Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Malaria Memories

I was recently reminded of the first time I had malaria. We had ran out of all meds, even Tylenol, due to an epidemic of over 80 cases of malaria at one time. We had no radio to call for more and had to wait for the scheduled flight to come out about 5 days later. I ended up being flown to town for medical care. It was discovered that I not only had malaria but strep throat as well. I was never so glad to see a plane land in my life!

When we were newly arrived in the village, I came down with malaria. I had been sick several days, (weeks?) with high fever and pain, followed by some hallucinations. It was hard to know what was really happening around me from the hallucinations. Often times, in the village, the real life happenings were more bazaar than the dreams!!

Imagine having every bone in your body aching like the worse flue you can imagine...X 10!! And no bed, no bathroom, no where to do the laundry but the river, still cooking over a fire, with four small children.

One day, I was feverish and in my hammock in the mud hut we had been loaned to use until we finished building our own mud hut. The doors did not lock, so there was no way to keep people out of the house. I was wiped out and fell into a deep sleep.

I began to wake up as I became aware of something rubbing my arm. As I strained to fight the fatigue and open my eyes, I realized my legs were also being touched. I could hear some low voices nearby speaking a language I did not understand.

As I raised my heavy eyelids, I saw four faces bent down over my hammock, looking me over. They were Sanama Indian woman from the next village. Each had their face painted and were adorned with the sticks they use to beautify themselves. They also had a roll of tobacco placed between their bottom lips and lower teeth. This gives the teeth a green, slimy look and produces a green dribble which they spit out on the floor every few seconds.

As my eyes took in the sight, I screamed!

The four, poor women, jumped! Screamed! Dropped their tobacco and walking sticks...and ran out the door! Screaming all the way through the village as they headed to their canoe!

I must have been just as scary to them as they had been to me. To add insult to injury, all the men in the village came running in to check on why I and the women had screamed, expecting to find a jaguar or something equally dangerous!

NO, just me sitting in my hammock trying to figure out if it was real...or another hallucination!


Sarah Joy said...

Love this story, although I'm sure it wasn't funny to you until some time had elapsed!

Kathy said...

Oh my word Rita!!! What a story! (Makes me NOT want to wait TOO long for your book--I think you'll need to have two books, with a Part 1 in Ven. and Part 2 in PY!)