, instead we opted to hike in nearby Colca Canyon which had seen rain, but was still open for business.  Seemed like a great idea, until we got caught in a minor landslide of our own and endured some seriously scary and life threatening moments.  Looking back now, WTFWWT?

4. Lucky for us, Pete looks like a real badass when he shaves his head. Lonely Planet lists the Tumbes border crossing between Peru and Ecuador as the sketchiest in all of South America, so we prepared for it.  We had our plan: take a bus in the middle of the day, follow all others on the bus in a straight line, don’t look at anyone, keep our belongings close.  I’m not really sure when/how we went astray, all I know is that very quickly, our passports were in the hands of a group of four shady characters who were demanding that we pay money to get them back.  After a bit of arguing, Pete finally yelled “No Pagamos Nada!” (We’re not paying anything!), and they handed back our precious documents without further fight.  Could have been much worse.  Do I even need to say it all?  WTF…

5.  Thank goodness for the friendly Galapagos Islands! With only 60 litres and ~10 kg of stuff to take care of, you would think that I could keep track of it all.  Especially something that is so precious to me – my iPod full of music, games, emails, and generally, my life.  I left it on the bed of our hostel in the Galapagos Islands.  My WTF moment came when as we were driving to the airport, with no time to turn around.  Thankfully, the very sweet hostel receptionist flew it to me the next day in Quito, with the sweetest little note saying:  “Please don’t forget it in Quito.  People is not honest sometimes.”  Bless her heart.

6. A dangerous quest for gelato in Florence! This is an oldie, but a goodie.  So good, in fact, that I have shared this WTFWIT moment with very few people.  The details are a bit hazy for me, but Pete swears it all happened.  It might have involved a lot of drinking.  It also maybe included me abandoning Pete in a bar to roam the streets looking for gelato at 2am with a new friend.  Perhaps new friend and I got severely lost, and ended up begging some random Italian guy to drive us back to our hotel.  And maybe, just maybe, on the way back to the hotel, I might have lost my cookies in the back seat of said stranger’s car, due to the alleged alcohol consumption.  It all might have happened.  WTF *might* I have been thinking?

Alls well that ends well, but we sure got awfully lucky escaping each incident above relatively unscathed.  But, that’s what gives us the best stories, right?

Think you can top our WTFWWT Moments?  Let’s hear it.

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  1. Love the post!! I am still in it to win and have till the end of Dec 2012!! 😉 Are you two volunteering over there? You should look into solar water heaters…would be a great cheap project. Do they use electric heat for the water? Multiple videos on youtube demonstrating some missionary work and individual projects. I’m building a solar heater currently (just an experiment)…will keep you posted on if it works or not.

    Did you really get sick in that poor guys car? Shame Dalene 😉

    1. We will be starting some volunteer work very soon! We are slated to coach a kids ball team, but will probably do some other things as well. DEFINITELY keep me posted on the solar heater thing…yes, they do use electricity to heat water here, and electricity costs about 4X as much as it does at home.

      Maybe. Maybe I got sick in his car. Upside, my bag became a little lighter after that night as I was down one supremely soiled shirt (toss!)

  2. In a few years from now, this post will become a fixture in your Top Ten Best Posts. In the spirit of using acronyms for long and possibly offensive phrases, I LMFAO!


  3. You guys are an inspiration to a countless many who sit in front of some computer all day wondering – What If. You guys define the ‘what if’ and we are all proud of you, and enjoy following your adventure. Thx for sharing!

    And true, u can never plan for everything. That’s when life tests ya! I thouht I’d be smart and start hunting for a valentines card really-early. Well, both dollar stores I visited were closed. That wasn’t in the plan! The test revealed I have limited patience. 🙂

    The story of your ipod was most touching. There are a few good people in this world, hard to find but they’re out there.

    1. Hey Tom! Thank you for the kind words. We have definitely had some luck on our side in our travels, but have easily been taught to expect the unexpected.

