A desperate letter from the Amazon Jungle…indeed, I am home early, and can hardly believe I made it…this correspondence sent to a friend sums it up to some degree…
Dearest ____ ,
oh my fucking god…or i guess i should say “jésus cristo”
after leaving Lima things started to turn bad…we took a bus to a “desert oasis”…i assumed this would entail sand and a beach of some sort? but no…it was a strange touristy place, very overpriced…we had to haul our huge suitcases (I AM NEVER TAKING A SUITCASE ON A TRIP LIKE THIS AGAIN!!!) to a different hostel every night…somehow we managed to spend 3 days and way too much money hanging around a hole in the ground….had to walk some distance to reach any sand, but the sand was very lovely when we did sit in it.
ok…then we went to see the Nazca lines, and I wanted to take everyone up in a plane to see them ($120 per person) as a gift for having us…but Pedro* ended up puking his guts out in the plane, and Correen* wasn’t too impressed. Oh well, I tried, and I thought it was amazing…many pics to show you when we get back, all taken with the iPhone!!
Then things went from kind of bad to very bad. We took a bus ride to a beach! yay! that was supposed to take 2 hours. At this point Correen and Pedro were booking seats very far from ours…it seemed we were no longer welcome?? very confusing.
The bus broke down in the middle of the desert and everyone on the bus started SCREAMING – apparently a common phenomenon here…we got out and I just ignored everyone and lay in the desert sand, trying to ground myself. Another bus came, but then there was some other problem, which also entailed much screaming. We got to the beach in 4 and a half hours.
The beach was awesome, probably my favourite part of the trip besides Lima, and for an evening everyone seemed to be getting along. Late in the evening we ate some fresh “ceviches” – this is like the dish of Peru and it sounds really disgusting, but it is sooooo good – fresh raw fish, octopus, crab, and squid marinated in lemon juice and something very spicy. However, the typical time to consume this dish is 3-4 in the afternoon…we ate at like 8…not good.
The next day we took a bus back to the Lima airport to fly to Iquitos…I.E. ***HELL*** (really, one of the most dangerous cities in South America, and the car crash capital of THE WORLD) …besides that, however, I did something really stupid when we were in Lima the first time. I had enough codeine to last me the trip, but I got confused on the plane with the constant time changes and having to sit upright and was worried that I had taken too many because I felt sketched out. So I decided to count them out. I wanted to do so undisturbed, since everyone has such a problem with so-called *narcotics*…so with a shaky, jet-lagged hand i poured them into my hand over the fucking sink. SO STUPID. There were more than a handful in the bottle, and a bunch of them – most of them – fell in the sink. I felt like such an idiot that I didn’t even tell Chris I did this – I finally got my stupid pharmacy situation under control and then I dump my pills into a sink, watching them quickly dissolve in the sewage-like drippage in the sink. I figured everything would be okay because I know they sell all medications over the counter here – from antibiotics to *narcotics*!
But by the time we reached Lima again, to go to Iquitos, I had run out and we were standing at the side of the highway – no stores of any sort in sight.
So I was in a LOT of pain, pretty much delirious after these bus rides through the desert, and asked Correen and Pedro to help me find codeine somehow – if a taxi driver could take us to a pharmacy somewhere near these snaking highways. Pedro came to two with me and I managed to acquire, and subsequently LOSE a few boxes of some kind of cough pills with codeine in them. Then I asked Correen if I could buy some at the airport. She said she, “couldn’t believe that I could have possibly lost the others and that I should stop lying. Besides, they would cost $10/pill at the airport.” FUCK! I couldn’t believe it either. But fine, I will sit through another plane ride, ovulating at this point – something is sticking out of one of my ovaries – it was before I left Van, but now it is sore to the touch. FREAKING OUT!!! I want to go to a pharmacy in Iquitos, but by this point, or I think probably before we even got here, Colleen had decided I was a drug addict.
Nice. I KNOW how ridiculous this all sounds, but I’m NOT LYING about anything!!! I’m having surgery in 2 and a half months….would I have surgery just so that I could have pain medication for 2 months? And I am having this surgery so that I can finally get rid of the pain and never again have to take the *narcotics* that I’ve had to take at least during my period since I was 15, right?
Apparently not. Even before we came here Correen was planning on taking me to some kind of “treatment center” for cocaine addicts and alcoholics. WTF?!?!?! Just from me telling her about my endometriosis, pharmacy problems, and upcoming surgery?
