The Travel Gods decided to bring in the Weather Gods to try their best at messing up our idyllic holiday. It was pouring – really pouring rain. Scratch sightseeing in this downpour, so we decided it was a good day to find me a doctor. I was at the point of not hearing much of anything, and I knew it wasn’t a good sign.
We took the train to La Spezia and took a taxi to the hospital, according to the directions supplied by our lovely innkeeper Carla. Once in the urgent care center, I gave the nurse my information and we sat to wait in the crowded room. I was surprised at the efficiency and speed with which everyone was attended. Our hospitals could learn a lot from these guys.
We waited less than an hour when my name was called and the nurse behind the glass gave me some papers and said to go to “door 5”, pointing around the corner. That meant building 5, quite a ways away in the pouring rain, but hey – Vlad found it, so I was grateful. Once in that building, I handed the papers to another person in scrubs who kept muttering “otorino” as he was looking through a book. Vlad said that must be the name of the doctor – he never took Latin and didn’t know that meant ear-nose. I appreciated the chuckle.
Shortly after, a doctor-looking person came walking down the hallway and the first thing he said was “do you speak English?”. I could have kissed his feet at that point. He was an ENT that trained in the US, of all things. We chatted about California while he looked in my ears and tutted about what he saw in there. Some rapid Italian to the hovering nurse had her fishing for a prescription pad. BTW – they didn’t charge me a single euro for the excellent care I received. Clutching the prescription listing all kinds of nasty meds, we left to find one of the only two farmacias that were open on Sunday.
Now the Travel Gods really decided to have fun with us. La Spezia on a Sunday was deserted. And I mean NO cars on the street, much less taxis. Here we were in the center of the town with everything shuttered, in driving rain and wind, and no transportation in sight. I wasn’t terribly coherent at that time, and was happy to just follow Vlad in abject misery. By this time we were thoroughly soaked and extremely miserable.
The Travel Gods decided they’d given us enough for one day – across a large street with only private cars buzzing along, there was a building called PUBBLICA ASSISTENZA, with some sort of a guard sitting on a chair in front of the door. Not knowing this was their ambulance service and not an assistance center, I grabbed Vlad’s arm and jaywalked across the street. Once there, I asked the man in the chair in my best Spanish if he could call me a taxi, please. Vlad was embarrassed at my temerity, but I was past caring what the guy thought of me. Well, why not? It’s pouring rain, I was completely wet and soon to get much sicker if I didn’t get dry soon. I was NOT going to let the Travel Gods get the best of me on this. The gentleman at the door looked a bit surprised at my request, but took pity on us and called a taxi.
Once in the taxi, I handed the driver the paper with the addresses the hospital wrote down for me. Vlad stayed in the taxi while I went in to get the script filled so it wouldn’t get away and strand us once again. The pharmacist didn’t speak English, but he had most of what I needed to get and seemed to understand my French (my Spanish wasn’t up to medical talk). He was a bit short on the antibiotics I needed, so he handed me the prescription back with the several boxes of pills, and I think he told me to take it to another farmacia the next day to get the rest.
Back via the train to Riomaggiore and the long, uphill walk to the top of the town and our hotel. The rain made the street a river, and we were literally swimming upstream. I had new respect for salmon, and just hoped I would have to die when I reached the top. I had to stop and rest a few times, but hey – I was sick and deserved some slack. There were a few brave, sodden tourists sprinkled here and there on the climb, but other than that the town was deserted.
We finally made it back to our room, and I looked in the mirror. Good heavens – no wonder I got startled looks from the PA guy and the pharmacist. What had started the day as sleek, straight-ironed hair was now a mess of frizzy curls standing out and framing an extremely pale face. I looked like Medusa on a bad snake day. Vlad wanted to take a picture, but I’d had enough misery for one day. He only redeemed himself by trekking down the stream to find some species of takeout dinner and a bottle of wine.
This is Italy – no doctor will dare prescribe an antibiotic that doesn’t mix with wine. It’s a very nice place.