Its a Long Tale, I’m afraid…….
I arrived in Panajachel by boat.and was wandering around the city trying to figure out how to negotiate a good price for a shuttle to Antigua.
When thankfully I spot a fellow traveller who had stayed at the same hostel as me. He kindly helped me book a shuttle….Thanks Raphael! The only catch was that it was leaving shortly and I had to meet it at a gas station a few block away. Now its Hot , I’m weak from not eating well and today my backpack seems especially heavy. What choice do I have..I hurry along praying I don’t pass out and arrive in time to purchase an Icy cold water and banana that I quickly get down my neck.
Bumping along the winding roads through the mountains, I make conversation with my fellow travellers. They cannot believe that I am only travelling for 4 weeks, Such a short time they say. They are correct.
The shuttle pulls into Antigua. I smile as I make my way through the familiar streets until I arrive back at Hostel Villa Esthela. I havent reserved a bed as there was no wifi at my last hostel and pray there is room.
I knock on the door and the owner answers. There are no rooms available but she quickly makes some phone calls to try to find me a bed. No luck. Uh Oh! There is no way I can wander around these streets with my backpack this evening. What will I do?.She has a suggestion. She offers me a bed in a part of the building that she is renovating. Yes of course, thank you so much. What a Gem!! She takes me over. It has a few rooms, a kitchen and bathroom and I have the place to myself.( Its the door on the right in above picture)
I know that I need to eat and start wandering the streets searching for something ….aha SUBWAY, fresh veggie, cheese, meat…protein. I order a sub, bag a chip and a cold can of pepsi. I enjoy my meal back at the hostel up on the roof top terrace.
I enjoy the views while chatting with some other guests. Belly full, I go out to check out the All Souls celebrations and events around the city. Check out this link https://youtu.be/nY2R2G9gFx0
It’s dark as I lay in my bed posting online but I can hear the sounds of the band and progression getting closer. I lock up and walk down the alley to the street. Its filled with people enjoying the incredible sights and sounds as the progression passes by.
Back in my room for the night, I settle in for some sleep. I want to go to Lanquin tomorrow, so I need to get up early and arrange transportation and hostel.
I wake up a short time later. Somethings not right. I sprint out of my room , around the corner and down the hall to the bathroom. My body explodes! Everything that was once inside me becomes outside me over the next few hours. I am sick in every possible way. I am moaning, screaming, and crying for my mommy. The bathroom is pretty much open to the outside and I’m hoping the other guests are not bearing witness to any of this. I try unsuccessfully many times to go back to bed, but it is simply to far from the toilet. I settle for my blanket and pillow and curl up at the base of the toilet where I writhe on the floor as my body cramps in the most painful ways before trying to force itself inside out.
I still have hope somehow that this is just food poisoning and I will start to feel better in 24 hours…this does not happen. Time passes, I am so sick and completely Alone! I’m not sure how long I’ve been there or what time of day it is when I hear Daniela the owner calling my name. She is shocked when she finds me so sick.She is like an Angel. She gets me some water before rushing off to call a doctor. I try an d drink the water but the return policy is harsh. I continue making deposits and I have no idea where anything is coming from anymore.Ive got a bottle of Purell with me as the sickness moves between both ends of my body, and I feel the need to keep my hands clean. My stomach feels like it is completely twisted and I can’t help but groan in pain almost constantly.
I lay sobbing when Daniela arrives back. She seems flustered and surprised to find me still so sick.
She has called 2 doctors but it is a holiday and no one is available. She went to the pharmacy and has returned with Dramamine and Pedialyte. She is amazing. I may actually Survive this now. Still thinking its food poisoning and if I can settle my belly and get some sleep….All will be well. I carefully take the pills with the Pedialyte and pray they have time to take effect before my body ejects them along with whatever else it can find. Daniela still looking worried states that the Hostel had been robbed today and that’s why she had taken so long. Details were slim but a number of guests had lost items including laptops, passports and Cash. She had been at the police station all afternoon trying to assist the guests. I had been oblivious to it all as I lay dying on the floor in my own separate hell.
