24/4/09 = A painful flight to Mexico 😞
Oh no. Terrible, terrible sleep, if any at all. Woke up just after midnight with an awful feeling in legs; fluctuated between pure, burning pain and an unbelievably, painfully sensitive itch. Itchy like 1000 sandfly bites all clumped together in one spot. Got out of bed in darkness and rushed to put more savalon. Was in dimly lit bathroom that noticed how bad rash had become. It had spread all down back of both calves. Could no longer see skin, just 10,000’s of red semolina lumps all merged together. What is it? Had it not been for lumps, looked like a really bad burn. Got quite panickd. Didn’t know where it had come from or what to do. Can’t be a burn, definitely not insect bites and never been allergic to anything in life. Desperately wiped cream across backs of both legs, tried not to think about it and got back into bed. Tried to sleep. Impossible. Wasn’t the worry that kept me awake, it was the pain. Seething, burning pain and an unbelievable itch. Felt like insects were living and crawling under my skin; legs were pulsing with itchiness. That is
honestly what it felt like. Tossed and turned for an hour unable o block it out, then got up worried that maybe cream was making it worse? Wasn’t that bad before I went to bed. Washed it off and tried for another hour to get back to sleep. It was just the same…exactly the same. This is when you need your Mum 😞
Spent hours not sleeping, in pain and worried about what an Earth it was. Almost makes it worse when there is no logical reason for feeling such pain. At 4am, needed to try something else…anything. Itch had dulled down slightly, but burn had increased. Legs were on fire; could feel the heat through the cover. Tried only thing could think of. Grabbed T-shirt out of my bag, drenched it in water and wrapped it round legs like a cold compress. At 4:15, that was the only time my legs felt any better; was like a fir being put out. Curled up into a little ball with my towel and drifted off to sleep.
Alarm rang out at 7am and woke up absolutely shattered. Instantly remembered legs and pulled back towel to assess damage in light
of day. It was bad…really bad. A red, angry rash/burn across backs of both legs. Really didn’t know what it was. Going to have to forget plans for morning and find a health centre. Went to reception to ask about one and he asked to see rash. Straight away he suggested an allergic reaction to something…possibly the restaurant had used a cleaning product on their chairs. That made sense. Although have never been allergic to anything in life, did notice itchy feeling in restaurant - just thought I was being bitten - and sat with back of legs against plastic chairs all night. Nobody else affected though. Felt much better just at a suggestion of cause; not knowing = much worse.
Nice reception man gave me some calamine lotion to try. Just like the savalon, it worked for the first 5mins when it was cold and wet. As soon as it dried, burning itch returned. Needed to get to a chemist; they might take a look. Only had a few hours until flight and apparently health centres really busy. Had breakfast, got changed, then set off on search just after 9am. V.annoyed when got there. Waited for ages to
see chemist, who then refused to come out because she was too busy. Other 2 ladies couldn’t help me, protesting that they were ‘just dispensers’, so all could do was describe symptoms. Even that didn’t work. Ended up suggesting medicine myself = anti-hystemines. The man in the queue was the most helpful of all, although his advice was some I didn’t really want to hear:
“I don’t mean to scare you but…I think you need to go and see a doctor”.
When anybody ever starts a sentence with something like ‘I don’t mean to scare you’, it’s obvious that they are going to. It’s like the “Don’t look now but…” equivalent, you just can’t help it. These sentence starters evoke some kind of automated response to do exactly the opposite of what the person requires.
