Friday 20 November 2009

Typhoid in Yurimaguas

Leaving Yurimaguas has turned out to be surprisingly difficult. On our second day here, I came down with a cold, or so I thought. Not wanting to be ill in the jungle, days away from medical help, we decided to stick around for a couple of days, until I was better.

A couple of days passed, and although I did feel a bit better, our brand new thermometer told us that I still had a low fever (37.5C). So we waited some more.

After 6 nights, although I still had a slight fever (37.2C) we went to the port at nine, to confirm that our boat was still sailing at 12. Nope! Postponed until 15.00. I chatted with the captain, who said we should return by 13.00. Ok...

So right after noon we checked out of the lovely Hostal Naranjo, loaded our bags onto a mototaxi and off we went! But only to the port; upon arrival we saw that the word "hoy" had been erased from our boat's blackboard and in its place was written "mañana". 9am, supposedly. We debated sleeping on the boat, but in the end went back to the Naranjo and checked back in.

After the morning's disappointment we decided it was time to have some fun in this town. We grabbed our souvineer chess set (made in China most likely, bought in Otavalo, Ecuador) and took a mototaxi to the square where we were told the young people went to party. We took seats at a bar which hosts cock-fights on the weekends, and before we could even start our first game we were joined by a 19 year old musician; guitar and 11 year old neice in tow.

This was followed by a chess lesson, multiple beers, some dancing and some watching of awful videos starring our friend and young ladies who apparently wanted nothing more than to french kiss the artist in front of the camera. After listening, watching and finally being presented with a DVD, a printed biography and original artwork (a pencil-sketch of a unicorn), we came to the conclusion that his talent fell quite a bit short of matching his opinion of himself.

This adventure was followed by Chinese food. I wasn't very hungry, but I had noticed a very hungry looking boy, 8 or 9 years old, lurking outside and stealing leftovers from tables when people left. So I got a takeaway box for my noodles and Ewelina's leftover meat, and handed it to the little boy, along with half a Coke, as we left. He disappeared immediately, and we went home to bed.

To crown an already busy day, I got very little sleep that night - I constantly had to visit the bathroom and I was cold, my fever clearly on the rise. When I tiredly took my temperature the next morning, it was up to 38.7C, a whole degree higher than the highest it had been the preceding week. Time to see a doctor.

As luck would have it, there is a "Virgin de las Nieves" clinic on the same street as the Naranjo, just two blocks away. So around 10.30 we were sitting across from a nurse, explaining symptoms in broken Spanish - when we asked for someone who spoke English, she just laughed kindly and shook her head. She took my blood pressure (100/70), weighed me (75kg with shoes, lightest I've been since leaving Iceland!), and filled out a form. A few minutes later we were ushered to a doctor's office and got to repeat our story for him, and show him my little yellow vaccination booklet.

His verdict: Typhoid or Dengue Fever, only tests could tell. So they took some blood, and then I was sent to a bathroom with a plastic cup in a bag, a little glass vial and toilet paper. They wanted a little bit of everything...

Ewelina and I returned to the clinic around 2pm and waited about half an hour for my results: Typhoid and some nasty stomach bug too.

Apparently the Typhoid vaccine we got in Dublin is only 50-80% effective, but it is probably thanks to it that my case has been so mild. My doctor prescribed many things: two pills for my stomach and Ciproflax for the Typhoid itself. All in all, a 10 day course. And, more frighteningly, 3 different injections he wanted me to get immediately.

Unnerved, but not about to argue, we went back to the nurse. There, for the first time I can remember, I had one of those tubes stuck in my arm, which the nurse used to inject three gigantic syringes full of diluted medication into my bloodstream. As my blood was diluted, or maybe as the pressure in my veins went up, I became nauseous, dizzy and my hands felt like they were vibrating like crazy. The nurse again laughed kindly and moved me from my seat to a bed, injecting all the while. Ewelina stroked my forehead.

That was yesterday. Today I feel much better. I have no fever (was actually a bit under 37C this morning) and my stomach is, although not perfect, much quieter. So far the day has been spent surfing the internet, calling home, reading books and writing code. That is also the plan for tomorrow and Sunday - the doctor said we should stay in town at least two more days and we know there are no boats on Sundays.

After I've finished the drugs (a 10 day course) he wants me to visit a clinic to get checked again. Hopefully, that checkup will take place somewhere else, either in Iquitos or Lima. But I can't make any promises, so far it seems Yurimaguas is a hard town to leave.


  1. I keep thinking about Typhoid Mary... ugh! Take care, you two! And keep us posted. Love ya. :)

  2. Hopefully this is the worst that will happen to you on the trip and it's almost over ;)

  3. Hi Bjarni,

    your traveling in middle and south america? thats great, have I good time..

    Best regards Meike


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