8 April 09
Feel sick. Want to vomit. Need to vomit. Dizzy spell. Feel sick. Want to vomit. Need to vomit. Am going to vomit. Cant vomit. Head spin. Ohhh!
This was me 24 hours ago and for the 36 hours before that. And I was one of the lucky ones!
It seems a nasty little parasite called Giardia, made its way into half the Inca trail group's systems. Apparently, we were given contaminated water on the Inca trail, or ate food that had been washed in contaminated water. Accidental, of course (the porters took great pride in what they were doing!), but it made us sick nonetheless.
The worst affected was Brendan, who was hospitalised after we arrived back on the train to Cusco on the last day of the trail. Thank GOD it didnt happen on the trek, otherwise helicopters would have been needed to lift him out!
He was basically vomitting non-stop (out of both ends), had a high fever, stomach cramps and was slightly delirious. He handled the 3 hour train ride like a trooper (and also thanks to his gf, Aimee!!).
After Brendan, it swept through us like the plague.
Tim and I didnt start feeling sick until Sunday night.
The night before, we had managed to survive the '24 Hour Challenge' as it has come to be known by trekkers. i.e. we stayed awake from 4am on Day Four of the trail, until 4am the following morning, being Sunday. We went out as a group and danced the night away, before stumbling to our hotel rooms at 4am! But, we had done it!
So, on Sunday night we simply thought we were run down from lack of sleep and exertion...we were wrong!
I started feeling a little spaced out and...well, wierd. Then Tim needed to run back to the hotel from the town square where we were meeting some friends out in order to vomit...
Things just went downhill from there.
We couldnt sleep all night. We were super-queasy and kept burping up bile (sorry for the imagery) but just couldnt get it out.
The next morning we were due to drive to Colca Canyon. This was not to be.
Tim started power-chucking all over the bathroom, which, luckily, was overheard by the doctor who had been called in to treat at least 8 others who had been doing the same thing. A quick needle in the butt and the spewing was over.
We were all wiped out. We couldnt stand up. Even doing up a zip was too much. Like I said, I was one of the lucky ones as I didnt lose as much fluid as others. Some even needed oxygen. Eek!
Luckily, we have two trucks, so one took the healthy bunch on to Colca Canyon and the walking dead got left behind. We were a bit bummed, but knew we were way to sick to go anywhere (I should mention that Brendan was discharged in the morning, but unfortuntely Aimee also got the bug. Poor thing).
The next 24 hours were spent in bed. No sleep was enough...
I got up to send a few crucial emails and to pay the ridiculous medical bill (we got 4 lots of different medications), before trotting off back to bed, all the while feeling like I needed to throw up. Food was out of the question!
We slept solidly until the following morning, where we had to board the truck for a 12 hour ride to Arequipa. This was gonna be hard!!
We were such a sad sight to see at lunch. The driver even cooked our meal of rice, potatoes and chicken as no one else was well enough to do it! Bless Alfonso!
Long story cut short, we are all on the mend now and the worst is over. Im almost back to normal, but Tim is still a little lethargic (and I think he still has a sore butt from the injection...he he).
Arequipa ('the white city') is a gorgeous town. Even more so than Cusco, may I add. May of the city's buildings have been built with bricks which were made from white volcanic rock, hence its nickname.
We still werent up for doing much today, but we did head off to see the Incan mummy 'Juanita'. She is a 500 year old mummy who was estimated to be about 12 years old at the time of her death. You may remember seeing her ('The Ice Maiden') on the cover of Time Magazine when she was uncovered on Mount Ampato in 1995 (well, we were MEANT to see her, however she was put away for preservation, as she is every year. Instead, we got to see another, less famous mummy, Sarita. Another child.)
Its a chilling story.
Basically, what these mummies (there have been about 12 or so found) tell us, is that the Incas made human sacrifices to the 'mountain Gods'. According to the Incas, any volcanic activity or natural disaster which occurred was due to the mountain Gods being unhappy. The only way to appease them, in their minds, was to offer up human sacrifices - only the most beautiful, unblemished and pure would be sacrificed. It was in fact, an honour for the one chosen and his or her family.
The chosen one would have to walk for weeks, maybe even months, through rock and ice to reach the summit of the chosen mountain peak, before being given a blow to the head and killed and then buried on top of the mountain, along with other offerings including food, pottery, gold, etc. all to make the mountain Gods happy.
It is a very interesting story. Simply google "The Ice Maiden" and "Juanita" and you will get the full picture. Its worth a read.
Right. Off to bed.
Another long driving day tomorrow.
I hope this Giardia bug is long gone!!!