Category Archives: Health
Breaking news, hold the presses! Fritz The Cat, the infamous vessel which ferried us and hordes of other backpackers from Colombia to Panama SANK! That’s right, the catamaran is at the bottom of the Caribbean Sea. Colombian news website El Tiempo has a video in which you can hear the captain, Fritz, yelling in Spanish for rescuers not to take his picture as you see The Cat half-submerged in the blue water. Everyone came out alive, but how rough it must be for those 14 backpackers who lost everything. Here is a link to the video and news article:
Our boat trip seemed pretty crazy, but it’s hard to imagine going through that whole ordeal. Needless to say that it would have ruined our trip. I can’t wait to hear more details about the wreck. I feel like their will be a mention of captain’s error somewhere along the line. They probably hit an iceberg.
Summing up La Aventura Project in one post has left us here staring at a blank page for weeks now. The same questions run through our heads: “What did we do?” and, “What did we accomplish?” The jump back into life in the USA was quick, and we were immediately left with little time outside of work, back to normal US life. The world we came from was stuck in the backs of our minds, left to dwell in occasional yearnings and stories misunderstood by their listeners. When I have a street food craving at 11pm there is no friendly woman selling tortillas across the street. Saddening, but it’s also nice to have a kitchen.
Here is a quick list of answers to some of the more popular questions we have been getting from friends and family:
Yes, they did in fact have electricity in Latin America.
Yes, we got sick a few times from the food. But it was all delicious and we don’t regret trying everything!
No, we did not notice any drug cartel activity.
No, we don’t plan on settling down now or buying a house or anything like that.
Trying to make a list of our accomplishments sounded corny but I did it anyways to brag a little bit:
Learned Spanish to an intermediate level in which we could have decent conversations.
Traveled to 10 countries without flying.
Learned much more about Latin American history than we did at school, more than most North Americans know.
Hiked the Inca Trail.
Built our blog into a resource for other travelers.
Regrets: I wish we could have done more volunteering, but maybe you could say that we were more like scouts, examining the playing field. We did have two stays at WWOOF farms, one in Colombia and another in Ecuador. It would be fun to check out some more WWOOF farms in Central America someday.
The travel at first was much easier than I expected. The roads were paved and the buses as nice as the Megabus that we took in the United States. But as we entered Bolivia our luck was about the change. It was there that we experienced transportation strikes and washed out highways. Bolivia was by far the most “out there” country we visited.
La Aventura Project started as a film project and a longing to escape from it all. Along the way we wrote more and more and eventually were able to use the website to make the adventure last longer. We passed through phases of preferring writing over filming and vis-a-versa. Near the end we really dreaded the thought of returning to the grind of working class society. Here everyone makes little problems seem like the end of the world. There there were real problems.
The future: We will continue adding to the website and will be posting hostel reviews by guest writes. (More info if you are interested.) Our goal is for the website to grow and continue as we start posting our travel tales from the States. We’ll be beginning the US section of the website in September when we take a road trip across the northwest in the process of moving to California! We’re also working hard to edit the documentary and we’ll post updates on that front as it gets done.
Ending where we began: So now we find ourselves in much the same place we were in when the seed of the idea for La Aventura Project began. Making the most of the US and working hard to save money for future adventures. Dreaming and trying to decide which continent to conquer next. Asia? Africa? Europe? South again to finally make it all the way to Patagonia? We have no idea where we should go, but luckily we have awhile to decide as we work to replenish our bank accounts. The only sure thing is that we can’t stay here for too long, so una nueva aventura is unquestionably on the horizon.
We’re still working on a big, cleverly and intelligently written sum-up of the whole darn adventure. It’s hard though! It is coming soon, but for now enjoy the final edition of our La Aventura Project superlatives!
