Stories About Getting Lost

Lost in the Moroccan desert… My boyfriend and I had just landed at the Tangier airport and went straight to the Information Booth because neither of us spoke Moroccan. Closed. Uh oh. How were we going to find out transportation to Tangier city?

Most airports have a bus to the city center so we headed for the exit with our fingers crossed. We waited at the curb for about 10 minutes until - yes! - a bus pulled up. Ah, just what we needed. Or, maybe not. This was the most dilapidated, rusty, crikity bus I had ever seen. People were hanging out all over it. I could see (and hear and smell) various animal “passengers” as well. We decided to take our chances with the next bus.

Another 10 minutes and our prayers were answered. A lovely, brand new, air conditioned shining in the sun bus pulled up. The doors opened and from somewhere in the airport, dozens of tourists queued up and entered the bus. We figured, hey, they won’t mind if we joined them - right?

We got all comfy in our seats as the rest of the passengers trooped on when the guy in front of us turned around, pointed to the window between us and started talking - IN GERMAN! We had gotten on a German tour bus and, of course, we didn’t know a word of German. Smiling and nodding got the window up and the bus pulled out of the airport. We were committed.

At the front of the bus, a Moroccan gentleman in full Moroccan garb got up, grabbed a microphone, gave everyone a big smile and started speaking in German! We could not take it any more. We started giggling then outright laughing. It was just such an odd sight we couldn’t help it. The Moroccan guy thought we were laughing at his jokes and just beamed which made us laugh even harder.

This was turning out to be an adventure that’s for sure.

About 15 minutes into the journey, the bus stops. IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Literally, there was nothing to see 360 but Moroccan desert. The doors opened and all the tourists trooped out of the bus. We followed, clueless.

The tourists disappeared down in hole in the middle of the desert. We decided not to follow, turned and started walking back down the road. Smart move? Probably not. Lucky for us, the road was near the ocean and, perched on the cliff side was a beautiful hotel. We felt lucky indeed.

At the hotel desk, we asked if there was a way into town. He said we could call for a taxi. Perfect! Except their phone only worked with incoming calls - we couldn’t call out. Then, seeing the crestfallen looks on our faces, he suggested we hike back up to the road. There should be a bus that comes by at 1 PM.

There we stood on the roadside. Me in a hot pink short dress and heels, looking out across basically nothing. We couldn’t even see the hotel up there and the German bus was long gone. Stranded, lost in the Moroccan desert. No food. No water. No clue. What a pair.

We’d probably still be there if a goat herder hadn’t happened along. So, while the goats were nibbling at my skirt, we started a literal United Nations conversation. I asked the goat herder in French if there was going to be a bus coming by here.l He answered to my boyfriend in Spanish (because I couldn’t understand his Moroccan French accent) who translated it to me in English. Get the picture?

Turns out that there was a bus supposed to come by, so we waited. And waited. And waited. Just when we were about to despair, we saw a vehicle in the distance headed our way. Not a bus, but, amazingly enough, a taxi! It stopped, the driver stuck his head out the window and asked if we had called for a taxi. I looked at my boyfriend. He looked at me. We both looked at the driver and said, “YES!”

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Many years ago, I was speaking at a conference in San Antonio, Texas. I arrived a few days early, alone, to explore the town. So enthralled with the sights and sounds that reminded me so much of Mexico, I became lost in a sketchy area far from the areas that tourists frequent.
I suddenly noticed the familiar smell of fresh masa and followed my nose. There was a tortilleria filled with people, all of whom turned and stared as I walked in the door. I am quite fair, with blonde hair and green eyes and I surely didn’t look like I belonged there.
I decided to get more than directions. I stepped up to the counter and asked, in Spanish, for 10 pounds of the quebradita, the fresh masa for tamales, and another 10 pounds of the masa fina for tortillas. The man behind the counter said nothing, but looked at me and went into a back room. He emerged with an older woman. She asked me, in Spanish, what I was going to do with the masa. I told her I was going to take it back to Philadelphia and make tamales, tlacoyos, sopes, etc. Then came the test. Unsmiling, she asked if I knew the secret to making good tamales. Everyone stared. I looked her right in the eye and said that one must be in a good mood, or they would turn out sour.
She grinned from ear to ear, came out from behind the counter and enveloped me in a huge hug. Everyone in the place laughed and cheered. She had her son drive me and my masa back to my hotel.
I stayed in touch with my new friends for several years after that, and still get the warm fuzzies whenever I think of San Antonio.

