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A Year Ago.

8 Feb

Recently we started saying things like;

“A year ago we were flying into New Zealand.”

“A year ago we were hiking the Tongariro Crossing.”

“A year ago we were kayaking in the Kenepuru Sound.”

Yesterday, one year ago, we were flying home.  We flew out of Auckland late in the evening on February 7th, and landed in San Francisco mid-morning on…February 7th.  Very time-warpish to have two full days of the same date.  We drove up the coast to the town I went to college in and proceeded to stuff our faces with burgers (real American hamburgers!) at one of my favorite local breweries.  We were a mess.  We had been wearing the same 3 outfits repeatedly and hadn’t cut our hair for over 15 months.  We felt both out of place, and totally comfortable.

The first picture of us back in the States.

The first picture of us back in the States.

It’s stunning how time can go both so fast, and so slow, all at once.  A lot has happened in the last year.  We’ve moved back to my home state.  We got our cats back from the friend who cared for them while we were away.  I’ve gone back into teaching.  Justin’s branching out and trying out new career ideas.  My youngest brother bought a house.  My other brother moved home from Thailand, and then moved back out to Indonesia.  My father was diagnosed, treated, and is recovering from cancer.  My mother walked the Camino de Santiago.   We’ve reconnected with old friends, and made some new ones.  There have been weddings and babies.  We bought a car and a season ski pass and a couch. We have settled back into a routine.

There have been lots of questions about whether we miss traveling, or New York.  The truth is that we don’t really miss anything.  I believe that if you are missing things from your past, then you probably aren’t living to your fullest potential in the moment.  We have had an amazing life so far and we hold the memories of places we’ve been and people we met in our hearts, BUT, we love  – being able to see family regularly – the mountains – having an apartment that is more than twice the size of what we had in NYC for less than half the rent – knowing that we don’t ‘need’ things to be happy – having a routine and a home that’s comfortable and safe at the end of each day – feeling purposeful in our work – taking walks in our new neighborhood and discovering our new favorite places to eat and drink and read.

We have no idea what the future holds.  We hope there are a lot more adventures left to be had, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time worrying about that.  For now, we’re happy right where we are.

RTW Travel and Priorities

5 Aug

I’ve read a lot of posts in the last few years about the kinds of internal shifts that happen to people when they travel.  I’ve also read a fair share about people who expected to come back transformed, and then were surprised when they felt like nothing much really had changed.  I didn’t anticipate a big revelation personally because, quite honestly, that occurred after my first international trip to Italy when I was just out of high school.  It was that particular trip that sparked my wanderlust, and opened my eyes to the fact that there is a lot going on outside of my little bubble.

The thing is, there’s also a lot going on inside our bubble.  We have nieces and nephews that we didn’t see for nearly two years.  That’s way too long, especially when we’re talking about young children who can change drastically in the span of just a few months.  In addition, when we returned we felt pretty out of touch with the lives of our friends.  We have a close knit group and without the daily communication that we had pre-trip, we missed a lot of the minutia of life that contributes to the deep understandings we have about each other.

The world is a huge and amazing place and we feel so blessed to be able to have seen and experienced all the things we did.  After 15 months away from it all, we are more certain than ever that all the most important things to us are right here at home.

rockymountains

Home is where the mountains are.

Just after we returned my father was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and it has been a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, periods of anxious waiting, and months of chemo and radiation that will now be followed by more months of anxious waiting to see if the treatment has been effective.  I have lived at least 1000 miles away from my family for more than 15 years, and to be home for this has been another big wake up call for us.

We embarked on our journey partly because of the realization that life is precious and fleeting, and we have returned to our roots for basically the same reason.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many places we’ve been, or how many mountains we climbed.  What really matters is that we are surrounded by the people we love, and those who love us, because as we already knew, it can all change in an instant.

