Whose chicken did I run over?

There’s a superstition on the island that when you are cast a curse of bad luck the only way to get rid of it is to put a live chicken in a bag in the middle of the road and whoever runs it over and kills it will have the bad luck transferred to them. Or something like that.

Now that I think of it, we actually literally ran over a chicken in Madagascar, so it’s very likely this is how I got my case of the ‘unluckies’, but the chicken was just chilling in the road on its own will, not trapped in a bag. And I’m not actually sure it died, but looking out the back window it sure looked like after it would suffer from its injuries it would indeed die (RIP Madagascar chicken).

I’ve had some bad luck since I left the states for moving to the indian ocean (starting with sitting next to the worst travelers ever on my transatlantic flight), but nothing like the start of the year has brought. I started the year having what I have self-diagnosed as an anxiety attack at 4am on my upstairs neighbors’ kitchen floor. I hadn’t been feeling well and the only thing I wanted was to sleep, but the New Year’s Eve party was going strong, encircling my bedroom. Fatigue and stress and frustration led to a break down and me yelling at my brain that it was stupid for thinking I couldn’t breathe (of course I can breathe, stop freaking out and your airway will open, dumb brain!).

I tend to have oscillating up and down years, but I am hoping that I am just getting all my bad luck and “downs” out in January. And boy am I on a roll. So I mentioned in my previous post a trip to Madagascar. I went to a doctor to get malaria pills and other meds for possible ailments, of which I used all of them. I should win a prize or something. Anyway to buy the meds I of course did things in the most convoluted and difficult way imaginable. At the first pharmacy my french card was declined. I didn’t want to pay fees on my American card so I had them void the transaction and said I’d return tomorrow. I went to get cash out and the ATM was turned off. The story of my struggles with La Banque Postale would take an entire post for itself, but in summary I just laugh at how dumb their service is. I did finally get access to my online account after 4 months- VICTORY! So without access to my money I was in limbo and leaving for another country in mere days. I attempted to calm myself with ice cream at my favorite local place. When the bank reopened my french roomie, Suzie, graciously ventured to the bank with me to get to the bottom of why I can’t access my account in anyway. Luckily we talked with a different person than usual who after hilariously trying to make me pay 22 euro every 3 months for a card that works, she explained my stupidly low purchase limit and backwards ATM limit (300 a week in purchases and 800 a week in withdrawals). At least she printed my last transactions and mailed my online code. Hallelujah!

I went back to the different pharmacy to get meds. After confusion on why I received half as many meds for the same price as Harry I ventured back to the other pharmacy for one of them and vowed to never return to either pharmacy after my embarrassment (a hilarious joke now because I had to return today). But at least my card worked, I got my meds, and I could withdraw a bunch of cash for the trip. Ready to go!

The day before departure, in typical Amy form, I assigned the entire day to stressing and packing my bag. I almost finished an entire season on Survivor (Redemption Island 1), but I successfully packed for the trip! Then I broke a plate miraculously. It was on the floor and my toe touched it and SHATTER (I owe our apartment a replacement). Almost immediately after, I dropped my adapter/converter (which turned out to be a life saver in Mada- the land of one outlet per room and limited electricity time), but it still functions with a slight rattle. I told the group I got all the bad luck out beforehand hahaha.

I then went online to double check bag regulations and learned our plane had been canceled and we were given a new departure 7 hours later. We were meeting Alex and Maria and our guide at the airport and the others who were already in Mada didn’t have service. Once they had to stress about arriving to the airport and us not being there we eventually got in contact. Turns out our plane kept getting delayed- something to due with mechanical problems and the plane having to return without passengers and then they were sending a Boeing. So at around 1030pm we boarded our plane which had an original departure time of 11am. They did this weird “let’s gas all our passengers right before take off” thing as part of their pre-flight ritual, and finally we made it to our hotel after midnight having to pay ourselves for the rooms and already being a day behind schedule.

I don’t want to recount all the stories of Madagascar. A lot of it was a fun adventure, more of it was semi-consciousness in the world’s most uncomfortable van, and even more of it I spent sick in one way or another. The first bout of sickness happening in a tiny village that lays a 3.5 hour hike up into the mountains with a toilet consisting of a shack built over a hole. Let’s just say I projectile vomited over a cliff and that was just the beginning of the ongoing illness. The hike back out there were times I literally thought I would not make it back and would have to live forever on the “steps” (read as: not steps, not at all, tiny footholes would be giving them too much credit). Thank you Kayleigh and Morgan for sticking back with me in turns on that one! I also got called fat more times in that village than in my entire life leading up to now. Morgan clarified that it was because these people are isolated and basically starving, which helped a bit but I still held back tears on more than one occasion- there was what felt like a parade of my fatness throughout the village at one point and I don’t know why they all felt like screaming it at me, but it was one moment where I would have loved to understand even less French than I do.

