I once snuck into a secret passage that came off the closet of a cordoned-off room in Hamlet’s castle. The passageway eventually became a narrow crawl space. At first I was elated to discover it: people were murdered, affairs were consummated, and plots were hatched in this dark, smelly passage. Maybe. Then I realized I wouldn’t hear anyone who might come to lock the closet door. I might be trapped in this passageway for who knows how long. As soon as I emerged into the room I realized that a) my fears were well founded because someone had just arrived to close the closet and b) I was busted. I was escorted off the property and forbidden from returning. In Bulgaria I wasn’t as lucky. I was accidentally locked into two separate impregnable fortresses which were surrounded by rivers and cliffs on all sides. Both times I had to just wait until the angry guard returned with keys. In the meantime, we attracted a group of tourists and locals standing outside the iron bars, laughing and taking photos. I guess the moral of the story is that it is much better to find an unlocked door where you expected to find a locked door than vice versa. I can only hope that you will find something interesting/informative in my continuing accounts of locked and unlocked doors around the world.
When I was 18, I traveled around the world on my own (I haven’t really stopped since then, though I somehow managed to finish college and spend a year at a corporate job I hated in between). Once I needed to stay warm while trapped outside in a cold desert night so I slept atop a composting toilet. Another night, I failed to plan accordingly and slept in an unhitched tent atop Swedish marsh. I awakened, freezing, with every inch of my face and body covered in mosquito bites. Keeping with the theme of sleeping in uncomfortable places, I once accepted an offer for a room by a man at the bus station in Dubrovnik. When he took me back to his home, I wasn’t greeted by the elegant, quaint bedroom in the pictures he’d shown me – I was greeted by his bathroom. He’d set up the tub with blankets and pillows, and I spent the whole night fearing that I would accidentally kick the faucet with my foot and drown myself in my sleep (Rational? No. Terrifying? Certainly). In Ghana, I somehow ended up in an empty village, where the only other living soul for miles was a man named Bongo, who politely yet creepily told me that we would be sharing a bed. In Turkey, a man approached me out of the blue and punched the crap out of me – on a crowded street. I’ve hitch-hiked all over the place (sorry mom!) and cleaned my fair share of toilets to earn my keep. I’ve made plenty of dumb (and some really smart) decisions which you can hopefully learn from or, at the very least, be entertained by.