I just renewed this blog’s address because I really do plan to post more about our trip.  We never did finish the New Zealand Roundup, and I have started posts about how we kept our budget, gross things we ate and the incredible scenery we tramped through.  Not to mention that we’re not done with travel, we WILL be having more adventures in the years to come, it’s just that our priorities are elsewhere right now.  So keep us in your reader, and you’ll be hearing from us again eventually.  In the meantime, if you have any juju, thoughts, prayers, or love and light to send to my dad, we’ll take all we can get.

Photo Friday – Street Art in San Francisco

15 Feb

Graffiti is not what it used to be in San Francisco.  We spent some time there earlier in the week and stumbled on this colorful alleyway down near Mission St.   It reminded me so much of Valparaiso, which, totally reminded me of San Francisco…it’s a cyclical thing.

The Thailand Roundup

9 Jan

Thailand Map

The Statistics

Number of days spent in country –  19

Cities/towns visited – Bangkok, Koh Tao, Khao Sok, Phuket

Number of different lodgings – 7

Flights – 0

Bus journeys – 10

Boat rides – 4

Taxis – 3

The Budget

Thailand chart

Total US dollar amount spent – $1,642

Average cost per day, per person -$43.22

Average lodging cost per night, per person – $11.86

Most expensive lodging, per person – $32 at the Royal President in Bangkok.  I had just gotten out of the hospital in Nepal and we decided to treat ourselves to a few days at a proper hotel.  It was lovely.

Least expensive lodging, per person – It’s a tie at $6.50 for a fan room that was pretty basic at SB Cabana II on Koh Tao, and an air-con room at a dive hostel in Bangkok that was also pretty basic.

Average food/drink cost per day, per person – $17.  Generally our meals were cheap street food in Bangkok, but we splurged big time with meals on Koh Tao and ate out many times at nicer places since my brother was there to give us some great recommendations.  The alcohol accounts for probably half of this total as we made up for all that beer we didn’t drink through Turkey, Jordan, Israel, India and Nepal…

The Best

$1 Pad Thai on the street.  Practically everywhere you look, you’ll find the super-cheap pad thai carts.  They aren’t always great, but they are a great value for a huge pile of noodles with veg, and chicken/beef/prawn on request.

 

Barracuda on Koh Tao – This place is run by a chef who worked for my brother when he had his restaurant on Koh Tao, and it’s easily the best place for a nice fish meal on the island.  Their appetizers are to die for.

 

Lung Pae on Koh Tao – It’s is a bit out of the way, high up on a hill with a great view of the ocean, which makes it perfect for a sunset dinner.  If you don’t have a scooter, they’ll come pick you up.  Interestingly enough, even though it’s a Thai place, they are best known for their steaks, particularly menu item # E4.

Portobellos on Koh Tao – Craving Italian?  This is the place to be.  Excellent thin crust pizzas and a decent wine list.

Sunday Roast at Banyon on Koh Tao – Obscene amounts of comfort food for when you are feeling particularly homesick.  It’s a local’s hangout so you’ll likely encounter bar and dive staff from all over the island at this weekly feast.

Going to the movies in Bangkok –There are massive movie theaters at the tops of nearly all the big shopping centers in the Sukhamvit area.  These are no ordinary theaters though, and they range from huge and classically decorated to enormous and lavish rooms filled with couches, soft lap blankets, and bottle service.  You can choose your level of service/quality of seat (and believe me, even the regular seats are generally nicer than those you’ll find in the States).  It’s a perfect way to deal with a rainy afternoon.  Don’t forget to stand for the national anthem…for real…it’s the law.

Photo by drekne on Flickr

Massage parlors literally line the streets!

$6 massages – Massage parlors are everywhere in SE Asia, and Thailand is no exception.  They run the gamut from sleazy ‘happy ending’ factories, to luxury spas that will pamper you for hours.  We stuck to crowded places with a communal area for Thai massages (no happy endings possible in these!) and if one massage wasn’t that great, we just went for another with a different masseuse!  If you want a super luxury deal (so, not $6) at a fraction of what you’d pay in the States, head to the Jamakiri Spa on Koh Tao.  They’ll come get you for free and you can spend the day getting pampered, and then relax by their pool that overlooks Sharks Bay.

