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For those who think my genes are made of gold and glitter — you are correct.
Nonetheless, my perfection isn’t immune to a cheeky disaster every now and then. Which is likely why you guys are falling over yourselves to read about my troubles on the road.
Yep, talking to you — the person who’s never read a blog post until now. I see you. And I’m judging you hard.Alas, here is the non-sexy stuff that will never make social media's carefully curated platforms. Click To Tweet
The failures, the emergencies, the embarrassments, and more.
I try to pull back the curtains of this full-time travel lifestyle whenever I can, to remind you guys that life happens to EVERYONE, and how you react to life
‘s punches, is what matters most.
In the moments, I may have shed a few [thug] tears, but here I am in December — healthy, happy, and alive. Can’t complain!
Though I oughta really set the bar a bit higher.
10) GETTING DENIED SERVICE IN BRAZIL
No doubt colorism is an issue that stretches from the Americas to Asia, but to experience its consequence in a country where a good percentage of the people share my skin tone, was unforgettable at best, and pitiful at worst.
I solo traveled to Rio de Janeiro on a campaign with Grabr and amongst the Carnaval chaos, I escaped to a small, local restaurant to confuse my belly with food after a week of a massively imbalanced liquor to food ratio.
I walked in and greeted the first waiter I saw in Portuguese, then proceeded to seat myself.
Five minutes passed as waiter after waiter would walk by, see me, but not really acknowledge the fact that I hadn’t been served. No one gave me a menu. No one greeted me back.
Hmm, perhaps they were understaffed.
I waited another
eternity 10 minutes before it became apparent that I was being completely ignored.
Up until that point, I was speaking Portuguese, because I try to learn basic words and phrases of every country I travel to, just as a sign of respect.
I had no idea that it would actually bite me in the @%$ as I was confused to be Brazilian myself (90% of the time, locals thought I was Brazilian, and this wasn’t an isolated event).
I cleared my throat and put on my best “Let-Me-Speak-To-Your-Manager” tone and decided to try my luck with English:
“UHHM, EXCUSE ME! MENU???”
I put on the most American accent possible, and you could
smell the gunpowder on my breath practically see bald eagles soaring over my head in pride.
Then almost instantly, two waiters looked over very confused, realized I was actually a foreigner, and immediately brought over a menu and apologized that they didn’t know I was from the states.
Why would that matter? If I were Afro-Brazilian, did they think I wasn’t able to afford a meal here? It was so awkward, but it was apparent that Afro-Brazilians were likely unwelcome in many parts of Rio, and it made for a very uncomfortable rest of the evening as multiple waiters came over to try and make small talk to cover for their racism.
If it weren’t so late and I wasn’t starving, I wouldn’t have even bothered eating there, but it was more uncomfortable for them than me, so I found small pleasure in the guilt in their faces.
This was, unfortunately, the underlying theme of my visit and from then on, I made sure to greet people in English first and then throw in a Portuguese word or two later.
9) ACCIDENTALLY SPRAYING A BUM GUN ALL OVER MY DRESS IN SRI LANKA
If you’re unfamiliar with bum guns or bidet sprays, it’s pretty much standard in a third of the world, and I don’t know how it’s not the norm yet in the United States.
At any rate, I was in Sri Lanka and dropped the kids off at the pool (this is a western euphemism for taking a massive SH!T,
let me know which you prefer in the comments) and when I went over to reach for the bum gun, I wasn’t prepared for what would happen next.
As I was proceeding to angle it towards my nether regions, the trigger was so light that mid-maneuver, the spray went off and you would think I was starring in some poop-fetish bukkake special because it was NOT pretty, and it made my otherwise opaque dress, very transparent.
Unsure of which proverbial cliff to walk off in the meantime, I drained myself in the sink, much to the amusement of a Sri Lankan woman passing by, before eventually succumbing to the thug life and adding a limp in my step as I walked back out to the restaurant to let people know that yes, I’m a mess, but Jesus still loves me.
