In my last post This is the worst day of my life – Not !, I proved you that there was an imperfect 10% about travelling. The famous 10% that we can easily live without … That 10% that made me cry and makes me laugh today. On the spotlight today: 2 of the worst days of my life – or not!
The one where I have been followed in Turkey
Context: Fourth backpacking trip // Solo travel // After I cancelled my flight to the Czech Republic to stay longer in Greece and finally running away from the farm (reference to one of the worst days of my life post where it all started …), I am on my way to Istanbul, Turkey, in a night bus where I will join an American friend met in Greece.
Weird fact # 1: A friend request on Facebook. Normally, I do not accept the people I do not know. This time it is a Greek name, and in my situation, the Greek alphabet is incomprehensible. Annoying bit: No real profile picture, just a few photos of Italian monuments. So I think that this is probably one of my host’s friends (through Couchsurfing) that I met the day before. I accept the request. By consulting his profile, I realize it’s weird and I send him a message asking if we know each other.
Mistake # 1: In the meantime, I “tag” myself in my hostel so my father knows where I am. Hostel in which I participate as a helper(HelpX? More details here!).
Weird fact# 2 // CREEPY: Up to six hours later, my new Greek «friend», replied that he saw me in his neighbourhood while I couchsurfed to his neighbour, he spotted me in his friends list and that he likes to follow “pretty girls”. Deleted and blocked!
Context # 2: In my hostel, I hear many stories like what girls have been followed in the street at night and how important it is to be vigilant!
Weird fact # 3: Being vigilant, I come back to my hostel before 9:00 PM. The streets are crowded and I feel safe. It’s my first night in Istanbul. Obviously, I look like a tourist physically and I’m easy to spot. I hear a male voice behind me “Hey how are you? Where are you going?” As I am good at adopting the b*tch mode with strangers, I ignore him. However, Mister is not impressed and he try more… and more. Feeling harassed and remembering that I am still in Turkey, I decide to respond. Long story short, Mister is “American” as he says (although his accent is not) and he is in the area for the summer with his father to work in a 4 seasons Hotel. Arriving at the corner of the street where my hostel is, I anticipate the moment when I will have to turn right. So I tell him that I have to leave him here as I’m tired and I’m going to bed. He strongly insists that we should go for a coffee quickly (I refuse!) when he starts screaming at me: “you are a bad person, you are a really bad person!” He turns back and I verify several times to make sure he does not follow me. Annoying bit: on this street, there is only one hostel (mine!).
Weird fact # 4: Every day, I get a new friend request on Facebook. Everyone is currently in Turkey. I refuse them all!
Mistake # 2: As I want to refuse one of the requests, I inadvertently press accept. Realizing my mistake, I delete the friendship.
Weird fact #5 // CREEPY: I get a new friend request just a few seconds later from the same person (How can he be so quick?! Is he waiting on my profile?).
Weird fact # 6: After 9 days in Istanbul, living a little Turkish romance with a local guy, I returned to my hostel. Someone knocks on my door. This is the guy from the “front desk” who tells me that the manager wants to talk to me. Worried, I meet him in the basement. He asks me several questions about the local guy and how my week has been. Weird. I ask him what is going on. He shows me an email that he received via Facebook. Basically, the sender asks if they have a reservation on my name (and my American friend who has already left Istanbul) and that if that is the case, they should contact the police because we are dangerous, “signed” by the Interpol Police (Via Facebook, of course!). The manager did his research in my absence about this profile.
Weird coincidence # 1: The sender is the same as weird fact #5.
Weird coincidence # 2: His only friends via Facebook are the same as weird fact #4.
Weird coincidence # 3: According to his research, their profiles are fake and they use random pictures. They comment each other’s status and pictures. They write in French, English and Spanish. There are several CREEPY status like, “we know all about you, stop telling us that we do not have a life, do not ask your friends to add us as we already know who your friends are, here is why you should not accept strangers on Facebook “(and even more than that).
