Leaving my Lunch in San Francisco

 Through my travels I’ve gone to many places and eaten many things. Street food in Cambodia. Questionable chicken in the Dominican Republic. Pickles from the market in Israel. I’ve taken risks. Brushed my teeth with tap water in Ghana. Accepted Tea out of dirty dirty glasses in Morocco. I’ve felt lucky. Gotten a little cocky even. I’ve watched as greater men and woman before me bowed down and surrendered to the porcelain throne. I began to believe I possessed an iron stomach. As it turns out, I was quite wrong.

As it turns out, innocuous, sunny, mild San Francisco would be my undoing. On my very first night there I had met some friends for dinner when I started to feel ill. We were walking to a bar when I started to notice the random smells were really getting to me. One half mile later I started to feel flushed and felt like I need to sit down. I’ll skip the gory details but suffice to say the remainder of the evening was spent huddled on the bathroom floor. Hour after hour I lay in the fetal position with occasional sojourns to my air mattress to spoon with my beloved space heater. I won’t say I wanted to die, but I can guarantee you the thought of living through the night wasn’t overly appealing.

Unfortunately, my illness kept me air-mattress-bound for the entire next day. While my intrepid traveling companion, Meggie, and our friend Andy enjoyed San Fran, I sipped Gatorade and eyed a few saltines distrustfully.  As the day went on, my lack of food caused my blood sugar to dip to the point where I began composing songs about my favorite sick-bed comforts which I later performed for Meggie and Andy. As I remember it, the “highlights” included an ode to my space heater to the tune of “just the two of us” and a love song about soup based on Grease’s ” Your the one that I want! (Soup Soup Soup).”

I’ve got chillsss, they’re multiplying….

Anway, I digress. Luckily I was well enough the next day to head out to my Wine and Redwoods tour(although with a lot less wine drinking than I would have preferred). However, it would take days for my stomach to totally settle.

I never did figure out what I had eaten that so angered my stomach. I never even determined that it was food poisoning. It could have been the flu or norovirus or the plague. As my friend Andy suggested, It could have been an emotional reaction to the beauty of San Francisco. (Side note, when Andy puked up some rancid OJ in Morocco our guide had claimed that it was his reaction to the beauty of the desert rather than admit he had taken us to a hotel serving shady juice.)

But oddly enough, this sickness did prove to me one thing – I’ve been right not to be afraid. Sure sickness happens. But, it can happen anywhere. If I had let fear of sickness keep me from trying new experiences, I would have missed out on so much during my travels (and I STILL would have gotten sick here in the good ol’ U. S of A). Of course, I’m not suggesting you start licking Indian toilet seats anytime soon (its wise to still have some boundaries), but I to you I say: Go Forth. Eat, Drink and be Merry. Be Bold. Get a Hepitatas A shot.

(Obviously there are no relevant photos of this event. All photos are via creative commons. Hover over them to get source information).

Have you ever gotten sick while traveling? What kind of food-eating risks do you take?

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2 Responses to Leaving my Lunch in San Francisco

  1. Holly says:

    He threw up from the beauty of the desert? haha, I’ll have to use that. I must say, you have been really lucky with food it seems, but I really like your take on how if you had been afraid you would have missed out and you got sick in the U.S. anyway. It’s a really good point. I don’t think I’ll be as adventurous as you were, but certainly something to consider next time I travel overseas.

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