The other side of travel
This is a photo of me getting my infected middle finger sliced open by a Balinese doctor in a strange clinic, sans freezing. They didn’t have much on hand and didn’t want to waste it on my silly finger so he took a scalpel to it while I made these faces and tried to breathe through it. It was super gross and painful and required a FUN re-slicing 3 days later. It was also a little scary- the type of infection I had can spread to into your hand or eventually, into your blood. It was the first time I’ve ever had to consider the possibility of flying home to get treatment and discuss a contingency plan if it got worse. It’s easy to share beautiful vacation memories but we rarely talk about all the shit that comes along with travel. It’s rare to hear people talk about or post about getting sick or the inconveniences and struggles that come along with it. Travel is a lot like life- good and bad, punctuated by moments of extreme highs and extreme lows. When we left on this trip, we made a pact to take a photo whenever something bad happened.
Here’s a few things you didn’t see:
-The 3 sinus infections I got because I was essentially allergic to southwest England, most of Morocco and all of northern Vietnam
-The water parasites we got on the north african coast, nasty little buggers than caused me to be temporarily lactose intolerant for 6 goddamn months (yea you think travel is exotic? Google giardia-induced lactose intolerance and try not eating cheese for SIX MONTHS. I still want a trophy for this)
two kids who are thrilled that they paid $$ to come to a moroccan surf camp, only to spend the whole week in bed with water parasites
-The VISA fiasco at the Thailand/Vietnam border that stranded us for the night and cost $400 to fix
-The hours and hours and hours spent waiting in airport lines and visa lines and bathroom lines and immigration lines
-The bank machine in Tanzania that stole a bunch of my money that I’m still waiting to get back. Which was immediately followed by a banking glitch that caused me to think that 6k had been stolen from my accounts and sob in frustration for 6 hours until someone figured it out.
-That last one happened just one week after discovering my credit card had been cancelled by my bank due to some suspicious activity. They had to overnight me a new one and getting it delivered to an actual address in a place that has no actual addresses beyond ‘go down the dirt road and turn left at the chicken coop with the yellow roof’ was a special kind of hell.
-The yelling match I got in with a bus company in Ho Chi Min after they gave us the wrong address for pickup, causing us to miss our bus (not my finest moment)
-The asthma attacks I had/almost had every few days lugging this green monster all around the world
debating which puffer to get out of my bag so I didn’t die in a Paris subway station
-All the tears I cried after hanging up the phone with my grandmother or goddaughter or best friend
-The spotty internet connections all over the world that left me so frustrated trying to book something or communicate with my family
-The hell of a time I had eating in Vietnam and Cambodia with shellfish allergies; I spent several nights in bed with my epi-pen in my hand as I dozed off into a stoned sleep from high doses of Benadryl after finding a handful of tiny shrimp at the bottom of my soup. Allergies aren’t taken as seriously in certain places and I basically ate plain rice and veggies for a couple weeks to minimize my risk of exposure to fish sauce and other shellfish while Andrew delighted in all the amazing food in that region.
-A flight so turbulent that baggage compartments opened and people started praying
-The massive wave that took me out in Canggu and threw enough sand in my eye to scratch my cornea
6 hours into a 12 hour journey through Cambodia, the AC broke on a 45 degree day. 3 hours later that tin can was so pungent it made our eyes water.
another sinus infection in Morocco, drinking some weird antiseptic given to us by the owner of the airbnb
Hell is an immigration hall in Cambodia
Doing laundry often meant drying my underwear with a hotel handdryer
The massive goose egg on my leg after falling on a Game of Thrones tour in Northern Ireland in front of 50 people
The beginning of the finger infection