Down and out in Cuenca

Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, September 17, 2007

Cuenca is a beautiful city.  It looks more like something you would find in Italy or Spain than what you would imagine South America to be.  We arrived in Cuenca and after a few room inspections decided on a hotel in the colonial center of town.  Laura wasn't feeling well so we opted for more creature comforts than usual. 

Cuenca has some amazing restaurant options, so while Laura rested, I headed out armed with my feeble Spanish vocabulary to obtain  some gourmet options to go.  I give high marks to the patience level Ecuadorians have with people with who speak as little Spanish as myself.  Having chosen a Tapas option, I started the conversation with a greeting  and an apology for my poor Spanish.  They responded by complimenting my Spanish (I know they were being nice) and together we managed to put together a dinner order that would survive the walk back to the hotel and still taste good at room temperature

To maximize our travel experience, Laura and I have put ourselves on a "work schedule."  This means Monday - Friday we set an alarm and are out of the room by 7 a.m. Since this was Friday, it was the end of our work week and time to relax!  So with a buffet of Tapas dishes and a nice Argentine bottle of Syrah we had a quiet night in the hotel.

Around 3 a.m., the quiet night came to an end.  Laura's "not feeling well," changed to a "feeling awful" with a ridiculously high fever and body aches that hinted of something severe like malaria or dengue fever or possibly even "the plague."  Yes, that plague, the one that wiped out a third of Europe is still possible in South America.   

Morning arrived and I checked with an American bookstore owner for a physician recommendation.  An incredibly nice, helpful woman, she handed me a card for an English speaking physician.  After a quick phone conversation, he determined Laura shouldn't be moved and came to us at the hotel. 

After a twenty minute conversation, the symptoms had several possibilities.  Malaria, dengue fever, some sort of poisoning, or the flu.  The plague was not mentioned.  Barring a hospital visit and tests,  a conclusion could not yet be drawn.  So armed with a pile of paracetamol, we resigned ourselves to another uncomfortable night hoping symptoms would progress to give a more clear picture.  Our doctor, who was excellent, served us with a bill for $30.  Can you believe it?   A house call for only $30!

Night wore on to morning and things became more clear.  Certain things subsided while others got much worse.  Our doctor called us to follow up (when is the last time an HMO doctor followed up on anything) and based on the new data, made a prognosis. 

It would seem that Laura's adventurous culinary habits (I'm sure it was the stuff (stuff- mystery food in a bag, we don't know what it was) from that street cart) had managed a bad case of e-coli poisoning or something like it. 

So here we are in beautiful Cuenca waiting for the bodily invaders to surrender to some high doses of Cipro.   Laura was disappointed though that it was not "the plague" as she hoped for a more glamorous story.
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