My last days of my month-long trip to Guatemala found me introspective and grateful. I had rejoined the living after spending two days in bed, thanks to a wicked bout of food poisoning that had me running from both ends (T.M.I., sorry).
This experience made me realize that the worst part of traveling solo is getting sick and suffering alone.
I spent 36-plus hours locked up in my hotel room in a cold sweat and clutching my stomach in pain. I couldn't sleep, nor lie down since my stomach hurt so much, so I had to prop myself up on some pillows and maintain a half-upright position for the duration of my illness. There may have been a bit of crying. There also may have been a few out-loud prayers to God begging him to make it stop and asking why I had been chosen to go through this. I should mention that I am not religious.
I didn't have a mobile phone and my hotel room was not equipped with a fixed line, so I had no way to get in contact with my mommy or my loving boyfriend so that I could share my distress. Not that I'd be able to remember their phone numbers anyway -- I had been calling them through Skype, where their already recorded numbers meant that I never had to learn them by heart.
During my illness, and after a particularly harrowing time spent in the bathroom, I had a brief moment of physical clarity where I thought I could actually make it out of the room and up the street to the internet cafe to contact them. This moment lasted for approximately three minutes. I was pulling on a pair of pants when a wave of nausea struck and I realized I wasn't going anywhere.
The culprit was more than likely a yucky cream of celery and carrot soup from a restaurant I had only been to once before. I'm not a fan of celery, and cream of celery and carrot soup sounds like a horrible combination, but in a fit of "Let's try something new!" I ordered it anyway. I ate about a third of the soup before I finally admitted that it tasted funny and pushed it aside, you know, lest I get sick.
Oh, the irony.
Days later, I had recovered fully. While the bug ran its course, I have to give some credit to the staff at my hotel in Guatemala for being so sweet. They came to check on me on a couple of occasions once they realized I wouldn't/couldn't leave the room. They offered me tea and to call a doctor. I declined both offers but was moved by their kindness.
Being sick like that will make you start thinking some crazy things. I felt so sick that I was afraid that I wouldn't be well enough to fly out of Guatemala the following Monday morning. I felt so sick that I was afraid that I would have to cancel my trip to Chile, the next stop on my Latin American adventure.
It still shocks me that I got sick: I had been in Guatemala for nearly a month and had, at that point, managed to avoid illness. I had been extremely diligent about avoiding any food that could possibly put my stomach in harm's way. After all, I tend to fall victim to stomach bugs when I travel. Lucky me.
I may get sick often when on the road, but I have to say that the worst thing ever is to get sick while traveling alone. Call me a baby, but somehow being sick when people I know and care about are around makes me feel way better. It's not even about them playing Florence Nightingale -- sometimes, just having them there and being able to feel their presence is enough to make you feel stronger.
Have you ever gotten sick while traveling solo?