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You always want what you can’t have. COVID has brought out the wanderlust in all of us. I even got my passport renewed this year, which is now serving as a paperweight rather than anything else. In a world where you don’t even leave your bedroom for school, reminiscing about days where you could leave the country is truly incredible. To reflect on these memorable times, I have compiled some devastatingly funny travel stories that will make you forget about your next zoom class. 

Courteney, like many other university students, had enough of the stress that comes along with school and decided to take a break during reading week to escape. She chose to go to Mexico with two other close friends (Madi and Victoria). It was going to be just the break she needed, the stuffy classroom atmosphere would be replaced with fresh air and beaches, and all of her late nights studying would be replaced with late nights partying. For the most part, everything was going to plan. Their resort, the Hotel Riu Jalisco, was beautiful, and the girls were meeting other travellers to explore their new paradise. This all took a sharp turn early on during this getaway, two days in to be exact. It was a beautiful day to spend on the beach and that is exactly what Courteney, her friends, and some guys they met at the resort were doing. Everyone was running into the clear beach water but as soon as Courteney looked back to the shore, she realized something wasn’t right. Her friend Madi was hunched over and barely made it into the water. At first, she didn’t think much of it but then got increasingly worried once she realized that her friend wasn’t moving. She rushed to her side where she saw that Madi was in a great deal of pain. It was probably related to the giant white lines sprawled across her foot. Madi had been stung by a stingray moments after entering the ocean. This made their entire group run to Madi’s side in a panic, unsure of what to do next. Soon, the lifeguard arranged a wheelchair for Madi, but that was all the way at the other side of the beach, back at the resort. This resulted in an obstacle course in which the group was carrying Madi, trying not to sink into the hot sand. Making it to the wheelchair was a triumph in and of itself, but what would come next would prove to be even harder. Where the hell was the doctor? The group raced through the resort with the two guys navigating by pushing Madi’s chair, and Courteney running by her side, recording the whole event. There were tons of laughs and mishaps along the way and Courteney even contemplated pouring tequila on her foot, but soon after what had felt like two hours, the group found the doctor. Unfortunately,  this proved to be useless after he shrugged off the issue and simply told her to take an Advil. This unlikely event was solved by an over the counter drug. Who would have thought? Let’s just say the group never thought they would be leaving Mexico in crutches, but it made for one hell of a story. 

This is a picture that my friend took and gave me permission to use
Photo by Courtney Dorrington

Maria was also looking to get away and see the world. In fact, she was living in Naples, Italy, at the time doing a volunteer program. In her new home away from home, she met lots of new friends and was truly becoming immersed in their culture. One day, she and her friends decided to take a day trip to the Amalfi Coast. It just so happened to be an exhaustingly hot day. Much like her commute all the way back in Toronto, the group had to wait for an ungodly amount of time for a bus. All the while, the sun was wearing away at them. When their bus finally arrived, as luck would have it, the vehicle was packed to the brim with nuns and tourists. This led Maria and her friends to squeeze onto the bus like sardines, shoulder to shoulder with the large group of nuns. Nevertheless, Maria had managed to keep in the best of spirits because she was used to crowded public transit. Unfortunately, her friends were not ready for what the rest of the ride had in store. Their quick 15-minute bus ride included a winding road that would cause the entire vehicle to lean over the very edge of a cliff that they were driving on. The packed passengers had the beautifully cruel view of the ocean on their right, with only a frail, 4-foot fence as a safeguard between them and taking a quick dive. The thin roads made it impossible to close your eyes and escape because every sharp corner had to be accented with a loud honk so that oncoming traffic could avoid them. The rest of the ride felt like a rollercoaster that wouldn’t end, and it didn’t help that one of her friends began to turn green. Thankfully, the elderly nuns graciously gave up their seats and did so in such a fashion that showed us how used they were to these unwary conditions. This helped, but the group had enough after being pushed to their absolute limit. At their first opportunity, Maria’s friend bolted off the bus, which led to her entire group following. Even though they escaped the bus of horrors, the group quickly realized that they had to walk the rest of the way. So, they all tiredly ventured on foot to the nearest village. Upon arrival, they felt like they had reached heaven. They were so excited to rest and get some delicious food in their stomachs…that was until they discovered the local cuisine, seafood. 

