UP NOLAN CREEK: Treating the symptoms
Monday, 14 January 2013 by Wayne Carpenter
A serious malady is attacking baby boomers at an alarming rate. I am not describing the common aches and pains of aging; those of us over sixty are familiar with those. Should we ever wake up and forget for a moment we are old, we are constantly reminded on television by the pharmaceutical industry. First, they tell us what pill we need to take so we don't feel our age, then they list a plethora of side effects often much more dangerous than our original condition. Of course, they just happen to sell another little pill to help us cope with the collateral damage inflicted by the previous pill, and so on.
But the malady I am writing about has not been labeled by the experts, so it doesn't yet have official medical lingo, but I refer to it as the itchy-feet syndrome, IFS, for short. The symptoms of IFS are characterized by an overwhelming desire to travel and to visit places we wish we had seen when we were young, but couldn't afford, or to discover places we would not know existed if not for the miracle of the internet. Those severely afflicted, such as Ann and I, also have "make-up for lost time" complications in addition to the standard IFS. We both seemed to develop a case of IFS just over a decade ago and have found nothing that can actually cure the disease; one can only treat the symptoms. However, like some medicines, treating the symptoms can also have unexpected side effects. Such was the case upon arrival in Mexico last week.
As I mentioned previously, we were visiting the city of Merida, the largest city in the Yucatan peninsula. We flew from Austin to Cancun in about two hours, but from Cancun we still had a long bus ride to Merida. Normally, the ride takes about four hours, but since we arrived just in time for the end of the world on the Mayan calendar, along with thousands of other end-of-the-world fans from all over the world, things didn't happen on schedule. Almost five hours after landing, we finally arrived in Merida, a city of about a million people, to find a world class traffic jam and celebrations the streets. It took another forty minutes for the bus to reach our stop before we could hail a cab to the house where we were staying. From past experience, we have found travelers most often make avoidable mistakes on the first day of a long journey, as tiredness sets in and patience runs thin. We were aware of this but managed to make a big mistake anyway. Having brought only enough pesos for a taxi with a few left for emergency, we set off to find an ATM. After wandering around the crowded streets, we found one, made our withdrawal and headed to a nearby place to eat. We enjoyed a quiet meal and prepared to turn in for the night after doing battle with a few dozen voracious mosquitos in our casa. The next morning we realized we no longer had one of our ATM cards! Insert your favorite expression of dismay here as I can't print mine! We retraced our steps to the ATM, but our card was long gone. To make matters worse, our other card would not work in the ATM. Back to the house to call our credit union to cancel the lost card and to activate the other one. We got the card cancelled, but it took four expensive phone calls over several hours to activate the second card. That evening, while looking up to admire the beautiful buildings, I stepped in a hole about the size of a large watermelon at one of the hundreds of unmarked construction sites sprinkled about the old part of the city. Fortunately, I escaped with only a small cut and a large bruise on the shin. Life soon improved, except for the mosquitos who really seem to enjoy having us as visitors, and we look forward to celebrating the New Year and continuing our treatments for IFS. I want to wish each of you a happy and healthy 2013 in Belton or wherever you may travel. Prospero Ano!