20mins later, $30 out of pocket and armed with hay fever tablets and another type of cream, rushed out of chemist and towards internet shop. Still had paid time left, but no way would be able to use it all now. Took a tablet straight away and stopped at a bus stop to put cream on. Can’t say any of them offered any
kind of immediate relief. Didn’t have time to sit and wait for cream to soak in, so ran off to shop, losing internet voucher in the process and all cream rubbing off into trousers. Disaster day. Luckily, internet lady let me on anyway and rolled up trousers to put on more cream. Used 40mins of time, then at 10:30, had to dash across back to hostel to check out and be ready for 10:45 bus. Ate some leftover pineapple, said goodbye to Jamie and Jeremy, then quickly rushed outside for bus. Legs really burning and itching. Trousers making itch much worse, but too cold to wear shorts on a plane and the sight of my legs = awful. 😞
Shuttle came on time and clambered in. Chatted away to a Canadian couple as headed for airport. They were really interested in/inspired by travelling. Is times like these when you realise how lucky you actually are and what a cool experience we are having. After a while, travelling seems so normal, you forget to appreciate how good it is. Got to airport at 11:20 with an hour and a half to spare before flight. Tried to check ourselves in and
came across same old problem that is becoming far too familiar to us now = stupid E-ticket numbers. Had to make our way over to a ‘special lady’ on a ‘special desk’ who repeated what we already knew “You don’t have an E-ticket number”, except his time, she did not follow this by tapping away on her computer or making a few phone calls to solve the problem, she followed it with “If you don’t have the number, you can’t fly…period.” Oh no. Started to get a little stressed at this point - as she continued to emphasis and repeat the severity of the problem - and took me asking for a solution before she even suggested one. Had to ring the airline company and get our numbers, but, after several calls and no answer, we still didn’t have our numbers. 40mins left until take off. After 3 attempts, the airport lady - who was also v.stressed - took our itinerary and hurried off. Didn’t know where she was going, but could do nothing but wait anyway. 30mins left. Waited and waited getting more and more anxious, until 10mins later, a flustered lady half jogged her way back over to
The obligatory masks
Should have worn them more really
us with tickets in her hand and a solution. Yeh! 20mins left. She had printed out the tickets for our whole trip - bless. She rushed through explaining it all, then we rushed off to get through security and to the gate.
Arrived to a ‘Boarding’ sign, which panicked us unnecessarily as the plane was actually delayed. Had 10mins to wait. Close shave…bit too close. Deb got on first - late check in meant we had to sit separate on flight - then I got on. Spent the next 5 ½ hrs sat next to a sweet old lady and a guy from Ecuador convincing me that South America was the best place in the world to travel…didn’t take much convincing, South America would be awesome. If only could get paid to travel round the world?! Chatted politely for a while, then as soon as plane took off, re-applied cream to still burning legs. 2 tablets and several applications of cream later, legs still burning and painfully itchy; actually looked to be getting worse, not better = really worrying.
Was a delayed take off and spent next 5 ½ hrs reading, drinking tea, writing diary and trying to
Hills of houses
Never seen houses built like it.
sleep, trying being the operative word. Still, several flights later, cannot sleep on planes! Shuffled around in seat and squeezed eyes shut for 20mins before gave up and opened eyes to find Marley and Me starting. Happily watched film using my own earphones - American Airlines = rubbish, need to pay for earphones and don’t even serve food! - but then towards end, noticed legs burning again and highs itching. Oh no. Went to bathroom straight away and there it was….red blotches spreading up my legs. Oh no. Even my hands were itching. What if it’s not just an allergic reaction? It shouldn’t still be spreading…should it?
Went back to seat and tried not to cry. Really upset. Didn’t know what was wrong and didn’t know what I could do about it. Still had another flight to go and several hours in airport; not exactly a convenient time to see a doctor. Didn’t care what body looked like now, just needed to know what was wrong. Plane landed fine, met back up with Deb and muddled through airport in a bit of a blur, worried about spreading blotches on body. Had to find a whole new building for flight onwards to Mexico and after a few attempts and much asking, eventually got there. Another nightmare check in. Not only did we not have any E-ticket numbers, but all our flights were booked for December. As much as would love to stay until December, could barely afford to stay until May. Managed to get through for this flight, but would need to change next ones = flights home.
20mins later and 3hrs ahead of time, made way through building and off to get food. Legs still prickling with burn/itch, but asked about a medical centre in airport and there wasn’t one. 10pm LA time, so lots of places in airport closed. Had to eat at the trusty McDonalds…does that place ever close? Rushed through security and off to gate then. Went straight up to boarding gate and asked if there was anyone I could see about spreading rash; just a first aider or someone. She sent me back to security and that’s when it all got a bit out of control. Security people were nasty and practically dragged us through when we first passed, so when I saw a policeman, decided to ask him where a medical station might be. Mistake. He asked what problem was and struggling to describe it, I just whipped out my legs and showed him. He looked, then said “Take a seat Maam, we’ll get someone to check that for you”. Nice man.