There were a lot of moments where I had to persevere through things I would never actively choose to do. A lot of times when I was hiking behind the group (I’m so slow) I had times to overthink and feel annoyed with the situation, but it was always worth the pain (maybe). (I was unaware there would be so much hiking. Hilariously at one point on the hike I was deciding whether to stay back and wait for the others or go on, so I asked the guide if the path was flat, if it was I would go. He said yes, and within 5 minutes I was laughing out loud and demanding to see the Madagascar definition of flat because the only flat part of the hike was crossing rivers.) Days sort of went like this- drive 4 hours, hike 4 hours, eat 3 times, chill at the hotel, be sick. We all had our case of tummy issues over the course of the trip which led us all to skip some meals or pray we could do a hike or drive without a mishap. Other bad luck things- a forgotten expensive purse, a rain destroyed DSLR, and a hotel stealing my ipod touch (I was very bitter about that and would annoying mention it several times a day. It was torture to have to stay at the hotel again after the dude laughed at me for thinking it would be found. I left it on the bed. I hope the maid enjoys it. I guess I needed a new one anyway), getting cheated out of money, and the airport taking souvenirs (they took a new coffee mug but allowed me to take my spray liquids I forgot to take out of my carry on?).

Anyway, the country is beautiful, is poor, has a lot of diversity among people and environments, has an uncomfortable amount of old white guys hanging out with local girls way too young to be around them, and you’d need months to see it all. Even with not liking our guide and not being able to understand a word he said and only seeing one dying baobab (seriously I just have to laugh), at the end I was just happy to make it back to Reunion alive and toe intact- mostly. The trip didn’t fit my expectations and I was down the whole time. Maybe I would have enjoyed it more had I not been sick the entire trip, but I just don’t think it was my cup of tea- or at least not how our tour went. I think spending a longer amount of time in far fewer places would make for a better Mada experience, for those planning a trip now just fyi. Though a lot of my group has said they loved it, so differing opinions there.

My toe incurred the strangest infection out of nowhere. I will save you from seeing the photos, but let’s just say swelling, pain, redness, puss. Disgusting. And try hiking all day with that hahahahaha. Toward the end the infection wasn’t draining anymore. This morning in my clean Reunion water I cleaned it and the skin started shluffing off behind the nail (you’re welcome for the visual) so even though I wanted to avoid another trip to the doctor, I went. It was mostly due to everyone at the apartments urging me to go. When I got back wednesday night one roommate noted how white/pale I looked. I had felt fine (as fine as one could with having reduced one’s normal state of being to feeling like crap), but within hours my throat ached like hell. I was hoping it was the dust on the drive back, but after downing 2/3 of a container of honey and not sleeping through the night I woke up and had to text my prof that I couldn’t come into work because I couldn’t even talk. I spent Thursday fading in and out of sleep, alternating sweating and freezing, my nose started flowing like a river, and I assume a fever to accompany it all. At night while everyone was sweating I was in a sweater being sternly told I needed to see a doctor. I assumed it was a cold and I’d be fine.

Today I woke up feeling a bit better, though still wanting to rest and only venture out to grab groceries. After I saw the state of my toe and that I still am feeling sick-y and some more convincing from friends, I went to the doctor. I told her all my symptoms and after narrowly avoiding another Augmentin fiasco (it violently does not agree with my stomach) and having her say my throat was fine, I paid 30 euro for the visit since I still don’t have my social security number and I went off to the pharmacy to buy my 70 euro worth of medical stuff (pretty sure it would have cost me at most $20 for all the supplies at a Walmart and I have doubts that I will ever be reimbursed). But better to be safe than sorry I suppose. I still had the pharmacy get me throat meds even though the doc hadn’t written it up.

Beyond medical, this morning I was still feeling icky and stayed home again but was about to make a cup of instant coffee (I know, don’t say it, I’m lazy) and just as I picked up the container it went crashing and shattering glass and spewing coffee grounds and glass shards all throughout my room. All I could do was stare at the fiasco, curse, shed a tear, tweet about being so *ing over my bad luck, and just laugh as I grudgingly cleaned it up. It fit perfectly with how my luck has been going recently. Basically no one hand me a baby in the near future please, I can’t handle that responsibility of not dropping them right now.

Also because she’s a saint, and probably partly due to how pathetic I seemed this morning, my upstairs neighbor, Petra, did my grocery shopping for me to allow me to rest up and avoid the horrid busses. I may have described (in my miserable, scratchy, pained voice and my icky feels and tear rimmed eyes after having just broken my coffee and coming upstairs to steal some of theirs) how I had basically no food in the house. I wanted eggs and toast this morning, but the only ingredient I had for it was the butter. Then I tried PB&J, but only had the P (which ended up being my breakfast- a packet of peanut butter and a cup of applesauce). Bless gracious friends.

oh I’m also throwing this in. Last night I was researching flights home (I had been thinking of a South Africa trip or Eurotrip, but with my luck, I think it’s best just to head home) and wanted to fit a trip to Disneyland Paris in since I have to stop in Paris anyway. So I’d been researching and been on their website and pretty much got it figured out. I texted my parents my plans over skype and within 5 minutes they informed me that a terrorist with 2 guns was arrested at a Disneyland Paris hotel. It spooked me a lot, I still don’t know what to think of this coincidence. Basically the universe might be telling me not to go, but Ratatouille ride!

I’m sitting here feeling a lot better and I can now laugh at my bad luck to start the year, but I am just hoping I am getting all my bad juju out in January and it turns out to be an awesome year. If not, well, as Dory says “just keep swimming” (literally and figuratively). It’ll all be a big hilarious story to tell in the future – “remember that January where I had 3 different illnesses in 2 weeks and broke everything I touched?”

Maybe I should invest in a live chicken at one of the local markets here…


(ps- sorry to everyone for being negative and annoying recently, it’s been a lot to deal with and I really am trying to keep my head on straight. Just gotta keep seeking balance. thanks for the support. love you all.)