The Worst Experience Ever

Say goodbye to internal balance...
Say goodbye to internal balance…

Warning: this is not for the faint of heart, or weak of stomach. I know I have a few friends who have supported my efforts by reading my every blog post, but to those friends – you are under no obligation to read this one!

Doug and I have had a number of amazing, memorable experiences from our travels around the world. But every once in a while, in order to rebalance equilibrium, the travel gods put us through a certain hell that is just as memorable but for the wrong reasons: food poisoning, torrential downpour, flight cancellations. Today’s trip aboard the Biotur Catamaran takes the cake in that category.

We can’t even say we weren’t warned. In doing research for our transportation to/from Morro de São Paulo, the most popular and direct route was a 2.5 hour trip across the open sea aboard a catamaran. We exercised good judgment on the way out, but given our tight schedule with getting back to the mainland to catch our flight home, we opted to take the faster route back.  Everything we read warned that the waters could be very rough at times, but did we listen? No. If anyone reading this is contemplating taking that trip, please think again! There are other ways that take just a little longer and are so much more pleasant.

We didn’t really have a lot of time to think about the ride, as we actually came close to missing the boat altogether (which in retrospect, I wish had happened). Our hotel shuttle left without us, citing the fact that they didn’t know we needed a ride, so we waited for a cab to come get us in the middle of nowhere, then ran ahead of the guys pushing our suitcases on wheelbarrow to make sure the boat didn’t leave yet. We were literally the last 2 people on the boat, so we naturally got the worst seats on the boat – inside near the front.

Within 2 minutes of leaving the dock, I knew this was a very, very bad idea. For starters, in front of every seat was tied a little plastic barf bag. Seemingly heavier than it looked, the catamaran still lurched up and down as it rode the rocky waves, while swaying side to side. Constantly up and down, where I can guarantee you every person felt their breakfast following the same motions. I spent nearly the entire 2.5 hour ride with my eyes closed to avoid feeling dizzy, leaning my head on Doug’s shoulder so I wouldn’t feel like I was bouncing up and down, while Doug did the same leaning on my head. I was terrified of moving for fear of disturbing our perfect little equilibrium supporting “Operation Don’t Barf.”

While this was all happening – and also still with eyes closed – I heard all sorts of terrible sounds. The most prominent being loud gasps every time the boat lurched significantly (often), sprinkled in with some crying, and worst of all, the loudest puker in the world. I didn’t hear many people getting sick, although Doug told me he saw it happening everywhere around me. There was, however, one man that made his condition known to the entire boat, on multiple times during the trip – retching so loudly and hysterically that someone next to me actually asked, “is this man having a baby?” In hindsight, this was pretty funny, but in the moment, I nearly started to lose it (in more ways than one).

There was a man on the boat whose sole job was to clean up people’s sick – he would scan the boat to “get ahead of the situation” when possible, coach them on the best way to get sick and tie their bags, take their bags and put them in a larger bag, then replenish the bags for them. Let’s just say that he stayed a very, very busy man on this entire 2.5 hour journey…

I spent the entire journey going through this cycle: thinking positive thoughts, praying I would die, trying to trick myself into thinking I enjoyed the lull of the sea, praying that I didn’t puke, meditating, praying that we were almost there. And repeating about 30 times.

We couldn’t even talk about our experience coming directly off the boat as it was so traumatizing, but once we were finally on solid ground we rehashed our own experiences and eventually – much later – found that we could laugh about it. The craziest part? We both admitted that we had the same identical dream in the brief moment we each fell asleep that we were reaching shore! That’s exactly how bad it was.

Booked our to/from transportation through Zulu Tourism on the Biotur although I highly recommend the overland bus/boat combination if possible (schedules are more limited)

But, if you must…do as we didn’t and buy dramamine and ginger chews!

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