      Good luck finding a V-day card, now that is PLANNING!! Luckily for me I think V-Day is in September down here, but I will have to check 😉

      Peter (Pedro)

  4. Hahahahaaaa!!! That’s all I have to say. And oh yeah, glad you’re still alive. And that you and Pete are still married after The Gelato Incident. Also, Hahah.

  5. I had never ridden a motobike in my life. WTFWIT when I rented one in Penang, Malaysia to visit a Buddhist temple on top of a hill….a very steep hill! Motocycles are not made to drive vertically, and this one fell over sideways on top of me, breaking the mirror, but fortunately not my ankle which was only smashed painfully under the bike. I was terrified what the owner would say about the damage, but he was as kind as could be — offering me tea and a cookie, insisting on calling the doctor (who happened to be his cousin) to make sure nothing was broken. Neither of them charged me a penny.
    The following day I had to take a long bus ride across the peninsula to Kuantan. The only foreigner on the bus, I was pampered, given the best seat, a pillow upon which to rest my swollen ankle. When the bus made a peepee stop, I watched the locals turn up their noses at a crumbling outhouse and head for the bushes, so I followed suit. WTFWIT! There was no way I could squat and balance on that injured ankle, and just my luck I toppled into a wasps’ nest! Needless to say I was pretty miserable for the next few days between the throb of the ankle and the infernal itching of the butt cheek. Caladryl HO!

  6. Hey guys, just found this blog now. I’m from Ottawa and also left in 2009 from a similar situation, never regretted it. Looking forward to see where your adventure goes and best of luck from another canuck abroad.

  7. haha, this is great! so many moments i can relate to, why do we make such stupid decisions?! oh well, they seem to always turn out well, long may that continue 🙂

    1. And to you…Johnny! It is crazy, the stuff that we do. And I was a little nervous about putting them all in one blog post (for my Mom to read)! Oh well, now it’s out there – ha! Cheers.

  8. I think we’re going to have to bug you guys for advice on how to stay out so long. We’re not sure how long we want to be out but we’re starting with our budget and hopefully making it work.

    I haven’t had any WTFWWT moments yet, but I’m sure a few will be coming our way.

    1. The key for us being out long is to travel slowly and sit still for awhile. Hence, our love now of house sitting! While we were on the road and moving every few days…after about 6 months I found myself really tired of it. I think that is my max for traveling that way!

  9. True, misadventures are the ones you love telling your friends about, although most of the times when you are experiencing them you don’t really think about joking 😛

  10. Yes, we have had plenty WTFWWT moments – too numerous to recount. I do feel like we have been extremely fortunate with our travels though – so much can go wrong and we have made this far relatively unscathed. Travel insurance and god planning help.

    That note that you received with your iPod melts my heart. I love these simple acts of kindness. You can see all the wonders of the world and it is these small experiences that really shape your experiences and remain at the forefront of your memory. Hooray for good people!

    1. I feel like we’ve been pretty fortunate too…especially in these stories, REALLY bad things could have happened in each instance. Wasn’t that note the sweetest? She was a doll, and a great reminder that there are so many beautiful people in this world!

  11. I’m glad you two shared this with me via SU, it’s a gem! All I’ve gotta say is Pete you’re a badass for convincing those guys in Spanish that you’re not paying them and Dalene, I must admit, gelato cravings strike me equally as hard!

    1. Uh oh, so when we make it to visit you in Spain, Pete had better keep an eye on us so we don’t go wandering off (do they have good gelato there or only in Italy? I can’t remember…)

  12. Haha, I’ve got a few of those moments too. Love that your friends did the betting pool. It’s what all our people think when we set off on grand or unusual courses, but most keep it to themselves!

    1. Ha, you should have seen the results on that pool though. As the evening wore on and more drinks were consumed…they got to be pretty hilarious.

  13. I love this post! Reminds me of the post I just, about missing the ferry in Vieques and seriously thinking WTFDWDN?? But they make great stories in the end!

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