Sometimes, every day life steps in and forces you to slow down or even take a few steps backwards. Nothing more so than being sick away from home. These last 5 weeks have been a battle off and on with colds, bronchitis and fevers forcing us to stay put far longer than we would have liked. It has made us forego activities we had really looked forward to – such as trekking to Machu Picchu (we took the bus). Unfortunately, when your body says no, it’s best to listen and we have done our best to follow suit.
In the last three Peruvian cities we’ve visited – Cusco, Arequipa and Puno – we’ve been forced to seek medical attention. I’m happy to say the overall experiences were positive in all three cities. Largely, wait times were non-existent, the doctors were attentive and thorough and the treatments prescribed seemed appropriate.
In city number two, we both visited Clinica Arequipa for our horrid bronchitis – mine acute and Kenny’s still lingering from Cusco and getting worse. The fabulous 102.2ºF (39°C) fever I’d had for 72 hours was what really forced the issue. That, and the fact I had looked bad enough to our hostel’s owners that they intervened on my behalf with some natural remedies to try to help me sleep through the night.
One thing I’ve discovered about being sick in a hostel is, by and large, people have been extremely willing to go out of their way, unsolicited, to try and help. We’ve been given honey/lemon syrups, coca teas, freshly gathered herbal teas, had chicken broth made for us and breathed secret family recipes all administered by friendly concerned hostel staff turned surrogate parents. The most interesting remedy was the concoction of burning coca leaves and sugar, which was to be breathed in, followed by some other sort of smoke blown into my jacket and hat. Though I can’t comment on the medicinal benefits, I can say I slept through that night, which in itself was a great help.
Currently, we are sitting put in Puno waiting to be healthy enough to push on towards Bolivia. Happily, Kenny is pretty much well again though I am still working on getting healthy. In addition to the antibiotics, mucolytics, cough syrup and endless supply of hot teas, I particularly enjoy the 3-4 saline steam baths my airways get throughout the day.
Though being ill away from home is never fun, having absolute strangers genuinely care about your well being and treat you almost like family definitely takes away some of the sting.