this is a picture I got approved from a friend
Photo by Maria Barr

I was lucky enough to travel the world from an early age. In fact, my first trip away from home was a three-month exchange to a country which spoke a language that I simply couldn’t—France. During this adventure, I was fortunate enough to meet Laure, my exchange partner. This is one of her stories from a family vacation she took in her home country, while in the Jura mountains. At the time, she was with her family swimming in a scenic lake in the mountains and taking in the tranquil scenery. Soon, the group heard thunder in the distance and knew that their swim would have to be cut short. This made Laure and the rest of her family dash back to their car and get back to where they were staying. As the family made their way, they drove out of the forest they were in. It was there that the thunderstorm truly began. This made for a frightening trip, where the loud rumble of thunder was accompanied by trees falling all over the road. Laure’s father had to slam on the brakes as a massive tree obstructed their view, landing directly in front of their car. The family was stuck in the middle of a thunderstorm, still freezing in their swimsuits. Luckily, this nightmare only lasted about twenty minutes before a car coming from the opposite direction arrived and set the family free by cutting the tree in front of them. Overall, it is clear that this story is one quick plot line away from the beginning of a very scary horror flick. 

Speaking of France and Laure, I thought I would tell you some funny tales from my own time in France. Keep in mind that at this point in my life, I was only in the eighth grade, and even though I had been taking french classes for the past four years, I only really knew how to order a pizza and introduce myself. I was so excited to venture outside of the small town I was from and see a whole new part of the world. Upon arriving and attending school, I realized that exchange students tend to stick out like a sore thumb, given the whole ‘not speaking the language’ thing. One of my funniest memories is hearing all of the strange assumptions and stereotypes that my fellow students had about Canadians. My favourite one was when I was asked at lunch by a boy and his friends if my dad was a lumberjack. This brilliant punchline led to all of his friends exploding with laughter. Laure and her family made me feel very welcome in this new beautiful country, but my lack of direction and brand new surroundings got me into a lot of interesting situations. About three weeks into my stay, Laure had a school trip to Athens, Greece. Before she left, I remember her reminding me of how to get to school, and explaining the trip in detail everytime we took the bus. She was very helpful and it was really straightforward. Unfortunately, this commute was my first ever. Despite the fact that my walk to class back home was only twenty minutes, I always got a ride. It only took one day of Laure being gone until I got lost. I was coming home from a half-day of school and was excited to spend the rest of my day eating chocolate and journaling. Sadly, all of that would change when I failed to remember when to get off the bus. Soon, the normal, beautiful view I experienced with my daily commute, turned into a long, unfamiliar road that was frighteningly brand new. Upon realizing I had gone too far, I jumped off the bus and was left on the side of a road that I had never seen before. I immediately felt like I was in the middle of nowhere… I remember walking aimlessly, hoping that I would somehow find my way. All I had to help me was an iPod touch that I used to document my journey, thinking that maybe I wouldn’t be able to find my way back (I know, super dramatic). When I finally made it home (over an hour later), my host mom thought that I was hanging out with friends. When I tried to explain why I was late in broken french, she laughed it off as a joke. I went along with it because to be honest, it was pretty funny. 

My last tale from France is probably the funniest. I was eating candy with Laure and her siblings, munching away on a delicious European toffee while listening to euro-pop. Soon, the laughter and chatter was interrupted by a loud crack. Everyone looked around and I held my mouth shut in fear. Half of my front tooth was buried in the toffee that we were all enjoying. I looked like I had blacked out one of my teeth for Halloween. Now I wasn’t the only girl learning how to speak French, but also the only one without a front tooth as well. Thankfully, I got my tooth fixed before I got home, or so I thought. On the plane ride back, I was catching up with the friends I had made in the tour group. Suddenly, snap. It had broken off again. My parents were terrified to see me happily run to them in the pick up area, with a messy bun and one less tooth than when I left. 

The best thing about travelling is that you are never the same person when you return. Whether the reason is dramatic, funny, or even perspective changing, you always have so many wonderful memories to look back on. Some remember wheeling their friends through paradise, some remember nuns saving their day, a tree landing right in front of their vehicle, and even getting lost with only an iPod touch and hope. I am so lucky to have seen everything I have at my age, and to have met such amazing people, like Laure, along the way. Even though quarantine has lasted a little bit longer than we were hoping (understatement of the year right there), soon we will be able to explore again. When the time comes, there will be plenty of stingrays, nuns, collapsing trees, and broken teeth for all! 

Audrey is a third-year media production student at Ryerson University. Originally from a small town in Northern Ontario, she moved to Toronto to pursue her dreams of making an impact in the media scene. She specializes in tv production and more specifically the post-production side of things. However, in between daydreaming and being on set Audrey spends her time exploring the city and playing board games with her friends. Her biggest goal in life besides being featured in a film festival is to finally own a French bulldog! She loves all aspects of media including marketing, the business end of things, and production because she recognizes each sector's importance towards effective storytelling. Audrey looks forward to using her talents towards speaking out on topics that need a voice.
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