It’s when you’re really tired—completely drained—that accidents happen. I somehow mustered the effort to focus on every step for the two-hour hike back from the beach.
It occurred to me, too late, that I could have hired a horse to carry my back. But I made it, and there was Lynn sitting under an umbrella outside the dining area, having a cool drink and reading.
I waved weakly at her and kept walking, to the hut—all I could think of was a shower. Cool, cool water … I felt like a loaf of bread just out of the oven. Was heat radiating off me?
After, I put on one of the white fluffy robes provided to us as luxury hut dwellers and sank into the hammock on the porch but couldn’t sleep. Lynn came along and asked if I wanted to get some dinner. “I should,” I said. “I haven’t eaten since breakfast.”
As I was getting dressed there was a knock at the door. It was the German guy I had passed on the trail.
“Is this the shower building?” he asked disingenuously as he snoopily glanced around through the open door.
“No, it’s our lodgings,” I responded. I was still wearing the fluffy white robe, a universal symbol of luxury.
“Ah so, you have your own shower!” he stated accusingly.
“Yes, it’s very nice.”
“Very vell zen—enjoy your privilege!” he tossed off as he whirled and stomped away.
“Vee vill, Verner!” I yelled after him. “Enjoy your hammock and your slave girl, you pompous jerk!”
I didn’t say that but I thought it.
I stared at my meal, a pastry packet filled with catch-of-the-day fish and vegetables. A side of plantains and a salad. A beer. Anyone who has shared a meal with me knows I am not a delicate nibbler at the table. Lynn’s husband Richard once remarked, as I was serving myself a third helping of moussaka or some such, “You certainly have a healthy appetite.” For which Lynn admonished him for being rude.
I could hardly bear to look at my meal, much less eat it. Lynn had tucked into hers and was talking about her book.
“I have to go,” I announced abruptly as I pushed back from the table and stood up.
“I have heat stroke. I should have known. I’ve had it before and you’re prone to it once you’ve had it once. I have to go.”
I felt like I’d been hit between the eyes with a very large meat tenderizer.
“But what about your meal?”
I walked over to the line of backpackers at the buffet and picked out a girl at random.
“Would you like a free meal?” I asked.
She looked at me incredulously. She was also exhausted, but hungry.
She walked over to our table and I handed her the plate. She stared down at it and I thought she would cry. I made a beeline for the hut, fell onto the mattress, and slept for 10 hours.
I awoke to a scream. I ran downstairs and there was Lynn, pointing to a giant bug on her bed.
“It crawled out of my bag!”
“Eeew, it’s a cockroach. Better dump out your bag to make sure there aren’t any more in there.”
“No! It’s never a cockroach!” Lynn countered. “It’s some kind of beetle.”
I didn’t argue. I lived in public housing for 10 years, so I know what cockroaches look like. This one happened to be five inches long.
My appetite had returned with a vengeance. As we walked to the dining area, we saw the young woman I’d given the meal to, sitting on a picnic bench. She was sobbing while her friend patted her on the back, trying to comfort her.
“Ah, backpacker drama,” Lynn observed.
“I hope the meal didn’t give her food poisoning.”
We had the same waitress as at every other meal, so I asked where she lived.
“In a nearby village, some miles from this place,” she replied in English.
“How do you get here?” Lynn asked, taken aback.
“I walk. It’s a nice walk.”
Humbled and grateful we were leaving today, I wolfed down my eggs.