My bottom

I rather fancied that I had hit rock bottom when I wrote my last blog. My manky old travellers’ knickers had been stolen, my only ‘nice’ skirt had a rusty mark on it that looked like a geometrically-drawn poo and my cheap Argentine cardigan had par-melted into my cup of tea. I then posted an update letting you know that my watch had been stolen, the replacement had fallen apart, I’d lost yet more clothes and a child had projectile vomited on me.

Surely I had hit travellers’ rock bottom!

No. I now have a new bottom. Disclaimer: if you’re squeamish, this blog is not for you.

Next, I got infested – personally, I should add – with bedbugs. I don’t know where they came from or what they wanted from me but when I tell you my arms are LESIONED LIKE THAT OF A DYING MAN I am in no way overstating the severity of the situation.

Bedbugs, I can confidently inform you, are the worst creatures ever to have set foot on planet earth. Cockroaches shmockroaches. Who cares? They’re a bit creepy crawly, a bit scuttly and dirty but they don’t do much other than make girls scream. Bedbugs, on the other hand, destroy you. They eat you alive. They cause itching that makes a mosquito bite seem like a deliciously iced fairy cake by comparison.

The bedbugs were in everything. My bed, my rucksack, every item of clothing I owned. Even my bras. I have bite-covered wangers. I can’t bear it.

I’m afraid I did start crying after it had been going on a couple of days. It was too much. I shower at least once a day! I wash my clothes all the time! How did this happen?

Eventually I was forced to take three days off my “schedule” (I use that word lightly) to check into a decent hotel, delivering everything I owned to a toothless woman in the shack across the road (who, much to my joy, lit a fire under an actual cauldron so as to be able to wash the living shit out of my clothes.)

I then retreated to bed naked for 24 hours until my personal effects were returned. I wasn’t joking when I said I gave her everything. I was trapped until she returned my rucksack. My dinner last night was a carton of orange juice and a bread roll. It was dark.

Anyway. My things were returned today about 3pm. Feeling so relieved I almost started crying again, I grabbed a bottle o’ water and headed outside for a little sunbathe. Life was good once more!

I roasted on my back for a bit then turned over, lying on my stomach. My face was now on a level with my water bottle.

Which, it gradually dawned on me, was full of little brown bugs.

My stomach nearly fell out of my crotch. I looked away, convinced I must be hallucinating – an understandable after effect of the 200+ bites I have received from the bedbugs.

I looked back at the bottle again.

It was full of little brown bugs, swimming gaily around.

At this point I really started to cry. “I’VE BEEN DRINKING BUGS FROM THE WATER SYSTEM FOR THE LAST FOUR DAYS,” I texted The Man. Being well-travelled I thought he might provide some reassurance.

He didn’t reply. Well, not for some hours. It turns out that, unlike me, he has a life.

By the time he got back to me I was absolutely convinced that I was going to die of cholera and was in the foetal position on my posh hotel bed, howling and rocking back and forward, every now and then pausing to whisper “I cannot take it. I cannot. I cannot take it.”

Eventually I slapped myself round the face and took myself out for dinner. If I was going to die of cholera I at least wanted to do so with a good steak in my belly.

To get to town I had to cross the forecourt of a petrol station and was accosted by a young man.

“Excuse me,” he called. I turned round, reading to tell him in my poor Spanish that I didn’t know the way to wherever he needed to go because I was just a pikey tourist.

But he did not want directions. He wanted to have dinner with me. “Excuse me?” I said, bewildered. I had not seen this man before. He repeated the invitation. When I realised that he really was proposing a dinner together – this man whom I had not so much as exchanged eye contact with – I started to get flustered and made up some bullshit excuse. “Ok,” he said. “A drink?”

I made an even worse excuse.

“Well then can we just hang out?” he said.

And so I got out the big guns.

“I have bedbugs,” I told him. “And serious internal parasites from the drinking water. I am scared I am going to die tonight. I just want to be alone.”

It’s safe to say he didn’t trouble me after that. I saw him, later, having dinner with a girl who was not infested with vermin.

In my whole life I have never felt as gross as I do right now. If I do die of cholera in the night, friends, I want you to know that I’ve enjoyed our little blog chats. The conviviality. The craic. The warmth. You’ve been good friends to me over the last ten months as I’ve staged my early mid-life crisis. I hope you find another more glamorous, less festering correspondent soon. Someone who actually belongs on this site of transcendent glamour and fabulousness, Marie Claire. Just make sure she keeps her hands off The Man, ok?

Yours, a little battle-weary and possibly ready to come home now,

LR x


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