One thing I’ve learned from traveling —curve balls go with the territory. You need to think fast and be flexible. So over the years I’ve played it safe. In case my luggage gets lost or I can’t find a must-have item in the country I’m visiting, I bring a backup —anything from my favorite toothpaste to extra memory for my camera. But on one trip I learned that a back up camera should move to the top of the list. (And I'm not talking about an iPhone. Well, until they can invent one that takes panoramic shots and has multiple lenses.)
Case in point my trip to the Philippines. I spent an amazing 9 days traveling all over the colorful country. I visited all the major natural wonders the islands have to offer. The Lake Taal Volcano Islands, Katibawasan Falls, the Banaue Rice Terraces, the Chocolate Hills and the fascinating hanging coffins of Sagada. After a whirl wind trip, my head spun from all the fabulous sites I’d seen. I couldn’t wait to show my family back home all the photos I’d taken.
Unfortunately Philippine Airlines had other plans. While flying over a particularly bumpy patch of the Pacific Ocean, the plane suddenly lurched forward and then flew straight up in the air. The pilot frantically tried to get control of the plane and we leveled out for a few minutes before the plane nose dived toward the ocean. The overhead bins flew open and the oxygen masks dropped down. Did my life flash in front of me? No. I was too busy watching my carry-on bag fly out of the overhead bin. All I could think of was please let my camera survive as I watched my bag crash against a seat and hit the floor.
Panicked, I threw off my seat belt, pushed the oxygen mask out of my face, and leapt to my feet in hot pursuit of my bag ignoring the fact that the plane continued to careen toward the ocean.
My seatmate Glen, grabbed onto my pants and yelled. “You’re crazy, sit down!”
I reached over and snagged the carry-on rolling toward my feet. Hugging the bag in my lap, I fastened my seat belt. After a few more terrifying minutes the pilot managed to wrestle control of the plane.
Taking a deep breath, I opened my bag. The hatch on my camera was missing and the memory card was broken in half.
“Oh my God,” I cried out to anyone who would listen.
The woman across the aisle from me said in a calm voice. “Everything is going to be fine!”
Glen reached over and held my hand. “It’s okay we’re safe now! We've made it!”
I looked down at the broken memory card and all the fabulous pictures that were lost forever and said, “Yeah, but my pictures didn’t.”
Once again Glen looked at me like I was crazy. “What’s more important? Your life or a bunch of stupid photos?”
I sighed. “Well, I’m glad I’m not dead but you should have seen the pictures I took of the Chocolate Hills. The lighting was perfect. The hills looked like giant flatted out Hersey kisses dotting the country side. Amazing.”
He gave me a smile. “You describe them so well. You can just tell people what you’ve seen.”
I stuffed down a laugh. “You haven’t met my family. They never believe what I tell them. My grandfather was the king of the whoppers. No, they need proof.”
Glen shook his head and reached into his bag. “Here,” he said handing me a postcard.
I looked at the card covered in a kaleidoscope of pictures of the top tourist attractions in the Philippines. “Thanks. But it doesn’t have a picture of the hanging coffins of Sagada.”
He gave me a sly grin. “No. But at least you’re not coming home in one.”
Moral of the story: Remember to follow Fish Out of Water rule #9: Always bring a backup. Sometimes one is not enough!