Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mirabella blog.

I’m on a summer blogging schedule now, that is, skipping Saturdays. Wouldn’t have posted yesterday anyway, since Ann wasn’t feeling well (mild fever, some kind of pain) Friday and into Saturday. She’s better now. But when a toddler doesn’t feel well, there’s no concentrating on anything else. With that in mind, I’ve picked an incident of illness from my archives.

July 22, 1983. Mirabella, Italy.

Steve and I boarded the bus to Avalino in mid-morning yesterday and I remember having a fine ride – no hint of things to come. The Campanian scenery was pleasant, a lot of rolling countryside, though the air was more polluted than I would have expected. We got to Avalino, expecting to find a station, but instead a large parking lot full of buses functioned as the station. We asked a driver which bus connected with our destination, Mirabella, the small town where Steve has relatives, and he told us where to wait for it.

I felt nauseated in the hot sun waiting for the connecting bus. That bus wasn’t especially late -- a notable thing in Italy -- and my condition got worse during the bouncing, twist-and-turn ride deeper into the country (for Mirabella is a very small town). We arrived at a street corner in Mirabella, and immediately after unloading our packs from under the bus, I said to Steve, “I think I’m going to throw up.” Which I did right away. First on the sidewalk, then another wave in the gutter.

Suddenly I was the center of attention in the town. A cop came up and directed me to a drug store nearby, and then got me a chair from I don’t know where. A woman from inside the drug store offered me a cup of water and a pill, which I took to be a Pepto-Bismol equivalent. I swallowed it and a little of the water. In the meantime a number of people clustered around me, watching me sit -- some kids, some adults, but on the whole I wasn’t paying attention to the details.

Eventually it was established that I was feeling better, and I said grazie to all, and Steve and I started walking in the direction of his Uncle Luigi’s coffee shop (bar). Two young men in a small car stopped and offered us a lift, and we accepted. We stayed at the coffee shop a while. I was indeed better, but it didn’t last long. As soon as Luigi had driven us to his home, I threw up in the bathroom and then found the nearest bed. I was nauseated, spent time on the toilet every few hours, and had a fever.

Luigi lives in the house with his wife, his wife’s sister, his daughter, her husband, and their daughter, a year and a half old. All the adults in the family were very attentive, despite the fact that we had almost no language in common. I chewed some actual Pepto-Bismol that I had with me, and felt a little better. They offered me dinner, and much to my regret, I couldn’t take it. Not long after that, I threw up one more time. Slept some that night, and by morning the fever had broken. By mid-day today I had my appetite back, which was a good thing, since I have a number of extraordinary homemade Italian meals ahead of me.


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