Thursday, 28 August 2008

I Know You Like To Think Your Shit Don't Stink

I'm back bitches! Sorry, I've just always wanted to say that - now I take it back. I'm not really back. Haha, ok I am, but you're not really bitches! ;-)

I really am back, after what has been the most amazing holiday ever. Over the course of the next few days, I'll share a few of the highlights, lowlights and flashing lights with you, and hopefully you'll feel a little bit like you were soaking up those rays on the beach with me.

So today's story is about poo. Yes, you did read that correctly. I must apologise in advance for the topic of conversation, and for the inevitable bad puns that are going to ensue, but this story is very necessary for you to understand how my holiday was.

Rewind with me to Saturday night - the end of our second full day at Boom Festival in Idanha a Nova, Portugal. Shield your gaze through the clouds of dust being churned up by 30,000 feet on the dance floor. Keep going, your eyes skimming the reflection of the sunset in the river; past that cluster of tents with the scaffolding of twine holding up the multi-coloured trance awnings. Do you see the row of food stalls, and slightly to the right the rows of tables and benches where everyone is sitting down to supper? You can see us there, perched on our fisherman stools in the patch of ground in the middle. We're the ones all holding the big, fat, juicy burgers, inhaling them like they're pure oxygen. As you can see, we're quite hungry - it's our first meal in a good 6 hours. If you look closely, you'll see Neutrino has already finished his - he is always the fastest eater in our group.

Now fast forward with me to Sunday evening, 6pm. Where are we, you say? Don't panic, it's not a stampede - you're only in the middle of the dance floor for the festival's final show. 6 hours of non-stop dancing, incredible lasers, firedancers, hula hoop acrobats and light sabers. Incredible, isn't it? See how stoked everyone is. There are 20,000 people on this dance floor right now. Can you feel the vibe? The energy feels like a living thing. But if you look down to your left; you see Penguin sitting on her stool, a lone figure bent double in the midst of the heaving masses. She's not feeling well. I'm going to leave you here while I take her to the loos; there's no need for you to see what comes next. Now we're back, and she's feeling a bit better after throwing up, but not much. Look, she's leaving to go to bed. Fast forward again, just 5 hours this time. It's 11pm. The firedancers and acrobats are in full swing, jumping and tumbling and lighting up the stage like Christmas trees on speed. But I'm sitting down this time - over here, next to you. I'm feeling a bit funny. Scarf and I are going to leave now and go to bed - I know it's just minutes before the finale and end of Boom thank you speech, but I don't feel strong enough to stay.

And this is the point in my journey where I stop taking you with me, at least for the rest of this story. We woke up on Monday morning at 6am, set to leave by 7 so we could catch our 11am flight to Barcelona. Before we could bundle ourselves into the car though, we had to make a trip past the loos as every one of us had seriously dodgy stomachs. At this stage we all thought it was a combination of too much sun, too much booze and not enough healthy food. It can happen to anyone, especially at a trance party.

So we didn't think anything of it when, just half an hour later, we had to stop at a petrol station so we could all go again. Or when we got to the airport, and the first thing any of us did was rush for the toilet. Or when we touched down in Barcelona and did the same thing. But by the time we'd dropped our bags at our apartment and headed out for dinner at a local tapas bar, we'd started discussing the possibility of a stomach bug. When Eyes left dinner early to go home as he felt so bad, and I found that even though I was hungry I was struggling to find anything I felt I could eat, we knew something was definitely wrong.

To cut a very long story short, we got through the rest of our holiday by keeping these key pointers in mind at all times:

1) Never, EVER go anywhere that does not have a loo, either in the establishment (apartment, restaurant) or nearby (beaches, public transport).
2) Carry your own toilet paper with you, just in case.
3) Don't bother to take: the anti-cramp meds, the diarrhea stopping pills or the painkillers. None of them work. The paracetemol does help control the fever, though.
4) When you get up for the 6th time in the early hours of the morning to drop off friends, expect to meet a comrade either going into or coming out of the bathroom.
5) In afore-mentioned situation, the rule of thumb is, whoever's doubled over the most with cramps gets to go first.
6) Leave window open in bathroom at ALL times. It doesn't matter if the people in the flat opposite get a glimpse - it's preferrable to the alternative stench.
7) It will take at least 2 hours to get everyone out of the door in the mornings, as each person must visit great white telephone between 3 and 6 times before leaving.
8) Eat what you like, drink what you like - you think it will make a difference if you eat dry toast and drink water, but it WON'T. (Eyes finally made sense of this only in the last 2 days of our trip).
9) When the fever hits, there is nothing you can do. You must call up your inner reserves of strength and ride it out. Try not to steal the entire blanket from your partner / throw the whole thing on top of them.
10) Fresh air does not help.
11) Lying motionless on the beach in the sun is the only thing that will make you feel mildly better. Do not upset the delicate equilibrium once you find it.

Scarf and G-Days managed to avoid whatever "stomach bug" Shoes, Eyes and I had caught. We deduced that we got it in Portugal, as texts from Penguin, who was back in London, told tales of the shits from both ends. Neutrino was feverish for a week. The only one untouched was Scarf (G-Days joined us in Spain but was not with us in Portugal). It made sense when we found out on our return that it was food poisoning, as she had thrown up on Sunday morning after a particularly bad hangover. She basically got rid of the bad bacteria before it had a chance to do its damage. For the rest us, we had those big, juicy burgers on Saturday night to thank for our newly intimate associations with all the toilets across Spain & London.

As of today, we have been sick for 11 days and still counting. I'm at work; Eyes and Shoes can't face it and have been kept home by their cramps. I am on the whole ok, if you count a complete lack of absorption of food, weight loss and no appetite or energy as ok. But I'm soldiering on in the face of adversity, comforted that the nearest loo is but 10 steps away. I know because I counted.

I had an badass (sorry, I warned you!) holiday, despite the small bump (large pile of crap) in the road. What would my travels be without a little drama hey!


phillygirl said...

Aw hon, I hope you feel back to 100% soon. I can't believe food poisoning would last that long tho ... ?!? I had a 7-day bug when I got back from Egypt that was a total nightmare - thank goodness it only started as we touched down back in SA (think I got it from that stop in Nairobi, actually!), I don't know how you managed to still holiday in that state, I'm truly impressed!!

callumd said...

In situations like these Activated Charcoal is your friend. The pills are insanely big and black as sin, but when tag-teamed with a serious overdose of Loperamide it generally sorts everything out.

angel said...

good grief... are you supposed to still be sick!?!??

MidniteGem said...

Trust Callum - he had to deal with that at alititude...3000m - 6800m!!!

Lopz said...

@Philly - I know, I also thought food poisoning was a 24 hour thing! But apparently, it can take up to 2 weeks for the body to eject the bad bacteria on its own. I think I've had my dose of FP for one lifetime now.

@Callum & Gem - thanks for the tip! Touch wood I'll never have to use it...if only we'd had your sage advice in Mallorca. And I can't imagine going through what I went through on the side of a mountain....

@Angel - yeah, seems it's quite normal for FP to last this long. Antibiotics would cure it, but getting antibiotics in this country is like trying to procure morphine for recreational use - they won't give it to you unless you're practically dead. We're better now though, finally.