Sick abroad – what to do?

#Sharing Thursdays third article, yeah!
What to do when sick abroad? Lot of people ask me this or if I had to visit a doctor while I was traveling in South America. Yes, I was sick once and yes, I had to visit a doctor in Venezuela. Have you ever visited a doctor abroad?

In this article I will analyze the situation that happened, which mistakes I perhaps made and how did I solve the situation. If you like the article and you feel like contributing at least 1$ or 1 EUR for it, please donate the money to HoopRelief’s crowdfunding campaign for children instead. Thank you.

Traveling with flu
I think that I was really lucky, because I was sick only once and that was an ordinary flu. I didn’t experience anything like dengue fever, I didn’t make it to the area where was malaria (but I had some malaria pills with me that I didn’t use) and I didn’t have food poisoning which was the scariest for me. I experienced people that had food poisoning in Bolivia and I still feel sorry for them (that f***** pizza! 🙂

Tip for Bolivia: „boil it, cook it, peel it or forget it“

When I had fever and flu, I was in Peru and it was really annoying because I was in a popular hostel, with lot of people in the same room and they didn’t let me turn off the annoying fan that made me feel even worse. I had to get to Ecuador where I was supposed to meet a friend, so I got on a night bus, with high fever and prayed to get to Guayaquil as soon as possible. Of course there had to be some problem. The computer system on the Ecuadorian border collapsed and we had to wait there for 4 hours! I was sweating like crazy, covered with my sleeping bag and in a super air-conditioned bus. This was a night mare.

Sweating like crazy. On my way to Ecuador.

Sweating like crazy. On my way to Ecuador.

Tip: Do bring a sleeping bag with you when traveling in South America. The buses are very cold, especially the over night buses. Sleeping bag is good to warm you, or just to feel more comfortable when traveling.

When I finally made it to the biggest Ecuadorian city – Guayaquil – I jumped in a taxi and went straight to a nice hotel. This was the end of my budget traveling. The idea of staying in another hostel made me almost vomit. I stayed in a nice and clean family owned bed and breakfast and rented a room only for myself. I was healthy in 24 hours! I just had to rest, be alone and eat well.

Tip: Have some extra money for urgent situations, like getting sick. When you get sick, don’t save on yourself. There is nothing worse than traveling with fever, or some ache.

Doctor in Venezuela
And now comes the second part. Doctor in Venezuela. The last week of my trip, was kind of vacation from traveling. I spent an amazing time surfing and hanging out on the beach in Isla Margarita. I swear that I found the best surf instructor ever, surfed my first green wave and I felt unbelievably happy that I survived my South American trip. Until my Venezuelan friends pointed at my legs and told me that those mosquito bites didn’t look that normal… and I knew it, I just didn’t want to give up on surfing. Fabian, my friend, convinced me to go to the doctor the next day and I had to say yes. We were in a very small beach village called El Tirano and to my big surprise the doctor was just behind the corner. Fabian explained that the doctors in Venezuela are for free and it doesn’t matter that I’m a foreigner. I didn’t know what to think, but I felt safe anyway because I had a travel insurance.

Fabian skating <3 Too much Chavez propaganda on the streets of Venezuela

Fabian skating <3
Too much Chavez propaganda on the streets of Venezuela

The public health centers in Venezuela are really for free. We entered a small building with a very simple desk in the lobby and that was the reception. I had to say my name, my problem and wait in a line to be accepted by the doctor. What grabbed my eye was a massive political propaganda of the previous and current Venezuelan government. The reason why the health system is for free for everyone in Venezuela is the social politics that was introduced by Hugo Chavez. I agree that everyone should get a treatment and should be cured the best possible way, but I wonder how long will last the oil reserve that obviously covers this system? Hopefully long time or is there another solution? While waiting to be checked I ran into Ricardo, a beach vendor, that I met few days before. Poor guy, he had pneumonia and he had to stay hospitalized for some days. I felt sorry that I didn’t buy more of his “artesania”, because he inspired me a lot. Find more about Ricardo.

"Decoration" in the Venezuelan public health centers. From Simon Bolivar, through Che, Fidel to Hugo!

“Decoration” in the Venezuelan public health centers. From Simon Bolivar, through Che, Fidel to Hugo!

The verdict was cruel. The doctor said that I couldn’t go to the beach and surf for the next 10 days. What?! These were my 4 last days and the only thing that I wanted to do was to surf and sleep on the beach. On top of that, I couldn’t drink alcohol because I was on antibiotics (so no wild parties allowed 🙂 Ok, that was it… I promised to my self, to the ocean and to my surf instructor that I will return one day and surf there.

I’m very happy that these were the only two health issues I experienced on a long trip like this. I wish everyone super safe and healthy travels. And do remember to relax and eat well, because traveling can be exhausting.

My surf instructor :)

My surf instructor 🙂

Read more about my travel stories and tips in the next post from the “Sharing Thursday” series!
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