suntanned and sick
Wednesday, February 2 2005
setting: Hotel San Francisco, Old Town, Quito, Ecuador
I felt a little better when I woke up this morning and I took this as a sure sign that I was on the mend. But how many times had I "begun recovering" already on this trip? In the end my optimism proved premature. I put on my clothes and got ready to maybe do something in Quito. But then another wave of illness overtook me and I was back in bed again.
Old Town Quito is an especially bad place to be sick. It's not just that the air is thin and polluted, although that's a big part of it. There was also the monotonous calling of the women out on the street trying to sell lottery tickets. A fever feels a lot like delirium when you hear the same voice over and over and over again in your head.
Further compounding my misery were the occasional clouds of cigarette smoke that drifted in from the courtyard. Later this was joined by even more unnecessary air pollution, fumes from the oil-based paint being used to paint the courtyard walls today of all days. Why today? I guess I was just unlucky.
Then when I'd muster the energy to get up and take a leak I'd inevitably bang my head on the bathroom door jam, which had been designed by and for the short-statured people of Quito.
Meanwhile Gretchen was having a great time visiting cathedrals, parks, and museums. She went to buy some icecream from a woman vendor on the street and discovered she didn't have her wallet. The vendor feared Gretchen had been the victim of pick pockets, but when Gretchen came back to the hotel she found she'd left her wallet in the room. So she went back to the icecream woman and paid her what she owed her.
This evening we planned to eat at an Italian restaurant if I could find the strength. But at dinner time I was suffering from the worst wave of illness so far, and Gretchen decided to have a picnic in our room instead. She went to a grocery store and bought things like bread, cheese, mushrooms, and beans. But by this point I had little in the way of an appetite. Gatorade (and an Ecudorian knock off) were all I'd been consuming all day.
Our original plan was to begin the Amazonia part of our trip tomorrow, but now we had to wonder what we were going to do if my health didn't improve. I blamed much of my condition on Quito's air quality and was of the opinion that no matter what, we should go at least as far as Coca (on the edge of the Amazon). The elevation there is less than 1000 feet above sea level (compared to Quito's 9000) and it's surrounded by oxygen-producing rain forest.
To help me sleep and perhaps recover, I decided to take a powerful sleeping pill given to us by the Swedes while we were in the Galapagos. Supposedly one of the Swedes had slept for thirteen hours after eating one.
pictures taken by Gretchen
People praying at a cathedral. People take their god seriously in Quito.
An especially creepy cathedral Jesus.
An outdoor view in Quito.
The Quito icecream woman.
Street bustle in Quito.
A pot surreptitiously photographed in a museum.
Being sick in Quito.
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