I have been waking up earlier than usual on all our stops. When I don’t think I am going to be up on my own, I ask to be woken up at least 1 hour before the rest of the group. The group is woken up 1½ before any departure. I wake up 2½ hours before. I unpack everything when I arrive to the hotel room, even when we are somewhere for just one night. The extra time allows me to pack calmly and a lot of times enjoy a sunrise with a cup of coffee in my hand. Tonight is different. I’m too exhausted to unpack and since we are leaving at 7:00 am, wake-up call is at 5:30; I ask for a 4:30 am call –or a 4:30 am knock on the door since the hotel is quite basic and has no phone.
I plunk onto bed almost hurting myself ‘cause it’s so hard. Regardless, I fall asleep immediately.
And I wake up just as suddenly, earlier -way earlier- than my wake-up call and at an hour that is quite indecent to be awake. My eyes shoot open so violently they almost hurt my upper lid. My stomach is in knots. My head feels like it’s burning –I touch my forehead and it is- and feels like it is going to burst open at any moment. My legs are shaky and I am sweating. Then I feel a dry heave. Now I know I am very ill. I don’t throw up, ever. If I even feel like doing so, it means I am violently, horribly sick. Fortunately I am organized and fumble towards the Azitrhomycin/ Loperamide combination the Healthy Traveler’s Clinic gave me. I’m going to take it even if I don’t have, you know, diarrhea… yet. The instructions are blurry and move side to side defying me to grasp them, but I decipher them and with the pills in my hand I crawl to the bathroom where usually a bottle of drinking water has awaited. Not now, not in this hotel, and not when I need it the most. I drag myself to the open-air restaurant (fortunately next to my room) where I intend to raid the refrigerator. There it is. I plaster myself against it searching for the handle so as to open it but find around it a big old lock preventing me from doing so. I go back to my room, actually bathroom, where the next 3 hours are spent being grateful that I wrote my will while alternately bent over and on the toilet. Hoping I won’t inconvenience the tour. Don’t think I have ever thrown up for that many hours. I hear noises out in the restaurant. It’s 5:00 am and they haven’t come to my door. I ask for water, feeling like I’m in the desert and after traveling hours under a midday sun, encounter a nomadic tribe that will give me some life liquid. I take my pills, open my door, close my suitcase, look outside and see it is light. I have missed the sunrise and my morning coffee, but I am alive and am as relieved as I am surprised.
The group passes by my front door. I rise (it really feels like from the dead) and join them. The doctors say I look very pale. I tell them I’m sick, though I can safely be away from the bathroom from now on. The prospect of many hours on the bus, on the death road, bopping up and down, is almost making me sick all over again though. Another one in the group is also sick. Misery likes company they say. I just want to recover.
We are headed to Vientiane, Laos. It is the capital and largest city in Laos though as of 2012 its population is still less than a million. On the way we will stop at Tham Jang Cave then continue to an organic farm where the group will have lunch.
The group is concerned about my wellbeing and check on me periodically. I feel cared for and well-liked. When they stop at the cave they ask if I can make it. There is a suspension bridge leading to it. Am feeling better but extremely weak so don’t want to chance it. Our trip leader, Otto, and others in the group offer to take photos for me. I hand Otto the camera and this is what I didn’t want you to miss, though I did:
I am still weak so will not join the group with the owner of the farm, Mr. Tim, on the walk around the farm. I ensconce myself under a thatched roof, able to enjoy the slight breeze by slathering myself in bug repellent. I still seem to be a magnet for mosquitoes.
Up from a snooze I feel well enough to slowly walk around.
I take a photo of the group and they all cheer as they say: “Lidia is feeling better; she is taking photos, wonderful!!” Their reaction made me feel even better.
I did not have dinner, however, when we got to Vientiane. Needed to get more rest.
The city surprised me. Will tell you why on the next post.
PS: As you may have surmised, I am behind in my posts. Just didn’t want you guys to worry about my health so rest assured… I am fully recovered!