Another stroke of luck really. I hadn’t pre booked a room so I was over here alone. This meant that I had the bathroom to myself and I wasnt disturbing the other guests which had been such a great thing. But now I had also escaped the robbery.
The owner left with many other things to do but promising that she would check on me later. I was sick all throughout the day and night. I really do not ever remember being this ill. Its been 2 days and I’m starting to think that it’s not food poisoning. I continued to take the Dramamine hoping that eventually I would have enough in my system to knock me out. It worked….Still nauseated I crawled slowly on the floor down the hall to my room and into the bed.
I hear Daniela’s voice sometime later asking me how I am. I think I’ve slept and tell her. She asks if its possible for me to move into the main building before the men come to work where im now staying. Of course I will; Anything for this woman, My Savior!
I’m still pretty weak and have to make a few runs to the bathroom as I try to pack up my bag. My new bed is the bottom bunk in an 8 person dorm.. It has 2 exits with a bathroom outside of each, Thank goodness, I will make good use of them both over the next couple of days. I drop my bag and crawl into my bed. I take another Dramamine before putting my bottle of water on the floor beside me. I have so far chosen not to take the anti – diarrhea meds with the thoughts of trying to flush this out of my body being the best thing to do. I lay in the bunk for many hours, making many trips to the bathroom and trying to stay hydrated at the same time.My belly twists and turns 24/7 and the pain makes it hard for me not to make noise. I make a few calls home to my family and friends . Ive been too sick to keep up with my daily blogs and posts. Everyone is worried about me. I don’t seem to be getting any better and my time is running short. Ive had time to think while laying in bed and have decide to skip Honduras all together on my journey . I simply didn’t think I would now have time. Another day passes and Im really no better. I few guests have taken pity on me and bring me drinks. I even try a little soup. But Nothing stays inside of me and I am just growing weaker. I have already lost a lot of weight and simply cannot afford to lose anymore. I was too just sick to eat….and it didnt stay down anyway.
Time passes and I just continue to lay in my bunk at the hostel. I was no longer on an adventure , exploring new lands and cultures. I wasnt enjoying the weather, beautiful scenery and meeting new people. I was between a bed and a toilet that could have been anywhere. Another day comes with no end to this in sight. After a few teary face times with family and friends I make the decision to try and get back home to Halifax, NS where try and seek treatment. Im sure the hospitals here are great but it’s not how I want to spend my time in Guatemala. And at this point, Im ready to go home. Decision made and I feel a bit better. It really sucks that I have to end this adventure and go home. I hadn’t even purchased a single soulvenir yet. But all I really want now is to feel better and I know that will happen back Home.
I mustered all my strength and got out of bed, went to the bathroom and returned to my room. I plugged my phone in across the room and sat down on the floor beside it. I quickly search for a flight on my usual sight, trying to hurry as I wasnt feeling too good. I found an ok flight that flew out in 2 days, that was the earliest I could get one. I proceeded into the booking process and when it came time for payment i began to panic. I hadn’t been in my backpack in days and my visa was hidden in it somewhere? OMG my session would time out if I don’t find it quickly. I barely have the energy to get up and move across the room. But I make it and start rummaging and somehow quickly find it and complete the transaction. Thats it. I’m done. I crawl into the bed and pass out. I continue to make frequent trips to the bathroom . These events are painful and loud. I sit on the toilet doubled over with my hands on the floor trying to hold in the screams as Im taken in waves of gut ripping fire eruptions.
I awaken sometime later, aware that Im leaving for home the next day. Im happy to finally be headed to a place where I will begin to finally feel better. I am also heartbroken that my long-planned solo journey around Central America is coming to an end right where it all began. This will not dampen my travelling soul. This will not at all stop me from coming back to Guatemala. On the Contrary. I’ve seen just enough to know that I have to come back and see the rest. As soon as Im feeling better.
