My driver was named "Mr. Boney" - a name fit for a child's cat, or a skeleton. We whipped past ramshackle shops, slums, and aluminum-topped huts. Skinny dogs slinked along the gutters beside men stumbling shirtless from makeshift side-of-the-road rum saloons.
My first day, I ventured to a remote cove and spotted a cow grazing just off the beach. Few would consider cows wild animals and I've always known them to be harmless, docile creatures - the Canadians of the animal world. Before I could stop myself, an overwhelming urge to pet her took over.
Two steps later, the cow bucked her hind legs out and charged at me. Barefoot and horrified, I fled squealing into the sea.
"Stop it! Stop it! Ahhhhh! Help! Cow!"
If ever being chased by a cow, screaming "Cow!" does little to sound the alarm. Perhaps it's the singular nature of the word, since yelling "Stampede" might have gotten some attention. But on the imminent-danger scale, "Cow!" was on the level of "Kitten!"
Crashing into the surf, I realized I didn't know if cows could swim. Regardless, I didn't think I had it in me to drown a cow - the process seemed too personal, like stabbing someone. Give me a gun and I'd shoot it in the back from a distance, but something about holding a cow's head under water felt wrong.
I was trapped.
The sun rose higher and I began burning in the water, a painful irony. On shore, the cow had wandered back to the grass for a snack and I took off screaming. The young honeymooners must have been surprised by the red man running toward them. Was this some poor, wretched castaway?
" Run! Cow! Will kill us all! Ahhhhh!"
I blew past them in a flash, heading toward Philadelphia.
Days later, I drove back over the same mountain road I'd arrived on - past the ramshackle shops, slums, and aluminum-topped huts. Only when the plane lifted off did I close my eyes and smile, squeezing the hand of the woman next to me, whispering:
"We made it."
Sean Carney writes from Philadelphia.
Did a travel experience move you, change you, or give you great memories? Email us how, in 500 words or fewer (include a photo, caption information, and daytime phone number): email@example.com. Put "Personal Journey" in the subject line. If we publish your piece, we'll pay you $25. (Response volume prohibits our returning or acknowledging your submission.)