I’m planning a weekend in Thailand and am starting to get a little nervous that history may repeat itself. Since I’m traveling alone, I’ve decided to book a couple sightseeing tours to make the most of my brief time there. But I’m worried. One excursion includes either a Monkey Show or a Snake Show. I will definitely choose the Monkey Show but am afraid of a mix-up. Here’s why.
A few years ago when I travelled to Costa Rica, a family illness caused me to delay my trip. Instead of having a weekend free before my business trip, I’d only have one day to sightsee. I scrambled to re-arrange my plans. Instead of going on the volcano tour I’d originally booked, I settled for a trip to the oxcart village and coffee plantation.
I woke early and sat in the hotel lobby, waiting for my tour bus. I watched other people come and go for hours. Panic started to set in. I was the only person left and my 10:30 tour bus had never arrived. It was already 11:00am and I was still sitting in a hotel lobby on my only free day in Costa Rica. I felt tears welling in my eyes. I was going to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime chance.
Then a man walked into the lobby.
That’s me! (I hoped.) The van was already 1/2 hour late, but I was relieved it was there. I got on and there were two other Americans on board. One was a 70-year-old woman from Nevada, and the other was a 30ish man from Florida. We got to talking and they told me all about the places I should see while I was in Costa Rica. The woman had just gone zip-lining and loved it. The man had, too, in a different area. They did make it sound fun. They’d both been to Costa Rica a few times, so they talked and talked until one looked out the window, puzzled, and said, “This is the way to the falls?”
Was I on the wrong tour bus? By then, it was nearly noon, and we’d travelled pretty far. If I said anything, I wouldn’t have the chance to get on any other tours. And I wasn’t sure how to say something to the driver anyway, since I don’t speak any Spanish. So I kept my mouth closed and asked Marta what our itinerary was. She looked at me strangely and then said that first we’d go to La Paz Waterfalls and then to the butterfly garden and rainforest. The man chimed in that we’d see monkeys and sloths and snakes.
My heart dropped. Snakes? I am terrified of snakes, but I was going to have to buck up and get over my fear of snakes or spend the afternoon on the minibus. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to go on my nice safe coffee and oxcart tour, but I couldn’t spend my entire time in Costa Rica sitting in an office. Snakes or no snakes, I was going to see the countryside!
Then Marta asked me if I’d brought a rain poncho?
No. I still couldn’t bring myself to admit that I’d gotten on the wrong bus. My plans had gotten all screwed up. I sounded like an idiot, but I was still trembling at the thought of stumbling upon big snakes in the rainforest. I asked her if she’d been to the coffee estate on her past travels, hoping she’d say we were going there today, after the snakes. She started to answer and then the bus stopped and a man walked up to the bus and said “Juliann. Come with me.”
I was so embarrassed. I thought that the driver had figured out that I wasn’t really on this tour and called for someone to remove me. How embarrassing. But no, this had been the plan the whole time. Another tour bus was waiting for me. This bus had just been the means to get to the next one. What a relief! I was going to see oxcarts and coffee and had escaped the encounter with snakes. So it all worked out. If I’d spoken Spanish, I might have known that earlier.
That trip turned out fine, but will this one? In addition to the fear I have that I will somehow be lead into a Snake Show, I have booked a canoeing trip down a river where we will see monkeys in the trees and snakes basking in the sun. It’s one part of a more comprehensive day. I am already hoping against hope that the snakes stay basking on the shore and that I don’t see any in the water.
I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have passed out during snake encounters. It’s a true physiological phobia with me. But as in Costa Rica, I can’t let the thought of them spoil my weekend. But Thailand — please don’t surprise me with a Snake Show. Please don’t surprise me with a Snake Show. Please…
Do you have fears that limit your travel adventures?