We were now roughly two months into the US leg of our Inca to Inuit adventure. In that time we had bought a car, become full-time campers (much to my disbelief) and revelled in southern cuisine, country music, and cowboys.
After two weeks exploring Texas, we decided to head North to Tennessee, The music capital of the World. Well, that’s at least what American’s would have you believe. If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Voice USA you’ll know that being from Nashville is a prerequisite to even being on the show.
Eager to know what all the fuss was about we naturally made our first stop in Memphis, the kingdom of the King himself, Elvis. As we made our pilgrimage through the Tennessee traffic my health began to deteriorate. Who knows what had done it, perhaps the copious amounts of BBQ or maybe the camp site water. Whatever it was had left me feeling weak, nauseated and completely toilet dependent.
I had managed to survive a five-hour car journey, however arriving at the camp site in the dark of night, I lost the fight. Jake and I have coined that evening, “the darkest of times”. Sitting in the ice cold night with my trousers around my ankles in an outdoor make-shift toilet accompanied by the biggest insects I had ever seen (bearing in mind I’ve spent a week in the Amazon jungle!) I cried in pain and utter despair. What on earth was I doing here? Why on earth was I camping? And why can’t I get myself off this god damn awful outdoor toilet?
Unable to walk Jake bundled me into the car and swept me off to a local motel. I’ve never been so happy to see an indoor toilet and a bed. We stayed there for two days. Weak and in pain we decided to move to a motel in Graceland, Memphis. We had hoped that the copious amounts of water I had been drinking might have cleansed my system and that over the next couple of days I might be fit enough to go and pay my respects to the King.
Unfortunately, we never got to go and see Elvis. We did, however, drive by his Graceland mansion on our way to the Emergency Room. Having found ourselves staying in perhaps the most racially tense part of Memphis, we were advised by locals to politely “move on” to a more “appropriate” part of town, where we might find ourselves to “fit in” a bit better. We had never felt more vulnerable and unsafe as we did in Memphis.
Heeding that advice we travelled to a neighbouring suburb where we saw a Doctor who charged us $100 for the privilege of telling me to go to the Emergency Room immediately. $100 down the pan and without a bed for the night we found ourselves in the Hospital, where we waited. And waited.
One hospital admission, a hefty dose of intravenous antibiotics and a $3000 medical bill later we were back on the road. On a strict clear water diet for the next week (at least that would save us some money), we checked into a local motel. This time in a less tense neighbourhood where Jake could, at least, run outside without the impending threat of attack. We stayed there for a week, one whole week of liquid diet and a toilet I could call my own. It did the trick. A couple of pounds lighter and with a significantly lighter wallet, we took to the road again. Perhaps Nashville would be kinder to us.