Cabeza (1999), by Fernando Botero. Medellin, Colombia
Cabeza (1999), by Fernando Botero. Medellin, Colombia

On the Mend

My apologies for the silence here over the past three weeks. I’ve been on the mend from Hepatitis A and since my doctor ordered lots (and lots) of rest, I threw a near-total digital detox into the mix as well. Both were well overdue.

Based on the virus’s incubation period, it’s most likely that I contracted Hep A somewhere in Colombia –my guess is that one of the many fruit juices I quickly became addicted to was mixed with some contaminated water. The symptoms –fever, chills, night sweats, some jaundice– emerged on the second of my five days in Boquete, Panama. The diagnosis came in on my first night in San Jose, Costa Rica, where I was immediately taken to a hospital by my old friend, Drew, who I’ve been staying with since.

Guanava/guanabana vendor in Popayan, Colombia.
Guanava/guanabana vendor in Popayan, Colombia.

The virus is pretty much behind me but it has kicked my skinny behind. It’s left me weak, listless and exhausted, forcing me to seriously rethink my next moves. The initial plan was to continue working my way up through Central America and Mexico and eventually arrive in the U.S. Pacific northwest. But attempting to recuperate while on the road is difficult enough. Trying to do so in Central America, one of the world’s poorest regions and during the summer’s worst heat, would probably be folly at this point. I’ll decide in the next few days, so stay tuned.

Many thanks for the messages and emails over the past few weeks. They remain very much appreciated.

And one more thing: there is a vaccine for Hep A. If you ever plan to spend any time in areas with a history of hosting the virus, get the shot. 🙂

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  1. What is happening these days… I just came back from Pakistan earlier due to a strange sickness too.

    My thoughts are with you, hope you fully recover very very soon! Get well and safe travels!
    Vladimir

  2. Bob, we have been so worried about you. I’m glad to hear that you went to the hospital in San Jose and are on the mend. Hep A symptoms will gradually disappear, but it takes at least 2 months for a full recovery. Take care and rest, rest, rest. I’m heading to Vivian Pellas Hospital soon for our annual check-ups. I’ve had the Hep B series of vaccinations, but I didn’t know there was a vaccine for Hep A. I’ll definitely get it. Honestly, it sounds worse than Dengue, which my husband and I both had. On the bright side, you’ll never get Hep A again. On the down side, trying to recuperate in Central America is probably not the best thing for you. Wishing you the best, although I’m sure disappointed that you won’t make it to Ometepe Island. But, there is another bright side to that…if you postpone your trip until Nov. or Dec.( the best time to travel during the dry season) you can make a lovely trip down the Rio San Juan and visit the Solitename Islands after Ometepe Island.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it appears as though my return to Ometepe will have to wait for another time. I really like the winter months idea.

  3. glad to hear that you’re mending; i’ve had a round of hep shots but not sure which one/ones.. i took the ones that the clinic in sjo recommended as well as the yellow fever.

    whatever kicked me down last september still has an effect on me. i had trouble reclaiming my energy, and i still get tired easily.

    the timing was perfect for crossing paths with your friend; how great that you can mend in the comfort of someone’s home and not in a generic hotel room w/zero refrigerator/cocina, etc.

    keep mending!
    z

    1. Thanks – yes, it’s been great being with one of my oldest friends. Have felt very much at home during my entire stay. It’s going to be tough to leave. 🙂

  4. I’m glad you are on the mend, we were worried about you. eat on the street is not safe in South America for people from others country, sometimes even for us. looking forward to see what you finally decide about your trip.

    1. Thanks, Silvana. I’m usually very careful, but sometimes just have to give in. The upside here is that now that I’ve had it once, I’ll never get Hep A again. 🙂

  5. Bob, you are in my thoughts and prayers. I get the recovering part. I have spent most of the last two months recovering from a nine day hospital stay for a neck infection. Please be careful and give yourself enough time to recover.

    1. Thanks, Larry, much appreciated! Things are improving day by day. Sorry that I’ll miss you at the world champs this year, the first that I’ll miss since my first in 2001. 🙂

  6. Hepatitis A and B are both quite dangerous and there are vaccines for both. Even in Europe you can contract any of the two…
    Diseases like hepatitis are part of the reason why I almost never buy food or drinks on the streets.
    Typhoid fever is another terrible disease spread quite often through food and drinks.

    1. Yup – I’m generally extremely careful but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind. All the juices just looked too good. The upside is that you can only get Hep A once. 🙂

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