“What do you mean, ‘Don’t panic?’” cried James, “This is a disaster!” Apparently my burning forehead and other symptoms didn’t appease my jumpy traveling companion. I suppose he had a right; we were, after all, sixteen and traveling alone in the Costa Rican jungle. James ran out the door, mumbling between various expletives, “Maybe there’s a doctor somewhere.”
In my delirium, I decided to pursue a state of denial. The power of positive thinking to the rescue! Oh, no, wait. Too woozy for that.
Flashes from the night before whizzed through my mind. In the previous twelve hours I had befriended people from all over the world. I saw and touched giant sea turtles the size of refrigerators. I photographed some sort of rare jungle cow. I also came very close to vomiting.
James returned with a Costa Rican gentleman I recognized from the night before. Praise the Lord! A doctor! He immediately pressed his hand to my forehead and announced I had a fever of 102. All of a sudden, he was gone. He left so quickly I wondered if I was contagious.
He returned five minutes later. Our mouths dropped. In one hand he held a giant machete. In the other he carried a coconut with a straw, as fancy as you would find at the Hawaiian Hyatt. “Drink this,” he said, smiling. “It will make you feel better,”
Honestly, I didn’t think I could eat or drink anything. But when the cool liquid touched my lips both worry and nausea melted away. I had never felt anything so soothing before in my life. My muscles instantly relaxed and my tummy stopped rumbling. The coconut milk was a panacea on my whole body. Not to mention, the mere idea of a Good Samaritan wandering into the forest with a machete and returning with a snazzy drink charmed me beyond words. I’ve had the travel bug ever since.