As crappy and as tough as it is to get out of bed and take a shower, I do it. Its my first in I’m not sure how many days. I brush my teeth put on fresh clothes and climb back into my bed. It feels nice but it took a lot out of me and I fall asleep. I wake up thirsty and drink which causes the usual chain reaction and I quickly run to the bathroom for the 5000th trip. Will this ever end! I stumble back and realize its getting late. I grab my wallet and slowly stumble downstairs to the office. I have not been this far in days. I pay for my stay and my pharmacy bill . I book my shuttle to the airport and then I tell Daniela how much I appreciate Everything that she has done for me and thank her again before heading to the bathroom on my way back to bed. Even that little trip was exhausting and I need to rest.
I hear guests moving about. Its evening and the lights come on in the room as people make plans for the night. When everyone leaves for supper I slide out of my bed with my balnket and onto the floor.I slowly begin to get my bag packed and organized for the morning. It’s an extremely tough job, but I complete it. I have no idea how I will carry that thing tomorrow!! Back to bed I go.
Morning comes and I put my plan into play. I drink lots of water and head to the bathroom. I then take a Dramamine for the bumpy winding roads and a chaser of Imodium to prevent episodes of horror on the journey. I start to drag my backpack towards the stairs when one of my roomies offers to carry it down for me. Thanks so much. I know this is going to be the hardest journey I will ever take. Im all cramped up inside as I lay with my backpack on the cool tile floor, watching the workman install a new security system at the hostel.
A short while later, The driver knocks at the door and seeing me drag my backpack, he quickly grabs it and hurries down the alley to the shuttle. I move as fast as I can and climb onto the first bench, slide across, pull my hood up and rest my head against the window. I pray everything stays inside me until the airport. The van full, we make our way to Guatemala City.
At the Airport Im handed my now 1000 lb backpack and all I can think is…. Get this this bag checked and before I explode. I drag my bag into the airport and up to the ticket counter. The Nice lady hands me my boarding passes and takes my bag. I am so thankful not to have to carry it one more second. I simply couldn’t. I was exhausted, cramping and ready to drop. I bought a water and found a seat. It was so nice and cold but my pills were wearing off and I had to make a quick dash ( I move like a sloth at this point) across the airport to the bathroom. OMG it was so much worse after being restrained by the meds for so long. I dropped onto the toilet throwing my hands to the floor as I let out a horrible sound. If there were people in that washroom when I arrived , they gere gone when I sheepishly emerged from my stall.
Back at my seat I somehow manage to fill out my immigration card before getting into the security line. Its long and I am feeling crappy and scared that I wont make it through. I know that I cant let on im sick. The last thing I need is to end up in some quarantine somewhere. I just want to do is make it home. I have no idea how I make it through the checkpoint… but I do. Only a slight issue with my hairbrush that gets a couple of xrays and a few shakes. I head straight to the bathroom and repeat previous episode. I sit there for a while quietly sobbing. How am I going to make it home? I start messaging my family for support. It helps.
Im really sick and I am all by myself. I pull myself together (as best I can) and head to my gate. I find a spot on the floor near a plug for my phone and lay down. My stomach is hurting and Im super weak. I have a few hours before my flight at 5pm to Miami. How am I going to survive? 30 hours of travelling and Ive only just begun. I send a few messages back and forth with family and friends. They have been such a huge help though all off this. Lots of offers of help and tons of kind words and encouragement!
It’s close to boarding time…I take one last trip to the bathroom and dose up on my imodium for the 4 hour flight. I have to smile and look healthy as I board the plane. I find my seat, curl up in a ball, rest my head on the window, close my eyes and pray that I can make it to Miami. I drift in and out of sleep. Im all cramped up and uncomfortable. I feel really sick and then tears. No No No I’m almost there, just 2 more flights.
