Life Lately :: September Musings 2017

So it’s been pretty quiet around here. I haven’t blogged in nearly a year.

But it doesn’t mean I haven’t been up to much. If anything, too much has happened this past year.

I had high hopes I would be more consistent with blogging, but at the same time I’m not surprised by the lack of it.

I re-read my post from last October and thank myself for writing what I did about “I can’t.” It’s kind of what I needed to read because once again, I’m going through a few of those “big life changes.”

So what the heck has happened lately?

 

Aside from London, I wanted to get out of the city and see more of England. I booked a relaxing one-day tour to Oxford (pictured here), the Cotswolds and Stratford-upon-Avon.

 

Well, I’m happy to report that I survived my solo trip to London, and returned in one piece. One pretty peaceful piece. I was working on a few posts on how that trip went, but of course they’re sitting in draft as usual.

I did prove to myself that I’m capable of travelling alone, and thinking on my toes when things don’t go as planned.

While I didn’t exactly have any super crazy experiences in London, I will say it was what I needed at the time. To not have a schedule or routine, to do whatever you want when you want, somehow feels like sacred time.

I spent that week living completely in the moment. Not expecting anything of myself or others. Not thinking or worrying about the future.

It was a simple and blissful time to be honest.

After London, I guess winter kinda came and went. The next trip was a quick jaunt to Cuba in mid-February. What can I say about Cuba?

Go sooner rather than later.

It’s a beautiful little island with a mesmerizing culture. Stay in casa particulars and you’ll be treated like family. Head to the countryside of Viñales for a more relaxing slice of the island (along with Cuban cigars and rum).

 

When wandering the streets of Havana, it’s difficult to peel your eyes away from the colourful buildings (as run down as they are).

 

I also recommend spending a few days in Havana itself, despite what people might say about it. A lot of people choose to say in the popular resort area of Varadero and visit Havana on a day trip, but Havana has this energy unlike anywhere else. It’s an indescribable feeling, but you’ll feel it if you stay longer and soak it all in.

So after Cuba, next was planning a month long trip to Spain and Morocco for April.

The usual “once a year big trip.”

But this is where something kind of changed in me. Something shifted on how I feel about travel.

To get straight to the point, I had to return home half way through. Here’s why.

I got sick early into the trip.

Got worse and worse. Ended up being hospitalized in Marrakesh. Still wasn’t getting better after four days. Realized it was probably time to go home.

I’m not gonna lie, I have never been that sick before in my life.

I have never been in that much physical pain before in my life.

I coughed up my lungs all over Morocco from Fez to Chefchaouen and back. Then through the desert (while atop a camel and sleeping in the dessert) and across the Atlas Mountains en route to Marrakesh.

It was brutal. I suffered hard.

 

Don’t be deceived. I felt like death when taking this shot, but also relieved since these were the camels that would carry us out of the desert.

 

I pushed myself to keep going because I didn’t want to waste all that time, energy, and money that went into planning this trip.

To me, cancelling a trip–not travelling–felt like failing. It’s like a bird who can’t fly because it’s injured, or a musician who suddenly goes deaf. When you take away something so important, so essential to someone’s identity or way of life, it’s nothing short of devastating.

Now, you might think I’m being overdramatic. But this is how much travelling means to me.

Returning home crushed my spirit, but after almost five months now, I realize it was right to leave. My health is important. I can always travel another day.

So what was the diagnosis? Suspected pneumonia. But I’m not convinced it was just that.

It took me another month after returning home to recover. I’m not even sure if I’m 100% recovered even now. Antibiotics did nothing for me. I still have coughing spurts and feel phantom pain once in awhile on one side of my rib cage. My wrist will probably never be the same after a nurse in Marrakesh did a shoddy job at inserting an IV.

I thought getting mono last year shortly after returning from New Zealand was bad, but this experience was something else.

 

Barcelona, the first (and only) city on the trip before I fell ill. Also, the Sagrada Familia is truly one of the most beautiful churches I have ever been to thus far.

 

Needless to say, I never got to see southern Spain, or witness the beauty of Morocco with a clear head and good health. But you know what? I’ll be back one day.

It’s something I seem to say after every trip, and even though this one went far from planned, I want to see the Spain I originally had set out to see. I want to return to Morocco to explore Marrakesh’s medina, the places a local spoke about for its beaches and relaxing vibe, and for its delicious tangiers and mint tea.

While I’m still in the midst of dealing with insurance, and how every time they request more information I’m reminded of the horrors of my medical emergency, I’m doing okay. I think.

Except for the fact that I feel I’ve changed.

I’m not sure if I have the same enthusiasm for travel as I used to. I’m not sure if my travel spirit is there in one piece.

