Volunteering to Get Parasites
Trip Start Jul 14, 2010
93Trip End May 18, 2011
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Where I stayed
By the way, the keyboard Iīm using wonīt let me use the top row with the numbers, so there will be no exclamation marks and therefore no apparent excitement in this entry. For the same keyboard malfunction, I couldnīt add parentheses to set these three sentences apart from the rest of the story. Lame.
We took a 1 hour bus ride to Sabanitas, then another 45 minute packed bus ride to Portobelo
We walked around during the day in Portobelo, as Frederico was busy working at his bakery, which was very popular even though it had only been opened four months. The town is very small, easily walkable in ten or fifteen minutes, so we did a lot of sitting around. We eventually headed back to the bakery at night and ordered a pizza from Frederico. By the way, Frederico is known in Portobelo as El Italiano, as heīs the only Italian in town. To me, this makes his pizza legit - and it was pretty damn good. exclamation mark. stupid keyboard...
When we got to Fredericoīs house, I was surprised by the size, simply because it was two stories tall
Anyway, the next morning, we went in Fredericoīs truck out to the farm, which was out in the middle of nowhere, through farms and jungle. Right before you get to the farm, too, the road is washed out due to leaky pipes that used to run under the road, so you have to take a detour walking trail ten feet down to a creek and back up the other side. The finca was great, though. There was a thatch roofed hut with a hammock and chairs, a separate hut with a bathroom and tool shed, and then there was the house weīd be staying in. We walked in and were immediately welcomed by some really beautiful turquoise poison dart frogs that had made their home in a wood pile in front of the house. Inside, there was a bat that Frederico said was a vampire bat, but Iīm pretty sure it wasnīt. It seems like a general trend for people to mess with Logan and me on our travels, telling us things that arenīt true with a straight face. The house definitely had a layer of dirt covering all of its surfaces, including walls and ceiling, but it was nothing we couldnīt handle. Also, there was no running water or electricity, although there had been in the past
After mowing and weed-whacking for a while, Logan and I were sufficiently tired, and took the rest of the afternoon off. The next morning, we had planned to go into Portobelo, as the festival for Cristo Negro was that day, and weīd have to hike out 5km to the nearest bus stop. Turns out, Loganīs tiredness wasnīt just the normal kind, as that morning, the diarrhea began. He took antibiotics, and after a while of deciding whether we should still go into town or not, we left for Portobelo. It took us about two or three hours of walking to get to the bus stop, stopping every so often so that Logan could recoup his strength by laying down. There were two nice things about that walk: It was mostly downhill, and we saw our first coati. Excitement with an exclamation mark.
We went to the bakery to check in with Frederico, and he kindly allowed us to stay with his family at his house that night, as the Cristo Negro festivities really only began after daybreak. This time, Portobelo was completely packed with people dressed in purple for the festival. During the day, every once in a while we would see a few people slowly crawl by on the street toward the church that contained the Black Christ, followed closely by people dripping purple candle wax on their backs, I assume to depict the suffering that Christ went through in his final days. Finally, at night time, we watched as 30 or so people marched the statue of the Black Christ through the streets of Portobelo to music. People come from all around Panama and other countries to witness this festival. Many people claim that they have had a feeling come over them because of the Black Christ and supposedly if you say a prayer as it passes by and it comes true, you have to do something for the community of Portobelo, and if you donīt follow through with this, your prayer/wish will come back at you two fold.
This apparently didnīt work out for Logan. His diarrhea didnīt stop with the antibiotics, so we went to the local clinic the next day for some help. They gave him an IV because he hadnīt eaten in two days, and prescribed him some medicine that weīd have to pick up from Sabanitas, 45 minutes away
We stayed in a hostel in town for a few nights while Logan took his medication. He was starting to feel better, and was able to eat at least some food, so we went back to Sabanitas to get some more provisions for the rest of our stay at the finca. We got more minutes for our phone and Logan called his family to let them know he was doing better. They brought up a good point, though. Logan hadnīt really urinated for 4 days. This was definitely a problem. So to make sure he didnīt have any kidney problems, we headed to the clinic in Sabanitas, and after much convincing, we got the doctor to run tests to make sure his kidneys were okay. They gave him another IV so that he would be hydrated enough to pee, which was a nightmare in and of itself, as Logan is deathly afraid of needles, and it took them two painful tries to get it right.
At this point, Logan decided he was ready to get the hell out of Portobelo, so we went back to the farm via taxi - we forgot that there was a stream 2km into the road to the finca, so we walked the last 3km there, grabbed our things, ate some lunch, and headed back down the hill to the bus stop. Fortunately, there were people at the next farm down with a truck, so we asked if we could get a ride with them, at least just to the bus stop. They were more than happy to help us out, but had some work to do first, and invited us to watch
Of course, about a day later, I started having symptoms of something wrong in my system and took antibiotics. They also didnīt work, so we went to a private clinic this time in Panama City, where my doctor had his own office with an exam room in the back. He asked me a few questions, tapped my belly, and easily determined that I, too, had parasites. Sweet. I was now part of the prestigious club. He prescribed me a different kind of anti-parasitic than Logan got, but it worked just as well. Within three days, I was parasite free. My experience was not as hellish as Loganīs, which I chalk up to the fact that I forced myself to eat and therefore avoided any IVs. I had definitely learned my lesson from Logan.
So long, Portobelo. I donīt think Iīll ever return - no offense.