8) WAKING UP NEXT TO A MASSIVE COCKROACH IN THE PHILIPPINES
If there’s one species of HELL NAW on this planet, it would be Satan’s cockroach-having spawn.
While they have no business existing and I regularly pray to God that He reconsiders His creations, if I never have to see another one again, it would still be too soon.
From California to Bali, they are everywhere and waking up next to one on my pillow was enough to throw the whole day away and think about what I’ve done wrong in life to deserve such a life-threatening situation.
I cried like a baby to security and an older woman, no younger than 125 came and set up a couple traps in the apartment to catch those little demons.
7) NO WAY TO PAY IN KENYA
I absolutely adored my time in Kenya, especially because I had the chance to experience a local side, staying with one of my reader’s (now friend’s) families on the outskirts of Nairobi (hey Sly!).
But they have this *interesting* payment system called M-Pesa where you need a local number or phone to top up your balance, and this top up process must be done at a convenience store.
A code is then generated and you pay your bill to the number designated by the restaurant.
Easy enough, right?
Except they wouldn’t let me buy one with a foreign number. So there I was, by myself at a restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
I asked the man if they took card, he said no. Then surely they take cash, right? NOPE.
Oh hey, SCREWED. It’s me! Your long-lost friend!
I told him I didn’t have an M-Pesa account or local phone, so I wasn’t sure how to pay the balance, and I was fully prepared to head to the back to scrub dishes or at least vomit up my rice.
Thankfully, I happened to be chatting with a Kenyan follower on Instagram who was giving me tips about some sights in the city.
I asked her for advice or if I could borrow her M-Pesa account and forward her money via PayPal and she graciously accepted and covered my astronomical $5 bill.
It was so strange. From that point on, I made sure I always ate with a local.Got some travel disasters from this year? Me too! Here are my top 10. Click To Tweet
6) DRIVING A STICK SHIFT AT NIGHT IN TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR IN SOUTH AFRICA
While I will never understand the uselessness that is manual gear, I was forced to learn how to drive one for a road trip a friend and I made from Cape Town to Namibia.
The journey was crazy, hellacious, and incredible all in one, but I wasn’t prepared to drive under such horrendous weather, which hit us right towards the end of the 18-hour driving day.
My friend had a bit of eye issues and wasn’t able to drive at night, so I had night duty each day.
If you’re an automatic driver and you’ve ever found yourself trying to drive stick, and you couldn’t get passed gear 1, it is 100% okay for tears to be your next natural step of action.
I was so terrified to stop at red lights for fear of killing the engine a minimum of 20x before cars would eventually pass me up.
We then passed through a really dodgy area and there I was, stuck at a red light for ten minutes on and off.
I was calling out every word in the book (scriptures, of course, from the Bible and stuff) *cough* and finally, I resorted to driving no faster than 10mph hoping that any red light I approach, will turn green by the time I got to it.
My friend and I were so happy to eventually make it back home, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t leave the house for the next three days still recovering from my stick-shifted nightmares.
5) $500 USD OVERWEIGHT LUGGAGE BILL IN AIRPORT
The worst thing that can happen on a press trip, is a sponsor dropping the ball on a small detail of your itinerary.
That “small” detail might be that you have two checked bags, each weighing 20 kg (50 lbs) that needed to be accounted for.
Yes, gone are the days of traveling light. The fact of the matter is that my laptop, cameras, electronics, and equipment alone, are easily 15 kg.
I have another bag of massive hair care products that, as a black woman, I can only buy and find in certain countries, so I need to have bulk amounts to keep me going, and then of course, my absurd number of sundresses, cardigans, and skirts.
Nonetheless, part of your sponsored trip is having your flight, baggage, and transportation all taken care of.
There was a miscommunication apparently, and I was stuck paying almost $500 just to get my second bag 10,000 miles to the other side of the world with me on my flight.
