One of my worst fears when travelling alone is that I would get sick and not be able to take care of myself. Now it has happened. However careful I have been with what I eat or drink, somehow I have ingested something that started a war in my digestive system tonight. Maybe it was the coffee I had at the market yesterday. Maybe the water hadn’t boiled long enough to kill all the germs.
At one a clock at night I woke up, my stomach was hard and hot, and rumbling. I knew I had to get to the toilet. Yet, after a couple of steps I threw up all over the floor. Something was running down from the other end, too, and there was no way I could control myself. It was a mess.
Once in the bathroom on the other side of the dark courtyard, I took a shower and rinsed my pajamas. Then I started looking for a cloth I could use to clean the bathroom and the floor of my room. The only thing I found to clean up was my towel. I knew I would need to find some disinfectant to clean the surfaces, but could not find any. I had just fallen asleep in clean underwear and my sports pants, when the next attack overcame me. The same story repeated itself.
In the morning I woke up with a terrible headache. As soon as I took a sip of water, I couldn’t keep it down. Luckily my next-door neighbor is an ex-military nurse. He went to the supermarket and bought green tea, apple and orange juice. He instructed me on how to start eating once the vomiting and diarrhea would cease.
Darwin, the cute Guatemalan, who works at the hostel, gave me first priority to use the washing machine, so I could get my disgusting clothes washed.
I felt lethargic most of the day. My head and stomach are hurting. Anytime I drink, I have to hurry to the toilet. Fellow residents stick their heads in my room every now and then and ask whether I need anything. A lovely German woman went to the supermarket to buy me cotton balls; they allow me some extra time to reach the toilet. It is so comforting that I am in Guatemala surrounded by good people who care for me.
Yet, in spite of how awful my body feels, I am grateful and happy. It is not the first time I realize that the key to my happiness is being in the company of good people. And they exist all over the world. Therefore I am not afraid of travelling.