Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.
Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, p. 18 (3rd edition)
This quote popped up on my Facebook wall and bemused me some ... because it seems true to me, in a way.
I come on these solitary pilgrimages to Genova. I'm seeking something of home. The sea, the hills, even the friendliness of Genovesi, (sometimes biting humour too) ... all of it feeds something inside of me.
But don't imagine I'm a fearless wanderer. I'm really not. I love it here, more than anyplace else but, it's not all simple or beautiful.
On Monday night, I struggled for most of the night, with what I initially imagined was an allergy problem. My mouth was incredibly dry and, of course, the more I thought about it, the worse it got. I had eaten a couple of things that I usually avoid and so allergy attack was there at the top of the list.
I thought I could tough it out but the night was long. It's amazing how alone you can feel in a country not your own, when you're struggling with your body in the night. So ... around 4am, I decided to call a taxi and quietly visit the emergency room. Well, my Belgian phone didn't want to play and it may be, that I panicked ... which, of course, made the dry mouth dryer.
What I didn't know about Italy was how stunning their emergency services are. The Genovese should so proud of the people who work the phones. I phoned in, they found someone who spoke English ... the calmest man in the world I think. He asked me what was wrong and I told him that I thought I was having an allergy problem and my mouth was very dry and yes well ... I was a bit shaky by then.
He said, shall we send an ambulance. The New Zealander in me was horrified. I explained that I had failed with a taxi and I was only trying to get myself to the hospital, just in case it wasn't serious.
He asked, shall I send a house doctor. I quaked in my boots and said, 'will it be expensive'. He said, 'no, it's free'.
I was stunned.
So, at 5am, a doctor arrived. A practical kind man, from Syria originally and, using our English, his German and Italian, we solved my problem.
I was alternately mortified and grateful. It seems that there three options and none of them too serious. In German, he told me it was small problem.
He was kind, he left, having reassured me and said, 'and now sleep'.
And I did.