So this tale starts on day three, after Carrie’s knee gave out and we almost had to sleep with the llamas. We were so hungry from not eating lunch, luckily our hostel (it should have been called a HOTEL since it was the most expensive place we had stayed so far on this trip. Hooray for hostel reviews!) had an included dinner so we were able to stuff our faces. The food was alright, not as good as at Llullu Llama, but satisfying after a long, long day. After eating, quite full, we went straight to bed. But we were so sore that it was impossible to get comfortable and we were getting feverish from our terrible sunburns. My stomach started to get queasy, and before long I was hunched over the toilet awaiting the inevitable. Every half hour throughout the night involved running to the bathroom, vomiting several times, re-brushing my teeth (because you always assume each time is the last), drinking a little bit of water, then lying back down to strange fever dreams. The night slid by at a snails’ pace. Carrie also couldn’t sleep but only from fever and soreness, not from nausea. It got late so all the stores were closed and we didn’t have our big backpacks full of an amazing amount of medicines to cure anything short of cancer. Sometime in the night we ran out of bottled water. Soon nothing else would come out of my stomach but, already dehydrated from hiking, my body wasn’t liking the lack of fluids in my system. I feel back asleep for a minute and dreamed that if I cut off a piece of my pinky and sent it to South Africa, they would bring me a bottle of Fanta. I remember only deciding not to do it because it would take several days to get my soda. At this point I woke up and threw up some more (where does it come from!!!) and washed off my face in the sink. The tap water was refreshing and cold. “Well,” I told myself “how much sicker could you get.” So I took a sip, then another, then a gulp. It was the most delicious water, and I stopped dreaming of Fanta for a minute.
Before the sun came up, I woke Carrie and made her go in search of sanitary liquids. She found some apple juice in the unlocked hostel kitchen which tasted good going down and coming back up. After dawn, the shops nearby opened and I woke to her entering the room with water and a Fanta. I checked to be sure my pinky was all there. It was. I was finally beginning to think that I might make it through this day alive. Then Carrie found out that the last bus to Latacunga left at 10 am, so I had to get my act together. The liquids were staying down and eventually I was able to weakly get myself out of bed. “I can do this!” I kept saying before retreating back to my bed. But by 9:45 I got myself dressed and we went to wait for the bus. This three block walk shook me up enough that I lost all my Fanta to a trash can. There were some interesting things inside that trash can that I examined for some time.
The bus came and it was a bumpy and miserable journey. It was about a three hour trip to Latacunga but I made it without having anymore puking fits (this due to the fact that I didn’t put anything into my stomach). Once in the city we had to go collect our big backpacks at the hostel where we had them stored and then we took a taxi to the bus company, Cita Express, that had direct buses to Otavalo, bypassing Quito. We bought our tickets and waited for the 4pm bus. When it arrived, they said they didn’t have any room and gave us our money back. “No more buses today,” they said and we got so frustrated that we yelled at them in English. Stay here? Go to Quito? What do we do? We were quite discouraged. But a guy came and said that there was a bus that passed at 5pm and hopefully they would have open seats. So we sat around some more and I was able to get some more liquids down. The bus did pass at 5 and luckily had just enough seats (though Carrie had to fight an old Quechua lady for the last spots). I fell right asleep and didn’t wake until we got into Otavalo. Once last taxi to our hostel and the horrible, miserable day was over.
So what do I think caused my sickness? There were 16 other people that ate that dinner and no one else got sick. However, Carrie and I were completely and utterly exhausted, so possibly, had there been even the smallest problem with the food, our bodies would not have been able to fight it off. I believe the fever was from over-exposure to the sun, but I did feel fine up until about one hour after eating. I’m officially blaming the food. That means the two times that I got the sickest on this trip were after eating at a super expensive and fancy buffet, and after eating at a super expensive and fancy hotel. So for all you people that constantly comment about how scary street food is, how about them apples?