Friday, June 10, 2016

Simple Math: 2x Tobago + Danny = Trouble

View Atop Atlanta's Ferris Wheel

The Plan
The adventure started out like all adventures seem to. Unplanned and unscripted. The whole trip really started out after leaving before the awards ceremony at the Trinidad marathon back in January. I had wanted to make sure I caught the ferry to Tobago and my ride had wanted to head out anyway so we left early. Without my collecting my prize money for winning my age group. After a dismal marathon in French Guiana, I was ready to redeem myself and the Trinidad Marathon race director was good enough to use my prize money to register me for the inaugural Sea to sea marathon in Tobago. With $60,000 dollars in prize money spread over a half and a marathon paying five deep overall as well as three deep in age groups, I went into training for this for redemption and earnings.

With a trip to Trinidad with Kenny for a long weekend just two weekends afterwards, I wasn't sure what time I'd be approved off, so when I registered I only booked my flight there-thinking if I wasn't approved any time I'd just fly home right after the marathon. I mean my fly out there was only $60 and I had the good odds of making several thousand. It was a no Brainer.

Or apparently I was the one with no brains. For when I finally got approved for the whole two weeks off linking the marathon and the Kenny trip (after all it was between semesters), the flights back to Guyana were not $60 but $300. Crap! I had totally forgotten about independence day. Guyana is celebrating its 50th independence this year and apparently all the flights into the country that whole week were priced accordingly.

So I had an option. I could suck it up and pay the astronomical rate. Unlikely. I could stay in Trinidad and Tobago the whole time- which I seriously considered but decided against after pricing THAT out. Or I could find another way back to Guyana. So I started looking into flying into other countries. Suriname was a little cheaper but the bus, ferry and another tourist visa brought it to about the same price. Brazil was actually more expensive. TnT to Barbados to Guyana was cheaper but got me in after independence day. What about Venezuela?  I just recently had finally gotten my visa from their embassy so that way a possibility. And price? $180?  Nice! Especially since the whole bus trip back to Guyana would only be 90 bucks more or so. Plus I'd see another part of the continent.   Wait. What's the deal with the long layover? Probably somewhere awful.



I wonder how much it would be to fly directly to Miami and somehow get up to surprise my family? Wow $166. 

My dad was going to be Atlanta visiting my  brother, maybe I could rent a car and drive up to meet them(I had priced out flights directly to ATL and they were markedly more expensive) and then he and I fly home and surprise my mom and Kenny before her marathon? [Editor's note: This is my stream of consciousness so don't mind the run on sentences].

Well, you cannot rent a car without a drivers license and mine was stolen along with all my electronics months before. But you can still ride a greyhound bus. So I booked my flight to Miami allotting myself 4 hours to get through Miami customs and whatnot and then an overnight bus right to Atlanta. After doing the 15 hour bus to Brazil now a few times, a bus with reclining seats, a.c. and a bathroom didn't seem too bad. And amazingly it was cheaper than the equivalent time bus to Brazil. 

A nice bonus surprise was that serendipitously my mothers retirement was planned the day after I arrived home. This would be perfect. Surprise at her party and surprise Kenny before her marathon and maybe help her with pacing. Everything was falling into place perfectly. 

So I would get to hang out with Drew and my dad in Atlanta for a day then after taking another super cheap flight courtesy of Southwest Airlines into Manchester be able to go about the surprises and still have time to visit with other friends and family. 

And as luck would have it the cost of my flight to back to Trinidad was only slightly more than the one I cancel if I was coming from Guyana. I was able to cancel my flight from Guyana to Trinidad and used that money to get a flight from Boston to Trinidad. Amazingly not losing much money in the process. 

So everything was falling into place. What could go wrong?

The Reality
I was nervous that I was going to miss the ferry to Tobago from the Trinidad Airport, so I budgeted more time. Unnecessary. I had to pay an outrageous taxi fare but I was able to hope all the early ferry to get to Tobago on Friday and settle in for the race weekend.

Boy was the ride rough! Like to the point where bottles were shattering at the bar and people were throwing up on both sides of me. I hunkered down and just focused on breathing through my mouth. After what seemed to be an entirety, we docked in Tobago and I almost immediately was able to get a shared taxi whose driver was good enough to drop me right off at my Air BnB. For 1/20th of what the Airport taxi driver cost.

