It is feels very comforting to be back home now in Bratislava. I arrived last Monday 6, June in the early evening. To say that I had to “dig deep” to get here would be putting it mildly. My last 4 days In Tirana were spent in sickness. In the early morning of Friday, 3 June, I woke with an intense pain on my right side. From my shoulder to my hip, whenever I would move. It worsened if I had to cough, or get a quick breath. I had fallen twice in the mountains, both times on my right hip. I thought that by this time I had “walked it out” and wasn’t feeling any discomfort. It had been nearly 3 weeks to this point and I was feeling only mild discomfort. From nowhere this had spread up to my rib cage and continued to my shoulder. I could not figure out what was causing this.
An attempt to calm myself and breathe easy brought more pain. I began walking around my flat and didn’t feel anything in my hip. Pressing and prodding it, looking in vain for a site that was affecting this disturbance. In my mind I was running down a checklist; water?..yes; I had been eating, I had been moving – daily walks af good length. I sat and tried to relax everything, I began to meditate slowly – away from the distrubance inside of me – into a place that I found comfort. At once I hiccuped, and the pain shot through me like an eletrical current. Okay…”calm down”, I told myself. This went on most of Friday morning and into the day. I wasn’t hungry and couldn’t force myself to eat, only water.
On Saturday morning, the pain was more than I could bear. I phoned my host Dafne and explained what was happening. She was a complete angel;she was very quick to act. In a matter of minutes I was dressed and down on the street where a taxi was waiting to take me to the hospital. I was preparing myself for a 2 hour wait in the ER, paperwork…all the hoops like back in the US. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was hardly anyone there at 8am. The young doctor met me at the door and immediately began grilling me about my condition. Into an exam room and all the precursory signs showed I was normal. She drew blood, and then ordered an x-ray. Within minutes I was on the table, and it was over. She met me in the exam room, and explained that she was truly baffled. There were no signs of trauma, except my right hip (on which I fallen) showing a bruise that was nearly healed. I denied pain meds, as I was in recovery and she understood. She gave me her personal phone number and asked me to call her on Sunday (the next day) and let her know how/what I was feeling.
She gave me a hug and sent me to checkout and see the nurse for payment (it was the same person who did the x-ray!). The total bill came out to almost $300. I nearly fell off my chair. I paid it upfront with a card, a cost that am getting back from insurance…no questions. There was a taxi waiting to return to my flat, and once there I sat and fell asleep sitting up. I awoke late in the afternoon feeling refreshed and with very little pain…I was just tired. At this point I was wondering what my trip home was going to be like. Saturday evening laid me down to sleep unquietly until mid-morning Sunday, without pain. Feeling better, I took a warm shower and began to pack for my flight on Monday. I called the young doctor and let her know that I was feeling better, with no appreciable pain, and only that I was still not hungry. She suggested something light, expressed her thanks and wished me well.
I sat on Monday morning and relected on my time in Albania. The first 2 months on the Adriatic were fun, but not my best time. My trip really began when I became engaged in the mountains with Alfred in Valbonne, and then with Pavlin and his family in Theth. I met more people of interest in those places than my whole time in Durres, on the Adriatic. There were some highlights there too, but everything turned dramatically after contacting Elton and Alda at Albanian Trip. For me to exist in the mountains again was refreshing. I am excited at the prospect of getting fly fishing onto those two great Albanian rivers, and to awe people with the breathtaking landscape. I am eternally grateful to Alfred, Pavlin, and most importantly Elton. I was gifted with a few moments of his time and wisdom. He, and Pavlin, and Alfred have becomes Brothers to me in this spirit of adventure and forging ahead with new ideas. I will grasp those notions firmly. The history alone is stunning, and to stand in some of the places were it occured was humbling. I shall not soon forget my experience there.
My checkout time on Monday at the flat was 10am. I was up early, and ready to leave by 9. I checked into my 3pm flight, and everything was go. My strength was beginning to flag by this point, but I still had no interest in putting anything in my body when it didn’t want it. I’ve been there many times before and was not prepared any “accidents”…in either direction. I heaved my over-stuffed duffel onto my body, which by now was considerably lighter as I had lost some weight over the last 3-4 days. Luckily for me there was a cab stand just a few meters from my flat entrance and I staggered up to get to the airport. It was a quick ride to the airport, inexpensive and my driver was a nice middle-aged Albanian that liked to listen, as well as talk. He gave me a hug and wished me a safe trip. I reeled into the airport and it was just the opposite of what I was hoping for on a Monday. To call it a beehive would be a misnomer. I had 3 hours before boarding, and was lucky enough to find a New York Times to do a puzzle to pass some of the time.
I heard a pair of US tourists before I saw them. You know the type: loud, complaining, and acting as if they were the only ones there. Mixed into this were a few boys playing football in the waiting hall, some on 3-wheeled scooters zipping around, and your usual crying babies…we had it all. Funny though, with all of this going on, in a stream of people moving, and the heady miasmic atmosphere…the security guards (not TSA – these guys and gals had military everything on them) were concerned with the crying kids. They would walk by and kindly ask the parents to the “quiet room” until their flights were called. Bravo!, I thought it was brilliant. We loaded more than 45 minutes late, and then had to sit and wait as there was “a problem with the airspace” over Vienna Airport. I didn’t care, at this point I was starting to flag and decided to take a nap. Before I can recall we were off and after what seemed like a very short flight were landing in Vienna. I went right through passport control, claimed my bag and waddled out to catch the bus to Bratislava. I would take it to Nivy, our new shopping mall built over the bus station. It is hardly a 4 block walk to my apartment on Grosslingova. I had already planned on a taxi. I was done dragging this duffel any further. I was about text my landlord Vlad that I was at Vienna. He beat me to it and offered to pick me up at NIvy. I took it. By 6:30pm I was in my apartment and talking to Vlad. I was a few yards away from tears of joys to be back in my space finally.
It took a few days to recover, I’m eating again, and have gotten out to walk. I feel no pain, and I am leaving that mystery lie in Albania. Mysteries….there are so many in this life. I had checked in to let those that I know and love that I was home and safe. I was informed that my dearest niece and her husband had lost their child early in pregnancy. Maybe the trial of traveling in a weakened state, maybe having been worn down mentally after living by myself, or perhaps simple grief had me crying for quite some time over the last days. All the memories of the birth our daughter Ana flooded down the canyons of my past. It was a girl, and they were going to name her Charlotte Rae. I connected with her during my meditation yesterday as she went skyward. I am beginning to tear up now as I push this recollection to memory. Our time here is incredibly fleeting. Our lives and the time we are given with those we love is truly “given” and can be taken from us at any moment witout any explanation. The past fortnight has re-affirmed this notion, as I too felt like I was “close to the edge” at times during my ill health. If I have learned anythingfrom my voyage over the last 3 months, I have garnered the truth that I am a social being with an obligation to be connected to those that I meet…a social animal, if you will. Being entirely alone is perhaps not what I’m built for. I derive profound spiritual strength from human interaction. I know also (and have known), that we are spiritual beings having a human experience… not the other way around. (Thank You Sean O’Keefe) Once again, I thank all, or any, who are following me on this trip, and I wish you well. Please take care of yourselves, and take care of each. I will post again soon hopefully with news of my visa search.