The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, April 16, 2006

bye bye birdie

Yes this blog is still in hibernation. Consider this a slight thaw. Full defrosting is anticipated in July along with a bit of a remodel.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Acropolis. Old time readers will possibly remember that I am travelling overseas currently, on a mini OE. Apathy Jack has been demanding "hilarious misunderstandings" and until a few days ago I could only repeat a story from my trip to Vietnam in 2005, involving a man in a suit not being able to understand why my partner and I wanted half an hour of a massage each.

But I think this tops that. Put simply - beware Greeks bearing facemasks.

We caught the ferry from Ayvalik, in Turkey, to Mytilini, which is the main port on the Greek island of Lesvos. We were all greeted by a man in a bio-security suit, and had to drag our feet and our bags across a sudsy mat before going through customs. Then they rifled through our bags but only cared about shoes, which they took off and washed. So far so good, still not as rigorous as coming home to NZ these days.

But then they noticed that I was sick - runny nose, slight cough, general miserable appearance. Quite clearly I was the unwilling victim of a vicious cold.

The man in the bio-security suit took note and was quite excitedly alarmed. He rushed off and got me a facemask then insisted that my companion and I sit and wait for a doctor. Something about bird flu and not infecting seven year old Greek girls.

So we waited. And waited and waited and... you get the drift. It was cold, in the breeze from the door, which wasn't making me feel any better, and I was quite keen for a toilet stop. Eventually I asked where one was, getting further in English than in Greek. It was an example in irony - the toilet was filthy, there was no toilet paper, no soap and no way to dry your hands. Meantime I was effectively in quarantine because my cold made them think I just might have avian influenza. They gave me brochures about washing my hands carefully whenever using the bathroom. Such is life.

Eventually a doctor turned up, with an ambulance. I`d never been in an ambulance before. I didn`t really expect my first time to be for a cold. It was a nice ambulance but you couldn`t see much out the windows and the flashing lights were distracting.

On arrival at the hospital we were greeted by a wheelchair and more doctors in bio-suits. There`s something very disturbing about being dealt with by medical professionals who not only talk rapidly to each other in gobbledeegook (I now know where the phrase "it`s all Greek to me" comes from) but are also encased in so much protective clothing, protecting them from you, that you can only see their eyes. Even their shoes were wrapped in the foot equivalents of scrubs.

In the end we established that I had some kind of infection because I had quite a high fever, but the seven-year old Greek girls would be safe from bird flu; at least until the next boat arrived from Turkey. I got to stay overnight in their nice clean hospital, but then I didn`t have much choice, with a drip to rehydrate me and fill me to the brim with augmentin effectively chaining me to the bed.

So that`s the story of my 24 hours of detainment in a Greek hospital.

Oh and their hospital food tastes like chicken too.