No one wants to be sick away from the safety of our own bed. I’ve been sick SO many times out on the road. It’s comical at this point that almost every trip I go on, I get sick. It happened on the road trip in Ireland. It happened in Arizona. And it’s happened countless other times. At this rate, being sick on the road is almost as comforting as being sick at home. The thing about being at home though is that mom is there to take care of me.
When I traveled to Prague, no one was there to take care of me.
This is that story.
Like any and every other time I travel, I got sick. I spent two weeks wandering through the dry desert of Egypt where the temperature was an average of 60f. Then all the sudden my body was exposed to the cold wetness of Europe. Days in London and Vienna was enough to breakdown the little remaining immune system I had.
I remember starting to feel bad around mid afternoon on Sunday in Vienna. A friend and I wandered around town eating food and catching up. The pace of her walk seemed to be similar to that of a gazelle in the Sahara. I couldn’t keep up. My chest heaved up and down as I breathed. My muscles ached. My eyes were heavy. But I powered through. I’d never been to Austria, so I had to see/do everything I could in my short 12 hour time-frame.
She got me to my bus and waited with me till I boarded. I apologized for slowing down as the day went on. I blamed it on the oncoming girl time and that I was still getting used to the European climate. We hugged goodbye and I boarded the bus.
I remember finding the first seats available. I shamelessly claimed the two side by side seats, put in earplugs, and passed out. I woke up some time later when I felt the bus shutter to a stop. Apparently we had come to the Czech border and needed our passports checked. I dug mine out of the bag and showed it to the officer. He took one look and handed it back to me. No probs. The same could not be said for another passenger.
A girl catercorner behind me didn’t have clearance to enter the Czech Republic. She did not go quietly. Even though I had stuffed the other earplug back into my ear, I could hear her screams and feel the vibrations as they ejected her from the bus. #HaveProperDocumentation
Once back on the road, I drifted off to sleep again. We arrived in Prague around 11.15pm. It was pitch black. I had zero Czech money, a few Euro, a handful of Sterling, and some Egyptian in my pocket. Looking rather forlorn and feeling worse, I trotted up to a taxi.
“Can you get me to this hostel?”
“Do you take Euro? Please say yes.”
“Damn. Ok, I’ll go find an ATM.”
“Wait! Ok, ok. 15 Euro.”
“Thank you so so much!”
Looking back on it, I’m 100% positive this particular taxi driver ripped me off. Am I sad about it? Not really. By this point, I can tell that I am sick. My body ached. It wasn’t the same type of ache you get from sleeping sideways in a bouncy bus for four hours. No, this is a deep, in my bones kind of ache. Sickness ache. All I really cared about was getting to the hostel and falling asleep.
The driver took me right to the door of the hostel which was practically under the arch of the Charles Bridge. I paid my due and went to check in. The receptionist was a really kind guy. For such a late arrival, he was quaint, personable, and thorough. But I had had enough. I looked at the gentleman, mustered my sweetest American smile and said, “You are doing a great job of welcoming me into the hostel. But please, I will come down in the morning for you to go over all of this. Right now, I just want to sleep. Please let me sleep.” He laughed and showed me to my room.
Being the last in the dorm room, I was stuck with the top bunk. Side note – I remember as a kid staying at overnight camps dreaming of being the first to arrive so I could claim the must desired top bunk. Now that I’m an adult, there is nothing worse than having to climb to the stupid top bunk. I found an empty-ish spot on the floor, dumped my shit, threw the important stuff on the bed with me, climbed up there, and passed out. If I had been at a frat party, I would have been drawn on because I fell asleep with my shoes on. It was one of those sleeps. My body was done.
I have no idea what time I woke up the next morning, but I felt like my face had been beat with a pile of cinder blocks. My nose ran like a NASCAR car. My head pounded like the bass drum in a kick-stand. Oh, I felt terrible.
For the longest time, I laid in bed curled up under the covers and creepily watched the Asian kid get ready to start his day. I stuffed tissue up my nose and waited for death. At least, that’s how I felt.
I realized my time in Prague was limited purely to that one day. I had to get out of bed and explore the city. After a small eternity, I pulled myself from the safety of the covers and took on the city. While I moved around Prague, the sickness went away. I didn’t wipe my nose every other minute and the pounding in my head slowly went away. Wandering the streets of Prague was the best medicine!
But, it didn’t last forever.
Later in the evening, the sickness came back. The ache returned. A cough surfaced and my nose ran. By the next day, death seemed more comforting than anything. I managed to get to Heathrow airport in London where I had a six hour lay over. The flight from London to Atlanta was the longest, most torturous experience. The pressurized cabin caused the congestion in my head and chest to worsen. My nose ran more and my body ached no matter which way I turned.
I added this sickness in Prague to never ending list of times and places I have been sick around the world. I can’t figure out why, but every trip I go on, I end up sick. Now, I’ve just learned what to do and how to handle it.