A "Trip" to Remember

That was hard! One of the hardest travel days yet! 

Jim and I have a travel day routine that works well for each of us and along the way, I have learned a few tricks that make these long trips easier.  Needless to say I felt prepared, but little did I know nothing could have prepared me for this "trip".  

The original plan was to arrive in San Francisco on Monday evening, take a shuttle to the hotel, get a good night's sleep and head back to the airport on Tuesday for our 09:00 flight.  

We arrived at the Houston airport on Monday morning only to have our flight delayed. Any other time this wouldn't be a problem, but we had to catch a flight out of SFO the next morning. The Houston flight kept getting pushed back and I was sure it would eventually get canceled. I couldn't help but be anxious. I thought of the headache it would cause if we missed the SFO flight. Jim complained to the airlines about the creeping delays and received two $75 flight credits and two $15 food vouchers, but yeah, still anxious. 

After an edgy six hour delay we made it to San Francisco at 01:30 on Tuesday. By the time we got to the hotel it was after 02:00. We showered, took a quick nap and got back to the airport to catch an 18 hour flight to Singapore.  

Exhausted, we boarded the plane, got settled and I quickly said a silent prayer for the perfect travel companions to be seated around us. Actually I didn't care if they were perfect, they just had to smell good and not want to chat the whole time.

The flight gods answered and Wilson from China sat next to me. He smelled good, traveled often and was kind enough to offer us each a lemon drop doused in Himalayan salt prior to take off. He shared that it helps for these long flights. I said no thank you, Jim took a moment then said no....looking back I’m glad he didn't take one because Wilson from China would have made Jim's story somewhat plausible.

Unfortunately on Monday Jim woke up with a head cold, runny eyes, runny nose but no fever. I assumed he was just worn down from the Cummings/Whorley wedding weekend. About five minutes after take off, he took some meds, put on his headphones, a sleeping mask and crashed. I slept for a few hours at the airport so I kept myself busy by taking advantage of Singapore Airlines complimentary inflight WiFi, texting family back and forth and watching movies.  

After the first meal was served Jim went back to sleep and I started my third movie. About half way through Jim wakes up and stares at me with these wide eyes. I take off my headphones, he leans over and whispers, "turn off your WiFi!" I looked at him kind of funny and said What?  He "shushed" me, leaned in closer and with a seriousness in his voice that I don't hear often said, "TURN OFF YOUR PHONE." At this point I am completely confused and a little frustrated and irritable and asked WHAT?

He took my phone and switched off WiFi. I understand we all get cranky and weird when we are exhausted, but he was crossing a dangerous line. I was on the last episode of Virgin River. An episode I had been waiting to watch since November and I was just as tired. Not sure if it was the look or the body language, but he knew I needed answers to this bizarre behavior. Dead serious he says, “THEY ARE HACKING INTO OUR PHONES RIGHT NOW!”  

Who is? What are you talking about?  I thought he was messing around with me, but he wouldn't answer any of my questions. He just kept whispering that he would explain everything when we got off the plane.  He sat there a while longer, looking and listening and then put on his headphones, sleep mask and off he went.  WTF!  

Throughout the rest of the fourteen hour flight I never got an answer from him. As soon as we landed in Singapore I asked him about it and he said, he would tell me later. Once we got inside the airport I asked again, he said he would tell me when we got to Sri Lanka. I was exhausted and over it and promised to keep my phone in airplane mode.  

On the four hour flight to Colombo, Jim still wouldn't tell me. He wouldn't tell me when we landed in Sri Lanka, he wouldn't tell me while we waited for the shuttle, he wouldn't tell me on the ride to the hotel and only in our hotel room, after doing a thorough sweep of the room, laying in bed, exhausted and ready to sleep for days he finally shared with me. He looked at me seriously and convincingly and said, “I was roofied on the plane.” WHAT? WHO? For the next hour I laid there listening, trying to be supportive as Jim recounted the craziest, most bizarre and sometimes very coincidental events of the past 21 hours that he was convinced had happened. 

WOW! I agreed with him that his behavior was definitely off. During our layover in Singapore there were a few red flags regarding things Jim just doesn't do, but I assumed he was just sick and exhausted. His hearing was shot due to plugged ears either from the plane or his cold. He only talked in whispers and was disoriented. He didn't catch little things like the fact we already had our boarding passes for Colombo and didn't mind when I led us down 68 gates and back trying to find an agent to get them. He couldn't hear me calling his name when he’d wander off looking at shiny things in the distance. He had no sense of direction. In the end, I agreed that I thought he might have been roofied, but I think he roofied himself with his concoction of meds before we took off. 


Jim here… There's a couple things Alisa left out. 

