It was an extraordinary night and it was about to get more extraordinary.
Marooned in the mountains of northern Laos thanks to a bus breaking down and the driver hitching a ride into a large town and with the temperature plummeting, we huddled inside the bus and waited. The hours passed and then the driver appeared with a spare drive shaft and slid under the bus. The Laotians blissfully asleep, the tourists got out and looked under the bus, only half believing what they saw….
Sometimes, sitting on the terrace of the Hotel Zamecek after a long walk, my enjoyment of that idyllic setting was disturbed by an image of Franz Kafka appearing before me.
Kafka sitting next to us in a chair, a blanket over him, looking at the forest, now and then a cough heard over the sound of the water.
Kafka suffered from TB and spent months in and out of various sanatoriums in Austria, his stays there funded by his father who owned a factory. He died from TB at the age of 40. Once, Europe was dotted with sanitoriums.
In the days before the invention of antibiotics and vaccines TB, amongst other illness, was a scourge. Today many of these former sanitoriums had been renovated and turned into hotels (Anya and I had stayed in a few of them).
I wondered if this wasn’t also the case with Hotel Zamecek and resolved to ask at the front desk about its past.