The Worst

Getting random jumbles of noodles with fish sauce at a ‘Pad Thai’ cart in Bangkok.  This happened more than once.  Watch the cart before you order to see if they are really making Pad Thai or if they are just dishing up mixed noodles and veggies to drunk tourists.

In The Wild In Tasmania

4 Dec

It’s a good thing I have a regular Photo Friday, or this blog might have totally fallen by the wayside.  We’ve been in Australia since the end of October, and we’ve hardly posted a thing in that time.

Here’s where I offer some excuses…Last month, my mom and step-dad, and Justin’s sister came out to travel with us for a while, which means that in the evenings when I might normally be thinking about sorting photos or trying to write a post, we are spending time hanging out and catching up on the year’s happenings.  Another thing is the absurd lack of wi-fi access.  Honestly I don’t really get it because, hello, even in tiny Indonesian villages we were able to get free wi-fi at most guesthouses or restaurants.  Those things aside, well, we’ve been really enjoying our time, and I just haven’t felt much like being in front of the computer.

https://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8202/8242582499_20b73dc53e_n.jpgLast week we said goodbye to our loved ones and made our way to Tasmania.  It’s part of Australia…you’d be surprised how many people don’t know that.  I’m a little ashamed to admit that when a friend of mine came here years ago, I had to look up where exactly it is on the map.   In any case, we’re currently living out of a campervan (which is amazing by the way, totally do this for a while if you ever get the chance) and have been spending most of our time gallivanting around Tasmania’s national park system.

We didn’t know much about Tasmania because almost nobody we know has ever been here, so we didn’t really have any expectations other than that we’d heard it was a good place to be hiking and doing other nature-y things.

Well let me tell you, our minds have been totally blown by how STUNNINGLY beautiful it is.  The landscape combines two of the things we love the most – lush mountains and perfectly blue-green ocean waters on white-sand beaches.

Our photos don’t even begin to do it justice, but we’ll leave you with this very tiny slide show for just a small taste.  As always, it’s much better if you actually click-through to Flickr and check it out on the full screen setting.

*For whatever reason, I can’t make the slide show actually show up here, so just click the link and it’ll open in a new window*

http://www.flickr.com/photos/theparallellife/sets/72157632167603166/show/

Thankful.

21 Nov

Thanksgiving arrives a little earlier here in Australia, so we’re busy stuffing our faces even though it’s really still just Wednesday for most of our friends and family.  This is my favorite of the American holidays, so much so that I requested that my mother make the full turkey feast for us on Halloween in 2011 since we were leaving just a few weeks before Thanksgiving.  We sat around the table with construction paper caps – Pilgrim buckled hats for the men, feathered headdresses for the women – and took turns answering the door for the trick-or-treaters.

Just a few weeks later we were preparing our favorites again with friends in Santiago, thrilled that we got to have a second traditional turkey dinner with expats who craved the stuffing and cranberries just as much as we did.

This year we’re in Melbourne, Australia and we’ll probably have enough food left over to have seconds for breakfast on Friday morning, which might coincide nicely with the actual meal time state side.

All month we’ve been reading the ‘Today I’m thankful for…’ posts of our friends and family on Facebook.  One of the side effects of all our travel has been that we realize how thankful we are, not just on Thanksgiving or in the weeks leading up to it, but every day and for all the things we tend to take for granted.  We all struggle in our lives to varying degrees, but this world is filled with adversity on a scale that’s so enormous many of us can’t even fathom it.  This year we’ve seen poverty in such magnitude that we thought our hearts might break on the spot.  We’ve seen sickness that can’t be treated and pollution that may never be eradicated.

