It usually takes 3 weeks to get a plane ticket from the agency, so now what? Three weeks with just a sleeping bag, come clothing and a computer in a dirty backpack. This is by no means an easy city to be homeless, especially if you don’t have Belgian identification.
Places to sleep indoors are out of the question except for just a night or two, which I’ve already used up. I have found no river or stream in the huge forest south of the city, meaning it’s impossible to get clean.The first place I stayed invited me back one night last week, saying to arrive at 8PM, but then the doorman simply said that my name wasn’t on the list…….go away. The agency that is buying the ticket arranged for me to stay somewhere else for an entire week, but that place kicked me out after just two days……no Belgium ID.
Finding food is a constant struggle of looking up obscure addresses spread out all over the city where meals are supposed to be given away. Half of the time there’s just a locked door to be found. I have at least discovered a place to eat lunch Monday through Friday of this week, but then that will expire…..no Belgium ID. Some mysterious donor did surprise me by finding a way to put $20 into one of my online accounts, which are no longer listed on the website. That money saved me from multiple days of starving last week.
But in a stroke of very bad luck, or some kind of sign from hell, one of the things the $20 bought was a can of poison tuna. Eating the fish with a sweet bread, not having eaten for two full days, I didn’t notice the odd flavor until the last bite. The remaining chunk of tuna in the can was covered in a smelly light yellow slime. My stomach felt increasingly bloated over the next few hours and I spent the night laying awake sweating. The sickness became so strange over the next couple days that I eventually walked into the emergency room of a university hospital.
The receptionist fetched an English-speaking man, who said that he could not see me unless told to do so by another branch of the hospital, located in some trailers on the front lawn. A beautiful pregnant doctor in the trailers wrote a prescription and demanded 39 Euros.
“You are the same as everybody else. You must pay. Go to your hotel to get the money then come back this afternoon.”
Sorry lady, but if I had known you were just going to write a prescription I couldn’t pay for, then I wouldn’t have come in the first place. The only thing I had suspected the emergency room might do is to run a simple test for food poisoning, because this was a potential public safety hazard that’s easily traceable to a mass-produced product being sold right here in the city.
The sickness is just starting to get better after a week. One of those Carrefour “Discount” tuna cans is going to kill some kid. Nobody seems to care. I even sent an email with photos of the can to the Belgian organization that is in charge of food safety, so my conscience is clear.
It will be two weeks this Friday since the agency buying the plane ticket agreed to do so, but the ticket is still yet to be purchased. I came to this city planning on spending a couple days, not a couple months, because being in cities with no money is miserable. I want to be walking in the countryside again, not fighting angry crowds.
If there has been no ticket bought by this Friday afternoon then I will withdrawal the request and become an illegal alien, big deal. Once the ticket is booked then there would likely still be a long wait until flight time, during which time I’m likely to end up in a jail or hospital and miss the flight anyway, because there is no way for homeless “foreigners” to take care of themselves in this city. If the ticket is not confirmed by Friday then it is best for both me and the agency that I leave.