As we prepare for 18 days in Peru and an additional 9 days on the Amazon, I find that I’m thinking quite a bit about snakes. I bet you didn’t know that the Anaconda is also known as the “water boa.” And did you know that they can grow to 20 feet? I have every intention of staying far from the river banks. The False Water Cobra is endangered. It is not poisonous, but some people react in haste. I would be one of those people.
Quoting from “The Snake Catcher Speaks” by Sujata Bhatt seems like an obvious choice of trigger:
The best way to catch a northern water snake is to corner it in a lake and let it bite your arm – it will hold on tight maintaining its grip even as you raise your arm out of the water. Of course, it hurts…
- Get up close and personal with an animal. If you don’t have a snake handy or you are not keen on pain, choose a family pet. Or… research an animal that you don’t know much about and imagine an encounter with it.
Visiting with the Pueblo County Health Nurse who gave us the lowdown on health risks to be encountered in Peru and on the Amazon, Mark asked as he received this third shot, “So what about the indigenous people… surely they don’t have all these immunizations. What happens to them?”
And in a deadpan reply worthy of late night, comedy TV, the public health nurse said, “They die.”
Aside from the snakes, Dengue fever is an issue. Also known as hemorrhagic fever (you can connect the dots) and “breakbone fever,” Dengue fever can be fatal. There is no available vaccine, but if you display symptoms (muscle and joint pain, fever, headache, and rash) you should try to hydrate. If that doesn’t work, blood transfusions are recommended. Very low blood pressure can lead to organ failure.
So I will make a real effort to avoid city mosquitoes – particularly in Iquitos which had such a severe outbreak in February that all Peace Corps workers were evacuated on the 15th. Apparently no new cases have been diagnosed in the last two weeks.
The back-story is pretty interesting. According to Peter Gorman, writing in the Huffington Post, (yes, I know… she sold out to Newsweek for a goodly sum, and many of those who contribute to her site are unpaid) , the Peruvian federal government gives Iquitos between two and five million dollars for mosquito eradication annually, but for the last two years, that money has been misappropriated, and the mosquitoes have gone wild. Responding to this latest breakout, the federal government sent more money. www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-gorman/dengue-in-iquitos.
So… there are Amazon snakes, and Iquitos mosquitoes and presidential elections.
April 10 was the first presidential round; the final run-off will take place in early June. Of concern is that one of the top contenders is Ollanta Humala who is backed by Hugo Chavez and funding from Venezuela. Need I say more.
We fly to Lima on April 11. We return to Colorado on May 10.
I am hoping to blog every couple of days – history, culture, people, places, flora, fauna, and of course, any snakes that I encounter. That said, I’m not too sure of Internet connectivity. If you see my blog – I’m connected. If not, I’m either out of touch or in the stomach of an Anaconda.