Of course airlines have those lovely last-minute deals where you get stuck paying like $25 per kilo, so that was fun *insert eye roll somewhere around here*
When working with brands on destination marketing campaigns, triple check that they’ve covered all grounds, because it takes one person to drop the ball for you to get stuck with the repercussions of an error that might not get accounted for later.
4) GETTING A DEATH THREAT OVER MY SNAPCHAT ACCOUNT
Not sure how to preface this one, because it’s pretty intense.
So I woke up one morning and prepared to do my usual 30 minutes of social media engagement in the morning, and I somehow was automatically logged out of my Snapchat account.
It was 6AM when I got the email link to reset my password and recapture my account.
But because the hacker’s phone number was now linked to my account, he logged me out every 5 seconds.
I literally had 5-7 seconds to change my password (because he would get notified the very second), while I opened it from my end and rushed to the settings to update the email address, and for the first 4x, he would log me out right before I could hit save.
Darn my long email. I had to type GlobetrottinGlo@gmail.com and my hands were shaking so hard by the 5th time out of pressure, that I typed “globe tottin toe” and “flobe trottin ho” (JK) before I finally got it right.
Come to find out, they blocked my IP address in Namibia which automatically locked me out, then changed all my account information from there.
My contacts, name, and saved chats had all been swiped from my account and suddenly I got a message from an inconspicuous account telling me that they will send someone for me if I don’t surrender my account.
“i WiLl rUiN yOuR LiFe,” they said.
Good thing I do that good enough on my own.
I learned that there’s a HUGE market in the United Arab Emirates of guys who hack and sell “viral” Snapchat accounts — and it is BIG money.
Apparently, “GL0” was being auctioned off in a forum, and someone bought it for $2,500! Of course I didn’t see a dime of that though, LOL.
But what they do, is they hack into accounts with high engagement and niche followings.
You might see an ad like “American account, 5K views per snap and 50,000 name score, mainly female followers” and people start bidding from there.
It’s like flipping houses. They try to profit off of selling it back to the original owners who are desperate to salvage their brand/business. But NOT TUHHH DAYYY, BOYYYEEE BYEEEEE!
Some of you might be thinking it’s “just Snapchat” but please try to remember that it’s a part of my brand that I spent a lot of time and effort building up since 2012.
I’ve made $10,000 on that platform off just three collaborations. It is part of my livelihood and it was scary to see that potentially disappear.
I thankfully was able to recover it in a couple days thanks to my network retweeting my desperate plea for help. A Snapchat exec reached out, froze my account, had me confirm my identity, and then I was back in business.
3) CARD GETTING DUPLICATED IN THE GILI ISLANDS
It was bound to happen. The islands off the east coast of Bali are rife with dodgy ATM’s and when you’re on an island — cash is king!
You really need to be stacked, because if there’s only one ATM on the entire island, it has the words HI, YOU WILL BE SCAMMED all over it.
I reluctantly used it and hoped for the best.
After a few days of closely monitoring my account, it appeared like I was in the clear!
And then out of nowhere, about a month later, I woke up to $1,000 being withdrawn from my account.
Terrified, I thought my entire wallet had been stolen. I was all the way in Sri Lanka, just a day into my stay and threw my room apart looking for my wallet.
Whew! FOUND IT!
Wait, so — how did they — crapcrapcrap, it was all coming back to me.
I used the mobile app to deactivate the card and called my bank immediately (which didn’t have a 24-hour customer service line, WOMP), so I emailed aggressively for days, showing them proof of me being in Sri Lanka, while the withdrawal that happened that morning was somewhere near Bali.
It took FOUR WHOLE MONTHS of the filed claim, tedious back and forths, and being ignored multiple times, before I was finally refunded a portion of the original amount.
I don’t have a physical address, nor am I in places long enough to receive packages, so to this day, I still don’t have my replacement card and have had to continue using a really old back up card, and rely on automation and digital currency [no, not sh*tcoin] to pay my bills and be a fraction of the adult I aspire to be.