On the flip side, we’ve seen incredible love and generosity between people, even in the face of insurmountable hardship.  We’ve also seen some of the amazing things that people can produce – towering monuments and architectural wonders, as well as art that only begins to scratch the surface of mankind’s creativity.

This year we are thankful for everything.  That’s right everything.  We’re thankful for the times we’ve laughed and fought and cried and sang and danced and mourned and questioned and doubted and hoped.  We’re thankful for our families and our friends and even for the people who don’t like us so much. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re so grateful to have our messy little lives in the midst of this one crazy and beautiful world.

A Year of Wander

6 Nov

With all the hurricane chatter from the East Coast, and American election chatter from everywhere else, we somehow skipped over the fact that this weekend marked one year of travel abroad for us!  We’ve made it to Australia, which is another big marker for me personally.  Upon stepping off the plane, I have officially visited all seven continents.  Hooray!

We considered doing a year-long roundup of sorts to commemorate the moment, but figured we’ll save it for the very end, which unfortunately is creeping up on us.  We found a great deal on a flight home in February and have bought the tickets, so we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that even though it’s still a few months away, there is now an official end to our journey.

The rest of our trip will be spent in Australia and New Zealand.  More than a year ago we promised my mother we’d meet her ‘down-under’ for her birthday, which is next week, so here we are.

We’re going all in and are hitting up spots from the vineyards of Western Australia to the deserts of the Outback all the way to the beaches of Sydney and the wilderness of Tasmania.

After a year of travel through places where the amenities of home aren’t always available, we are ecstatic to be drinking tap water, flushing toilet paper and showering with HOT water again!

We still have a lot of adventuring left to do, so stay tuned, and thanks for keeping up with us this year!

Rediscovering Our Travel Style

16 Oct

Over the last two weeks, between bouts of lazing around on a variety of Indonesian beaches, I’ve had an overwhelming feeling of needing to do something.   Something we can’t do back home.  Something that will capture the essence of the foreign land we are in. The problem was that I couldn’t figure out quite what the something was.

photo by Jaymis on Flickr

Getting sucked into yet another guidebook…

In the last 6 months our travel has been faster paced than we are used to.  We’ve focused on visiting some really historical places, some of which we probably won’t get the opportunity to visit again, and we wanted to make sure we really used our time well.  The problem with this that we lost track of how we usually like to travel, which is slowly.  When I imagine a perfect day I see myself sitting at an outdoor café all afternoon just people-watching.  Or perhaps I’m wandering through the neighborhoods, checking out the houses, peeking into the local restaurants, or drifting around in the market.  This doesn’t mean I don’t also want to take a walking tour in a new city, or check out the museums and galleries, or hit up the famous towers and temples and churches, but I need there to be a balance between these different kinds of days.   Unfortunately, somewhere between dashing around to ancient holy places in Israel to making our way all over India by train and then being hospitalized in Nepal, we let ourselves get pretty unbalanced.

By the time we got to Thailand I was feeling some serious burnout.  Yes, that’s right, I was burned out on travelling, which is something I never really thought I’d say.  I’ve read about other long-term travelers having this problem, and I figured it would just take a few weeks of lazing around to get myself back together.  Having already been to Bangkok a few times, I didn’t feel too much pressure to go sightseeing, though there are a few sights I’d missed in my previous trips and we figured we’d hit up one or two of those so as not to seem like lazy travelers.  We ended up seeing none of them.  Instead, we spent our days eating absurd amounts of Pad Thai, having massages, and going to the huge and fancy movie theaters at the top of the big malls in the downtown area. Once or twice I’d feel a pang of guilt at not being motivated enough to do something more, but I justified it by reminding myself that it had only been two weeks since I had been released from the hospital so I really should just be taking it easy still.