This was working out well. I met me hosts, who are AWESOME(more on that later), and then went out to grab some groceries for the weekend.

That's when things went sideways. About halfway through my walk, I started to get a bit of a headache. Not thinking of it much, I continue on my way. But by the time I had returned home I had a massive headache, neck pain and dizziness that caused nausea. Crud. Well no biggie, I just decided to eat a tiny dinner and then head to bed early(6pm!). I proceeded to sleep until 11am the next day but fitfully as I was up all night either trying to cool my body down or warm myself up. I think I actually only slept from 6-11am. Nevertheless I got out of my sweat soaked bed and headed to packet pick up. Or so I thought. About half way to the bus stop I had to stop because of the dizziness. I sat down for a while but this only brought on the puke-sweats.

Despite this I was determined to make it to packet pickup to race the next day. I made it the rest of the way to the bus stop exhausted, sick and all around miserable. I proceeded to wait for what seemed like hours but was likely only a half hour before my nausea got the best of me and I had to turn back to go home.
The closest I got to water on my trip
No packet= No Race.

Side Note: With all the good people I encountered on Tobago, I cannot in fairness, lump in the Tobago race director. Was at no point accommodating, friendly or in any way helpful.

Because the race denied my request to pick up the bib the day before, and because of my sickness on Saturday, I wouldn't be able to race. Now I know that in big races, there are reasons why bib pickup is staggered(Friday was for the 5-10k races only), but come on! There ended up only being 40 racers in the marathon.

Which brings me to...... LOST MONEY.

If I had walked the whole race I probably would have won money. If I had my worst race in a decade, I would have won money. If I had raced a decent race, I would have won over $1,500!
Suffice it to say, not starting the race was hard enough but losing out on the potential winnings hurt even more. Especially when I saw the top 3 times and third place was a 2:52!

In reality, I woke up Sunday, feeling better(as I suspected I would), but still not good. I ended up spending most of the day in bed, rehydrating with water and mangos that my great AirBnB host brought me.

They were so good to even drive me back to the ferry the next morning at 4am!

So as I started to feel better, I left Trinidad to head to the states. Or so I thought. When I arrived my flight was delayed 5 minutes, and then for the next 3 hours, it continued to be delayed in five minute increments. At some point, I realized that I would miss my connecting bus ride to Atlanta but since it wasn't a connecting flight the airline could do nothing for me. Well except give me a $12 food voucher. Actually two. One for Trinidad while I waited and another for when I arrived in Miami.

For that 12 dollars in Triniad, I stomached a double cheeseburger, large fries, large soft drink and still had money left over. I opted for donut and still had money left over. So I bought 5 giving the other four to the grateful cashier. [That same 12 voucher got me an iced coffee and danish in Miami]
Everything Works Out
But then everything fell into place. I was able to find a cheap flight to Atlanta leaving the next morning while I was still in Trinidad. So this allowed me to make the argument, I did have a connecting flight and was given a hotel for the night. The whole missed connection actually worked out well as the flight arrived considerably earlier into Atlanta so I ended up having much more time with my dad and we utilized it exploring parts of Atlanta we had never been.

The Dan's
When my brother got out of work we were there to surprise him and head out for pizza beer and trivia. It was nice to see and spend some time with him.
The next morning dad and I flew to NH and headed straight to Kenny's work to surprise her. Her surprise made it all worthwhile. But it didn't end there since the next day I was able to surprise my mom at her party.
 I have to admit, I probably shouldn't have gone home. I had such a fun and relaxing time and was able to see  most of my friends and family. I ended up pacing Kenny during her marathon which didn't go as planned due to the extreme temperature but was still nice running by her and I know on a cooler day she would have qualified for Boston.
Mom and the grandkids

My parents, Kenny's mom and nephew all joined her up in Burlington and just spending the weekend in VT was great. Its easy to take for granted(aren't you lucky I didn't say granite;) ) all the good breweries, restaurants, and scenery that New England has to offer but being away just made me really appreciate it. A visit with my sis to a brewery, another few to friends' houses several of whom coincidentally got themselves chickens or dogs and of course a obligatory visit to the two cutest nieces in the world topped off my visit home.

And then Kenny and I got to go back to Tobago for our original long weekend get together. What could go wrong?

