National Geographic airs a fascinating program, “Locked Up Abroad,” that tells tales nightmares are made of: getting locked up while traveling. When I want to feel better about my travels, this is the show I watch. It’s one of those train wrecks of awful, where you want to reach out and shake people for the decisions they make.
You’ve probably read stories. Seen movies. Perhaps you’ve even done a double-take of what could happen if your momentary lack of good judgement resulted in being thrown in the slammer in a country where you didn’t speak the language and the embassy might not be able to be your knight in shining armor.
This week’s episode, which airs on Wednesday, May 23 at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific is one of those that makes you wonder what on earth people were thinking. “Black Palace of Horrors” tells the tale of Dwight Worker, one of only two people who have ever escaped from Mexico’s Lecumberri Prison. Back in 1973, Worker was busted in Mexico City for smuggling cocaine to the US via a fake shoulder cast. Once he was caught, he was locked up in the infamous Lecumberri Prison, also known as the “Black Palace.”
As it goes with being locked up abroad, his life sucked. He had to fight off being gang raped. He nearly died thanks to being stabbed. He even ended up being placed in the pysch ward (and why not? Life there was hell!). But, while he was there, he also met Barbara Chilcoate, a visitor. Like most modern day romances, the two fell in love and, together the love birds crafted one of the most jaw-dropping prison breaks. On his wedding day, in prison, he attempted to escape while made up as a woman.
Which makes me wonder … how far would I go to escape a life in the slammer in another country? Which leads me to the question, would I ever do something that lacks such udder judgement to end up there in the first place?
The truth …
I’m not going to lie. I have done some seriously stupid stuff while traveling in the past.When I was in my early 20s and thought I was invincible (or just didn’t think). Looking back … man, I was an absolute idiot.
Don’t want to get locked up abroad? I swear, it is common sense stuff. But, sometimes you need to read it to be reminded.
So … skip this stupid stuff:
1. Don’t do drugs in foreign countries. Seriously. Don’t. And, if my words of advice aren’t enough, at least do your homework and find out what the laws are should you get busted. These little dalliances can result in jail time in places that are not forgiving. Even countries you think are somewhat lax in their laws in regards to drugs … I knew someone in Croatia who got busted smoking pot. Ended up in jail. Sounds like a great way to have a vacation, yes? The Full Moon parties in Thailand? Just because everyone else is popping pills doesn’t mean you have to. I’ve heard horror stories from party-goers there and rumors of drug searches on the beach.
2. Keep calm. Drunken nights in bars can sometimes lead to aggression. Breathe deep. Walk away. Don’t fight.
3. Don’t be overly helpful. Meaning, if someone asks you to carry something for them, deliver something for them … just don’t. “Brokedown Palace” anyone?
4. Know the rules. Some places are far more conservative than others. Public intoxication. Skinny dipping. Mind your manners.
5. Do not ever, ever, ever joke about terror plots.
While this all seems like common sense (and it really is), there’s a reason shows like “Locked Up Abroad” exist: because people forget to exercise it.
Want real life stories to keep you on the straight and narrow while traveling? Tune in Wednesday to the latest episode of “Locked Up Abroad.”
Have you ever gotten locked up while traveling? Share your story below!