The truth is, travelling is great when things are going great. But travelling sucks when things go bad. Really bad.

I know my experience could’ve been worse, much worse. I’m lucky to have my health back, and grateful for the Canadian healthcare system. We take it for granted, let me tell you. And I’m lucky for all the people in my life who care, who were there when I was at my absolute sickest.

Even the strangers and other travellers I came across who found out I was sick, offered their sympathy and medicine to me. I’m beyond appreciative with how caring we are as a species, to people we don’t even know. I will forever strive to help a fellow traveller in need.

 

A page out of Beau Taplin’s “Bloom.” I think this pretty much sums up my past year.

 

So what happens next?

I had some time to contemplate life and everything for a couple of weeks as I was on sick leave, housebound, and recovering. I’m happy to say I’ve dived head first into new endeavours.

One that involves painting and creating. Another that involves stepping into business and entrepreneurship.

Exciting times. At the same time, it’s all uncharted territory and scary too.

Now that it’s September, I have to admit this summer has been pretty laidback with plenty of sunshine. The near perfect kinda summer, right?

Mix in some hikes, bike rides, an awesome group trip to the Okanagan, plus a short trip to Toronto, and things seem to be back to normal ish.

It’s funny, because the whole medical ordeal also feels like a dream now. I don’t think I regret getting sick and cutting the Spain/Morocco trip short. Yes, it was a super shitty situation that I wouldn’t ever want to repeat, but I learned a lot.

It has brought me to where I am right now.

It’s like that saying, the universe works in mysterious ways. It’s mysterious and sometimes has a strange way of working things out for you, through good or bad situations. So there must be a reason for it all. At least, that’s what I want to believe.

On another note, I can feel that ache starting to bubble up again. And I think it’s the ache and longing of wanting to head to a new place.

Maybe all is not lost after all.

Maybe my travel spirit is ever so slowly, returning.

 


Has a life-changing event changed or shaped your travel spirit? Let me know!

 

Migrant Muse

 

 

 

  • Katie Bell

    I’m sorry to hear that you got so sick – you definitely did the right thing cutting your trip short and returning home earlier, you can always go back to Spain and Morocco. Hope you are completely well again soon!

    • Hi Katie! Thank you so much for the kind words. I do hope to go back someday. Fingers crossed it’ll be a better experience 🙂

  • Jeff & Crystal Bryant

    Sorry to hear of the travel interruption. Glad to know that you are getting back into the swing of things. You mentioned that everyone should visit Havana, and it is certainly on our radar. Thanks for sharing, and welcome back to the blogging community.

    • Thank you! It’s been awhile but I haven’t lost hope yet for my blog. I feel it might change a bit in the future but we’ll see. And yes! I definitely recommend a visit to Cuba and spending time at places other than the resort-area of Varadero. I can’t imagine how much it will have changed now though due to Hurricane Irma 🙁

  • Sorry to hear about your illness. I always worry about getting sick when traveling. Hopefully you’ll get back to 100% soon.

    • Thanks Allison! The thought of getting sick again while travelling does make me a bit nervous, but I guess it’s always gonna be a risk.

  • Oh no! Sending well wishes your way. I get really nervous that I am going to get ill while travelling and it’s going to ruin the experience. It stinks for someone like me who only gets a week or so a year to go somewhere new.

    • Thanks Kuleigh! Completely understandable about being nervous especially with such limited travel time. I guess the best thing to do is to prep your immune system and be as healthy as possible before leaving for a trip. Easier said than done though!

  • This is the side of traveling I don’t think about – especially in a foreign country. Hopefully it won’t break your traveling spirit!

    • Thanks for stopping by! I think my spirit will return with time 🙂 Getting sick is the worst but I definitely don’t think it should stop us from travelling.

  • That sounds like such a scary experience! I spent three months in West Africa when I was 18 and at one point I got so sick that the people I was with were ready to take me to the hospital. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital there, so I was trying to avoid it. I wasn’t retaining any fluids; whenever I drank water it just came right out of me, so finally they gave me a pitcher of kool-aid (to mask the taste) with salt and said if I wasn’t able to drink it and if I was still sick they’d take me to the hospital. (There was a cholera outbreak at the time and I had the classic symptoms of it.) Luckily I was able to get through it without going to the hospital, but that was a big fear of mine.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and I hope you get your travel spirit back! It sounds like you had some fun travels. I’m really hoping to get to Cuba soon!

    • Yikes! That sounds like a really scary experience too. I can’t imagine what the hospitals are like there either. I also didn’t want to go to the hospital in Marrakesh but I needed chest x-rays to figure out what was going on and since I wasn’t getting any better, best to be on the safe side I suppose. So glad to hear you got through your illness and thanks for sharing your story!

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