I haven’t really written about my trip to Jordan, mostly because I found my love for travel writing a while after other more recent trips. So, this post is dedicated to the most memorable part of my time in Jordan – getting sick.
Looking back two years ago, I can now confidently say that getting terribly sick has become one of those “you’ll laugh about it later” moments.
On our second to last day in Jordan, we were in Petra visiting the famous archaeological site that consisted of the Treasury (yes, the Indiana Jones one) and the Monastery. We walked through the site towards the Treasury as a group and stopped there for some time to take pictures and hear about its history. Then, we continued on past the Treasury walking towards where the hike to the Monastery starts. After lunch, we had free time to which most of us including myself, chose to hike up the 800+ steps to the must-see marvel.
The hike itself was about an hour-long and for someone as out of shape as me, it was brutal. My friends and I took frequent breaks, since these steps weren’t just regular old staircase steps, rather large, uneven steps that took a lot of body strength to climb. To add to this, my naive college-freshman self did not bring anything close to an adequate amount of water to consume on a hot, sunny day filled with intense physical activity. When we reached near the top, there was a resting area where we could buy water and other refreshments but of course, wanting to experience all the local beverages, I bought a mint lemonade that was not helpful in staying hydrated.
We stayed at the Monastery for a couple hours and it was spectacular. I liked it better than the Treasury (mostly because there was a sense of accomplishment in hiking all the way up to see the view). After exploring and taking many photos, we made the descent back down, which not surprisingly, was much less intense than the trek up. When we were really tired after returning back to the ground, we rode camels as far as they were allowed to take us. (Riding camels actually really hurts so I didn’t mind walking the rest of the route despite being tremendously exhausted.)
After we left the archaeological site, we went to a pizza place, where my stomach began to feel upset and a headache had started. Someone gave me Advil and I felt better.
Later that night in the hotel, when most of the students had gone to bed, myself and two other students went to the lobby to use the WiFi. I still clearly recall as I was walking down the hallway, I started shivering uncontrollably but I thought I was just cold. After calling my family I went to bed only to wake up in the middle of the night, around 2 am, crying and shivering violently. I threw up shortly after to which my roommate brought my professor into the room who really could not do much despite trying, since all the pharmacy shops and convenience stores were closed until later in the morning. I tried going back to sleep but my fever changed from freezing to sweating and suffocating from heat.
The next morning I woke up feeling better. I was not able to spend my last day in Jordan with the rest of my friends, shopping and doing last minute sightseeing. I had to stay inside. At one point I did end up going for a walk outside but returned soon after because I saw (and smelled) a slaughterhouse that immediately made me nauseous. My friends took me back to the hotel where the professor called a doctor. The doctor decided I needed a shot in a not-so-fun place so I had to endure that and then take some pills he prescribed. I fell asleep and stayed in the hotel until it was time to leave for the airport to return to Chicago.
Long story short, I was miserable during the entire return trip, lightheaded, very tired, my stomach was in so much pain and the very idea of food made me vomit. The flight, the layovers, the waiting – if people think traveling is hard while completely healthy, being in a state like mine was 100 times worse.
When I returned back home, the first thing I did was go to bed. My parents said I should go to a hospital but I was convinced that if I went home and slept in my own bed I would feel better and more relaxed. Well, I was wrong. The next day, which was also the first day back to school after spring break, my condition had worsened. The shivers were back, the stomach pain was worse, my head hurt and I could barely sit or walk. Over the course of the next week, I was in and out of the hospital three times, each time being put on an IV drip. My final diagnosis was dehydration that led to gastritis, which is inflammation of the stomach lining.
Finally, after 9-10 days of constant pain, medication, and hospital visits, I was well enough to return to school. I had missed the entire first week of spring quarter but I was healthy and homework was the last thing on my mind.
In the end of everything, after surviving illness abroad, I still do not regret that day visiting Petra, I only regret not taking better care of myself. Now when I travel, this experience reminds me that water is my number one best friend. If nothing else, now, despite the tears and suffering, I have an entertaining story to tell. Two years later and I can finally laugh (usually with a wince) with others at my own misfortune.