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My two best friends and I once made the mistake of starting a day hike entirely too late in the day. We were hiking the Long Trail up to Mt. Abraham in the Green Mountain range of Vermont. It was a beautiful, but cloudy October day. We figured we could get started around 2p since it was only 2 and half miles to the summit from Lincoln Gap. We failed to account for elevation gain, which was about 800 ft per mile. The fact that no one else was headed up the trail that day should have been a clear indicator but we were too excited to reach the top to even notice. By the time we scrambled up to the summit, it was close to sunset. At the top, we stood above the clouds and realized that there was only about a half hour of light left. Then, it started to rain. The memory of our descent on those steep, rain slick rocks in the pitch black still haunts me today. We had good fortune to have a few faint headlamps in our packs, which probably saved our life, but came very close to heading down the wrong side of the mountain. The boulder strewn trail was marked only by white trail blazes which bear an awfully close resemblance to birch trees with missing bark. At one point, we realized our feet were crunching over leaves instead of hitting hard stone and it became clear we had wondered off the trail. It took us about 10 minutes of walking in circles in the pitch black for us to finally get our bearings. I’ve never been more grateful to see a trail marker in my life! By the time we made it back to the car, it was close to 9p and we were on the edge of hypothermia. We were all pretty shaken up afterwards, but now we can look back and laugh about our mistakes and the fact that the trail we were on is is aptly called “The Long Trail.”

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I don’t have any pictures; it’s just more of a story. A long time ago, I went on my first road-trip ever with a college friend. We got lost somewhere around Cincinnati. Keep in mind this was before GPS, so we stopped the car, got out, and spread out a map on the hood of our car. We were having such a good time that we didn’t care that we were lost. It only took a few minutes to figure out where we were and where we needed to go. It was on that road trip that we coined the saying, “You’re only lost if you’re not having fun.”

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The Catlins was exactly where we were too. Getting lost aside, it’s stunning there and we did get to see some gorgeous scenery along the way before the weather turned on us.

Throughout most of his career, my husband traveled the world. Because I also worked, I could not accompany him very often, but on the rare occasion that I could join him (usually a business venue within driving distance of our home), my favorite thing to do while my husband was in meetings was to wander around seeing the sights.

Many years ago I accompanied my husband to a conference held at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This was before cell phones and GPS were common (at least I didn’t have them) but I was driving our new Chevy Tahoe which had a magical feature called “OnStar”.

I had a grand time exploring the area. As usual, I was confident in my ability to retrace my route but I suppose I was more adventurous than usual because I had OnStar available if needed. When it was time to return and meet my husband, I found myself hopelessly lost. I pushed the OnStar button and was connected to a disembodied voice that promised to guide me back to Carnegie. Well, it didn’t work. I was met with one-way streets, construction and every manner of obstacle as On-Star tried to assist me to my destination. The OnStar guy was on the verge of giving up when I saw a police car at a convenience store. I said goodbye to OnStar and approached the police officer. I asked him, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The officer gave me a big smile and responded, “Practice, practice, practice!”

I had never heard the “Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice” joke, and as far as I was concerned, I had been “practicing” half of the afternoon. I burst into tears. The poor officer, who had probably been waiting for decades for someone to ask him how to get to Carnegie Hall, was taken aback by my tears. He gave me directions and I arrived on time.

It was years before I found out that I was an unwitting party to a pretty good joke.

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Love this story. Much to the annoyance of those around me, that is one of my favorite jokes!

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@cdgarcia Search “we do things the old way” New Mexico, and you will find a Google Book excerpt with a pic. It was quite frightening!

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Last summer, I went to Brussels Belgium with the travel club at my college. Our second full day there our instructor decided to let us run loose as long as we met back up at the Grand-Place in time for our walking tour. My friend and I immediately ran off from the hotel to the Royal Gallery of St. Hubert in search of fancy Belgium chocolate. After a few hours of binge eating the best chocolate we had ever had and walking around, we realized that we had no idea how to get back to the square. This lead us to wandering around aimlessly looking for other members of our group. We went around in a circle (that we later were told was the perimeter of the Grand Place.) Eventually we gave up and sat down at a nice coffee shop halfway between our hotel and the main part of the city. Then suddenly from the corner of my eye, I saw the familiar shape of a professor/father of one of my high school friends. We immediately ran to him and stayed glued to his side the rest of the night while he repeatedly quizzed us about where we were at. That night at the hotel I messaged my friend that I was stealing her dad.

