Queasing My Way Through Egypt

I don`t need a baby growing inside me for nine months. For one thing, there`s morning sickness. If I`m going to feel nauseous and achy when I wake up, I want to achieve that state the old fashioned way: getting good and drunk the night before. ~ Ellen DeGeneres

This blog has been, up to this point, pretty much a parenting blog — I’ve talked about feeding my kiddo, and about the various issues that my little family has been dealing with (like this and this) since said kiddo came along. But I existed before he did, as hard as that sometimes may be to believe, and I had adventures and thoughts and stuff back then, too. So I thought I’d share a little bit about an adventure I had while I was pregnant — a trip that acts as a bit of a segue in my mind between the me of before Baby and the me of after.

I said segue, not Segway. Yay, fun with homophones! (Courtesy of Spinnick597 at en.wikipedia)

Back in the summer of 2010, Loving Husband and I were living in Sicily. We had been living there since 2007, and we’d used that proximity to loads and loads of foreign awesomeness to full advantage, traveling all around Europe (though there is a lot that we missed. Guess we’ll just have to move back.) We had always said that since we were so close to north Africa we would go to Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. Sadly, at this point, we were running out of time, so we booked a Nile cruise and put Tunisia and Morocco on our bucket lists.

On September 1st, I found out that I was pregnant. “No problem,” I rather naively thought. “I’ll be fine. Besides, the trip’s already been paid for!” And I continued blithely on my way. Tra la!

The trip came at the beginning of my seventh week of pregnancy. (If you’ve had babies, you probably already see where this is going.)

Such a tiny thing, and it can create SUCH BIG problems.

You know what’s really funny about morning sickness? The name. It was really more like, “All day long, especially when you can smell things” sickness.

Oh, the nausea. Holy fucking shit, the NAUSEA. I was living on limeade and ginger snaps, and still thought it would be a really good idea to travel by aeroplane to an incredibly hot country and spend four days on a boat.

We packed the usual items — clothes, toiletries, sunscreen, laptop — and a few unusual things, like large freezer bags full of ginger snaps and pretzels, and my Travel Nausea Kit (patent pending): toilet paper, ziploc bags, those elastic bands that press the anti-nausea pressure points on your wrists, Dramamine (which the doctor assured me was ‘safe enough’), wet wipes, and mouthwash.

You GUYS! I took this picture! No stealsies, 'kay?

The first part of our trip was the boat part. Because we had booked the trip through an Italian travel agent, it was an Italian tour full of Italians. We don’t speak Italian, so they booked us our own private tour guide for Upper Egypt (score!) His name was Ashraf, and he was fantabulous. He got us a room upgrade on our river cruise ship, which gave me lots of extra room in which to feel ill (which was nice — add claustrophobia on top of everything else and things would have been much worse.) Once we spilled the “I’m so sick because I’m preggers” beans, he was really good about making sure that we were going at a pace that was good for me, taking lots of breaks for pretzels and ginger snaps. He introduced me to karkadé, drunk cold and only a little sweet, which turned out to be really good for my poor, tortured tummy. He showed me all the places in the temples which specifically related to mothers and pregnancy, including images of Taweret (who became the patron goddess of my pregnancy), of Isis giving birth to Horus, and of Bes, the weird little dwarf god of mothers and children. Ashraf had a family at home, and you could tell. He was with us for the entire time we were cruising the Nile, from Luxor to Aswan. Yeah, I was nauseated, but it was still a blast and a half.

All hail Taweret, who totally doesn't make me nauseous, and who always reminds me that my breasts could be a whole lot saggier. (Drawing by Jeff Dahl)

The second part of the trip was a couple of days in Cairo. For this part, we were with another American couple and a new guide. The Americans were newlywed, in their early 20’s, and seemed quite nice. The guide, named Amr, was also in his 20’s, having just finished guide school (or whatever it’s called that guides have to go through in Egypt in order to be licensed). This was all fine, except that … well, none of them had kids or had ever been pregnant. And they were all young enough to be pretty bad at hiding irritation and impatience.

It didn’t help that the day I was the most nauseous in the course of the ENTIRE pregnancy happened to be the day that we went to the Valley of the Kings. (I know, cool, right? We went to the Valley of the Kings!) Unfortunately, most of what I remember is that going down into the tombs was like diving into pools of liquid nausea. They’re hot, they’re stuffy, they’re full of smelly people, and you have to walk through in a slow-moving line (which means that you can’t make a run for the exit.)

Our companions and our guide were not happy with us. I was such a Debby Downer, always banging on about, “Wait, I need to take some Dramamine” and “Oh my god, this car is so stuffy, could we please open a window?!” and “Does this fancy buffet have any plain cucumbers? I think I might be able to keep down some cucumbers.” And me being me, I was beating myself up for ruining their good time.

Still, in spite of everything, the highlight of the whole trip was with Amr and our American traveling companions. That’s right — when we went to see the Pyramids, we went on a camel ride.

Should have been a disaster, right? I considered refusing to go on that camel, since I figured that I would almost definitely blow chunks all over its head. But I’ve always wanted to ride a camel. So I went.

My camel’s name was Mickey Mouse because he was the smallest and the gentlest one (really, that was his name. Loving Husband’s camel was called Michael Jackson. I COULD NOT MAKE THIS UP.) I, being totally unprepared for camel riding, threw cultural sensitivity to the winds and hiked my skirt up to my hips so that I could straddle that tiny camel. When Mickey Mouse stood up, a miracle occurred.

That's my shadow, Mickey Mouse's shadow, and my pasty white leg. Sexxxxxxxxxxxy.

My nausea disappeared.

For the first time all week, I felt no twinges of morning sickness. And this is entirely because, even if your guides tell you that your camel is tiny, when a camel stands up with you on its back, you think you’re going to be thrown off and die, all of which causes a big old rush of adrenaline.

Tiny camel my sweet ass. It sure felt huge to me.

Yeah, the morning sickness returned once I had descended from Mickey Mouse’s hump (now there’s a sentence I bet you never thought you’d read). And our traveling companions were glad to see the last of us when our three days in Cairo were over, but still. It was a pretty great trip. And you know what? I RODE A CAMEL!

Updated: I feel like I should note something. Loving Husband pointed out that the Valley of the Kings is in Upper Egypt, that we were still with Ashraf for that, and that I have little or no sense of Egyptian geography. All of which, I am ashamed to admit, are true. Whatever, I was still HORRIFICALLY ill that day.

2 responses to “Queasing My Way Through Egypt

  1. Those anti-motion sickness wristband pressure-point things do NOT work!!

    • See, I know that NOW. But then there was just a whole lot of “Oh god, why don’t I feel better? Do I have it in the wrong spot? This is the worst! BRING ON THE DRUGS.”

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