Be Careful What You Wish For

As we came into our last couple weeks in Nicaragua I was definitely feeling some mixed emotions about bringing our family’s epic adventure to a close. We were all looking forward to seeing family and reuniting with our two dogs, but there was this part of me that hated to see the journey come to an end. We still had so many things to see. Was it really time to go back to our normal life? Maybe we should go home for a visit and then start Part 2 of this journey. The nagging regret I’d had at the beginning of our time in Nicaragua clearly hadn’t dissipated.

I thought to myself one day, “I just want to be excited to go back home. I want to be ready to settle our family into normal life again. Enough with this wanderlust already!”

Well, they say be careful what you wish for…. To answer my desire for an attitude adjustment, the universe sent me something that snapped the wanderlust right out of me. Our first legitimate case of food poisoning.

The morning of my friend Keri’s last day in Nicaragua, both of us were feeling a little off. We suspected it was the cabbage served on our lunch the day before, but we couldn’t be sure. Luckily Keri, who had to take an hour cab ride to Managua and fly home the next day, got a more mild dose of whatever this loathed microorganism was.

I, on the other hand, got the extreme version. My mild nausea slowly progressed to body aches, fever, vomiting and the worst diarrhea I’ve ever had in my life. (my apologies for the TMI) For the better part of a 24-hour period I lay in a cold sweat on our bathroom floor praying I would just pass out for a few minutes so I could escape this digestive hell. After a couple days I was moving around again and keeping fluids down, but still couldn’t eat. My in-laws arrived for their visit with us and within hours of walking in the door my selfless mother-in-law got the wonderful job of accompanying me to the Granada hospital since my intestines still weren’t happy about the situation. Sitting on the outside benches which served as the waiting area, we watched people walk by carrying IV bags and the occasional stray dog sniff around outside the exam rooms. I thought to myself, “Thank goodness I’m the one that’s sick. I wouldn’t want to bring one of the girls here….”

When is my brain going to learn to just shut her damn trap!? This kind of thinking was clearly getting me into trouble! It should come as no surprise that a couple days later Liv started having the exact same symptoms. As a mom, I can handle being miserable and periodically catatonic in a third world country myself. Having one of my children go through this? No. The night of Liv’s bout with food poisoning was a nightmare. At one point Brian and I were ready to get a cab to take us to the modernized hospital in Managua. Thankfully she took a dramatic turn for the better and it didn’t come to that. By the next day, Liv had actually bounced back much faster than I had and was eating and smiling again.

Brian, his parents and the other girls all had mild episodes of digestive drama during our last week and a half in Nicaragua. However, between trips to the bathroom we were still able to do some fun stuff and see a little more of this beautiful and eclectic country. In the last days of our adventure we had a special appreciation for the views of crater lakes, our walks through historic squares, shopping trips to the chaotic markets and strolls through streets crowded with both cars and horse carriages. The mean microorganisms of Latin America couldn’t keep us down for long!

Time was quickly ticking down on our family’s trip around the world, but I’d gotten my wish. My melancholy attitude toward our return to the U.S. vanished. I was ready for the first world and its bureaucratic and controversial, but also highly-advanced and easily-accessible, healthcare system. After over 16 months of trouble-free world travel, we’d gotten a taste of the dark side. This had been an amazing, life-changing, paradigm-shifting experience for our family, but the universe was telling me it’s time to go home.

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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  1. The mild cases of digestive trouble we had were SO worth our time together, exploring Granada and its beauty. We had such a wonderful, leisurely time together, and could personally enjoy some of the experiences you have all had, and catch up on the many stories! And now we are grateful you are here! Welcome back!

  2. We’ll miss “trekking” with you all (via your blog), and thank you for this opportunity. It was AMAZING! And, BTW, …welcome back.

  3. Hello there!
    A long time ago I did not enter in your blog and I loved seeing the updates. How big are your daughters! They grow very fast … in case you do not know who I am … I still remember you and your family from the Spanish classes at Pucón! …from what I see Brian fondly remembers those classes (by the sticker of the Chilean flag on the computer hehe).
    I tell you that we are living in Canada now in Montreal specifically in case some time come by these sides.
    A big hug

    1. Felipe! Hello! It’s great to hear from you. You are in my book about our trip. I would love to send you a copy. It is called “Excess Baggage: One Family’s Around-the-World Search for Balance.” If you want to go to the Contact page of our site and send me your email address I will get in touch and get your mailing address. Thank you for reaching out on our site. – Tracey Carisch

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