South America 2008 Thoughts

Worst case scenario

You’re in the middle of a 12 hour bus-ride through the desert, it’s the middle of the night, you’re on very high altitude and it’s really, really cold. The bus breaks down and people start panicking and suffering from altitude sickness. It’s dark. There’s children. And the bus driver doesn’t have any mechanical skills but still refuses to call for help. You’re alone, your language capabilities are very limited and you’re the only foreigner in the bus..

My travelbuddies and friends have often gotten to join me on my “what would you do if” -wonderings. It often turns into great conversations and theories about laws of nature and ways to handle different situations and people. Naturally, travelling to strange places sparks the greatest scenarios and possibilities. And of course, gives you the most interesting people to discuss with.

What would you do if you were stopped by three ten year old boys with knives?

What would you do if you were kidnapped and taken hostage?

What would you do if corrupt police had planted drugs on you and stopped you?

What would you do if you were in a falling elevator?

I’ve discussed all of the above scenarios for hours and days, there’s so much to take into consideration and so much to think about that it leaves you wondering and thinking and spinning off to all kinds of different themes. I wonder what determines who survives a planecrash and who doesn’t, what is the difference between people who freeze in a situation and those who start acting? Why do some panic and other get their act together and make sure to fix things as fast as possible? When does high fear turn into a strong adrenaline-rush of rational reaction, and at what point is fear overwhelming to the point that it makes a person break down? How much does technical knowledge actually matter in a situation of chaos? How much does physical strength matter in relation to mental strength?

I haven’t found myself in a really horrible situation yet. I was in the above situation in a bus in Peru, where people were screaming and suffering from altitude sickness. I was giving away cookies to old ladies and I was holding babies while their mothers were crying in panic. But what mattered most was that I went out and forced the busdriver to call for a mechanic, which he was refusing because the company wasn’t insured and he wouldn’t get paid if he couldn’t fix it himself. I went angry-gringa on him with my really bad Spanish and made him make that phonecall. Being on the verge of hitch-hiking with some random truck to the closest village, the mechanic arrived and we got rolling again after three hours in the cold. Victory! haha..

My reaction probably didn’t change a lot because if it wasn’t for me, some angry Peruvian guy would soon probably threaten the stupid busdriver and make him call anyway, however, my main trait in these kind of situations is that I need to try to affect them somehow. I just can’t wait for things to happen and solve themselves.. So, if I was kidnapped and taken hostage? I don’t know.. but I think I would probably try to escape or do something really stupid.. after trying to psyche the bad guys out of course. haha

My point is, experiences are always a great thing. No matter if they’re good or bad. I always enjoy chaos and think that if it doesn’t hurt me too much physically or mentally, it’s been a valuable lesson and a great adventure.

Disclaimer: Please do not confuse my statements above with brainlessly putting oneself in unneccesarily risky situations. Stupidity is unforgivable. haha

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