Monday, June 21, 2010

Nicaragua: They Tell Me It's Not Malaria

When I'm looking for sound medical advice, I generally turn to the nearest person wearing neither shoes nor shirt, in this case Jeff from Brisbane. Using a distressing paucity of indecipherable Australian slang, Jeff informs me that the island's mosquitoes carry neither malaria nor dengue, a small comfort after my night of compulsively shivering and sweating - two symptoms I felt certain meant I had malaria. And, the thing of it was, I wasn't that upset. Until devoted partner disabused me of the notion, I had thought malaria was one of those things you got once and I was quite pleased to be using up my one time - to say nothing of the automatic immunity to sickle-cell anemia. Devoted partner finds it charming when I conflate sciencey things in a most Mrs. Malaprop way. Or at least I tell myself that he does.

I'm not going to lie: this was not one of our better vacations, and the would-be malaria was merely a small part of the reason why. The pictures from the last post? Someone took them in the location we were, but they sure as shit didn't take them in June. We had a little bit of weather. Every day. Now I'm one of those knows-how-to-use-the-internet-to-discover-such-nuggets-as-the-weather-at-my-destination so I knew there would be rain. But the internet told me there would be about an hour of rain a day which led me to think, not unwisely, that this would be rain of the tropical variety: sudden, in the afternoon, giving way to sun as quickly as the sun had given way to a shower.

Not so.

Had it not been for the discovery that every location in the Greater Caribbean (including Baja and Myrtle Beach) was experiencing the selfsame weather last week, this story might have turned out differently because we would have fled the deluge. But stuck with the inevitability of poor weather, we toughed it out. Until the not-malaria hit. Then we were less tough. I was particularly less tough. My not-toughness lasted several days and the aftermath was that my right ear was unable to equalize on land much less underwater. This made diving not on the agenda.

So back to my room, decorated by the team that brought you pretty much every Soviet-era interrogation cell, to lie on the bed and moan a little. There was some diving done, and some sharks seen - a plus - but, and I'm all for benefits of the doubt, it seems we had chosen a poor season to dive as the visibility on nearly every site was closer to soup than I would have liked. Lots and lots and lots of plankton sex.

I had about a day and a half of non-malarial entertainment, hampered only by the searing pain I experienced as I forced myself underwater, convinced that I was just being a sissy and that merely taking a long time to equalize underwater would be sufficient to forestall any ruptured eardrums. And, seeing as I emerged exactly zero times bleeding from the ears, I'm going to say that was a usable theory (until, say, something unexpected happens and I start blogging from the waiting room of the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor). After that, I was struck by the more common form of ailment one encounters in southern countries.

That's right, the tail end of our vacation was spent, for me, at least, both prone and prone to rushing to the ladies room. In defense of the truly spectacular drugs one can get once the FDA isn't sniffing around, whatever it was I took (in Spanish, couldn't tell you) worked almost immediately. Would that the chemist had been opened when the trouble started and that I hadn't had to wait out a night of pretty spectacular discomfort for his shop to open in the morning. Once the "outgoing mail" issue had been settled, I was free to clutch my bloated gut and speculate on what we would name the alien baby I was sure was on its way to joining our family. I have decided (because I believe he is still on the way) to name him: Windsock.

So, yes, there will be details of a non-medical sort, because we did manage to have some fun while away, and there will be pictures as well (rainy, plankton-sex-soaked pictures), but right now I am preoccupied with what color Windsock's room should be and if I am really up to eating the heels of bread in my bag. Please don't feel the need to be extra nice to me for I know in my heart of hearts exactly how much responsibility I bear for carting us off to a third-world island no one had ever heard of with spotty electricity, no hot water, and at the start of the rainy season, no less. Next time I'll listen to the part of my brain that says things like, "Hawaii, swimming pool, cabana boy."

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