Days in South and Central America: 217
Dollars Spent: $10,586.14
Average Dollars per day: $70.45
Countries Visited: 10
Books Read: 22 (Carrie), lost track (Zach)
Doctor visits: 1 (Zach), 0 (Carrie)
Things We Lost: More random stuff than we remember
Favorite Food: ceviche (Zach), pupusas (Carrie)
Favorite Beverage: Colombian coffee, Campos de Solana vino tinto from Tarija, Bolivia, and Flor de Caña rum from Nicaragua
Best Wildlife Sighting: dolphins on the cruise from Panamá to Colombia
Nicest People: Colombians and Salvadorans
Most Touristy Countries: Perú and Guatemala
Most American Retirees: Panamá
Scariest/Coolest Experience: the eruption of Tungurahua Volcano
Most Liver Damage: Loki Hostel
Biggest Personal Changes: dreadlocks and eating meat (Carrie), actually speaking a second language (Zach)
Longest Bus Marathon: 3 days almost-straight, Trinidad, Bolivia to Arequipa, Perú
Best Place to Open Our Bar Someday: Canoa, Ecuador
Most Sobering Site: civil war museum in Perquín, El Salvador
Most Life-Changing Moment: getting engaged
Sweatiest We’ve Ever Been in Our Lives: Nicaragua
Most Expensive Country/Most Fast Food Places: Costa Rica
Most Breeds of Potatoes: Perú
Best Shopping: Panajachel, Nicaragua
Creepiest Hotel: the Auto Hotel in Sonsonate, El Salvador
Favorite Country in Central America: El Salvador
Favorite Country Overall: Ecuador!!!!!!!!!!!!
The morning after hiking in Parque Nacional El Imposible in El Salvador, I woke with a strange burning sensation all over my fingertips. As the day progressed, my hands got redder and redder and I started having trouble unscrewing water bottle tops and unzipping backpacks. It started to get so that my hands really hurt every time that I touched anything. As soon as we got to Antigua, I went and bought some Benadryl and hoped that the antihistamines would knock the problem right out.
In the morning I found my hands to be slightly worse and when I stood, I noticed that my feet hurt horribly. What was worse, when I walked to the mirror I noticed that the rash had moved to my nose and I looked like a zit-faced teenager. But, being stubborn, I refused to go to the doctor and just hoped that the medicine I was taking would start to work. After all, I hadn’t been to see the doctor in about six years! I probably bragged about it and didn’t knock wood!
By afternoon I was having trouble walking and my hands and face had grown worse. We went to the pharmacy to get something stronger and the pharmacist suggested we go see the doctor. So we walked a block to where he recommended we go, to the best English-speaking doctor in Antiqua, Dr. Marco Bocaletti (Address: 3 Avenida Norte, No. 1 Appt. 3). It was about 6pm on a Friday night, yet the doctor was surprisingly IN. I waited about 15 minutes and then I was shown into his office. He looked me over and agreed that my rash was probably from some kind of plant that I touched. I was prescribed some stronger antihistamines and an antihistamine skin cream. The doctor spent a lot of time with me and answered all of my questions. He was way friendlier than my usual doctors in the USA! The visit cost about $32, payed in cash to the doctor.
The skin cream felt MAGICAL and by the next morning all the redness was gone. However, I could tell that the rash had done a lot of damage. My hand was pretty much senseless, with the most numbness at the finger tips.
After a few days almost all the dots have faded. All of the callouses on my finger tips are falling off and there is a lot of dead skin in general. My face is looking almost perfect, but my feet still have some sore spots. At least once I peel off the dead skin I can feel again! Note to self: don’t touch anything and just get home!
As you may recall from Zach’s last entry, he was feeling pretty sickish during our time in Parque Nacional El Imposible. Unfortunately, the day after our epic hike, I woke up with the same bug, and he woke up with the beginnings of a mysterious rash on his hands and feet. So we were definitely in fine form upon arrival in Antigua, the beginning of our brief stint in Guatemala.
The afternoon we pulled in, I did nothing but lie in bed and feel miserable. What a lame-o. The next morning I pulled myself together enough to walk around a tiny bit and take some uninspired picture of the old city.
