Indonesia / Travel

Lobster Claws and Unwelcome Visitors


Travel, when it’s finished, is about images … visual and mental. This picture-perfect heliconia, aka Lobster Claw, was 15 feet from our deep, shady porch in Ubud, Bali.

The contrast of brilliant colors against a living wall of green was simple and starkly beautiful. And every single day, Terri and I enjoyed this lovely bloom with coffee in the morning, and drinks in the evening. I love this photo because it’s a pleasant reminder of the magic of Bali.

Unfortunately, the mental image that comes to mind is the bastard mosquito which, on one of these fine days, gave me my second case of dengue fever. Like every traveler I have vivid memories of all my serious travel maladies, and in every instance, I remember exactly where I was and how I felt.

It’s hard to be philosophical when any disease is raging through your body, and being sick on the road is never fun. But the reality is that it’s an unescapable part of the travel experience, and hardy travelers deal with it and move on.

And in retrospect, even with the fever, I wouldn’t have missed Ubud, our time on the porch, and this fantastic flower.

Happy Trails.

32 thoughts on “Lobster Claws and Unwelcome Visitors

    • Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. The heliconia is one of my favorite flowers in the world. In addition to the vivid colors, they are amazingly complex. Very cool. ~James

  1. James it must have been brutal to deal with dengue. Your philosophical attitude about travel and what can come with that adventure is a good one. Our recent trip to South America was no walk in the park but still one we will always treasure.

    • I could tell from your posts that the soroche was difficult for you both on your trip Sue. Luckily, that’s one malady I’ve managed to avoid. But then, the most rigorous thing I’ve done at 14,000 ft is walk – as opposed to say … cycling. After two rounds of dengue, the one thing I can say is that you don’t want it, so slather on the repellent. ~James

      • Sound advice James. Wherever there is a mosquito they seem to love me immensely so I will take your sage words of advice to heart. Dengue fever twice?! Some things one does not want to be an expert on.

    • A wise choice Andrew. The only threat in Europe is from travelers returning home carrying strange diseases. But luckily the doctors there, particularly in the UK, are accustomed to imported diseases and they can make a quick diagnosis. ~James

  2. I much prefer the visual image, heliconias are stunning. Becoming ill while traveling is the pits. I ended up in the emergency room during my Arizona trip (nothing as serious as dengue) but it really put a damper on the festivities! But, like you, I have plenty of visual images to gloss over the event.

    • Sorry to hear about your emergency room visit Laura. It’s funny how illness can cloud an event. I spent two miserable weeks recovering in Wellington, New Zealand. With Terri’s constant care, I managed to see a tiny bit of the city, and it’s a neat place. But, it will forever be in my mind as the place where I struggled through dengue. ~James

  3. I hope you are recovered. We just returned from a 16 day trip and I was so thankful that none of the 4 of us had any downtime. It is awful being ill when you are away from home – not only because you are away from familiar health care and the comforts of home but, of course, because you miss out on why you were traveling in the first place.

    I thought of you on one of our very long and exhausting travel days. You really are the ultimate adventurous travelers – to be on the move as much as you are and in so many off-the-beaten-path places. Do you ever tire of the pace and challenges??

    • Glad to hear that no one succumbed on your recent trip Jeannee. The only saving grace on my second round of dengue was that Terri was by my side the entire time to nurse me back to health. On the first round I was traveling alone in Belize, and in addition to being terribly ill and miserable, it was scary. As to growing tired on the road, over the years we’ve gotten to know exactly how to pace ourselves. Our philosophy is that we can’t be tourists all the time, and we don’t hesitate to take time of to just chill. We’re more quality over quantity, and that’s made all the difference. ~James

    • Thanks, I’m fully recovered now. Dengue is scary, and it’s frustrating as well because the recovery takes weeks. It took a couple of months to get totally back to normal, and the really bad news is that the hair that I lost never did return. 🙂 But the upside is that now I’m immune to two of the four kinds of dengue. ~James

  4. That is one spectacular flower, but wow – your experience with dengue fever sounds just awful! I had no idea it was so harsh! Let’s not shoot for immunity to the other two forms though – just douse yourself in Off, okay? 🙂

    • I hear you Lynda. Bug dope has become a regular part of my travel gear. I understand that each time one contracts dengue it’s worse, and neither #1 nor #2 was a walk in the park. The first round was hemorrhagic and I ended up in hospital for a week. Needless to say, I have zero interest in 3 and 4 and do not want to be a medical case study. ~James

  5. Gorgeous flower. Unfortunately for me I now have another sickness story to add to my own collection after the most miserable night of my life whilst here in Ecuador.

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