5mins later, another policeman came to sit with me. “Don’t worry Maam, the paramedics are on their way”. What?! Paramedics?! Oh no. Sat there feeling even more ill now. 30mins until flight. Another police lady arrived and as I stood up to greet her, she told me to sit down, like I was too delicate to stand. I told her it really wasn’t a big problem; I really didn’t need paramedics to come. How embarrassing. Promised to see a doctor when got to Mexico and rushed off back to gate, willing legs to stop burning and blotches to stop spreading. So happy when could board and put more cream on. Already 7th application of day, with a maximum of 4 allowed. What is this thing?
As bargain for sitting together, got put in exit seats, which was actually pretty good, because got loads of extra leg room. Did usual routine = read magazine, do soduko, try to sleep. Another rubbish flight with no food - good job had McDonalds! 2hrs later and just finally starting to snooze when landing announcement came on. Was now 5am and no sleep = not good. Got off plane groggy, fed up and still with legs on fire. Had rolled trousers up because now any slightest touch of legs = electric shock of itch. So this was my arrival to Mexico!
25//09 = Our first day in Mexico City
Touched down in Mexico City at 5:30am and collected bags. Had no idea where we were going; was 6am, pitch black and had no money. Went to find an ATM to at leats resolve one of problems. Had no idea what peso was worth so didn’t know what to get out. Had to guess a random amount of several hundred, then wondered off to find a taxi. Had planned to get on the tube, but at 6am and in darkness, didn’t seem such a good idea any more. Even taxi was problematic. Heard lots about robberies in taxis and that taxis = most unsafe form of transport. Had to get there somehow. Found the ‘official’ airport taxi stand - which had been recommended to us - and paid 200peso for journey to the hostel. Seemed like a lot, but didn’t really know what it was worth. Climbed in and faced problem number 2. Taxi driver spoke Spanish, we spoke English and neither of us could speak the other language! Knew our lack of Spanish would be a problem on this part of journey, just never realised how much of a problem it would be. Good job he had an English friend who could come and translate for us.
Drove along city for 30mins, 10mins of these up and down streets searching for the hostel building. Streets and buildings not in numerical order in Mexico = absolutely crazy. Even taxi driver found it impossible! Eventually arrived to a v.closed looking hostel; still dark. A little panicked now. Not scared about travelling round Mexico, but not fancying the idea of sitting on a dark street with all our luggage. Nice taxi driver man rang bell and made sure we got let in and managed my only bit of Spanish to acknowledge this: Gracias. Shuffled into hostel and was more of the same problem; hostel man spoke no English. After realising our total lack of Spanish skills, he gestured to clock and shook his head side to side. Evidently, it was too early to check in. We were just pleased to be inside. He shimmied off to bed and we sat down on uncomfy sofas and chairs. Didn’t manage sleep, but it was nice to rest.
At 8am, man returned and we half conversed, half gestured that there were 2 empty beds upstairs for us to rest until 2 were ready for us. They had been slept in by some girls that had just left, but we didn’t care; so so tired! Crawled up to room and arrived to worst bunk bed. Not the fact that it was dirty - which it was - more a problem that there was no ladder to get up, so had to fling myself up. Even Deb struggled. Curled up into ball, wrapped wet towel around legs and prayed for sleep. Didn’t work. Within 20mins, towel had warmed up and burning itch returned. Out of options now; so I itched…and itched…and itched. Didn’t care about pain, didn’t care about itching until I bled, didn’t care about scars…all I needed was for the itch to stop. It worked. After 5mins of scratching skin away, the itch turned to pain, which was a lot more bearable. Then, I actually managed to fall asleep.
Woke up at midday because Deb woke up, because a guy woke her up. Apparently we had to switch beds. He was a German guy staying there who spoke really good English. Was just good to hear someone speaking English. Decided to ask him all the questions that we had just in case we didn’t meet anyone else that spoke English and that was then he told us about Pig Flu. He couldn’t believe we hadn’t heard of it. “Don’t you watch the news?”
“No…not when we have been on a plane for the last 24hrs” - and no…not in the last 7months really.