Every time we went into a church we had to sit down inside to rest. This picture characterizes how we were feeling:
Fortunately by the end of the day I was starting to feel much better. Not so much for Zach. His rash had spread to his face and was getting worse. Stay tuned for his story of how we ended our Antigua visit…
The only way into El Salvador‘s Parque Nacional El Imposible on the south side is a up a rough cobblestone road that winds its way up 14km from the coastal highway into the mountains. There are several buses per day that make the trip but unless you are right on time, you will probably have better luck just hitching a ride in the back of a pickup. After waiting about an hour, we were picked up by a nice couple that was also staying at our hostel, so we got super lucky. The views riding from the back of the truck were amazing with the green hills covered in thick jungle and the ocean far in the distance. The first night we took it easy and planned to get up at dawn to do a 10km round-trip hike before the midday rains came in.
That night I had a fever and felt all lightheaded and in the morning I was still not feeling 100% but decided to hike anyhow. However, upon arriving at the park and learning that we were required to hired a guide for $10 on top of our $6 each to enter, we got angry with the system and decided to just rest up instead. While walking back to the hostel I got all lightheaded again and my fever chills came back. “Good thing we aren’t hiking!” I went back to bed planning to sleep all day and hopefully be ready to move on by the next day.
I woke to someone yelling “Buenas dias!” It was the couple that gave us a ride and they wanted to know if we wanted to go hike with them and share a guide. After sleeping for a few hours I was feeling much better, so we told them we would come along. They filled our water bottles with “agua de coco” from freshly cracked coconuts and pretty soon we were back in the park and ready to hike! The guide was there and turned out to be as pointless as we thought, as the trail was easy to follow. By this time the sky was the normal hazy mess it is almost every day recently. Ahh, the rainy season!
Nearing the midpoint of our hike to the top of Cerro León, we heard a yell in front of us and saw a three-foot-long brown snake slither off into the brush. The guide said that the coffee-colored snakes are very dangerous. A little farther ahead we heard another yell as the same guy almost stepped on a tiny stripped snake. The guide said that this little guy was even more deadly. Carrie and I were in our Chacos so we were pretty scared of stepping on one at this point!
At the top we were in the clouds so there wasn’t a view. We had a few snacks then just as we were starting down the sky opened up and rain fell so hard that we were soaked in under a minute. The trail turned to muddle puddles and waterfalls were forming everywhere. We had to almost run down because there was a river that we needed to cross and the guide was worried about it swelling too much before we got there. Thankfully we were able to cross but the water did go up to my knees. The rain never really gave us a break and once finally back at the starting point we weren’t sure if we had a good time or not. However, it was a crazy adventure and we both had goofy smiles on our faces for some reason.
Check back later for the story of the jungle rash some plant gave me!
I thought I would take a quick second to talk about where we have been told that the tap water is drinkable and our experiences with drinking it. As we travel further, we will add to the list.
Bolivia: We did not drink any tap water in Bolivia and would not recommend doing so.
Colombia: We drank the tap water in the following cities: Medellin – The water there was perfect and tasted pretty good. Have not heard of anyone getting sick from it. Bogotá – The water didn’t give us any problems but didn’t taste perfect and we were told that it bothers some peoples’ stomachs. Cartagena – we drank tons of tap water there but one time I did have a pain that felt water related. Taganga: We drank the tap water there but my stomach did feel a little weird a few times. San Agustín – The water was pretty good and we had no problems. Cali – We filled up our water bottle in the bathroom there and had no problems. Popayan – We filled up a bottle in the bathroom at the bus terminal and had no problems. Basically all the cities and population centers seemed fine. However, out in the country and the places where the bus lets you off to eat lunch are questionable and you should always ask a local before doing anything stupid.
Ecuador: The water there is not good. Don’t drink it. Baños – As of now the water is not safe but in the next few years they hope to have a new purification system running. I did drink some water one night in Chugchilan when I was really desperate but it wasn’t a good idea.
Panamá: We drank the tap water in Panamá City and had no problems. Don’t drink the water in Bocas del Toro.
Perú: We did not drink any tap water in Perú and would not recommend doing so.
Since we are always trying to save money, we try to buy as little bottled water as possible. We always boil some in our hostel kitchens (at least three minutes of hard boiling to purify it) when we get a chance and if someone tells us we can drink from the sink we always do. Yes, sometimes this comes back to haunt us but with the money we save I think its worth it. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?