In Morocco, each of my mates became sick with an affliction that affects travelers around the world. I guess I don’t really need to be delicate about this, since it’s something that happens to everyone at one time or another. In Mexico, it’s called ‘Montezuma’s Revenge.’ In India, ‘Delhi Belly.’ I have no idea if any cute nicknames exist for it in Morocco, but catchy moniker or no, each of my tour mates had it—almost in perfect succession. I remember feeling a twinge of schadenfreude at this; sad that my friends were experiencing such discomfort, but relieved that it wasn’t happening to me. I thought karma had come to bite me in the bum (so to speak) in Granada (a day after we left Morocco) when I experienced a mild case of it. When it didn’t persist, I thought I was home-free.
Several days later, on the morning of a long travel day that began at 3:30 am and wouldn’t end until 13 hours later (flying from Madrid to Athens with a few stops in Italy), the miserable affliction came back for an encore performance. And what an encore it was—not an ounce of fluid or food could I eat without losing it, and as the longest-day-in-history pressed on, I gradually became feverish, dehydrated, and achy in every joint in my body. When I finally arrived in Athens, I felt no relief whatsoever because I knew there was still the journey to the hotel to undertake. Having read in my guidebook that it wasn’t recommended to take one of the airport taxis (according to my guidebook, Greek taxi drivers are the ‘biggest bunch of bastards in Europe’), I hopped on a bus and endured 45 minutes of standing cheek-to-jowl with other sweaty passengers in 95 degree heat only to discover that the bus wouldn’t take me exactly where I needed to go. I got off on its last stop and promptly hailed a taxi to finish off what turned out to be the last 5 minutes of my journey. I reasoned to myself that it was worth the 10 euro because in my condition, I didn’t exactly want to wander around the crowded, unfamiliar Athens streets while trying to figure out the lay of the land. I needed to get to my hotel bed fast. When I got to my room, I promptly hit the sack (after a hot shower) and had a long, fitful night with odd dreams about a secret Gnostic priesthood and Scully from the X-files (who can fly, by the way). I was clearly very sick.
I awoke the next morning after sleeping in as long as my conscience would allow. Despite the fact that I was weak and still unable to retain fluids, I dressed and headed out to find a pharmacy. Let me just say this: of all the things you should pack in your traveler’s first-aid kit, Immodium should rank #1 on that list.