Road sickness

Combi Van Sunset 1 There comes a moment in every travel blog when the author decides to share some rather vile story involving bodily fluids.

Be this folk throwing up on the bus next to you (a staple of my trip round China) or the fascinating trough style open toilets that you may happen upon (wait, that’s China again), every traveller has some fairly nasty tale to share.

Well, good news. I am about to set off on a mini road trip around the west coast of New Zealand’s north island, and this seemed like as good a time as any to share one of my more favourite bodily fluid related stories from the road.

The best thing is that this didn’t even take place anywhere particularly exotic, so you could even recreate it yourself without much effort. All you need is a nice hot day, a motorway and a leaky plastic bag.

I should advise that the following story does involve some rather disturbing imagery, and may not be best digested over a meal.

Allow me to set the scene. I was living in the UK, with my girlfriend at the time. I had been invited to a wedding in the Oxfordshire region, of a friend whom I had barely seen since leaving school, some six or seven years previous. I was living way up in the northern part of England, some three hundred miles distant from the wedding, a distance we chose to drive on the day itself.

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The wedding was a summer affair, and the gods had blessed us with some glorious weather. Glorious and hot weather. Glorious and hot weather is not what you really want when you have a three hundred mile drive in a car with no air conditioning, but this was the situation we had to deal with.

The journey started off fine. The road was long, but the music was good. The miles were peeling away. Birds were probably singing in the trees – it’s hard to tell when maintaining a nice and safe legal speed limit of 70mph down the M1.

Unfortunately, the excessive heat started to take it’s toll on my companion, who mid-way into the trip announced that she was likely to succumb to a bout of road sickness.

Unfortunately the British motorway system does not take the need for random acts of sickness into account with its design, so there are no handy spots to pull over in a situation like this. Luckily we had a plastic bag on board, into which a large collection of rather nasty smelling vomit was deposited. All was well.

Sadly, moments after the bag was filled, it was noticed by both of us that perhaps it was not the most waterproof of containers. Some child safety initiative had resulted in this bag being nice and safe as a head gear option, and nice and ineffective as a vomit container. Goo was leaking out onto shoes and floor.

What shall I do?” cried my companion.

Throw it out of the window!” was my wild and, in hindsight, entirely inappropriate response.

There are some things I have learnt in my life so far. I have circled the sun over thirty times now, so this is to be expected. However, that day, I learnt a lesson that I rank as perhaps my most important.

Plastic bags full of sick do not like being thrown out of the windows of moving cars.

There is some basic physics at play here. When you open the window of a vehicle travelling at seventy miles an hour, a lot of air attempts to get into the vehicle. It is veritably forced there. It is not tolerant of your attempts to fight against it.

What happens, when you try to throw an unsealed leaking container of vomit into this mass of turbulent air, is that the vomit very quickly gets turned into a giant mass of vomit droplets, which force themselves back into the car at seventy miles an hour.

The interior of our car thus went in one fell swoop from a pleasant and happy place, to a rather nasty vomit coated environment. There was vomit on the windscreen, vomit on the steering wheel, vomit coating the dashboard, vomit in my hair, vomit dripping off my sunglasses. I was a vomit coated individual in a vomit coated world, cruising along the M1 in a vomit enclosed bubble.

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At this point, I calmly pulled over into the hard shoulder (I perhaps should have done this earlier in the trip, maybe slightly before the plastic bag was called upon) and pondered our situation, whilst ineffectually dabbing at my sunglasses with my vomit coated shirt.

The day was still hot. The interior of the vehicle was becoming almost steamy with it’s new vomity contents. And the nearest service station was nearly forty miles away.

Well, we didn’t have much choice. We drove, in fairly silent reflection, with vomit pooling off my hair, running down my sunglasses and dripping into my lap, the forty miles. I found a travel lodge, walked into the reception, and, coated rather obviously in vomit, explained my dire scenario to the somewhat sympathetic receptionist.

She kindly allowed us the use of one of their rooms to get showered and cleaned up. I then drove to the petrol station, borrowed their industrial strength toilet cleaner and prodigious amounts of toilet roll, and set about restoring the inside of our car to a state that would allow us to continue our journey.

We made it to the wedding. I don’t think anyone noticed, but we weren’t by this point really in a wedding enjoying mood, so after making the rounds and bestowing our appreciation on the happy couple, we departed to recover. And that was pretty much that.

So that was my bodily fluids tale. It had nothing whatsoever to do with my current travels, or photography, or well, anything else I’ve written about for a while. I hope you enjoyed it!

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