  1. My concoction was NyQuil before boarding, a melatonin and two muscle relaxers, on the plane and spaced apart. I got up and walked every time our row did. I should have been knocked out the entire journey, not listening to the international criminal organization behind me reveal every detail of their operations against us.
  2. I was wearing noise canceling headphones but I also had a sleep mask underneath so they weren't quite as soundproof as they looked.
  3. Alisa thought I was asleep but so did the criminals. I had to lean my head back in order to prevent the river of mucus from running out of my nose, thereby getting closer to hearing exactly their diabolical plan to destroy our lives and ultimately for retribution, for me leaning my seat back.
  4. 3mg of Melatonin never kicked in and muscle relaxers were duds. 
  5. Don't accept drinks from strangers (Stewardess) seriously!
  6. Never and I mean never connect to WiFi without your VPN on! AND...........
  7. ....if you find yourself sleep deprived, sick, sitting in the window seat, in coach, drugged without your knowledge on an 18 hour flight - hold on, it's going to be one hell of a ride. 

Back to you love…

So....we chose to stay two nights at a hotel in Colombo before heading south to Matara for two reasons; the first to help with the jet lag and second to get cash. For some reason the banks in the states were unable to order foreign currency for three of the four places we are headed and Sri Lankan Rupiahs were one of them. We both agreed our first mission after breakfast was to get cash. 

At this point Jim was somewhat back to himself, however he still had some crazy theories and still wasn't 100% sure that our phones weren't hacked and that the people behind us on the plane didn't have all our information. 

Our tuk tuk driver brought us to the first ATM five minutes away, where Jim's card was rejected. No Jim, they don't have your information! I tried my card at the ATM. It spit it out and read temporarily out of service. Hmmmm. 

We drove another ten minutes down the road to the next bank. There was a line outside the ATM and our driver had us sit while he waited in line for us.  Right before Jim left to get in line I gave him my card and said use it just in case yours was hacked. He gave me a dirty look. I couldn't help it. The driver and I sat and talked, doing our best to carry on a conversation for what seemed like forever. Jim returned and told the driver it didn't work and gave me that look. Oh No!

The driver assured us if we get to the big bank another 15 minutes away, it will work, so off we went.  On our way there I could tell Jim was battling between realities and at one point he almost had me thinking....could he be right? No Alisa! Stop It!

We arrived at a packed bank and waited in line at the ATM. We both tried our cards and they were both declined. This is not a good sign! Some upscale places accept visas, but the majority of restaurants and services only deal in cash here. 

From our past experience of being stuck on the island of Nusa Penida with no working ATMs, we learned to always bring emergency USDs with us. This trip we brought three $100 bills and I was a little freaked out that we were about to use two and we still have three more countries to go. 

Jim had read that to exchange USDs the bill must be in almost perfect condition with no marks or tears and we found this to be true. The bank would only accept one of the bills to exchange. The process took some time but was easy. 

I could see that Jim's wheels were spinning. To prove to him that no one had our information and it was just an issue with the banks, I took the only other visa debit card we had to try at the ATM while he waited for the bank teller.  We also only bring this card for emergencies because it charges international fees, but I considered proving to Jim how crazy this is...or maybe to myself... yup this was an emergency. I can't tell you how relieved and excited I was when the ATM spit out cash. 

Jim filled out some more paperwork, gave the banker his passport and about 30 minutes later and a few odd glances we were out the door, with 32,000 Rupiah. We were not hacked!

I thought the second day was off to a much better start when I woke to the peaceful sounds of monkeys and birds and then realized a spider was in bed with me. A big one. Jim replied to my ear piercing scream…  “Oh that must have been what I flicked off me last night.” Why Jim?

I was grateful for only a 2.5 hour travel day ahead of us and was extremely happy that Jim reached out to the bank after a fraud alert came over the phone the night before. I was even more thankful it was from our activity the previous day and not the hackers on the plane. I don't need Jim slipping down that rabbit hole again. 

As we sat out on the patio having one last beer before we took off, taking in the natural beauty, Jim flicked something off of his arm into the grass. Immediately his arm turned red, welted and started to swell. He got stung by something and even though he was in extreme pain I felt like now was the perfect time to have the conversation with him that while on this trip if something crawls on you or bites you, you kill it!  You don't fucking flick it, you kill it!  And preferably when you kill it don't smash it, so we can use Google Lens to see if it's poisonous.

As we started packing up to leave, Jim came up to me with a napkin and said look what just bit me. I looked down at the tiny black spec. I was amazed he was able to kill this tiny mosquito, yet kept it intact enough for Google lens to share that it is an Aedes aegypti mosquito, known for carrying the dengue virus. Why Jim, why do you listen to me? I guess we wait and see what the next 10-12 days brings.  

After all that, we finally made it to our home in Matara. We continue to monitor and care for the bites, stings and my toe. And I am still hearing stories from Jim...WOW!  I am just thankful this trip has been all about him so far...let's hope it stays that way.

Jim's P.S. - It was not a dream..

Jim's P.P.S. - Alisa has a cold now. She's laying in a king size bed with A/C and sleeping peacefully, blissfully unaware of the cataclysmic events I single-handedly thwarted while heavily sedated, all while enduring the same sickness. Rest easy my love.


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