No one can possibly know the pain of having almost 300 bites of love from the local mosquito population of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The little Ecuadorian Playa Mosquitos of Ballenita or Puerto Lopez have nothing on their bigger and more savage Amazonian cousins. There isn’t a Travel Health Plan on the planet that discusses bug bite coverage. Nor is there an exact benefit in any Travel Health Program describing “Pain and Suffering” or “Itching and Scratching”. And, as far as mental health benefits for going out of your mind in pain….nada.
In fact, at what point do you seek medical attention for all that constant pain and suffering?
I have, but I can’t show you — this is a corporate blog after all — hundreds of red and pink welts on my legs, feet, arms, hands, back, shoulders, head, face….you guessed it….everywhere. And I am in constant pain. Initially, I called my resident physician a very close family member, my mom, and asked “What do I do! I’m really in pain and discomfort and this Remote Employee shit isn’t any longer any fun”.
I bought a Travel Health Plan. You can too. In fact we sell it here. I’m sure there’s a link somewhere. After the suffering and whining I’ve endured for the last 3 weeks, I finally went to the Salud Clinic/Hospital in Macas. Do you have any idea what a “local’ hospital in a town of about 50,000 people looks like in Ecuador? How about Guatemala or Peru?
What about a little hospital in, say, Mexico or Turkey?
You’re probably thinking “Oh, we have a 500-bed hospital with about 4 floors of gleaming aluminum and windows, brand new tile and because of Covid, it’s beyond immaculate”
That kind of hospital exists in the US and you probably think, pretty much everywhere. And despite American’s complaining (and what don’t we bitch about) about the cost of healthcare this and surgery, we do have the best healthcare in the world. Even for you Europhiles, visit a French or Spanish hospital one day. Their caregiver to inpatient ratio is like 300 patients to 10.
And their buildings are a lot older than ours, that’s for sure. Most are former castles from the Crusades.
Anyway, back to my finally succumbing to my pain and agony… I found the Salud Clinic pretty close to where it says it was on the map. Middle of town, but 4 blocks through an alley to the back street against the main Thoroughfare Salida (out) of Town! And it was tucked into a little alley between two shanties! If you think it was this bright gleaming testament to Ecuadorian construction, you’d be close. But about 2000 years off toward Incan Modern.
It was a quarter the size of a normal trailer. Not a double-wide, mind you. A small trailer. You think you are an expert on trailers because you’ve seen 8 Mile or Kill Bill, but these trailers are worse…Seriously, much worse.
And in the front of the trailer was one woman whose job it was to check you in. No Insurance was discussed. No Insurance Card was asked for or displayed. No 800 number to call and verify anything. I tried, in my halting Spanish, to say that I had a great Travel Health Plan. That it would all be covered. No Problemo. That, obviously, I didn’t live here and didn’t have a billing address or anything like that. You know we Americans can be very defensive. Our radar is always up. After waiting for the 5 mom’s with very ill babies in front of me (turned out the word Infant on the trailer meant infant. After seeing the word Infant on dozens of churches, I didn’t really think too much of it when I saw it on the hospital…I mean trailer), it was finally my turn to be seen by the…..wait for it….veterinary student at the next canton over’s Collegio (not a University). He had to be 18 or 19.
But he wore a white shirt! And in my condition, that was official enough. He had me take off my shirt and looked me over. I’m pretty sure if he would have asked one of the women to take off her shirt, he’d have been dead by the time it was my turn.
He uttered the word “Malo” like ten times. He disappeared out of the little trailer leaving the door open so all the women behind me in line could be offended at the sight of an old white guy with red spots all over his upper torso. He then returned, from around the corner (I later figured it out, he went into a local Farmacia — Cruz Azul) and then started putting crème on all my sores and bites. It felt a lot better. He handed me another little bottle of Detar along with the rest of the cream he had used on me. As I walked out the door with my shirt off, some of the women shielded their eyes while the braver ones giggled. And of course, all the babies were crying.
As I got to the woman who had let me in, she handed me a receipt and a written piece of paper, not an RX form like our insurance companies like or an itemized bill for $100,000, including items you know you never received. She handed me the Cruz Azul receipt for $12.50 (Cream was $9.50 and the Detar was $3.00). I handed her $15.00 (In Ecuador, their currency is the American Dollar). She gave me back $2.50 and motioned for me to move on. I stood there like an idiot looking at the small bag of creams in one hand and my $2.50 in the other. And she said “No, mas. Gracias. Buenos Tardes” and motioned for me to get the heck out of the way of the woman who had stood up with her baby and truly needed attention. As I was leaving, the “Doctor” came out of the trailer and said, “You know, Mister, we Ecuadorians do not get bitten like your gringos”.
Like I didn’t know that.