The southern half of the South American continent consists mostly of Argentina, the eighth largest country in the world. The distance from the north to south stretches 3,650 kilometers (2,263 miles) going from jungles to icebergs. Both South America’s highest and lowest points are found in Argentina, and the same goes for the continent’s highest and lowest temperatures. Argentina isn’t a country you’d want to get lost in, and it’s definitely a destination you wouldn’t want to be running from the law without money or a passport.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Lucy Wright. The Englishwoman was arrested for drug smuggling. Rather than risk jail in a foreign land, she fled the authorities without money or passport. She traveled over 1900 kilometers (1187 miles) from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Sao Paulo, Brazil, hitchhiking most the way. She even had to swim across Iguaçu Falls to avoid border security.
Lucy’s incredible feat of endurance and determination was fueled mostly by adrenaline, but she needed a fair amount of luck to help her along her way. Not once did she allow the mounting challenges overwhelm her. As she said, “I could have cried every day but I hadn’t let the self pity kind of wash over me.”
Lucy faced almost insurmountable odds, but she was never paralyzed by fear. She made the decision to run and committed to it. With five countries bordering Argentina, she could have wavered over her exit point. However she focused on Sao Paulo right away. But without money, Lucy was at the mercy of other drivers for transport. At every moment, she risked being caught by the authorities and hauled off to jail.
Argentina’s massive size presented her with many opportunities to cross the border undetected. Lucy thought Iguaçu Falls would make easy crossing point, because she’d blend in with the other tourists. Unfortunately, there was only one bridge to Brazil, and it had an immigration checkpoint. Exhausted but determined, she slid into the river and swam for her freedom.
Lucy never accepted defeat. If she had doubted herself at any point during her trip, she would have increased her chances of failure. If you’ve gotten yourself into a bit of trouble in Argentina and you’re on the run from the authorities without your passport and money, perhaps you can learn a little something from Lucy’s experience, so you can avoid arrest and keep your freedom.
- When you decide to run, don’t waste time being indecisive. You need to gain as much distance from the authorities as possible, so choose a destination and get moving. Fast.
- Hitchhiking is a gamble, and to do so in unknown territory can be extra nerve-racking. Don’t feel obliged to hop in a vehicle if you don’t have a good feeling about the vehicle. If the driver looks like the stabby-type, politely decline and/or run away.
- If you face an unconquerable obstacle, you may need to improvise or take a risk to earn your freedom. Lucy swam Iguaçu not knowing what was in the water, but she didn’t let the fear stall her. Your success is determined by the limitations you’ve placed upon yourself.
Tune in to Locked Up Abroad: Escape From Argentina Wednesday at 10P et/pt