Honeymoon in the Hospital, Part 1

12 Oct

I should’ve known right away that our Nicaragua honeymoon was doomed when we missed our flight. We showed up at the airport just before 12am on what was technically Monday, and only then realized that I had actually booked the tickets for 12am the night before. It took another $200, 12 hours, two planes, and two boats to travel to Little Corn Island, off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. But for the most part, it was worth it.

My new husband and I spent several glorious days at Derek’s Place, a hospitable little encampment on the far side of Little Corn. Four handcrafted bungalows line the beach, and the whole property is shaded by palm trees and covered in a carpet of grass. During the day, guests snooze in hammocks, ride horseback through the surf, and wade in the crystalline water. At night, everyone gathers in the main lodge for a bountiful seafood dinner prepared by Derek’s Castilian wife, Anna. My mouth still waters at the thought of conch in green curry sauce and fried red snapper. All in all, Little Corn is a very idyllic place.

But on Valentine’s Day, our second to last in Nicaragua, everything got all crazy. First, the local who took us snorkeling showed up in — I kid you not — a dugout canoe with two paddles. As if that wasn’t enough of an adventure, the waves were unusually fierce that morning. They crashed over the sides of the canoe, which, under the weight of three people, rode barely above the water. While our guide and OtherC paddled hard against the current, I had to bail water out of the failing boat with an old bucket. But like the long travel day, it was totally worth it. It was actually sort of charming — the three of us touring the reefs around Little Corn in such a primitive vessel. And to our guide’s credit, we did see some spectacular fish.

But once back at Derek’s Place, I suddenly didn’t feel so well. I had that vague feeling that comes over you when you first get sick, and my stomach had a dull, throbbing pain. Maybe I ate too much coconut bread at lunch? It was one of Little Corn Island’s unique gustatory offerings, one I had a big weakness for. Hoping a little rest would perk me up, I grabbed War and Peace from my backpack and laid down in our bungalow.

About an hour later, my husband came in to check on me. “Feeling any better?” he asked. I moaned back,“I want to read, but I can’t turn the pages!” As I said it, I waved my hands weakly above my head. My fingers were stiff and had curled in on themselves. They resembled freaky little claws, or maybe the talons of some carnivorous bird. OtherC felt my forehead — burning hot — and fed me a couple ibuprofen. But still, my fever raged, and I rambled deliriously about the fuzzy sensation spreading through my body.

Obviously, I needed medical care, but the resources on Little Corn Island were very limited, just a single nurse who seemed ill-equipped for the emergency. We had already missed the last water taxi off the island. It was the only way back to the mainland of Nicaragua, so we were stuck on Little Corn until morning. But as the hours passed, my situation became more and more serious. I soon lost all feeling in my arms and legs, and I could feel my lower body start to go numb. Would I make it? Would I even be able to travel the next day?  OtherC wasn’t sure. It looked like our honeymoon in Nicaragua might end in tragedy.

To be continued…

Photo Credit: devinpoolman


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