In my final night in Manizales, the same night I was robbed, I got pretty sick. Upon waking up at 4am, the last thing you want to think about is whether you have enough time to run to the bathroom. But that’s how things unfolded.
Unfortunately, I had a few more bathroom sessions in the early hours of the morning and I was supposed to travel to Pereira that morning. I thought of extending my stay in Manizales, but by chance I found myself staying in my Couchsurfing host’s cousin’s house on a favor and I never want to overstay my welcome. I am 100% sure they would have understood and I could have stayed there, but I was pretty confident I was “empty.”
So I packed my things realizing how weak I was. I caught a taxi to the bus station, bought a ticket to Perira, bought a Gatorade and salted crackers, and hit the road. The numerous twists and turns in the mountains didn’t bother my stomach at all.
When I got to Pereira I ate the crackers and they ran through me pretty quickly. I have had a variety of accommodations along the way during the Happy Nomad Tour, and I would never complain about free housing. But I definitely found myself wishing my accommodation was a bit more luxurious than a tent on the floor with a one inch foam pad as a bed. Nevertheless, I was so weak and tired that I didn’t care.
I don’t get sick too often, but for the first time I was sick and had no obligations or commitments. Had I not been sick I would have been out exploring the city. But instead I just lay on the small foam mattress all afternoon and took naps in short bursts.
At night I had some granola and I seemed to digest it well. I slept like 11 hours that night on top of the naps during the afternoon. What a difference it makes when you really do rest when you are sick! I woke up feeling much better. I could tell I wasn’t 100%, but I was ready to eat a small breakfast. I had an early dinner of normal size and I started getting my strength and bowel-confidence back.
This is only the second time I have been sick on The Happy Nomad Tour. The first time was in Copan Ruinas, Honduras. There I contracted giardia and in the process of trying to fight it I ended up catching a cold on top of it.
My accommodation there was in a store, so I couldn’t really lie down and rest. But the biggest problem there was that the electricity would turn off, which meant we’d lose water, and then I couldn’t flush the toilet. So when I had to go to the bathroom, I would rotate among various restaurants with water reserves so I could use the bathroom and flush the toilet.
So yes, getting sick on The Happy Nomad Tour isn’t fun. It is less comfortable than getting sick “at home.” But my experience in Perira showed me that rest, no matter how or where, is the best medicine. I realize this is nothing revolutionary, but I can really say I had never really done this before. I always felt like I had obligations to take care of and/or commitments to uphold.
Combining high school and college, I only missed two days of school. I got really sick my last day in Egypt during my senior year of college and missed the first two days of my last quarter at Ohio State. But otherwise, that was seven years in a row of perfect attendance. It took losing 10lbs/4.5kg in two days off my then 140lb/63.6kg frame to break my “streak.”
I now find it kind of funny since I find that my “normal” life was much unhealthier than my current one. My current life exposes me to unclean water and new disease environments though. Anyway, it took 29 years, but I’m happy I found how amazing the human body is at fighting off pesky invaders when it has the rest and energy to do so.