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Dear SeeSaw, thank you for the hint, I may need your help - my search comes up with lots of stuff but no scary image that I can see even down into the 4th or 5th page… am I looking for a dummy hanging from a noose?

This a great story but I am also curious to know whether you’ve ever gotten lost on Tralfamadore. If you have a missing part, I have a suggestion how to work with that.

Plenty of stories about my unstuck time in the alien zoo, but I’ll have to save that for another thread.

Yes, I actually posted it earlier, but was reminded that it was an inappropriate image :grimacing:. Which totally makes sense, I wasn’t thinking lol. The book is call Lynching: American Mob Murder and here’s the link- https://books.google.com/books?id=cS8fDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA94&lpg=PA94&dq=%22we+do+things+the+old+way%22+new+mexico&source=bl&ots=dpd8ZSjXgv&sig=ACfU3U1Ru6GnOqnZeCcznvxJGB5yTHKrhA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiZqPiNweLgAhUKGKwKHWW1AXwQ6AEwCnoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=%22we%20do%20things%20the%20old%20way%22%20new%20mexico&f=false. It shows to be on page 94, and it shows the dummy hanging from a ranch sign.

Amazing. I just might have to read that book. :astonished:

I LOVE historic places. Inviting my friend to go to George Washington’s Mt. Vernon, it never occurred to that not everyone LOVES historic places. Well, enough she agreed to go, once we got there she told me the truth: she HATES historic places. Wait, what? You work in a museum, how is this possible? It just is. Both she and I belonged to our community woodlands committee, so luckily for us, Mt. Vernon has vast surrounds of woodlands (I did not know this!) We headed off and found beautiful wild flowers in abundance. Cool native trees and shrubs–witch hazel, wild rhododendron, incredibly tall American hollys. We wandered and wandered–how could the property be so vast–I thought it had been eaten up by suburbia. We had found a wild wonderland right outside DC and we were having a blast! But, alas, our blast didn’t last. We now realized we were completely lost. Pre-mobile, pre-GPS, even HELLO-ANYBODY THERE? didn’t work. So we walked… Ah, civilization, there’s a horse. We headed in that direction. As we got closer, we saw that it was a very big horse, I mean huge. As we got closer, we realized it was not alive. It once was, but at some point a taxidermist had gotten a hold of it. Why was it there? Who had owned it? General Washington? I think not. But it was just standing there on it’s own in a maze of trees and under- and over-growth. It was kind of scary looking, tattered and looking out of glass eyes–we knew this was not our ride home. The long and the short of it is that we continued on, and then, we saw a golf cart coming straight toward us. We were relieved that it had a real live person driving it! This was our ride home. We had been lost, but it was still a great experience. I highly recommend seeing the “new” Mt. Vernon estate, out buildings, and Learning Center. Even more, I recommend a trip to the woods around the estate. And I have two requests: 1- always landscape with native plants and 2- always remember, you’re never really lost, you’re always somewhere. I can’t remember who said that, but someone famous, and when I’m lost on back roads or walking on foot I TRY to remember that and just enjoy the experience!

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You win with this story!

That mysterious horse though…

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It was April, 1976. I was 16 years old and on a French Class trip to France and England. On our second night in Paris, three young ladies and one other young man and I decided to take advantage of the relaxed alcohol laws in France and purchase several bottles of wine and some beer. Bolstered by our newfound alcoholic confidence, we then broke curfew and went on an unsanctioned tour of nighttime Paris. Leaving from the Hotel Mondial at around 9:30 pm we wandered around some wonderful neighborhoods for hours.
Soon we all agreed that we should return to our hotel. Here was the problem. None of us were keeping track of the route we were travelling! Panic started to set in, as you might imagine. After about an hour we met two native Parisians also out on a late night stroll. Thankfully they knew a little English and we knew enough French to be able to communicate.
When they learned that most of us were from the Chicago area they were excited and made reference to the Capone era by making machine gun noises and gestures. We politely smiled and agreed. They then provided us with directions back to our hotel. We returned without the chaperones ever knowing of our absence. My greatest adventure EVER!

