I am become Joey, destroyer of drives
To add to the fun of being in Nicaragua, my laptop's solid state drive died the second day here. Seems this is the failure mode for a SSD, get a little slow, and then a switch flips and it stops accepting any writes, at all, becoming a read-only media. Never was there an indication of a problem in SMART etc.
Did you know that Nicaragua has neither names for most roads, nor addresses? Rather than trying to shoehorn the directions to my hotel into the address fields of Amazon.com, I shipped the replacement SSD to home, and thought I'd limp along.
I destroyed my second drive one hour after getting it working. A borrowed USB flash drive, which seems to have melted under the unusual load while I was away at lunch. Perhaps putting an ext3 filesystem on it was a very bad idea, although I have successfully run other USB flash drives that way for years. Perhaps it was a cheap drive that only pretended to hold 32 gb.
For several days I happily used the third drive, a USB hard drive, as my temporary root filesystem. Until I destroyed it by knocking it off my bed.
drive #4, #5
Now my netbook is running from a Debian Live USB key, with a second USB key for my customisations. So far I have not managed to destroy these, but there's still a day left in my trip..