#5 - Couldn't hit the damn ball!
The ancestor to baseball is in Romania. Wow. The oina federation was happy to have us. They gathered the whole national team, a huge crowd, and local press. I was first up to bat... all eyes on me.
I could not hit that damn ball. They literally threw it 15 times, the pitches got progressively slower and softer.... my confidence sagged and embarrassment soared.
What is the upside of public humiliation? It's twofold. A lot of travel shows are heavily "fixed". Road Less Traveled is not. When you see me fail to get on a snake boat after a big whoop-tee-do buildup (season 1), or continually whiff a softball pitch, it is clear that we are keeping it real.
Likewise, there is nothing like failing at a simple athletic task to keep the ego in check. We all have bad days. I'm a fallible human being. Experiences like this provide the opportunity to embrace vulnerability, which is essential to having a more intimate life. So a big thank you to my motor skills for making me look like a newb.
#4 - Visiting Goa during monsoon
We assumed India's coastal gem would provide an episode full of content. We got two minutes of footage. It just rained and rained. Everything was closed and shuttered.
So we rented a car and drove inland until the rain stopped falling. What unfolded was a fun road adventure and a completely serendipitous episode in Karnataka.
#3 - Screwed up the Vietnam visa
The dude responsible for arranging our travel saw Vietnam had a "visa on arrival" and read no further. It turns out you still have to fill out forms and pay money in advance. We got to our short stopover in Singapore and they wouldn't allow us on the connecting flight. Disaster!
So we sat in the airport cafe, opened up our laptops, and started digging for nearby content. After five hours I found something called "Shoe Dating" in Kuala Lumpur. With that lead we took a chance on Malaysia.
One of my shoe dates invited the crew to a party at her house. There I overheard a group talking in hushed tones about a situation in Sarawak, the Malaysian slice of Borneo island. This lead us to the meat of a completely unplanned and uniquely political episode. Bam!
#2 - Went to the wrong restaurant in Italy
Walking down the streets of Bolzano, a door opened beside me and the most delicious smells wafted out. Mmmmm! I turned to the crew and suggested we get lunch. The place was cafeteria style so we loaded up our trays with goodness and brought them to the register.
"Do you have a student card?" Asked the cashier.
"Uh... non habbiamo.. Is cash OK?" I responded.
No. Cash was not OK. We needed a debit card from the University. We'd have to leave the food. Shit.
"You can use my card and give me the cash," said the lady behind us. Lunch was saved!
We sat beside that lady. She was researching avalanche rescue techniques. I asked her if she knew the rescue crews working the Dolomites. She did. A couple days later we were in one of their helicopters running a rescue drill in the mountains. Boom!
#1 - Leaving all our camera gear 8 hours behind in Manila
It was lucky to roll into Manny Pacquiao's gym on the day he was there. We left all smiles and drove through the night to get to the Banaue rice terraces in central Luzon. As we unloaded the van it became clear we left all our filming gear behind. Caramba!
When we returned to Manila I asked for a day off to recuperate from all that driving. On the free day I decided to check out an allegedly miraculous Jesus statue. As an afterthought I asked the cameraman to come along and maybe get a couple shots. We were immediately busted by the church officials who sent us to the office to get filming permission. I almost didn't go.. it didn't seem that important.
Standing in line I noticed the office wall was covered with plaques like:
Department of Prayer - Room 201
Department of Choir - Room 423
Department of Worship - Room 315
Hmmm.... the little hamster wheel began to turn in my head. When I got to the counter I asked if there was a department of exorcism. This opened up an entirely new episode which included demon possession, the Filipino vampire, and a beauty pageant. Bonanza!