The travel experience you want to avoid

When we went to Manu Biosphere Reserve in the Amazon Basin of Peru for 9 days, we took every precaution to avoid getting sick, but, even though we used a high percentage DEET lotion on exposed skin, dressed in long sleeve shirts, high collars, long pants, and socks with our boots, and slept under mosquito netting every night, we still were covered in bug bites. It was a mystery to us how we got all those bites.

One of the bites on Joe’s leg just didn’t heal. He watched it not heal as we visited Machu Picchu; get worse as we visited more Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley; and develop shooting pain in his foot after settling back into Cusco. There was no choice but to seek medical help.

In over 3.5 years of constant traveling, this was a first for us. By the time Joe decided he needed to see a doctor, the pain dictated we do it sooner than later. Beth did a cursory quick search on the internet, and we hopped in a taxi and rushed to Clinica Pardo.

We looked around at all the people seated in the reception area. We prepared ourselves for the challenge ahead. Not a tourist in sight. Our Spanish included no medical terms. We had no idea what to do.

A kind woman who worked at the front desk spoke English and walked us through the paperwork, seeing the doctor, getting the blood and urine tests. We were never quite clear what the diagnosis was but weren’t surprised that the recommended treatment was IV antibiotics.

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We went to the pharmacy and bought the drugs and all the equipment to set up the IV. Joe was given a bed in a 9th floor room with a great view out to Cusco, and the IV was set up.

The drip finished and no one came. We were ready to leave. Then, an aide came in and detached the IV, mysteriously leaving the needle in his arm before she left. We waited. After 15 minutes Joe rang his buzzer. More waiting. After a long time a nurse came in and set up a 2nd IV.

Long after that IV bag had emptied, the same thing happened again. Beth checked the drawer containing the purchased drugs and discovered two more full vials. At this point, we had been at the clinic for over fours hours with nothing to eat or drink. We were very tired. We both understood that the English-speaking staff person had told us it would only take an hour.

Joe rang the buzzer again. This time, with another English speaking staff to help us, we tried to talk to the doctor and nurse about what was happening. They explained Joe needed to wait till 10pm for the next IV and then we could leave. Certainly there had to be another option, we asked in exhaustion. So, the doctor prescribed pills for Joe to take over the course of 5 days, with the request to see a doctor in a month when we got to Argentina.

The pain and wound were only slightly better after a week, and it was time to continue our trip, first to Arequipa, and then on to Colca Canyon.

The pain and wound were only slightly better after a week, and it was time to continue our trip, first to Arequipa, and then on to Colca Canyon.

Joe cleaned the wound one morning and decided to let it dry in the sun on our patio. “Come and look at this,” he said. “Do you see what I’m seeing?”

Was that a little maggot peeking out of the wound? Yes, it was!

Was that a little maggot peeking out of the wound? Yes, it was!

A quick email to our guide in Manu, Danny, confirmed that it was the maggot of a botfly. Yuck! In one of the more bizarre moments of our lives, there we sat on a beautiful patio in Peru, looking out to the Andes Mountains and pulling up a youtube video on how to remove a botfly maggot.

In the end, we followed Danny’s advice and used the masking tape technique. 24 hours later the maggot was weakened but not dead and Joe deftly pulled it out with tweezers. A few days later, a second dead maggot was also pulled out. Four ended up coming out before it was all finished.

What a souvenir to pick up from our visit to Manu! It was a travel experience we never wanted to have but will make a great story to tell for years to come.



August 2016

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Peru, South America - 2016 and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The travel experience you want to avoid

  1. Eesh! Over our years of travel we’ve had food poisoning, parasites and giardia but your experience tops all of those. That’s definitely something I would want to avoid! Anita

  2. plaidcamper says:

    Very happy to read it all ended well, but that was pretty unpleasant! Here’s hoping you don’t pick up any other unwanted traveling companions…

  3. Oh, oh, oh, I clicked like but only because I was pleased to see a happy ending. How awful.

  4. My husband picked up a botfly larvae in Belize. It wasn’t a problem until we got home to Canada. He ended up pulling it out himself too😖 Hope everything is good now!

  5. Merrill says:

    What a nasty encounter. Interesting.

  6. brianolson64 says:

    Yes. Good story but yuck. Glad that you have not encountered anything like this in your 3.5 years of travel. I hope that your future travels are adventurous but you both stay healthy.

    • It is very weird to have these little “travel companions” out of my skin. On the other hand, I was surprised to read a science report that said that the human body is only 10% human cells and 90% beneficial bacteria and viruses; so, if that’s true, then I’m carrying more travel companions than I imagined.

  7. leggypeggy says:

    Bummer. But still a good story. Quick recovery now I hope.

  8. icelandpenny says:

    A very sobering tale. Sometimes experience & prudence just aren’t enough. I’m glad you found care, but thank goodness for extra help from the internet. Maybe get it looked at again when you’re back in Lima or some other truly major city?

  9. danyadarling says:

    Ahhh, you poor things!

  10. Yikes, what an awful experience, but yes, a good story! I hate maggots and any kind of worm, so I would have freaked out. So when the botfly bit him, it laid its eggs in Joe’s foot? I’m so sorry you had this experience!!

  11. Cliff Mail says:

    We hope that you are well on the road to recovery Joe and that your recent travel companions were just a temporary inconvenience.

  12. Bernice Rowe says:

    blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Yuck I had a bite I assumed was a spider in Jamaica once that took 2 weeks and antibiotics to heal but no maggots. Ugh. You really have been lucky with all of your “in country” adventures! Glad you are better! B

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhonee 

  13. cindy knoke says:

    Oh my God! How frightening!

  14. Harbin77 says:

    Praying for healing and a fast recovery.

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