Don’t do it unless you can walk for a total of at least an hour a day.
Don’t do it unless you can pad yourself in a bit of comfort and stay in a quiet hotel with a hot shower and a good mattress.
Don’t do it if food allergies knock you to the ground, because you won’t be able to mimic your diet wherever you go.
Does it seem like I’m being negative here? I’m only trying to paint a realistic picture of what it takes to travel in Latin America with a moderately severe case of Lyme. You see, after two and a half weeks of too much walking, too much noise, too much starchy food and too many hard chairs leaving me with a back as stiff as a boulder, I’ve been duly reminded that traveling with Lyme has certain prerequisites.
To start, in order to see the sights, I’ve learned that I must walk. No matter that buses help get me to my destinations, I nonetheless end up walking more than my body would like.
Secondly, the cuisine in Costa Rica revolves around starches, and while I’m currently staying at a guest house that has a shared kitchen in which I’ve been able to prepare my own meals, guess what? I have to walk to the Super to get my spinach.
And if I go to a restaurant and order a salad, they go heavy on the cabbage and light on the greens. You get my point.
Then there’s the noise. Oh, the noise, which Latin America loves. Now that I am in the bustling capital of San Jose, finding an inexpensive, quiet abode has been a feat of persistence and patience. After one night’s loss of rest at the guest house where I’m currently staying, I managed to persuade the owner to give me the quietest room in the place. In my new quarters, I’ve had to hang four blankets in the windows to block out the morning light. Budget hotels can be hard on the body.
Finally, I never leave the hotel without a liter of salted water, which means carrying around a constant weight on my back and popping a couple of Ibuprofen every night before bedtime.
But don’t let all this discourage you. If you can splurge for a bit of comfort, hanging out at the beach can be a balm for the body. Seeing a volcano belch fire can be excitement for the soul, and a great conversation with a local can bring intrigue and joy to the spirit as your mind is opened up to new ways of seeing the world, and as your thoughts shift away from your symptoms.
Once again, I’ve had to be content to do less than I used to than when I traveled pre-Lyme. I don’t check off a list of all the major sights to be seen in Costa Rica, but if I can experience one new thing everyday, be it a neighborhood or a statue or a waterfall, or a conversation with a local; if I can make one new friend or try one new food; if I can learn one new fact about this country or life in general, then I can say it’s been worth it to travel with Lyme. Even if it is more physically difficult than sitting in a cozy armchair at home. After all, healing isn’t just about the body.