In twelve months traveling through South America, only one of the dodgy situations I imagined in my brain (or my mum in her arguably more terrified one for that matter) actually happened. Happily, I was not made into a human barbeque in Colombia. No one robbed me. I did not careen off a Bolivan mountainside on a bus held together by barely more than sticky tape. I did not become entranced by a golden-brown Brazilian on a golden-brown beach, only to find out that I was to be sold as a sex slave. I did not lose my luggage. I was not refused entry into any countries. And my scuba breathing aparatus worked uncommonly well.
(While I was bitten by a dog and I did meet Gonzalo; a vomit-inducing human being who believed that he was Jesus, and that the Lord was calling him to “heal” (read: molest) young women; I’ve decided that as I didn’t expect these things would happen in the first place, they don’t count.)
But yes, something came true. One night, I managed not to find accommodation. I think I was beginning to believe my own hype, always waltzing into hostels without bookings and finding excellent last-minute Couchsurfing hosts. So I admit to being surprised that night in Tucumán when, planning to leave for Chile the next day, I was perturbed to find that I was fresh out of Argentinian pesos. After a lot of city trekking I discovered close to 7pm that no places took card, nor had change for US dollars. And so I decided to sleep at the bus station; a thankfully all-night bonanza of fluro lights and other curled up transients. So there I was, taking a fitful kip on the stripy floor below an Argentinian flag, on the top level of this open-air bus station as the icy July draughts came in.
I used my sarong as a mattress (a piece of cotton which the cold traveled straight through) and, apart from a visit from a feather-jewellery-selling-17-year-old drifter who made me a wire treble clef, my night was uneventful. I can’t say I slept well. But I slept, caught my onward bus early the next morning. And discovered a new-found respect for bus seats.