Where did we leave off? Oh yeah, I was passed out on the bathroom floor in a hotel in Barcelona. And not from the wine, either. Just to refresh your memory of the night before: we had gone to a restaurant for dinner and while we were downing our shrimp and mussels, Barcelona won the European Soccer Cup. We emerged to a world transformed: epic numbers of really loud, really happy people filled the streets.
Fast forward to the following morning about six a.m. I woke, feeling unsteady and woozy. I headed for the toilet and made it as far as the bathroom and passed out. Alan found me face down and ugly. (Let's just leave it at 'ugly'.) Alan tried and tried to rouse me but my distinct preference was for staying put and not trying to "sit up" or "drink liquids" or "speak rationally".
Now, here's where it gets interesting. Alan, who does not speak Spanish or Catalan, called the front desk and asked, pleaded, that they send an ambulance pronto. The gentleman on the other end of the phone said calmly, "No, no ambulance." No? Alan asked every way his English afforded him but the desk clerk was firm. No ambulance for the sick woman in 402. Remember that this is also in the middle of the worst e coli outbreak the world had experienced in years.
Alan paced and fretted and called the desk again. He tried a new tack; if you won't call an ambulance, how about a doctor? This, too, took multiple requests and eventually the help of Molly's Spanish speaking friend who was traveling with us. Finally the desk clerk called for a doctor, who arrived with anti-nausea shots to be given through my nether regions. And he explained why no ambulance had been called: the hospital emergency rooms were packed to the gills with injured revelers. Evidently celebrating involved bandages and splints.
Sometime in the middle of that afternoon the metaphorical cloud lifted and I suddenly sat up, drank liquids, and spoke rationally, all to Alan's delight. (Later, he too would find himself on the wrong end of this illness but for a few hours he was happy with knowing I would live to see another day.)
The e coli scare was interesting to follow, by the way. The epicenter of the illness was in Germany: all the many victims were either German or had recently visited Germany. What was the first thing Germany did? Blame Spain, of course. Spanish cucumbers and tomatoes were to blame, Germany accused. So, all of our meals in Spain were infused with a bit of "Oh, what the hell, let's eat the cucumbers anyway" spirit. In the face of absolutely no evidence that Spanish produce carried e coli, Germany finally retracted their accusations, but not before millions of Euros of loss to Spanish agriculture. Oh, Germany! Later, an organic sprout farm (in Germany) was found to be the source of the e coli but by that time Russia had banned imports of any and all European produce and they weren't going to back down. They would not be a fiefdom for Europe. They wanted respect.
Don't we all?