Everything Falls Apart
So we are back in Trinidad. I tried convincing Kenny to fly to Tobago, but she wanted to experience the ferry and luckily it wasn't too rough this time.
First night in Trinidad

Our first night in Tobago(we spent our first "vacation" night in Trinidad") we walked to a secluded beach by the apartment and just enjoyed each other's company.
The beach to ourselves
The next day, after going for a run, we decided to walk into town and either do a glass-bottom boat ride or rent a motorscooter. As fate would have it, we decided to do the scooter. My first time riding one, but it took about 30 seconds to get used to it and off we went! It was so much fun! We got to explore a part of the island that very few tourist probably ever see-going up and down twisty and turny mountain roads. We were just loving it-laughing and chatting as we went.

And then it happened. As we are going around a turn, a car pulls into our lane causing us to swerve where unfortunately a truck had pulled out just a little too far into the road. Not wanting to hit the car or the truck, I swerved into what appeared to be a grass embankment, but ended up being a concrete drainage ditch.

Boy did that hurt. Like nearly black out hurt. As I staggered to my feet. Or rather foot, since I couldn't bare weight through my left leg, I saw Kenny doubled over and bleeding from her leg. I "rushed" to her and we made our way out of the sun to where a group of people had gathered. I was so focused on her and my increasingly sharp left knee pain I didn't even notice the bleeding and large gash at my ankle.

But the EMTs did and they brought us to the hospital where we then spent the next 7 hours of our evening. Because of my knee and the need for suturing I was given a bed, but poor Kenny was made to sit out in the waiting room for most of the night. I finally got her to come in and take my bed but it took a lot of cajoling as she was more worried about me(and I her).
Still smiling
But rest assured, even though Kenny had some broken ribs and severely bruised toes, and I had (what I thought was a meniscus tear) and a gapping open wound to my ankle, we were able to laugh(or me laugh and Kenny start laughing then get sharp rib pain and have to stop). What was so funny?
Sorry had to do one "gory" photo:) Check out Kenny's FB page for more if you so like. 
Well, only one bathroom in the whole ER. Despite being fairly dehydrated, I finally had to go to the bathroom and very gingerly made my way there. Just as I entered, an older man pushes himself in with me. [Meanwhile Kenny can see all that is going on].

Danny: Oh this is only one stall.
Old Man: It's okay just go in.
Danny: Oh okay thanks. [Old man proceeds to follow Danny into bathroom]
Danny: Whatcha doing?
Old Man: Just go already.

Which I, after turning my back to him, did only to hear the old man performing harmony to my steady rhythm. Yes that's right, he was peeing in the trash can. As quickly as a double leg injured person can, I hobble back over to Kenny and we spent the next several minutes in fits of laughter interspersed by bouts of pain as she irritated her ribs.

Side Note: I don't think urine incontinence is a laughing matter and if you find yourself suffering from it, physical therapy can help, Call Sheryl Cheney at the Center for Sports Medicine at Concord Hospital.

After several more hours, I was finally stitched up, and discharged. And who was there to save us? Our amazing host! She picked us up from the hospital that night and the next day, drove us to pick up the scooter and even took us shopping for beer and ibuprofen. A winning combination!

Humpty Dumpty Gets Put Back Together Again 

That Sunday was probably the first "relaxing" vacation Kenny and I have ever taken together. There was only a TV in the kitchen, so we pulled the mattress out there, laid out our respective anti-inflammatories, ice packs, snacks and beer and spent the ENTIRE day watching movies. I don't think I've ever done that! It was fun(ish). Getting up off the floor was quite the challenge and I couldn't bend my knee enough to sit. We also couldn't watch any comedies because of Kenny's ribs, but all told it wasn't a bad day.

The next morning we FLEW back to Trinidad and then finally parted ways-Kenny back to NH and me to Guyana.

Over the course of the week, we both ended up with many doctor appointments and Kenny is currently in a boot and out of work until Monday while I just today got my stitches out and am weaning off crutches. My knee had some bad bony contusions that will take several weeks to heal and a popliteus muscle tear(who tears that!?!) but all told we are in far better shape than might of happened. Especially if we didn't wear our helmets. We are very lucky, even when we're unlucky.

That's it for now.

Until next time,


oh BTW did you know it was illegal to wear camo in TnT? I think that's a good rule for all countries ;)

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