In many ways our Easter vacation was a case of Murphy’s Law. There were a lot of positives to our trek and Gili visit, but man, if something could go wrong, it did. I previously wrote about our failed summit attempt, but that soon became the least of our worries. I certainly couldn’t dwell on disappointment while panicking that I wouldn’t be able to hike out of the volcano’s crater without having to be carried. The crater lake is supposed to be beautiful. We caught a few glimpses of it the night before our descent in the rare moments when the fog lifted. However, the perpetual rain and fog of day two limited visibility to about 50 meters. A nagging voice whispered in my ear, “You gave up summiting for this?” However, we persisted and eventually made it to the lake. It was a challenging descent, so much so that at times I actually wished we were ascending instead. Gigantic rocks required all four limbs working together for sure footing.
A collection of hot springs awaited us a few minutes’ hike from the lake, and we both looked forward to submerging our tired legs and feet in its “healing” waters. The area was beautiful. A waterfall provided the picturesque background, and the springs themselves didn’t disappoint. We were pressed for time, so after a break of a few minutes (and a few quick pictures), I got up to head back for lunch. The rest all happened so fast, it’s hard to even recall what actually happened.
I slipped on a rock, and in catching myself managed to jam my other foot into another rock. I felt the pain immediately, but the sight of my toe was worse. No longer firmly attached to its bed, my toenail, now raised to a 45 degree angle, resembled the open mouth of a crocodile. David, having watched my slip from a few meters away, couldn’t understand my somewhat reserved, “My big toenail just came off,” and mistook it for, “My wedding band just came off.” He was a bit perplexed at my calm demeanor and lack of frantic searching, and only after I started bawling did he realize that I was in fact injured and not lacking my most prized earthly possession. It definitely hurt … big time. What was worse for me, however, was imagining the next 24 hours. We were at the base of a volcano crater. There was no way out but up. No helicopter was coming to rescue me. I was terrified.
David helped me hobble back to the lake where our guide attempted to bandage the toe. Thankfully, we were able to push the toenail back down and secure it in place with gauze and medical tape. I was even able to put my boot back on, although that was agonizingly painful. I took some practice steps and could make it okay as long as I kept my heel toward the back of my shoe. It would be slow-going, but I at least didn’t have to be carried. We hiked out of the crater okay and made it to the second camp just before nightfall. Going up wasn’t the problem, though. Day three was all downhill, which ordinarily would be fantastic. Unfortunately my day three did not live up to the figurative use of that phrase and was simply and literally all … down … hill.
Every so often I would unintentionally jam my toe into the toe of my boot, but as the day went on I got better at avoiding that pitfall. We finally made it back to civilization, taking three hours longer than most. I didn’t care, however, because I was DONE. And no one had to carry me. 🙂
Our vacation ended with a short visit to Gili Trawangan. A quaint and charming little island, Gili T is probably best characterized as a mix between Stars Hollow (a la Gilmore Girls) and The OC (analogy credit to David on that one). No motorized vehicles are allowed, so transportation consists of horse & buggy (I kid you not), bicycle, and feet. Quite charming actually, especially for the fully ambulatory.
Murphy and his ugly little law reared their heads again upon arrival. Within the first hour at our villa, the power went out twice, the hot water ran out after about three minutes, the water completely stopped working (twice … once mid-shampoo and once mid-soap lather), and I severely bumped my toe against David’s boot. This time my little crocodile mouth opened wider, and this time there was no closing it. The next 36 hours consisted of about four more “bumps,” each one bringing a flood of pain and fear. Our villa had a private pool, but all I could really do was dangle my foot in the water. Swimming was out because even the slightest movement in the water caused my toe to throb. So there we were, on an island with the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen in real life, and I was stuck on the shore.
But we made the best of it. We enjoyed delicious food and gorgeous views. We visited a turtle hatchery and got massages. We relaxed as much as we could and even circumnavigated the island on bikes (only one toe bump there). Our last morning there we had by far best breakfast we’ve had in Indonesia at a little cafe on the beach. It was lovely.
As the motorboat sped back to the main island on our last day, I couldn’t help feeling like I needed a vacation from our vacation. School started back on Tuesday, however, and I showed up in flip flops with a flappy toenail. According to Web MD, it can take up to 18 months to regrow a toenail. Looks like I’ve got quite the vacation souvenir.