In Miami I’m informed that I have to pick up my bag and recheck it. Are you kidding me?!? I was really hoping not to see that F***ing thing until Halifax. I barely make it to the bathroom.Im doubled over and crying. This is it. I cannot make it any farther, I sit there for a long time. A few more texts and tears…
Eventually Im up and moving with the crowds towards the entry to Country area. There is a long line weaving its way to the photo kiosks. I cannot stand up any longer and I crouch down on the floor holding my spot in line. Im worried about fainting and dont want to stand up until I have to. As the line moves I kind of creep along the floor pulling my little bag beside me. I must look deranged to the other travellers. I get close to the front and dont want to draw attention from the agents so I slowly stand. Ooooo Headrush, but I maintain and am motioned forward. I slip my passport into the machine and wait for my photo. Holy Crap! Is that what I look like? I make my way to the next station and hand the ugly photo to the next agent. He Looks at it and my boarding pass. Next. How I got through that I will never know.
I literally just crawled through a security line at the Miami airport and into the USA. I see a bathroom and stop. I find my way to the luggage and Somehow I get my backpack up and onto the floor and begin to drag it to its next destination. It’s too heavy for me to carry and it’s too far. Im sweating and cursing as I try to figure out where to go. I Finally manage to get it rechecked and find my way to a bathroom again. Emotions and body overflowing, I think that I may have to give in and seek help. But then I’m stuck here and I really want to go home. I splash some water on my face and run my fingers through my hair. I look Haggard. Next stop is security and Im having a hard time by the time I reach the line. The woman agent asks if Im ok, I say Im a bit flushed could I have some water. She gives me water and a seat and says she doesn’t want me passing out. Thats so nice. Me neither lol The water is so cold that I feel a slight surge of energy . I thank her and move quickly along not wanting to draw too much attention. Im wearing the only pair of pants that I brought and they are literally hanging off me from my weight loss.I have huge dark circles under my eyes and my hair is unbrushed. I place my bag in the bin and walk through the machine. I Pass, and am waved through. Go figure!!
Back out into the busy airport I look for my gate. im frazzled and wandering…I collapse outside the bathroom staring up at the flight info board with tears in my eyes. A pilot approaches and ask if I’m ok …..this is my chance. Give up, tell him youre sick and need a hospital. I blink. He asks if I need help. I hand him my boarding pass and tell him that I cant find my gate. Be Brave, you’re almost home. He points me in the right direction and I’m sure happy to have me off his hands. I hurry (My wounded sloth pace) so I dont miss my flight to Philadelphia.
I have time to make a trip to the bathroom and again take some Imodium in prep for the flight. I again smile as if nothing as wrong while boarding. I take my seat, rest my head and close my eyes.
On arrival I’m completely done. I hear something about re checking luggage and think no way, I am not doing that again. Not a chance. I will buy my friend a new pack. I hope eventually it will find its way to halifax, But right now I cannot deal with it. I am so thirsty. Nothing is open , its 1 am. I find a fountain and start drinking. It is really gross. Right to the bathroom next for another painful repeat performance just like so many before. But I’m thankful this airport was empty and no one else shared the bathroom with me. I wasnt flying out until the following morning so I would’nt need anymore pills. This meant more frequent trips but less body wrenching for me.
I wanted to find my way to my gate and hopefully be able to curl up and get some rest. It was a long walk to the other side of the airport and I was barely moving in an upright fashion. I passed a few other sleeping travellers along my way and found my gate in an empty part of the airport. It was next to a bathroom and water fountain, that was convenient. The seats were not very sleep friendly so I curled up on the floor by the radiator. I had my little pillow and a sarong for a blanket….I zipped my jacket and pulled my toque down over my eyes. I dozed in and out of sleep as the floor cleaners whirred along with the piped in country music. Making trips to the fountain and bathroom. The area grew busy as morning came. I stayed on the floor even as people filled the seats in my gate. There were flights before mine. I didnt care what I looked like at this point. I was just too sick and so little energy left.. Messaging with my parents still…youll be home soon, one more flight.