As we made our way out of Thailand and into Cambodia, then back into Thailand and down to Indonesia, we felt a bit like we were on a huge pendulum, swinging back and forth between bouts of frantic ‘tourist stuff’ and complete sloth.  The thing is, with the exception of Angkor Wat, none of the ‘tourist’ stuff was really impressing us anymore.  There comes a point when you just get so templed and museumed out that you can’t imagine having to go to yet one more of them.  I know, these are not pressing issues compared to most of life’s problems, but it was unsettling because we felt like we should be enjoying ourselves more.  One of our problems was that the cost/interest level wasn’t balancing out.  In Cambodia we had paid something like $35 to go see a village built on stilts, but we both walked away feeling like we had totally wasted our time and our money.  $35 isn’t much by Western standards, but keep in mind that for us, that’s one half day’s allotment of our expenses.  We paid this to essentially be scooted along in a boat for 30 minutes through this village which, while interesting to see, just wasn’t $35 for 30 minutes interesting.

For nearly a month we tried really hard to figure this out because time and time again we simply weren’t feeling the love with our sightseeing choices.  What could we see that might re-energize us?  What could we do that would make us feel like we were getting our money’s worth out of the visit?

Eventually we gave up and just went to the beach.  I kept arguing with myself that we are all the way across the world, in this place that’s nothing like where we live usually, and we can’t find anything better to do than lay around at the beach?

Who wouldn’t want to lounge about here?!?!?

There are plenty of things you can do as a tourist here, but what we kept running into was that pesky cost/pleasure problem.  Do we really want to pay $200 to hike up a mountain at three in the morning to see the sunrise with 35 other people?  Do we want to pay $80 EACH to ride an elephant for 30 minutes (especially when the same thing costs $20 in Thailand where we just were)?  We neither dive, nor surf, so that takes away another chunk of options.  I get wildly seasick, so the boat trip to Komodo and Flores is a no-go.  We intended to go to Sulawesi, but that island is huge and we’d only have a few days there, which would definitely make us feel frantic and rushed.

I felt like I was losing my mind.  Here we have the trip of our lives and I already felt like we’d been lazy travelers in Thailand so I didn’t want to just waste time while we were in Indonesia.  Then, finally, it hit me.  This was the trip of OUR lives.  Ours.  Who said a ‘good’ trip is filled with non-stop sightseeing, especially if that’s not what you want to do?  There are other ways to experience a place, and they don’t all involve a tour guide or a rushed itinerary.  We totally knew this, but had somehow lost track of it along the way.  We started looking at our options through a different lens.

Why were we beating ourselves up over lounging on the beach when that’s something we love?  Colorado doesn’t have beaches with fabulous turquoise water, so it’s not like this is something we can do back home.  We decided to give ourselves 5 more days to explore the beaches around southern Lombok.  When we’re done with that we’re heading back to Ubud, in Bali, where we’ll take 5 or 6 days of introductory yoga classes and at least one cooking class.  In our spare time perhaps we’ll rent bikes and ride through the rice terraces, or maybe we’ll just find a lovely café and read.

It was incredible how much better we felt after that shift in perspective.  Making these decisions served to remind us, as we head into the next few months of travel, that this trip is for us and we will only be making the most of this time if we do things because we are interested in doing them, not just because they are in the guidebook under someone else’s list of ‘must see’ items to check off a list.

What are your favorite things to do when you travel to far away lands?

It’s The Little Things – Essential Items for Long-Term Travel

2 Oct

Photo by Natmandu on Flickr

Earlier today, as we were trying to avoid walking through a thick stretch of tourist market in Ubud, Bali,  we were talking about how light we feel without the need to have all the ‘stuff’ that we regarded as essential for our daily lives when we were in NYC.  Our priorities have obviously shifted, and as such, our essential items have also shifted.

When we began to gather our gear for this trip we spent a lot of time thinking about what would suit our needs best.  Our packs can only hold so many things, so we wanted to make sure that we weren’t filling the space with frivolous items.  We searched other long-term travelers’ packing lists and made lists of our own.  We bought, and returned what seemed like a million different items of quick-dry clothing.  We were even running around on the last day before we left trying to gather those last minute items that we had forgotten about.

