Disease, death and vacation
by Sadhbh Warren - August 2nd, 2010
This alarmingly late blog is brought to you courtesy of the Mexican Death Flu. I tried to write something last week, but thanks to alternating chills, fever and hallucinations, I decided to hold off posting until I was feeling a bit better. Otherwise you would be reading what reads more like free verse than a blog. “So cold, so very cold. Argh too hot now! Eep. Donde esta les baños, por favor?”
While being ill is never fun, being ill on vacation is even less so. Everyone else is having a wonderful time drinking margueritas and salsa dancing and climbing ruins, you are getting really familiar with the bathroom furniture. Everyone wants to see photos of the Mayan pyramids, no one wants to see Mexican bathrooms.
But the main drawback to being ill in the jungle is the fact that I lack both bookshops and the brainpower to read the various books I do have. The moment I get ill, all my big girl books go out the window and I desperately want to read something unchallenging. Something as fluffy, sunny and devoid of content as the inside of Jessica Simpson’s head. My perfect novel right now might be a story about how a happy plump pony found the carrot and ate it or something equally silly, probably by Sophie Kinsella.
However there is no bookshop in the “Eco Jungle Lodge”. It makes up for it with a truly amazing quantity of insects. In between chills and spills, I am fighting the mosquitoes for every drop of my blood and the ants for every inch of space in my room. Our room contains 400 ants, 50 assorted spiders, a black caterpillar with goth-punk jet-black spikes and a cockroach the size of a small pony.
I did debate hitting the cockroach with my copy of Wolf Hall – which is more than heavy enough to take out a cockroach, even a pony-sized one - but he spends so much time in the bathroom with me it seems churlish to wipe out my only constant companion through my ill times.
My bag is packed with weighty reads that make the most of their word count. My current choices include 1491 (about the Americas before Europe colonised and decimated the population with various plagues), Wolf Hall (Tudor London during a time of politics, intrigue and plague), and The Brain That Changes Itself which contains enough debilitating diseases to shake a large replacement-for-a-stick at.
Plague and disease appears to be a bit of a theme in my rucksack. I’m not even looking at my copy of Guns, Germs and Steel, which is to be a book that – despite having had recommended by who knows how many friends – I seem fated not to read. I always feel embarrassed when I remember I haven’t read it. It’s been released for over a decade, and hits all my hot spots (history, linguistics and a healthy dose of violence, oh my) but I keep missing it. It is inevitable but oddly elusive – like that cute friend you never got around to dating or a video release of a hook-up between Lindsay Lohan and Tommy Lee. I should really get around to it.
None the less, although the timing might appear good – bored as I am in the jungle with only a creaking fan and a cockroach pony to amuse me – I think I might leave reading it a few days. Reading these books, it’s all too easy to persuade myself that I do not have a case of the flu but the Black Death. Graphic descriptions of pus-filled buboes are all the more disturbing for the fact that I am not entirely sure what a bubo is. While reading about plague, I´m ticking off my symptoms. Chills? Check. Fever? Check. Hallucinations? Well, how else do you explain the cockroach pony in the bathroom?
Reading about diseases that have you hearty at breakfast, dead by noon is even more alarming when you feel pretty awful at breakfast. What, am I going to be dead by 10am? I won´t have even caught up on my email by then. Never mind getting this week´s post out. Wish me luck. Or send insecticide.