Sunday, April 12, 2009

When Good Vacations Go Bad

Here, for my curious readers, is a summary of what happened on my trip to Greece and Ireland, which I was still supposed to be on right now:

The first few days were great. I walked for about ten hours a day, hiked, photographed everything, gorged myself on history, and kept getting mistaken for a Greek by the Greeks! It was looking like the best trip ever. Which brings us to Saturday, April 4...

I woke up feeling a bit sick. I brushed it off as just blood sugar problems (I've gotten to where my sugar is never above 68 now, so feeling weak or sick in the morning is pretty normal). I took the bus to Kifissia, then caught the metro to Monastiriki...or so I thought. Turns out they were doing some major work on the metro suddenly, so it was only going a short ways. I got deposited in a bad part of Athens, with no idea which bus to take to get where I wanted to go. I didn't want to waste good money on a taxi, so I opted to walk in the direction of the Acropolis (I figured that I could use that to navigate, once I could finally see it). I wound up lost for about two hours, during which time I re-sprained my bad ankle (left), and hurt my bad knee (right).

I finally found where I needed to be, after several miles of walking. Since I wasn't about to be slowed down by a bum ankle, I went to several archaeological sites, hiked all around them, and of course, hurt my ankle worse. Then I started to feel a whole lot sicker. I thought it might be from all the time in the hot sun, so I got some gellato. I started feeling even worse, and then got a four-alarm migraine. At that point, I knew I had to go back to the hotel. I asked directions at the metro station, and was informed that I could take a different line partway, then catch a bus, then get back on the metro to get to Kifissia. As I was waiting for the metro, I collapsed from dizziness, which resulted in a crowd of concerned (and very sweet) Greeks around me. Finally, I made it back to Kifissia.

On the bus from Kifissia to Anixi (where my hotel was), I threw up all over myself and the floor of the bus. Since I was so humiliated and felt so bad for subjecting everyone else to that sight, I got off, planning to clean up a little and then catch another bus. When I was searching my bag for more kleenex, I discovered that I had been mugged at some point. My wallet had contained my credit card, driver's license, all my cash, and my travelers' checks. So, I was now sick, injured, and moneyless in Greece.

After walking the three or four miles back to the hotel (which was murder on my ankle), I called my parents for help. We were able to cancel my credit card easily, so the low-life thief won't get much fun out of that. Then I had my parents book me a flight back home, and help me cancel the rest of the vacation (there really wasn't any other option). On Monday morning I flew back home. It was definitely not the vacation I had imagined.

Still, it could have been a lot worse. God was looking out for me, even if He did let some bad things happen. I always carry my passport when I'm vacationing in other countries (just in case). On the fateful Saturday, however, I took my passport out of my bag for some reason and left it at the hotel. Also, I did get to have a couple of wonderful days before the "stuff" hit the fan. I got to see the things I wanted to see most of all, and I even got a few souvenirs. I could have been hurt a lot worse, I could have been injured physically by the mugger, I could have been raped and murdered when I was lost in the bad area. I could have been lost much longer. And let's not forget how wonderful the management at my hotel were. They let me stay an extra night, arranged for a cab to the airport and then let me charge it to my bill with them, and were very sympathetic listeners.

So, while it was definitely the worst vacation of my life, it could have been a lot worse. Now I just need to get over this awful "mystery-plague" that I'm sick with.

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"