It happened to me… how to handle getting sick while you travel. Taking it slow in the South of France.
Friends, you remember my glorious plans to spend a long weekend soaking in the sensual delights of the south of France in Nice, No? I planned to spend three days gorging on sights, sounds, color, art… and of course, food and wine. I would leave chastened in wild Mediterranean good vibes– my inner Fauve satiated– ready to return home and embark upon the well behaved Swiss springtime.
I was more than ready to welcome some color, clutter and chaos back into my life!
Well huh. Travel, as usual, was a fickle mistress, intent on teaching me lessons I had no interest in learning. This time it was that letting go of my expectations and adjusting my sails with the wind was just as important as dreaming big. Why? Because no sooner did my plane touch down on the Côte d’ Azur (which yes, is every inch as blue as I imagined it would be), the tickle in my throat blossomed into a full blown tiny-hamsters-clawing-desperately-at-my-larynx cough. I was experiencing one of every traveller’s top dreads, right up there with purse snatchers and bedbugs, I was getting sick on the road.
Denial was my first mode of action. I was just worn out from that early morning flight! All I needed was a nap! A three hour nap later, I woke up still feeling like I’d been run over by a cement truck. Despair set in. What about my itinerary!? This isn’t fair! I briefly considered dragging myself to Matisses’ house, the Picasso museum– all of it– in a haze of cold meds. But then, what would have been the point of that? Did I want to be a box ticking traveller, going places I couldn’t even enjoy just to say I’d been there? No way. So I decided to do something that’s always been a challenge for me– I practiced non-attachment.
Finding this friendly gentleman in my bedroom should have been my first clue that my Heart-Mind was about to start speaking…
Aparigraha, or non-posessiveness, is one of the 5 Yamas of Hindu scripture. Most of the time I tend to think of non-attachment or non-posessiveness as it has to do with material things, but when I truly endeavored to practice it, I am am always reminded of just how much posessiveness or attachment can manifest itself in every aspect of my life. I’m not just attached to my favorite dancing shoes, my stacks of well read novels or my beloved vintage flea market finds. I’m not just attached to my identity as a friend, a traveller, an artist, a teacher. I’m not just attached to my hopes, my dreams, my career plans. I am also attached to my idea of what I think an experience should be, what it’s supposed to represent in my life. Sometimes I’m so attached to these ideals that I’m not experiencing what’s actually happening in the here an now. I am holding on to something that’s a figment, and resisting the truth.
So instead of fighting my sickness, I invited it to slow me down. I took a long stroll down the pebble beaches of Nice and napped in the sunshine, allowing the sound of the waves washing across the rocks on the shore to lull me to sleep.
What more could this girl need than miles of public beaches to stroll and untold warm rocks to sun herself on…
Instead of people watching for hours in a public square, I chilled on the balcony of my Air B & B room, drinking medicinal sage tea and befriending my hostess’ cat.
If anybody asks.. I spent my weekend spooning with a green-eyed Frenchman.
(What!? It’s kind of true!)
Instead of pushing myself to dine out in a restaurant, I hit the local market, bought some bread, wine and fresh produce, and created myself a perfect picnic for one.
Fresh veggies are just the beginning at Nice’s marketplace. There’s soaps, sea salt, dried Lavender and so many other heavenly things…
Instead of trekking from museum to museum, I chose just one to visit, Musee Marc Chagall. In my slowed down state I was really able to appreciate the poetry of each painting and linger longer in every moment.
Both Beat and Beatific. Slowing down gave me more time to spend with my dear friend Marc and his lovely stained glass windows…
I still went home feeling like I experienced Nice, it was just a different Nice than I expected. It was the Nice my body needed at that moment, but that my ego was resisting.
So what about you? How do you cope when you’re thrown an unexpected curve on the road?