I’ve never been “robbed” abroad, per se, so this was as close as it got.
2) GETTING EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA IN NIGERIA
I’m not sure there’s any graceful way to write about this. Future hubby, you wanna propose now or nah?
Because how often do you come across blogs that will tell you how literally sh*tty their day was?
In what was the most life-changing trip I’ve taken in 60 countries of travel, it was slightly tainted by my seemingly ruptured bowels.
If you grow up in a Nigerian household, agussi, fufu, peppa soup, and goat meat are staple foods in your diet.
You ate it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, and if you dared complain, you were considered a “yoos-lass gote” and it just wasn’t worth the potential of being disowned.
Reuniting with my uncle from my mom’s side and many of her good friends, they made sure I was eating until they had to roll me out of the kitchen.
In Nigerian culture, you eat until you’re about to explode, and then a year later when you visit, they’ll have the nerve to ask, “WHY AH YOU SO BEEG?”
Oh ya know, BECAUSE YOU FORCE-FED ME ALL MY LIFE and it’s a special type of emotional abuse known to Naija kids.
At any rate, while I’m eating my way through Lagos and Enugu-kwu, I’m discovering that the spices not only burn you twice (if you know what I mean), but they will light a fire in your intestines and make you feel like you’re about to birth a galactic baby out of Uranus #punbelievable.
I was afraid to leave the house or hotels for more than a few minutes, terrified of not being in sprinting distance from the nearest sh*tter.
Luckily, I only had one close call, so I sh*t you not, well, too soon, but yeah, I will never read the expression “sh*tting your pants* the same ever again.
1) LOSING MY HARD DRIVE IN BALI
Every digital nomad will share with you at least one scare of losing all their hard-earned memories, footage, and honestly, bread-makers with all their content, footage, and photos we store on our hard drives.
I perpetually back things up [both on the dance floor and on my laptop, I digress] and due to a hectic schedule, the prior four weeks had me crossing the International Date Line 3x and my whole system and method of operation was thrown outta wack.
There were some special videos I recorded while in Nigeria in June that were on a certain hard drive, which I had yet to back up, because I had been so busy (no excuses, always make this a priority).
I was wrapping up a shoot in Bali with GoPro when I first noticed it was missing.
I just finished ten straight days of 5AM wake-ups and 12AM shut-eyes, so I was already sleep-deprived and delirious about everything.
In between Ubud and Selat, I had no idea what had happened to it, so I frantically backtracked all the places, even the airport, where I had picked up Chris, the GoPro family member I was shooting with.
I hadn’t cried up to that point, but I definitely hated myself and didn’t want to talk to anyone. I shut down and went into a hole for about three days, even trying to talk through my emotions on Snapchat and allowing myself to feel the anger in order for me to process and move on.
I had accepted my fate, but I still didn’t know how to forgive myself for it.
And then I got the phone call.
My treehouse Airbnb in Ubud from two weeks prior had mentioned I left a small silver case at the villa.
I had never embraced a Kim Kardashian ugly cry more than that moment. I had never felt more gratitude.
That was the only backup I had that was loaded with every memory I’d ever captured since I first stepped foot abroad in 2012.
I immediately hired a bike taxi for the hour commute to the villa in the rain, and couldn’t get my hands on it quick enough.
I now have a triple back up of everything. And despite people suggesting I mail one back home, I think the safest back up will always be my Google Drive #notsponsored.
It’s amazing to know that regardless of the device I’m checking from, I can always access anything I need — and that’s priceless.
I still have two physical back ups, categorized by my GoPro, Sony, and Canon cameras, and then by the year, continent, country, and city they’re located in.
As this is my life, job, and brand, I couldn’t imagine not having 100% of everything I’ve ever taken, but I still get chills thinking about what felt like a miracle ending.
So beyond my overly-curated Instagram, I hope these stories added some much-needed balance to my over-curated social media life.
Any fun or crazy travel stories from this year? Please share below so we can laugh at your misery together 😊