I’ve decided that my body hates me. I’m quite an adventurous little beastie when the opportunity arises but my body on the other hand is a very reluctant vessel – I think of myself as a champion charioteer trying to drive a rickety cart pulled by a grouchy geriatric mule. Every now and again I can get a bit of a pace up but my mule is generally lame by the time I’ve finished. I used to date a surf-bum and I had this little fantasy about being on a beach in Bali with him one day; I’d be bronzed and glorious in an Ursula Andress bikini, he’d teach me to surf and within a day we’d be cruising the waves together; playful as two dolphins. If history serves as precedent though, it would take the whole week we had together just to get me to manage it lying flat on my stomach with cellulite thighs and a tummy-control tankini, then I’d go arse-over-tit and he’d wet himself laughing. That’s how it would really have gone down. Reality bites.
Take my Egyptian adventure for instance, when I finally limped into the airport leaning on Karen I looked like I’d been involved in some sort of horrific Cairo traffic accident as opposed to having just returned from a holiday. My ankle was swollen up to the size of a grapefruit and was as fantastically technicoloured as a Beijing fireworks display, my little toe was so blistered and septic I was slightly concerned that it was going to fall off, my fingers were skinned from the rough leather reins of Egyptian horses and there was a sizeable hole in the side of my hand – see http://bluefairypipedreams.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/desert-drama/ for an explanation. My whole body looked like a giant pink and purple marble cake and my foot was full of a zillion tiny puncture holes from accidentally smacking it on coral when the “not-poisonous” fish cornered me:
Me (snorkelling in the red sea): Is that fish poisonous? Points at spiky stripy fish
Egyptian friend Saeed: No no, if he touch you it be like a bad burn and you have to go to hospital but not poisonous.
Me: Good to know.
Other people don’t come back from holiday looking like this, I think even as a child I was all feet and elbows and awkward limbs. If I was a smurf I’d be Clumsy. My mum would say I was just upholding the family motto – done, but not done with finesse. Still no-one could accuse me of letting my stubborn old frame hold me back; in fact I rather like my collection of war-wounds. There are two main ways to tell a traveller I have discovered and the first is that they always have good scar stories. The second is that somewhere on their body they’ll have some piece of tatty cotton thread, a woven strip, an animal tooth on a strip of leather or an obscure talisman on a length of cord and this was always tied there by some kind of tribal shaman, bright-eyed precocious child, profound monk etcetera etcetera. Mine is a woven cotton braid tied round my ankle by a rather dashing Bedouin tribesman. It’s now a frayed and unrecognisable bit of tat still hanging in there but the rule of these things is that they can’t ever be removed until they fall to pieces and come off on their own. When that happens you know its time to book your next trip or resign yourself to the idea that life is going to be less interesting from here on out.
Mine’s made it this far so I’m thinking it should last me till Thailand – 97 sleeps now! I made myself a little count down to stick next to my desk and my mum’s got the chalkboard going so there’s not much getting away from my impending departure. I’m still haemorrhaging money but I stopped even caring so much now; kay sirrah sirrah. My nurse rang me up to tell me my jabs have come in but that they’ve gone up in price so she can’t attack me with them until I’ve sent her an additional £67. Thanks nursey – love you too. I figure if anyone needs protection from their own body it’s probably me though so best to just get on with it.