A few months ago we finished posting our own packing lists in the hopes that others might find them useful.  Today we’d like to narrow those items down into a list of little things that, as long-term travelers, we have found to be the most useful over the course of the last year.

Cheap flip-flops – This might seem obvious, but if you plan on staying in dorms these are essential for avoiding foot plague and other nastiness in the common showers.

Packing cubes – I never really understood these, but now that we pack up and move every few days I see that they are a huge lifesaver.  Nearly everything in our packs goes into a cube, and then the cubes go into our bags in a jigsaw-like manner to maximize space.  It makes it so that we can each get packed, empty to full, in just a few minutes.

Small combination lock– Again, this might seem obvious to some, but we’ve used our locks for everything from hostel lockers, to just locking our bags every day when we leave our rooms (we lock the laptops, etc inside them).  Sure, people could slice the bag open to get to our stuff, but it prevents opportunistic theft.  We also carry a little package of zip ties that we’ve used to secure smaller bags when we’ve had to leave items with a hostel (like when we go on multi-day treks).

Headphone splitter – Sometimes we want to just have a night in to be ‘normal’ and watch a movie.  These allow us to watch movies together on one laptop.

Quickdry towel – This is not my favorite item (it’s like drying yourself with a chamois), but has been one of the most useful.  We’ve stayed in many places, mostly in S. America, that didn’t provide towels, so these were essential.  In addition, when we hand-wash clothes we find that they dry more quickly when you wring them out in a towel, and these towels not only absorb tons of water, but they dry in only a few hours.

Smartphone – We brought Justin’s phone with us, even though we cancelled his plan (and it doesn’t use a SIM card so we can’t use it for calls), because we use it for an alarm clock, emergency wi-fi,  and GPS.  If we connect to wi-fi we can download maps of our destinations, which is incredibly helpful when you arrive in a new city and aren’t exactly sure where to go.  It was also essential in India where they don’t always announce train stops…without this we definitely would have missed some of our stops!

Multi plug thing – This is one of those plugs that allows you can charge 3-4 things at once.  With two laptops, two I-pods, two kindles and two cameras this allows us to make sure we’re always charged up and ready to go, even if we get a room with only one outlet.  It’s important to just get a two-pronged plug unless your voltage adapter allows for grounded plugs.  No need to go fancy with this, we picked ours up at a hardware store for less than a dollar.

Sleep sheet – We never would have expected it, but this has turned out to be one our most useful, non-clothing item on this trip.  They are made to be used when a place lacks sheets, has questionable cleanliness, or to put inside a rental sleeping bag.  We’ve used them for all these purposes, but also for loads more, including – warmth on long, cold, bus rides; as sarongs when we need to enter temples in Bali; as beach towels (they are huge, so your whole body fits on them!); and as a laundry bag.

As a counter to our favorite items, we figured we should include some of the crap we didn’t need after all:

Money belts – Justin doesn’t carry a wallet, so that solves his pick-pocket problem.  We do have an Eagle Creek money belt that we really like, and he used to wear it on the long bus rides in S. America, but honestly, we haven’t used it in at least 5 months.  We keep it around just in case. I had a more traditional money belt, and again, I used it once or twice on overnight bus rides, but other than that it just sat in my pack and wasted a little bit of space.  I got rid of this after 6 months.

Pacsafe – We got it ‘just in case’.  We NEVER used it.  We sent it home after 6 months..

Ethernet cord – In some places this might be a good idea, but we’ve found that most places have wi-fi, and if they don’t, they don’t often have wired internet either.  Not a huge waste of space, but totally unnecessary.

Tell us, what are your ‘must-have’ travel items?

