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Photo by David Page.

If there’s one thing to expect while traveling, it’s that things will go wrong. Trouble is, the worst things are always the most unexpected.

A couple weeks ago, we asked readers to submit shots that capture or represent moments when everything is going wrong while traveling. Over 120 entrants submitted photos competing for free tuition to MatadorU’s Travel Photography Program, and we selected the following three finalists.

3rd place is awarded to Marisa Wong, who managed to visually capture the indescribable shock she and her fellow Peace Corps vounteer, Terri (featured), experienced during a bus crash in Niger.

2nd place goes to Lisa Goldapple for her photo of her and her friends’ vacation to ‘Fantasia Resort’ in Sharm El-Sheikh, “an eyesore next to a half-built aquapark in the middle of full-on construction “At this point,” she wrote, “we were still smiling as we hadn’t yet encountered our daily stalkers ‘Crouching Mohammed’ and ‘Hidden Mustafa’, got food poisoning, or investigated the centre – Vegas had been reproduced in papier-mâché and neon for a few Egyptian pounds and plonked in the Sinai desert.”

And the 1st place winner is Marissa Barker, whose travel bag with passport, wallet, and cellphone is somewhere in the sewage drain that this man is diving into. After stumbling along a road in while waiting for a bus in Switzerland, the bag fell off her shoulder, “tumbling into Swiss poop.” Luckily for her a very tall, thin, and extremely nice stranger offered to dig it out. “When he emerged upside down with my sewage-soaked bag in his hands, the innocent bystanders and I cheered as if it were Baby Jessica being pulled out.” Needless to say, the guy didn’t pay for his beers that night.

Matador wishes massive stokes and thankyous to everyone who sent us their photos and stories about moments when their travels went more than just a little off-track.

For their 2nd and 3rd place photos, we’ll be sending Marisa and Lisa their own copies of Rough Guides’ Make the Most of Your Time on Earth.



About The Author

Jason Wire

Jason Wire graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and spent the year after writing and teaching English in Spain. He's back in the states now, but doesn't know where. Follow him @wirejr.

  • Marissa

    I have to add that the extremely nice, tall, thin man diving into the drain turned out to be a good friend of one of my co-workers at the time. I didn’t figure this out until returning home. So in addition to learning that travel isn’t always perfect, I found out that it really is a small world.

  • Hal Amen

    Congrats Marissa and the rest! Great shots!

  • Lindsay Clark

    Awesome contest. I love this instinct to document the less than ideal situations on the road along with the good. Congrats to all these ladies.

  • Michelle Schusterman

    Congratulations to all of you! I enjoyed the photos and stories very much.

  • Steph

    Wow, great shots :) Glad to see the bag got rescued. Congrats everyone!

  • Coen

    Very nice indeed to turn disaster into good photo opportunities.
    Adventurous greetings,

  • Tim Patterson

    Awesome shots – would love to see more of the photos that were entered.

    • Julie

      Tim- You’ll definitely see more soon!

  • Kate Sedgwick

    Wow! Running the gamut here. These are great (and it’s great to see you on Matador, Lisa)!

  • joshywashington

    Swiss poop…Baby Jessica…this picture has it all! Diving headlong into defecation after some strangers handbag has to be the most gallant thing I have ever heard!!

    My fav is the 3rd place pic, the look on that woman’s face is priceless…

  • Les

    Ok, That photo is well deserved first place!! I’d love to see the other photos that didn’t make top 3!

    • David Miller

      thanks for commenting les.

      we’ll be sharing more photos and also opening a discussion about ‘what makes a travel photo’ next week.

  • Julie Fricke

    I agree, the third place photo is a Time Magazine candidate.

  • Lisa Goldapple

    Normally I don’t like to come second, but an upside-down thin man in poop made me literally laugh out loud (or ‘lol’ as the kids are saying nowadays).

    Kate – small world indeed. We will bump into each other soon and the world will implode/ turn on it’s axis (axes?) etc.

    I also sent in another pic – you can check it here – the Argentine Malbec smuggling incident…

  • maggie

    That first place photo is fantastic; definitely laughed out loud over here :D Ahahaha. What a great, albeit poopy, story!

  • Audrey

    Haha, great moments captured on camera!

  • Andy Newbom

    awesome photos!!

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