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Coping with a sick day in a van

Travelling full time is not all Instagram shots of blue skies and carefully staged meals (food on social media is always carefully staged – even a plate of scrambled eggs. I know, I have done it).

There are periods of boredom, just as there are at home, when a long evening stretches out before you with nothing but the prospect of a film you have seen several times before and a glass of pretty ropey red wine from Lidl’s bargain bin.

My solution: to go to bed with my ear buds in to listen to another outraged liberal podcast on the car crash that is Donald Trump.

Nigel reads. I have known him for over 20 years now and he has never been a reader of novels.  Now he is reading Charlotte Bronte’s Villette for gawd’s sake.

Frustration is another daily aspect of long term travelling. Just as it is in your working life. Intermittent internet is probably our biggest bug bear at the moment.

Every time we book in to a campsite that boasts wifi, we cheer to the rafters…for five minutes.

Then we invariably discover the signal cuts out after thirty seconds, and we have to log into the wifi again…and again…and again.

Note: Our wifi booster, sadly, lies broken in the bottom of the wardrobe. One of these days we will rustle up the energy to parcel it up securely and send it back to the UK for repair – after all it cost nearly £200. In the meantime, we keep logging in, again, and again, and again.

And illness. I suppose it was only a matter of time before one of us retreated to their sick bed. The flea bites were painful – and in my case infected – but I didn’t have to lie down, much.

But on Thursday night around 10 pm, just as Majority Report with Sam Seder was getting interesting, the dreaded runs struck.

I will spare you the details, but believe me, having travellers’ diarrhea in a camper van which is parked on a remote beach in Greece, is both unspeakably unpleasant and a logistical nightmare.

But a decade of working and travelling in sub-Saharan Africa has prepared me for such eventualities and I survived a rather unpleasant night.

But I couldn’t face a second one without immediate access to a bathroom, with a big WC and a hot shower on hand, so we booked into a hotel for Friday night.

The Antirrio Hotel was advertised as comfortable and simple, and it was both. Even better it was cheap. Just what Dr Google ordered, that and a gallon of flat coke and a bag of salted crisps for rehydration (another lesson from Africa).

I woke on Saturday morning, almost full of beans, until half way through my “continental” breakfast (Greek coffee and cake), when the familiar symptoms of a urinary tract infection started to sting.

Men, turn away now if you wish.

Ladies, did you now that as you get older, urine infections can become more frequent. Something to do with the lining of our urethra thinning – like our hair and our skin, but sadly unlike our bottoms and bellies.

Experience – again gained in Africa – has taught me that if I can nip a urine infection in the bud, so to speak, it will not take hold, saving me a lot of pain and misery.

So I always carry a supply of the antibiotic doxycycline with me, sourced in Malawi where I use it to prevent malaria.

It is of course for emergency use only. I know that over use of antibiotics is one the world’s biggest threats – second only to the Trump-Putin axis – but in my defence an untreated urine infection can be dangerous.

So here I am on Sunday, still a bit tired after a couple of sick days, but thanks to the restorative power of flat coke (it has to be full fat), antibiotics, and a porcelain toilet, almost back to normal.

And we have just landed in a campsite, on the west coast of the Peloponnese, which has a beach that reminds me of Lake Malawi, and has good enough wifi to let me listen to the Archers omnibus

Now, how do I Instagram that? With a ceramic tile featuring a fish of course!

1 Response

  1. Linda

    I feel for you Susan…..the joys of middle age and menopause ! But I can see you’re made of strong stuff, ,,,,a much needed resource in these ” challenging” times.. venceremos…….linda x

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