National Geographic Channel’s Locked Up Abroad
I’ve been known to shake some shackles in my day. It’s even my tagline above – “Shake the Shackles. Escape through Travel.” But I’ve never actually spent any time in the clink. Well, hardly any.
My hard time was self-imposed, not court ordered. And it was served in a cubicle-shaped cell, not a real one.
But there are plenty of poor sods out there who have done a stint or two in the big house. And more than enough of those poor sods have been travellers.
And for some reason, that fascinates me.
So when the folks at the National Geographic Channel asked if I would preview an upcoming episode of Locked Up Abroad, and then write some tips on How NOT to Get Locked Up Abroad, well, I was all over it like an inmate on a cake file.
First off, I love the show, ever since it was called Banged Up Abroad. It’s addictive. It’s gritty. It’s suspenseful. And it leaves you thinking, What if that were me?
And also, Thank God it’s not.
If you’re not familiar with Locked Up Abroad, it’s about people like you and me, except they’re behind bars in a foreign country. So maybe not so much like me. (I won’t presume to speak for you.)
Some have been kidnapped, some have “accidentally” swallowed condom after cocaine-filled condom, but they all face the same fate – dismal grey cells, some serious hard time, and an understandable fear of shower time.
The episode I previewed is called Black Palace of Horrors. Here’s the show synopsis from National Geographic Channel:
Only two people have ever escaped from Lecumberri Prison: the infamous “Black Palace” of Mexico.
One was Pancho Villa. The other was Dwight Worker.
In December 1973, Dwight Worker is busted in Mexico City smuggling cocaine to America under a phony shoulder cast. When he’s sent to Lecumberri Prison, the notorious ‘Black Palace’ prison of Mexico, his life becomes a living hell. After fighting off a gang of rapists, a near fatal stabbing in the stomach and a stint in the psychiatric ward, he vows to get out or die trying. But there he meets Barbara Chilcoate, a visitor to the prison. They fall in love and together execute one of the most audacious prison breaks ever made. On his wedding day in prison, Dwight attempts to escape while dressed and made up as a woman.
Here’s a sneak-a-peek at the she-nanigans…
(If the video is not displaying above, you can click through to it at: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/national-geographic-channel/shows/locked-up-abroad-1/ngc-cross-dressing-escape-plan)
While I believe that only professionals should engage in cross-dressing, you have to hand it to Dwight. Life gave him lemons, and in turn, he made lamé.
And though I do think Dwight’s jail time was justified – he did attempt to smuggle a crap-load of coke northbound after all – his treatment in the Mexican penal system, the lack of a trial, and that whole attempted gang rape thing, make it easy to see why he was keen to escape.
The entire episode is a nail-biter (which I don’t recommend if you’re a gent apt to sporting nail polish on a Friday night).
So how do you avoid getting sent up the river in the first place? Here are my two cents…
How NOT to Get Locked Up Abroad
A Drug by Any Other Name…is Still a Drug
Tango & Cash is not a movie. Aunt Nora is not that annoying lady that pinches your cheeks at weddings. Hamburger Helper does not spice up your ground beef. And Somali Tea is not something you’d share with your grandma. At least, please don’t share it with my grandma.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, perhaps you need the Drug Slang Translator. It’s got the real name of every drug from Disco Biscuits to Scooby Snacks. (I think I just gave myself the munchies.)
The point here is be aware — something as innocuous sounding as pancakes and syrup (it’s a combination of glutethimide and codeine cough syrup) can spell serious trouble. Know what you’re ordering, transporting, or (God forbid) snorting. Or better yet, best just stick to water. (What’s that? Water is also the street name for PCP, GHP, meth, OR a mixture of marijuana and other substances within a cigar?)
The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
In every ‘wrongfully imprisoned’ movie or TV show, there’s always that one pivotal interrogation scene where the commandante (polizia, guerrilla, cafeteria lunch lady, etc.) beats our hero within an inch of his life, then presents him with an official looking document (aka confession) and forces him to sign it.
To sign or not to sign?
What would you do? Sign it, and get tossed in the slammer for the rest of your days? Or not sign it, and get tossed in the slammer for the rest of your days?
This one’s a right pickle.
My advice? Sign it.
But instead of your signature, write something whimsical like “I’m a little teapot short and stout.” Might as well go for the insanity defense straight out the gate.
What If That Fails?
If you have done your homework, shown due diligence, exhausted the insanity defence, and still find yourself on your way to prison, there is only one choice really. It’s illegal. It’s unethical, immoral, unthinkable. A thing so horribly ghastly that it’s much worse than any four-letter word. It’s a five-letter word.
Bribe like your life depended upon it. Because honestly, it probably does.
Watch Locked Up Abroad: Black Palace of Horrors
Wednesday, May 23, at 10pm ET/PT on National Geographic Channel