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Leaving Brazil

Saturday, August 13th, 2005

9 August 2005 (Tuesday) – Manaus to Boa Vista, Brazil

Despite being very sick yesterday, I would leave for Venezuela today. I was given a 60-day visa for Brazil. I had thought I would be travelling for 5 or 6 weeks in this country. But somehow or other, maybe it was because of the great hosts I had been staying with, I ended up staying much longer than I expected at each place and travelling much slower. So, can you imagine, without me really realizing it… tomorrow would be my 59th day in Brazil. Just in time!

The road to Venezuela had been closed on Sunday but by yesterday, it had reopened and I was able to buy a ticket.

The price of the ticket from Manaus to Santa Elena de Uraien is R143.50. But, if I buy the ticket from Manaus to Boa Vista and then, at Boa Vista, I jump off the bus to buy the ticket from Boa Vista to Santa Elena, it would be R80.50 + R22 = R102.50. Strange. Of course, I just bought the ticket to Boa Vista.

To celebrate my departure, I had another very good lunch at Restaurante Mandarim. By now, the owner of the restaurant was talking to me as if I were her future daughter-in-law.

I returned home to pack my things. I gave Eliosa a tip, and put it in a Chinese New Year red packet (that is our preferred way to give money, hidden in a red packet). Here in Brazil, tips are rather uncommon, so when she opened it, she was absolutely delighted! Gosh, she had been great to me, taking such good care of me yesterday.

With Nathan and Eliosa

Now, I just had to remember to take this medication every 6 hours, this other one every 8 hours and this Vitamin C every 12 hours. Sheesh.


Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

7 August 2005 (Sunday) – 8 August 2005 (Monday) – Manaus, Brazil

It was around Sunday afternoon when I started to feel feverish. I thought it was perhaps due to the afternoon oppressive heat and I figured I would probably feel better once I go to Amazonas Shopping which was air-conditioned. Nope, I still did not feel any better. In fact, I felt quite cold.

Beatriz and I discussed the possibility of malaria. She said the symptoms of malaria was like flu, with 40C fever, shivering cold and you could barely walk. Hmmm… that did not sound quite like me. I took some paracetemol and hoped it would go away.

The next morning, I was still feverish, but this time, I was shivering with cold and I could barely walk. I called Leonardo who is a doctor and he advised that I go straight to the Tropical Hospital to rule out malaria first.

Eliosa, the maid of the house, then got into action to take me to the hospital. She called Dona Bia at her office to let her know what we were up to. Nathan lent me his cellphone.

At the hospital, in the Malaria Section, there was a waiting room with many people sitting around waiting their turns for the blood test. Gosh, I could not even sit in that room, as the air-conditioner was much too cold for me. I stood outside, but I could barely stand either. I very nearly collapsed on the floor, before I found a seat. But before I knew it, there was a call for Eliosa and it turned out Dona Bia had placed a call to the hospital and I jumped the entire queue and had my blood test taken right away. Wow. Dona Bia must be someone really important in the government! I love her!! Well, I felt bad to have received preferential treatment, but at that moment, I was very sick, on the verge of collapse.

The results was negative, which is good. Hence, now, Eliosa took me to a Posto de Saude (Health Post) for my treatment. We had to walk there, and under the 10:30am sun, I was practically melting as I slowly put one foot forward the other. To be honest, I had no idea how I managed it with my high fever and very weak state. I think I only thought of the immediate future, and that was to make it to the end of the street. I could not believe that 3 stalls that we passed by did not sell mineral water. At the 3rd stall, I simply burst into tears when I heard the negative reply. As I was really all heated up in there, I really needed a drink. The kindly man then quickly offered me a cup of cold water from his bottle which was for his own consumption. Finally, I felt much better to continue walking.

At the Posto de Saude, first, they took my temperature, 39C. Then, I saw the doctor after a queue. I could not understand her, so I got Eliosa to come in. Usually, only adults accompanying sick children are allowed in. Otherwise, only the adult patients are allowed in.

Eliosa was an absolute gem. She took me to get my urine and blood samples. She queued for me while I sat at the benches, lolling my head around, trying to stay conscious. I had never felt so ill in my life… truly! I could barely walk, I was barely alive! Throughout the whole ordeal, Dona Bia and Beatriz kept calling up to keep tabs on what was happening, if I was OK, etc… That was so nice of them!

The nurses pumped 3 injections into me, and later, I had to queue again to be put on-drip for 3 more things. Gosh, after more than 3 hours, endless queues, a chockful of drugs inside me and a final prescription from the doctor, we were free to go. By then, thankfully, my fever had subsided a little. But gosh, the works…

To Kill Or Not To Kill

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005
6 August 2005 (Saturday) - Lake Mamori to Manaus, Brazil Celso and Marian prepared to leave right after breakfast. They had a flight to catch at 2pm and hence, wanted to be back by 12pm. That also meant they had to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Jumping Jacare Flash

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
5 August 2005 (Friday) - Manaus to Lake Mamori, Brazil As it turned out, the tour had many things that were NOT what were marketed to me. Firstly, I wanted to see the meeting of the water and I was told that ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Hunt for A Jungle Tour

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
4 August 2005 (Thursday) - Manaus, Brazil I collected my passport from the Venezuelan Consulate first thing in the morning. Yesterday, the guy had said he would give me a 30-day visa. To my surprise today, he gave me a 60-day ... [Continue reading this entry]

The Importance of Having Air-Conditioner

Thursday, August 4th, 2005
3 August 2005 (Wednesday) - Manaus, Brazil The tourist office had written down the address of the Venezuelan Consulate and suggested a few buses. I hopped onto one, and showed the piece of paper to the fare-collector, requesting her to ... [Continue reading this entry]

Strike One, Two, Three

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005
2 August 2005 (Tuesday) - Manaus, Brazil Still drunk with sleep, I heard the horn of the boat and someone asking, "Chegou? (Arrived?)", to which the reply was "Sim (Yes)". I rubbed my eyes and stretched. I peered at Mauriete from ... [Continue reading this entry]

River Dolphins

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005
1 August 2005 (Monday) - To Manaus, Brazil Unbelievable. I had been here on the riverboat for 5 nights now! OK, I had some battles with my cold and the food, but overall, my spirits were up and I remained cheery ... [Continue reading this entry]

This Thing Called Beef

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005
31 July 2005 (Sunday) - To Manaus, Brazil Sniff sniff?? Cold's gone. Right. Food food food... I felt bad having to devote some time talking about the food here, but I guess it was on my mind for quite ... [Continue reading this entry]

Halfway Point

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005
30 July 2005 (Saturday) - To Manaus, Brazil We only reached Santarem, our halfway point today. Hmmm... now I realised that we would arrive in Manaus next Tuesday, not Monday. So, I would spend 6 nights here, not 5 nights. Alright, ... [Continue reading this entry]