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Thursday, May 2, 2013

DO NOT lick the salt walls of Bolivia. My son ends up in hospital with poisoning


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I sit on a pillow on the wooden floorboards, in a dark and basic bedroom and type.
Today has been a long day.

I was woken just after midnight. 
Covered in projectile vomit from my son.
Again and again he was ill, before I could hardly move to help him.
Thus the night continued.  
I stripped the bed, changed us, washed clothes, borrowed linen from neighbouring rooms continuously, and placed towels and trash bins on and near the bed.  
There seems to be remains of spaghetti all over the place.
It is so gross – like worms.
Then I fitfully grabbed a little sleep.
Morning came all too soon before the hot and cold shakes began for him.
Then the other end started for the poor boy.
I managed to get leave the room and find out guide and alert him to our fate.
Whilst my son grabbed a little sleep...
... I was invited to share breakfast in the 75 year old cocina kitchen around the old fire.

I ate in speed.  

I check my boy and he is still sleeping.
I go outside and grab a few photos of this little piece of hidden Bolivian yesteryear.
The cactus plants are huge - incredible.

The old clay pots make a lovely garden display in the courtyard.

The traditional home is old with a thatched roof.

The old lady and I had hit it off and I called her Mamma.

Our guide and I decided we should drive my son to Uyuni Hospital.
It was impossible to continue our tour.
We head off leaving behind fields of multi-coloured quinua -
– a plant that I am told is good for the brain.
After a while my poor boy fell asleep to the ripples and rivets of the salt plains.
We pass pink flamingos and biqunyas.
It was 125 km I am told from Jirira to Uyuni.
We collected Antonia, the office manager who knew a few words of English,
and who could assist me, and went to the hospital.
My son was ushered straight into emergency.

Antonia assisted me with informing the doctor in Spanish of the symptoms.
I am ushered to the Hospital Administrator to pay for the treatment and pharmaceutical requirements –  an injection to stop the vomiting and two lots of medicine.
Emergency is so basic, yet the care is attentive and the doctor is brilliant!


However, in Bolivia they use a comma where we use a full stop / period.
So when he asks me to pay, I thought it converted from Bolivianos to USD as $1150, 
and nearly had a heart attack. 
But it was all of $11.50.
I return to emergency where my son is completely distraught on finding he needs and injection.
He thinks he is going to die.
I discover a funeral calendar on the wall !!!


It takes 2 people to hold him down and he gets his needle.
I am still not completely sure of the diagnosis.
I “think” he has a bad throat infection that has gone to his stomach.
But the fact he has licked salt walls, he may have poisoning and infection in his stomach as well. 
I then am assisted by Antonia to a hotel next to her office.
Just happy for a bed, I don’t even check the room.  
I pay the equivalent of $10 US.
I get him to the room and into bed.
Medicine admitted, I lay down with him so he will rest.
I discover we have to rent a towel, buy toilet paper, and there is only water at certain hours.  
I also learn there is no washing facility except a hand wash trough in the centre open area. 
I watch as a lady laboriously hand scrubs the sheets.
My son sleeping, I decide to catch up on blogs – here you find me.
There has now been a change of location.
I am sitting on my son’s hospital bed.
He awoke, and proceeded to vomit all over the room many times.  
I couldn’t keep up, and it was out of control. 
I called to a new guest to go to reception to get me some assistance.

The man races up with a bucket.
I tell him I will pay for the cleaning of the linen.
I ask him to get Antonia from the Tour Agent next door. 
She comes shortly and arranges a private car taxi back to the hospital.
I quickly throw my valuables, and a few tings in the backpack.
I don’t want to leave them in the room, as the staff now know we are off to the hospital.
There sure isn’t any secure lock-up safe in this hotel, or probably in this town
So we arrive at the hospital. 


After quite some time in emergency, he is admitted.
With the help of an orderly, he is carried to an outside inpatient room.
He is given candy pink stripe pyjamas, and given new medications to stop the vomiting.
I am told this may be 2 or 3 days we are in hospital for – I hope not.
There is no way I am leaving him to return to the hotel.
Not in a strange country.
So I sit and wait for him to settle.
He is back asleep quite quickly.
We share a room with a couple, and they have a baby.

Five minutes ago Antonia returns with a flask of tea, a bottle of water, and a pot of soup.
Along with cups, bowl, soup ladle, and serviettes.
She has a conversation with the doctor, and I discover we have to supply our own food.
So she has brought dinner – or cena as it is called in Spanish.
I am not a fan of chicken soup, but I appreciate the kindness so much.
She is brilliant, and I am so grateful for her help.
So here I sit.
Desperate for sleep.
I realise how alone I am.
This hospital is at the edge of town.
There is certainly no internet.
I can’t Facebook and tell my family and friends of our situation.
So I tell myself – as I prepare this blog.
These are the times traveling overseas as a single Mum is exhausting, challenging, and lonely.
These are the times I want to have a big cry.
I am so tired.
I long to curl up with my boy and sleep.


We recommend this Salt Hotel - it is gorgeous, and the family is incredible.
We also recommend Uyuni Tours for assisting us whilst my so was ill - especially the driver and lady in the office.

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