Day 13: (21th Nov)
Route: Ghasa – Tatopani (most of it by truck)
After an hour of walking I start feeling really ill and decide to take a bus for the rest of the journey to Tatopani (translated: black river). I started my morning trek with way too many layers – people were walking around in shorts and t-shirt, I was still wearing my thermal wear and my down jacket, my scarf and my hat. Basically everything I carried with me, was on my body. I was shivering.
Raphaelle urges me to take some layers off.
“You will sweat too much and this in turn will make you even more sick. When I started living in Switzerland I was always ill to start with as I could not handle the cold. Then someone told me to strip off – to wear less – and since then I’m rarely ill”.
Her advice makes sense and Ben volunteers to carry my down jacket and my daypack for me as at that point any energy had left me and was glad for any help. Ganesh accompanies Ben and me and we struggle to find a means of transportation for about 2 hours. No bus passes us for a long time – eventually one does, but it is to the wrong direction.
We can spot the rest of the group on the other side of the river and I wave at them with my pole not knowing if they can actually see us. After another hour we bump into them and carry our march together for another 30 minutes passing a cute little puppy and little baby goats chilling on boulders. We separate from the rest of the group again to find a bus.
In the end, a friendly truck driver takes us all the way to Tatopani where Ben and I share a seat being squashed for a long uncomfortable drive. The driver looks like the Nepali version of Antonio Banderas – complete with Ray Ban rip-offs and a gelled black pony tail tied tightly to the back. We listen to Nepalese and Indian music. One song is stuck in my head for a long time – I don’t understand the words but the music is beautiful. I can just feel the emotion in the way the words are pronounced even if I don’t understand anything that is being sung.
In Tatopani, we get off the truck and walk up the stairs to another road leading to our guesthouse. The town is very touristy and has a hippie vibe to it. We pass signs such as “Beer Happy Hour from 2-5pm and Bob Marley music”. I wish I could join. But I feel rubbish.
At the hotel, Ganesh speaks to the receptionist and asks whether a Travel Nurse could be found in town – apparently the Dr. is off duty on Friday’s which is the equivalent of a Saturday for us Westerners. The hospital is closed. We settle down for lunch, where I eat a spectacular Vegetarian Kofta meal. It’s nice to eat some Indian food for a change. Even though Daal Bhat is what kept me strong for so long. As the Porters always joked: “Dhal Baat Power – 24 hour hour”. Raphaelle, Ed and Holly arrive and they too have lunch.
The plan is to go to the Hot Springs this afternoon. I’m unsure whether just to dip my toes or go for it and sit in the tub like everyone else. Eventually I decide to jump in like the rest – surely the heat will be good for me. We spend a good hour or even longer enjoying the thermal waters on our sore muscles. We giggle at Ganesh’s poses as he temporarily gets out of the water to cool off a bit, lying beside the Tub.
“Ah look, that is the Mr. February pose…oh there we go Mr. October”.
Ed finds his solitary moment by staying on the other side, with eyes closed with his head slightly tilted as if he is looking out into the world. At some point he grabs his water bottle and he looks like he is busy shooting an advertisement for Evian by pouring the water about 20cm above his mouth. He makes us laugh – without him knowing.
Raphaelle is sitting next to a younger version of Brad Pitt with Rastas. He looks completely stoned and I wonder whether he actually realises where (or what) he is. Next to the two, there is a guy in tight spandex swimwear who performs one yoga pose after another “There we go, Sphinx pose…” I murmur.
Holly and Ben have a conversation about British TV personalities which I can’t follow much of. Firstly because I don’t always understand what they are talking about (yes, I don’t even understand my boyfriend at times when he really gets into his British accent and the way of explaining things) and secondly, because I have never heard of the people they are talking about.
Holly and I start giggling at the tight bathing shorts Ganesh is wearing. I wonder whether he has put a sock in there as I notice the not-possible-to-not-notice huge bulge in his pants. Holly and I look away and she says “it’s probably all the medication he is carrying for you: Paracetamol…etc.” and we laugh.
Tomorrow we will be on a bus on our way to Pokhara and our ways will part eventually. Everyone is happy with the delicious chicken served at this place and everyone except me enjoy their Everest, Tuborg or Nepali Ice beers which come in Pint sized bottles.
Back in the room I feel so hot, so fragile I feel like I’m about to pass out. The nurse I have seen this afternoon, who also happens to work in a sweet shop, prescribed me some antibiotics and painkillers after Ganesh, another lady and her argue over what constitutes a low blood pressure. It was entertaining and worrying at the same time.
While they are having their conversation in Nepali, I glance at the huge abortion procedure advertisement sign behind them and shudder of the thought of having such a procedure done in the room I’m sitting in. I wonder how many of the abortions performed here end badly for the patient and am lost in thought for a long time.
I hope the antibiotic will do the trick, as after almost 4 weeks of being ill, I’ve had enough. At least the cough syrup she sold me settles my chest for a while – I feel like I can breathe a little bit better.
But at 3am I wake up feeling even worse and I need to ask Ben to help me out as at that point even walking feels like a major task. He accompanies me to the toilet, and helps me settle into my sleeping bag once we are back in the room. “I think we need to go to the hospital in Pokhara” Ben says and I nod, wishing for this all to be over very soon.
Have you ever had to go to a hospital while travelling? Why? I would love to hear your about your experiences in the comment section below.