Weird coincidence # 4: They are “tagged” in all the countries I visited during this current trip.
Weird coincidence # 5: They are also “tagged” in Four Seasons Hotels (reference to the weird fact # 3).
Weird coincidence # 6: Consulting their profiles to try to learn more, I notice a status. Before I decided to go to Istanbul (even before I bought my bus ticket), one of the statuses says: “We will send Hakan with blue eyes.” The local guy is named Hakan and he has blue eyes. Although he assures me that he does not understand, I still cannot trust anyone.
My first thought: If they know where I am, why don’t they come to catch me?
My second thought: What if they expect me to go out so they can catch me?
My third thought: What if they book a night in my hostel?
The Canadian Embassy has a very simple answer, which is to go in a different hostel and contact the police. Is that not risky? Did you know that the police in Turkey are generally younger than me and are also corrupted on some points?
Weird coincidence # 7: The fake profiles send friend requests to my friends from home and from Turkey. They are trying to get information about me and they are telling them that I stole drugs in Greece and I was not supposed to cross the borders so easily.
Weird coincidence # 8: Hakan’s manager receives an email saying that his employee must stops to see me because I am dangerous. (This fact proves that someone actually saw me as there is no other way to find Hakan’s job via Facebook).
My fourth thought: I could visit friends in another country … what if they are really following me? Am I still in a travel mode? My answer: no.
Result: Booking a flight to Canada after 48 hours without sleep or eat.
Result # 2: Although I have tried to find more about this, I also accepted that I’ll never know.
Turkey 1 – Melissa 0
Melissa 1 – Bad people 0
The one where I have been “homeless”
Context: Fifth backpacking trip // Solo travel, but sharing my adventures with my Travel Buddy: Myriam // We quit our housekeeping job to become painters (Yes, you are right, painter) (Have I said Painter, because I am everything, but certainly not a painter?!)! We then leave our painter job after a few days (of course, it was written in the sky). In fact, we end up temporarily homeless and we survive in an overpriced hostel for our poor budget in the cute town of Canmore, Alberta, Western Canada.
So happy to have a friend who lives in Moraine Lake, we make a deal with him so we can visit him during the weekend and we can sleep at his place (and save a night at the hostel!).
Being without a car and wonderful hitchhikers, we find our way to get to our destination. That day, it is cold. Our Sunday smiles (as suggested in my post on hitchhiking) don’t want to hang out with us. In fact, the cars do not stop so easily. As we finally arrive close to our destination, in Lake Louise, we contact my friend who has a “bad new”. He has to work and cannot host us.
Our problem? We are running out of money. Yeah, our savings are… somewhere, but.. obviously not in our bank account.
Our real problem? We had this agreement since we found out that our hostel was already full on this day. If our hostel is too expensive, it is also our best option.
We return to Canmore, tired, confused and after having lost so much time hitchhiking for no reason. We try again the hostel, still no cancellations! As we try to develop a list of potential solutions with plan B, C, D, E … Z, we realize that our options are limited:
- Sleep on a bench;
- Sleep at the bus stop (Bonus: heater in the cabin);
- Find friendly souls at the bar;
- No sleep.
A friend offers us to spend the afternoon with him at his place so we have somewhere to go temporarily for a few hours. We walk 3 kilometres to get there when we see him in a car. I look at my phone when I realize that he sent me a message telling me that he has an emergency and he is truly sorry. In tears, we are desperate. Because, sometimes, you know … sh* t happens.
We try for a third time the hostel and finally decide to wait in their lobby until 20:00PM (time when they are supposed to be sure about cancellations).
While Myriam decides that this is the worst day of her life, I try to convince her that it could be worse, that one day we’ll laugh when we will think about it.
Result: Two cancellations.
Melissa and Myriam 1 – The “sh*t part” 0
I leave you with these “hints”
To be continued…
You know what I mean when I am talking about a travel nightmare? Share yours!