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I always find out about these things far too late.

In the summer of 2012, my gal pal and I flew into San Francisco, and wanted to watch ballgames in San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle. We allotted two weeks for the journey, since we had seen the Grand Canyon in 2011, along with Arches and Zion and developed a newfound love for national parks.

We figured 2 weeks would give us time to see Redwoods and Crater Lakes, Goonies and Cascades, Olympic and Lassen. It did. We saw all of that.

My uncle lived on Camano Island, and while staying with him, we thought we’d check out a state park. Deception Pass sounded awesome, so we headed that way. It was so awesome, it was packed to the gills. I’m not sure if we stopped or not, but we decided to look further down whidbey island.

We found fort ebey park, and the island has a bit of a cliff bluff system, and i saw a trail leading down the bluff. there was another trail off to the right, and that’s the one we took.

I’m allergic to bees, and the trail we took was full of them, buzzing my tower as i hurriedly made my way through. eventually we wandered to the bay, and i thought there was no way I was going back through the bees.

I was wearing sandals, and the beach was rocky. Eventually, I’d go barefoot, but not before I saw the same deer I saw at the start of the trail, showing me where I should have gone back up. I should have put two and two together, but I’m a bit of a speciesist, and all deer look pretty similar, especially west coast deer to my east coast eyes.

Helping us miss the path was the the fact that the sea had washed away the beach side of the trail. We were looking for the trail at eye level, but it didn’t start for another 15 feet up the bluff.

So we kept walking.

We found a raft, that looked like a memorial, washed to shore. We fixed it up and sent it back out. Had we not looked behind us, we would have believed that we succeeded in our task.

We succeeded in nothing.

We kept walking. Fort Ebey is a pretty big park and we walked right out of it. We finally found a spot we could climb the bluff and PRIVATE PROPERTY signs greeted us. We had no cel service. We had no idea we left Fort Ebey, but we pushed on. In a few hours, we began to wonder if we were going to miss dinner. My aunt and uncle had planned for us to eat together, and we’d feel really bad if we missed it.

We had no cell service, so we couldn’t tell them. Eventually, we found other hikers. There were others as lost as us, or at least they pretended to be, and then we found our saviors.

Another couple had started their day just like us at Fort Ebey, but finding no usable trail, went to Ebey’s Landing. We had wandered aimlessly on the coast of Whidbey Island from one state park, through privately owned coastline and ending up in a completely different state park, something like 6 miles down the coast.

The other couple, knowing where we came from, drove us back. Thanks to my sandals and my barefoot miles, my feet were burning. Finally back in our vehicle, we made it just in time for dinner, but I’ll never forget the day we got lost on Whidbey Island.

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I was about six months pregnant with my first child in spring 2000 and my husband and I took one last childless vacation to Cat Island in the Bahamas — very small, no casinos or resorts, just a funky place with seaside cabins and a surprisingly good restaurant. One day we borrowed kayaks and a map showing us how to get from a lovely mangrove-lined river out to the sea so we could circle back to the hotel. This involved turning from the main river at a market to a “trail” in the water. We found the turnoff OK, but the route afterwards was a little unclear, so we just tried to guess by the depth of the water, which was getting shallower and shallower as it wound among the mangroves. Pretty soon it was too shallow to kayak and we were walking in knee-deep water pulling them. It was about then that I realized we were totally lost. I think we had a small amount of water with us, and a camera with a flash. We imagined a scenario where we didn’t return to the hotel after dar and they sent out a search party or even a place, and we could signal them by firing the camera flash, with rescue coming dramatically just as the batteries died. Fortunately I had some experience with walking in the woods as a kid and had learned that, when walking an unfamiliar route that I later wanted to retrace, I should keep looking behind me to see how things appeared when looking from the opposite direction, so on the way back, things would look familiar now and then to confirm we were going the right way. Another thing that helped was that the water was very clear and still and had a sandy bottom, so I could actually see our footprints here and there on the bottom. In this manner we managed to retrace out steps. Despite or perhaps because of this incident, it remains one of my favorite vacations.

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