We made it approximately five months with relatively no major stomach issues or illnesses for that matter, but while is Santiago, just after we finished the Camino de Santiago I got sick!
Before we left for our adventures abroad, we received many of the same questions and concerns from our closest family and friends. Since many know that we both have pretty sensitive stomachs, one common concern was how Wes and I planned on dealing with stomach issues while on the road. I often responded saying that I knew at some point we would face gastrointestinal issues (kind of comes with the territory of travel) but that we would just have to figure it out when it actually happened. I packed a decent supply of Immodium (diarrhea), Scopolamine patches (motion sickness), Cipro (antibiotic for severe diarrhea likely caused by a bacterial infection), Zantac (acid reflux) and felt like I was prepared for anything. Well I was wrong, nothing could have prepared me for the stomach bug that I caught in Spain.
Although biking the Camino de Santiago was one of the best experiences of my life, ending in Santiago was a bit of a disappointment. When I reflect back on the Camino, I actually try not to think about Santiago…it left a pretty bad taste in my mouth. We decided to stay in Santiago for five nights after we finished the Camino, to relax and regroup before heading to Croatia to meet my parents. We stayed 2 nights in a 2-star hotel (the first hotel we had stayed in since we started traveling) and then 3 nights in an Albergue (hostel for pilgrims). It rained every day we were in Santiago, Wes got bed bugs (yes you heard me right) from the hotel and then I got sick. As far as the bed bugs are concerned, Wes recovered in time to actually get them again at a 4-star hotel in Croatia. Bed bugs truly do not discriminate about what type of hotel they invade. The hotel in Croatia was extremely nice and clean, it was actually one of our favorites that we stayed at during our two weeks in Croatia. The two episodes of bed bugs left Wes with really itching bites on his arms, legs, back and chest. I felt so bad for him, especially since I slept in the same bed as him and didn’t get a single bite. It also required that we wash and dry every item of clothing that we have (twice) in extremely hot water. In addition, we left our backpacks in our rental car, parked the car in the sun and let car heat up the bags (just incase any little bugs migrated into our bags). Wes has had no further bites and I think we effectively ensured that our bags and clothes are free of bugs. Lesson learned, we now thoroughly check each bed at the hotel/hostel before we sleep in it!
So I will spare you the unflattering details of my stomach bug, but lets just say it was pretty bad. I believe it is the most sick I have been since Wes and I started dating. The biggest blessing of getting sick was actually the timing. I got sick just two days before we met my parents in Croatia and my mom came prepared with a magical medication called Lomotil (essentially a strong version of Immodium) and Compazine (nausea). My mom did what she does best (she’s a nurse), took care of me…along with Wes’ help of course. They were both wonderful and I am so thankful. I pretty much took medication around the clock for an entire week to slow down my trips to the bathroom, help with the aches/pains I was feeling, decrease fever and nausea. Luckily I was able to eat and drink a little bit and prevent major dehydration. Although, I definitely didn’t get to enjoy the food in the Istrian peninsula like everyone else did. I still managed to hike up & down almost 300 steps into a cave, hike in the Plitvice National Forest for 2 days and ride in the back of the car as my dad zipped around the Croatia backroads while driving a stick shift. Finally, about six days into our Croatian trip I finally started feeling normal again! So glad that I made it through that week of the stomach bug and crossing my fingers that I never have to experience anything like that again! I enjoyed every minute of Croatia, but was so very happy once I started feeling better and could really appreciate the food! More on Croatia very soon, there is so much to share about our journey through this amazingly beautiful country.