A number of calamities, like lost luggage, missed connections, allergies, blisters, and cold or flu bugs, can put a damper on travels. But few misfortunes will abruptly end your site-seeing quite like a severe case of food poisoning.
May 8, 2017
"Oh, Bub, look at this sandwich!" I exclaim. "Doesn't this look good? The cheese is all ooey-gooey! I have to get a picture of this!"
Four photos later, I take my first bite. "Oh, this is delicious! Look, it has pickles on it too, like a real Cuban!" After a brief discussion of what comprises a "real" Cuban sandwich, I announce emphatically, "Well, whatever it is, it's good!"
Tip: Don't eat the ham. It might sound good. It might look good. But don't do it.
We finish our meal and continue our trek down 23rd, heading in the direction of the Malecón. As we walk, I begin to feel tired and warm, but, it being a warm, muggy day, I attribute these symptoms to the weather, and to the fact that we've already walked several miles since we left our AirBNB that morning.
After a quick stop at our room, we again set out toward the Malecón, where we sit outside at a little restaurant for a cold beverage. "Hon, I'm feeling pretty tired and a little clammy. I think when we leave here, I need to head back to the room."
Tip: As in many countries, don't drink the water. This includes ice cubes.
Twenty minutes later, we arrive at our temporary home. I immediately kick off my shoes and strip down, as I now feel like I am burning from the inside out. As quickly as possible, I run to the toilet to vomit, losing my entire lunch in one sweep.
I clean myself up and walk back to the bedroom, feeling much better. "Wow, I needed that. I think I'll be okay now. Is it cold in here?" I throw on my pajamas and crawl into bed, covering myself with the blankets. By now, I am simultaneously sweating and freezing. Then I'm on fire again, and my stomach is doing gymnastics. Back to the restroom.
Over the course of the next twelve hours I repeat this procedure sixteen times. Every joint in my body aches. Every square inch of my skin hurts. Every trip to the toilet leaves me more thirsty than before. Every sip of bottled water sends me immediately back to the toilet. "Do not pass go. Do not collect $200."
After the initial rounds of vomiting start to subside, they are replaced by diarrhea. And, the most fun of all were, of course, the trips to the bathroom to partake of both of these joys simultaneously.
Forty hours later, having watched a number of episodes of Dora the Explorer and The Twilight Zone, I finally emerge from my cave into the sunlight to renew my attempt to see the lovely sites of Havana.
* I would like to take this opportunity to say "thank you" to Marvin, who made multiple runs to the convenience store for bottled waters and to El Biky for bread, and a huge "thank you" to our hosts, Yanelys and Leo (read more about them here), who graciously offered me Pepto Bismol, Alka Selzter, and chilled guava to help settle my stomach. Also, I'm sorry for the horrible sounds I'm certain you heard coming from the room.
After I finally recovered from my Ham-induced near-death experience, I took some time to re-evaluate my relationship with Ham. So Ham, I'm sorry to tell you this, but we're breaking up.
Have you experienced a case of food poisoning while traveling? Tell us about it so we can commiserate!
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