The Nepal Curveball

5 Sep

We went to Nepal to get away from the cities and the pollution and the general chaos of constant travel.  We knew that hiking the Annapurna Circuit would be both challenging and rewarding, and our entire trip to this lovely country revolved around the hike.  That is, until I got sick.

We had just finished our 150 kilometer trek and we were incredibly sore, but feeling really good about successfully carrying our own gear and still making it all the way through on our original schedule.  I went to bed that night dreaming of relaxing back in Kathmandu with a giant burger and a beer.

The next morning I woke up feeling, off. It was cloudy and we suspected our flight out of Jomsom would be cancelled, but we dragged ourselves out of bed at 6am and headed to the airport anyways.  By 8am it was crystal clear that not only was the flight not going to happen, but also that I was getting sick.  I spent the next 20 hours attempting to fight off a fever and shivering uncontrollably despite being buried in both of our sleeping bags AND two huge blankets.  I figured this was my body’s way of getting back at me for all the long and punishing days of hiking.

The next morning I still felt unwell, but our flight was set to go so I rallied myself and managed to survive both the flight as well as the very long and bumpy bus ride back to Kathmandu.  I figured once I had a good shower and some clean clothes I would be feeling much better.

I was wrong.

Justin kindly took a photo of me feeling quite ill. In retrospect, I don’t look nearly as bad as I felt at this point.

I woke up in the middle of the night, feverish again, and started to worry that something was really wrong.  By the next afternoon I still had the fever and it seemed to be getting worse.  We started to think I might have gotten malaria, despite taking anti-malarial meds all through India.  Justin called the US Embassy to get a recommendation for a doctor and we were directed to the CIWEC clinic, which caters mostly to foreigners and expats.

A few hours and many vials full of blood later I was informed that I would not be going back to the hotel that day.  The good news is that I didn’t have Malaria.  The not so good news is that they thought I had Typhoid Fever, though they sent out some blood cultures just to be sure.

Typhoid Fever is typically transmitted to travelers by an infected person who does not wash up properly after using the toilet, and then prepares food.   I had gotten the vaccine but the doctor said that while it’s ok to have, it’s really not much more protection than having an umbrella with a huge hole in it during a thunderstorm.

I was started on a series of both oral and IV antibiotics and told that the fever would likely not be getting any better until the infection was cleared.  They were right. I had a raging fever, reaching 102.5 – 103 degrees most days, for a total of 10 days.  The fever was accompanied by stomach pain, a complete inability to eat more than a few bites of toast at a time, and some of the worst headaches I’ve ever had.

During one of my better moments I manage to use the hospital’s wi-fi to break up the monotony of the day.

After a few days the blood tests came back, but they were all negative.  After that I had to give blood samples every few days so that they could test for other types of bacteria and viruses, and in the meantime they added two more antibiotics to the mix just to cover all the bacterial bases.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity in the hospital, though it was really just about a week, the fever broke and stayed away for 24 hours.  Armed with baggies full of the rest of the antibiotics, I was released from the clinic, even though there was never a definitive diagnosis as to what I had.  The medical records I was given when we left the hospital state that it was a case of “possible Typhoid” since the blood tests apparently often come back negative when up to 50% of the time they should be positive.  It’s been 5 days, I’ve finished the antibiotics, and am finally feeling more like myself again.

After all our time preparing for the Annapurna trek, it’s frustrating that we didn’t have any time to revel in the accomplishment immediately after completing the journey.  The illness came on so fast, and so strong, that it seems like that’s the only thing that happened in Nepal.  We’ve finally managed to pull the hundreds of photos of the hike off our memory cards and now we need to sit down and make a point to go through them and focus on those 12 days of struggle and success so that the better memories can rise up to the surface and overtake the blur that the fever created.

In the meantime, we are hanging out in Thailand, re-acquainting ourselves with our old friend ‘beer’, and making plans to go visit my brother, who lives a life full of awesome on a little island in the Gulf of Thailand.

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