By Cara Parenti and Career Advancement Program Staff

Participants and stakeholders have been sharing their stories with CCI Greenheart, so CCI Greenheart would like to return the favor and share some stories with them! Career Advancement Program staff has recounted the craziest experiences they have had while traveling; enjoy!


Melissa Hickok, Work Programs Services Director

The craziest travel story I can recall is when I studied abroad in London.  A friend and I thought we could go to Hay on Wye, Wales (famous for all of its bookshops, it’s called the “town of books”) for a day trip via train.  2 trains, one jolting bus filled with sheep, multiple confusing street signs, and 6 hours later, we realized we seriously miscalculated.

We had to find a Bed and Breakfast to stay in for the night and had absolutely NOTHING with us.  No toothbrush, no change of clothes, no hairbrush!  We smelled awful, but it was one of the most memorable trips I ever had and we came home with probably 200 pounds of books-new and old.  Goes to show that sometimes the best travel experiences come from spontaneity!


Lauren Coffaro, Career Advancement Program Manager

This past month, the CAP team traveled to Portland, Oregon.  We couldn’t believe our luck when we learned that the World Beard and Mustache Championships were being held that same day! The championships were attended by over 3000 people. The auditorium was filled with a bizarre and amazing assortment of people from around the world.

Some of the strangest facial hair we saw included a man with Cheetos tied into his beard, an Abraham Lincoln look-alike, an exact replica of Colonel Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken, a man with a long beard braided like a rope that dragged on the floor, and many mustaches bigger than the heads of those sporting them. This crazy and surreal hipster experience was the highlight of our time in Oregon!


Luis Federico, Career Advancement Program Assistant

I had heard notorious stories about how the French take their protesting very seriously but had only witnessed very peaceful demonstrations. I had a friend from the U.S. come visit me in Toulouse. On her second day there, I took her out to see the sites and get some lunch. We were on our way to a large cathedral when we began to smell something weird. We rounded the corner and there was a GIANT pile of manure in the middle of the street; police with shields on one side, and people with pitchforks and matching colors on the other. Turns out we had walked right into an agricultural protest.

We continued to the church across the street, but not a moment too soon! We reached the double doors of the cathedral and the firefighters began hosing the protestors, and the police attempted to disperse the crowd with loud firecrackers. Well, this only riled up the crowd more and people began charging at the police. Eventually we just went into the cathedral and we exited on the other side. It was pretty startling to see, and a great welcome for my friend to the “Rose City” – Toulouse France.


Cara Parenti, Career Advancement Program Assistant

It was my best friend’s birthday and a group of ten of us decided to travel to Budapest, Hungary to spelunk, visit the Christmas markets and enjoy some delicious Hungarian foods. The first day we were there we went ice skating at the city center. While skating, one of my friends (we’ll call her Sara) flew backwards and hit her head on the ice. In the US, we would’ve just driven to the nearest hospital or called 9-1-1, but we were in an unfamiliar foreign country. Luckily, we found the address of an American Clinic in the back of a travel guide.

We arrived to the clinic and the doctor assured us that everything would be okay as long as Sara didn’t start vomiting. Of course, at that exact moment, it happened. The doctor called an ambulance and sent us to the nearest hospital. When we arrived to this “hospital” it was something out of a horror film. I’m not sure if we had taken a wrong turn, or something had gotten lost in translation, but we were definitely not at a hospital; more like an insane asylum. We saw patients restrained to their beds in the hallway, and of course, freaked out, found a pay phone, called a cab, and made it home safe. Needless to say, this was the craziest/scariest thing that has ever happened to me while traveling. Oh, and Sara is fine now.


Melissa Muth, Part-time Career Advancement Program Assistant

While traveling in Venezuela I went to see Angel Falls, the world’s tallest waterfall. After returning from the 2 hour hike to the bottom of the falls, I ate chicken that was prepared over the campfire (on a stick) by our Pemón guides. It was easily the best chicken I’ve ever tasted and one of the most memorable nights I’ve had. Unfortunately, I paid the price afterwards upon my return to the city- I got a parasite and was bedridden for days.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened to you while traveling? Share your experiences with CCI Greenheart by emailing Cara Parenti at cap(AT)ccigreenheart(DOT)org.