Jayne Clark’s World Worsts
Name Jayne Clark
Who? A veteran staff travel reporter for USA Today who doesn’t mind a little discomfort as long as it makes a good story.
Countries Visited 60 something
1. Worst Airline Practice Spirit Air’s $3 charge for drinking water. Is that even legal?
2. Worst Souvenir I like to buy old indigenous stuff. But sometimes it stinks. Literally. In Tanzania, I found this container made of hide. It was soot covered and used to mix cow’s blood and milk — a refreshing beverage if you grew up in the area. I guess I thought it would be cool. But when I got home and took the lid off, it reeked of sour milk and dried blood. Not sure what I was thinking. Same goes for the pair of pointy-toe Moroccan slippers I bought at a tannery in Fez. They use pigeon crap and goat pee to treat the leather and that’s exactly how they smell. They’re still airing out on my porch.
3. Worst Lodging I was in rural Virginia recently and all the hotels were booked by NASCAR fans, so I ended up in a “rustic creek-side cabin” at a B&B. If you took a bunch of shop-class dropouts and told them to rip off materials from a demolition site and said they could make a dream cabin from it, that’s what I was staying in. The floors and walls didn’t fit together, electrical cords were dangling, insulation was exposed, there were stains in the toilet… you know, rustic. And just $135 a night!
4. Worst Bus Ride I took a bus from Tikal in Guatemala to Belize. I think the driver lived in the bus. At the ruins in Tikal, he parked on a downhill slope because he had to let it roll and pop the clutch to start it. It also required another odd ritual. He was peeing on the engine when we arrived. We were treated to the odor the entire journey.
5. Worst Travel Companions Years ago I was on a post-convention trip in Mexico with freelance journalists and photographers and some PR people. The dynamic was more class reunion than journalistic enterprise. I’ve never traveled with people who had such a huge sense of entitlement and such a total lack of curiosity. We were on a train going through the Copper Canyon and a photographer threatened to report the conductor to the U.S. embassy if he didn’t let him ride up front. A PR guy from Tennessee screamed at a young Mexican worker, saying, “I’m gonna whoop your ass, boy.” They were ugly, ugly Americans. I was mortified.