Over the intercom I make out something about a blue bag being left at luggage and if not picked up the police would take it. Shit… is it my bag? I do not care. Keep it! Eventually it will get back to me, Maybe. Im lucky to make the walk to the bathroom and back. No way could I ever get back to where I started. I close my eyes. My sitting area has emptied and my Halifax bound flight mates start to fill the seats. I sit up and pull myself together, Bathroom, Imodium and back to my spot. This time I sit leaning against the wall almost smiling thinking about how close I am.
It seems late…Theres chatter amongst the other travellers. Oh No! I start to think that my bag is now somehow causing a security issue and delaying my flight. Panic…. I call my parents. Dont worry… you’ll be home soon. Its all okay.
Turns out it was a crew delay and we finally board an hour late. I cannot believe it. Im on my last plane. I curl up and close my eyes. Im going Home! My parents have driven to Halifax from PEI and 2 of my friends will be meeting me at the airport as well. They are going to drive me to the hospital. Everything is going to be okay now. Pretty soon I will be in Canada and they will take good care of me.
Halifax!!! Home!! Just have to get through customs and my people will take care of me. I reach the front of the line and am motioned forward. She notes that my pants are hanging. She asks me a few more questions and I try to look appropriate as I answer. She writes on my card hands it back and moves me on. I get a cart to lean on while I wait with the others for my backpack. It actually arrived with me. Bag on cart, I roll towards the last checkpoint and hand the Agent my card… but he points me in a different directions than the others. Oh Crap. Not Now. This happens to me all the time but today!! Please no?? I cannot do this today. Im lead into a room an explained my rights as an agent proceeds to search through all of my belongings. I give up. What more can I do. I collapse into the chair and bring my knees to my chin and I watch on in disbelief.
He doesnt miss anything, unrolling every piece of clothing and searching it. Looking at every paper and receipt. Smelling and opening every bottle. Swabbing and inspecting the pack itself. After about 45 minutes another agent comes in and says something to the guy searching my stuff. But then began to assist him in his search. What had I done to deserve this. Everyone must be getting worried, wondering where I am. The Lady Agent was searching my other bag when she spoke. She said that I had people waiting and they were worried and that you should be in a hospital. And I replied yes I had been sick. Nothing more said they continued their search. They even read my journal. It was so humiliating and at such a horrible time. Finally satisfied there was nothing to be found they loaded my bag into the cart and lead me to my waiting family and friends.
I collapsed into the wheelchair and next thing I knew, I was in a car and on my way to the hospital in Halifax. Im admitted into the ER, given fluids and sent home on Quarentine under my family doctors care. I have some instructions around specimens that have to be collected before I can be treated. I am feeling slightly better when I arrive back in my safe little apartment. I climb into my bed for only a short time before all those nice iv fluids rear their fiery heads. The same events occur, doubled over, hands on floor, loud groans. But big change. My bathroom!!
I eventually get results back and see my doctor, its been nearly a week but im finally going to be treated. I have a parasite and am given the drug Cipro to fight it. After a few doses I start to feel better as my appetite grows. Im still cramping and making trips to the bathroom, but its improving. But after a few days I develop a pain in my Achilles, a side effect from the Cipro. Im started on Celebrex for this and switched over to a new antibiotic…Erythromycin. This seems to work well, but I then develop thrush and am prescribed something for that. Im eventually taken off quarantine . I start to gain my strength back and return to work. All is Well Again!
Im now fully recovered and planning my next adventure!!
Special Thanks to my Parents Pam and Ron Smith You guy were my rock!!. and to my friends Crystal and Tracey for being there and getting me to the hospital. And to my bff Heather and all my family and friends for all your kind words of encouragment and hope. I love you all.
You truly are what gave me strength to get back home!
Yes I got sick in Guatemala, Alone! and it was terrible….but its not going to stop me from doing it again.
If you find yourself in Antigua….Stay at The Hostel Villa Esthela! The owner and Hostel are amazing. https://www.facebook.com/VillaEsthelaHostel/
Thanks for Following 🙂