Anyway, so Pig Flu was a pretty big deal. More than 100people had died in Mexico City and we had landed on the day that the city had been shut down. All tourist attractions were closed, tourists were discouraged from visiting and most countries had advised against travel to Mexico altogether. Too late for us! Digested this information - surely flu can’t be that big a deal - and then joined the German guy and his friend to go out for food. Was really nice of them to invite us, because we didn’t have a clue where we were of where to go. Would have liked to have showered before we left, but since they were ready and waiting, had to settle for a quick wash and change of clothes then off we went. V.pleased to find a new lady on reception as we made our way out and she spoke brilliant English. Yeh. Paid 100peso for our room and she told us a little more about Swine Flu; namely that we needed to wash our hands regularly and obtain a mask to wear whilst walking about the streets. What is this flu thing all about?
Set off into town and followed 2 German guys as walked along streets, trying to orientate and familiarise selves with where we were. Mexico City = a funny place really because doesn’t have a centre as such. Is biggest city in world and so rather than having a central district, is all spread out into mini towns and districts. Our location was nice. Lots of pretty buildings and nice, arched architecture. Quite pretty and v.Mexican. Felt v.safe but incredibly hot. Hot, hot, hot!
Ended up at the market, which was really cool. Lots of stalls crammed into streets and the square, with even more people crammed in between them. Souvenirs, jewellery…my kind of market! Didn’t look round - were still following at this point - but searching for a cheap place to eat. Took quite a bit o searching before found a cheap and really nice place just a little out of town. First look at the menu was a shock - all in Spanish. Obvious really I suppose. Looked across the pages of words I didn’t understand and there was hardly anything that I recognised or could comprehend. Understood the word ‘pollo’ and ‘enchillada’, so when saw a dish with both of those words in, opted for that. Had a lot of other words also, but just had to cross my fingers and hope for best with those. Learnt my first new Spanish word of day = naranja = orange. Put that in the memory bank for later.
Wow…when the food came it was quite a shocker. The whole of the plate was green. That’s all I could see…a plate of green. It looked like there could be food underneath the green blanket, but it was hard to tell. Oh no! Wish I understood Spanish! Was with trepidation hat dug my fork through the green sauce to the food below and with surprise that I put it in my mouth and actually found it quite tasty. It was actually really nice. Ate it all (confirming that pollo definitely did mean chicken) and some tasty bread and dips that they had brought out to accompany it. V.nice. Chatted over food and then headed back to hostel - didn’t really want to stay and chat as guys smoking was really annoying me and making my eyes sore.
On way back, guys called into market to buy some fruit and veg, so we decided to join them. We wanted some fruit, but more importantly, we didn’t know the way back. It was just like a market at home; big and crammed full of stalls and people. Realised as picked up fruit that didn’t know how much it was, didn’t know how to ask and didn’t even know what the Spanish numbers were to understand the price they told us. Learnt my second important word of the day = Cuanto? = How much? That got us through in combination with the brilliant weighing scales that showed the price to us. Just gave them random amounts, hoped it was enough and prayed for change. Ned to learn Spanish quick. Managed to get some bananas - to keep the awful mosquitoes away - and a few other fruits, then headed back. To our surprise, guys left us half way with come random directions to get back. I guess we needed to learn sometime. Muddled our way back - actually quite proud of ourselves - but it was only 5:30 and with nothing else to do, we were totally bored 😞
Went in search of the internet. Found a shop relatively close by and passed the time trying to blog…was v.trying! None of keys did what they should have done and even the owner couldn’t find half of the punctuation. V.unsuccessful blog session, but did manage to learn some important Spanish phrases. Went back to the hostel at 7pm quite hungry. Was getting dark by this stage and although felt safe through the day, apparently wasn’t safe at night for any kind of tourist, so didn’t bother heading back out. Ate lots of fruit instead then tried to watch the news. Surprise, surprise…it was in Spanish. Really do need to learn Spanish. Gave up and went off to bed early. Lots of sleep to catch up on anyway. Wrote diary for a while, read book then tried to sleep at 9pm. Annoyingly, wasn’t tired. Dozed on and off, woke up at 11pm, then did a lot of dozing afterwards. Not going to be a good sleep.
*Note for day* Must research Swine Flu and read news…seems to be a big deal.
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