Everyone else just wants to get drunk. Fine. We get drunk at “La Rosa Amarilla de Texas”…Texas in the middle of the Amazon jungle. Then we move on to the dangerous district because Correen thinks its hilarious to take us there. Suddenly little children (like 3 years old) are rubbing my arms trying to sell me chewing gum and cigarettes. Sex tourism is in full bloom – a 60 year old man is getting 2 young prostitutes drunk at the table beside us and they are pretending to laugh at his jokes and I’m ready to vomit. Some guy approaches us while Correen and Pedro go to buy cigarettes – he wants to sell us the skeleton of a snake. We tell him it is very impressive, but no thanks! He keeps bugging us and then tells us he will make us something for free if we give him our names. I give him fake names and he comes back with some wire with the fake names on each side making a flower coming up from the middle. Correen says this is good, take it, it’s a present! We take it and thank him. I put it in my purse.
Eventually we got back to the “hostel” – something out of a horror film. The loudest fan in the world, ants, mosquitos, the room is only big enough for the bed and the only water setting is cold. We fall asleep. When I wake up Chris tells me that he has been having horrible diarrhea all night…I realize my stomach is burning and I can hardly stand up. Chris and Correen and Pedro have all been using the bathroom all night, but I can’t go. I lie in the heat having delirious, extremely disturbing dreams all day until they come back with some laxatives. I take them, wake up at night, and can finally go poo, or piss out of my ass, really LOL. I spend the night doing so.
I spend another day lying in bed and sweating and having these horrible dreams and feeling soooo nauseous but not being able to vomit. The next morning me and Chris wake up simultaneously and decide that we should go home. Correen wants us to do all of these hallucinogens with her, but we just want to relax. She thinks taking ayahuasca and san pedro cactus will somehow heal me of my endometriosis and *addiction*. We notice that my iPhone has somehow reset itself to Vancouver time. And it is 4am Vancouver time. Chris and I both often either fall asleep or wake up at exactly 4am. I immediately call our travel insurance company, but make the huge mistake of being honest and telling them that we are sick. A nice lady tells me to call back in an hour and they will have a flight arranged for us. I call back and noooooooo, we must both have medical certificates stating that we are “fit to travel” – and send them in the mail? What?!?!?!?!?!?! I am getting extremely delirious, crawling around the bathroom floor and crying. I let out a scream and Correen knocks on the door that very moment telling us that we shouldn’t have accepted that gift from a stranger and that we must destroy it immediately. She also says that I need to go to the hospital but have to “calm down” or they won’t take me seriously.
ARGHHHHHH!!! WHY IS A WOMAN NOT ALLOWED TO CRY IN THIS SOCIETY?!?!?! On the cab ride to the hospital I mutter about this…about how I should get electroshock therapy or a lobotomy or perhaps have my tear ducts removed? Would this make me a socially acceptable woman?
I can laugh at this in retrospect…we get to one hospital and there are no doctors there. In a motorcycle taxi – the only kind driven in this city. The driver finds another, the nurse takes a look at me and I am immediately led to a bed and put on an I.V. and a bunch of stuff is injected into it – for dehydration, nausea, and something else…they let me go eventually with a prescription for 3 pills – I really have no idea what they are but they’re making me feel more nauseous. At least the stomach burning and diarrhea have stopped. I assume BECAUSE I am already sick, my body couldn’t handle what was probably food poisoning from the too-late-in-the-day ceviches. My intestines are damaged – apparently two of the pills will fix this and the other is an antibiotic – probably what is making me nauseous.
Chris calls flight centre and we book entirely new tickets to come home on Feb. 23. I was obviously not in the condition to travel. Supposedly we will be reimbursed by the insurance company who tell me, “If you think you are fit to travel go ahead, we’ll reimburse you.” I’m quite skeptical.
We come to our current location for our last 2 nights here. A famous huge mansion that Werner Herzog stayed at when he was filming a documentary in Peru, for $80 USD a night – let’s hope this makes sense when the bill arrives…
I don’t want to bother Correen with my pain issues anymore. I can’t take pain pills while I’m on these other pills, or at least this is what she tells me, so I don’t. But I need some for when we get back to Canada. Chris and I take a cab to the city centre…they carry the pills I need at pharmacies but only in bizarre amounts – 6 pills here, 23 there…I manage to collect 50, more little children grasping at me, scary men trying to sell us counterfeit currency…
We get back and Correen is furious that we didn’t take her into town with us because she needs cigarettes. I offer her a pack and she will not accept them.
So here I sit…in pain, by myself, the rest of them are all drinking.
All I can do is lie in bed and watch T.V. in Spanish. I wish Chris would come back, but I guess he doesn’t want to leave on horribly bad terms, fair enough.
I think they’re trying to convince him to send me to rehab while they “binge drink” and talk about the hallucinogens we should have done. That makes sooooo much sense!!!
I’m going to start crying again so I better stop writing. I’ll probably post this on the blog at some point, using *pseudonyms.
So, we’re getting back on the…
So, we’re back! I must write a thorough ethnography of our trip to Lima, Ica, Nazca, _?___, and Iquitos, but it will follow soon…as soon as we are off a clear liquid diet and have gotten over the jet-lag/reverse culture shock!