The Parisian Parasite
Here is a picture of a souvenir my husband brought home from France. No, it is not a beautiful silk scarf, but a laboratory slide of the parasite cryptosporidium,which rendered him weak and miserable, unable to walk more than the few steps from bed to bathroom.
If you've seen my other posts you know I'm not the eager traveler my husband is. I like to say that he is the dragger, I am the draggee - a hard sell, preferring to spend my time with family and friends right here in the good old USA, where we can be reasonably sure that the water is drinkable, the food is safe, and hand-washing is advised for all restaurant workers. I say reasonably, of course. Food poisoning, unclean produce, and poor hygiene exist here too. This six syllable scourge is a water -borne organism, and we have no idea how it came to lodge in my husband's gut, only that it came to him in France.
This was not our first encounter with traveler's troubles. Our first mishap occurred in Tibet, and we blamed it on a visit to an orphanage. We were offered momos, a kind of ravioli made with ground meat. Foolishly we accepted, not liking to be impolite, and, although we managed to visit the Jokhang Temple, below, within hours we needed a doctor. Our tour guide translated as the doctor inserted a make-shift IV. As all the medications prescribed were written in Chinese, we do not know what was given, only that they worked very quickly. For about $75 - a cure.
I was cured too - of ever wanting to travel anywhere ever again. I was sure the universe was telling us to stay put, but my intrepid spouse didn't agree. Soon he was back on the computer, tap- tapping away on Turkey. Yes, I was dragged, but I loved it. Hagia Sophia was magnificent, as was all of Istanbul - a fabulous cosmopolitan city. The blue mosque, (see me there below, in headscarf) was gorgeous.
Worth the trip - almost. We had a local guide, who took us to restaurants and ate with us, ate the very same food. Apparently his immunity was established and ours was not. Soon we were both in a Turkish hospital, unable to keep anything inside our bodies. Once again a doctor prescribed medication, charged us each about $75, and we were able to get home - thanks to a certain pink peppermint liquid and luck.
At this point I said no more. This time I meant it. But . . . I am half French, and am a fan of all things French. My husband dangled the lure of Paris, city of light, before me and I succumbed. He promised only high end dinners starred by Michelin, where you had to pay a king's ransom for water, bottled of course. And so we went. We feasted each night like kings, as he'd promised. But that was dinner. During the day there was breakfast and lunch. Did the workers in our hotel and in sidewalk cafes wash their hands? Were all the vegetables carefully cleaned? Perhaps not. Or perhaps some other water source propelled the horrible cryptosporidium into my poor husband.
Fortunately, my husband's immune system has been working hard, and he is much better. But he will never recover this August. After the ecstasy of fabulous Paris, the agony of the Parisian parasite. . . a month of recurrent flares, of bland food and limited activity.
A word to would be travelers, even in first world countries: eat neither fruit nor uncooked veggies, drink only bottled beverages and keep your immune system fired up and ready to roar. Better yet, stay home!