Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recovering from dengue fever

Mexicans are wonderful people. As I was walking by myself in Cardel this morning reflecting on this (and not for the first time either), I was interrupted by someone calling from across the street: “hey John! How are you?” It was Adrian, one of the Hotel Bienvenidos staff. Last Monday, when I left the Hotel count site early, I told him I was feeling sick. Instantly he offered some medication, which I declined. He said he hoped I would at least take a rest and would feel better soon. Well, I did – but not before I felt a whole lot worse first. When I left Cardel heading home for Chichi, all I knew was that I had a fever. Once home, I laid down and from that point forward, my whole existence started to appear tenuous to me. I felt intense misery – but only a dull, unspecific pain just about anywhere in my body – and the strangest thing to me was how time had almost come to a standstill. I kept looking at my watch and checking with my alarm clock to see how this could be: that what to me felt like 10, 15 minutes passing was really only one or two. The afternoon, needless to say, lasted forever. Eventually, my roommates showed up, and they suggested I see a doctor. I said I didn’t know about that, figured that if this wouldn’t go away overnight, we could maybe go and see a doctor the next day. When I collapsed on the tiled floor after a bathroom visit, and I heard them say that I had a really high fever, they decided to call the project’s coordinator, who lives an hour and a half’s drive away, to take me to a hospital. So at 2 AM, Eduardo, Irving and Kasmir accompanied me to the local hospital, where I didn’t have to wait very long and where they gave me an injection to bring down the fever. The diagnosis was probable dengue fever, but it was recommended that I come back the next day for a test. This I didn’t do (for lack of funds), but I have since developed the entire pathology of dengue, including a rash on the third day after the fever finally went down, so their diagnosis appears to have been correct. High fever, headache, diarrea, muscle ache, general fatigue – this screwy time thing probably an artifact of the fever – followed by a rash. This morning waking up I was pleasantly surprised, twice; first when I looked at my alarm clock and noted “wow! 8 whole hours just went by!” and then when I raised my body from my bed and felt how easy that was – “yay! my strength is back!”

Today was a scheduled day off, and feeling so chipper about having left the fever tunnel (back on normal time, able to see depth again), I went to Cardel to pick up my laundry, drop off more laundry, do some internet, and do some grocery shopping.
So I’m standing in line at the grocery checkout, before me is a very large woman blabbering endlessly with her even bigger son, then she engages in a lengthy item-by-item discussion with the coincidentally also large cashier, and I think to myself how back in the 9-to-5 world I would have craned my neck and gauged the length of other lines. Now, however, I mentally coach my precursor to prattle on, for I am listening in on her conversation, trying to learn the language. Mas que nada, this in-depth discussion of various family members’ brand preferences for certain household goods provided a great listening proficiency experience for me.

What about the birds then? Well, the dengue fever had me indoors for a few days, I’ve since then worked two days and then of course the third day is a day off. (I wrote the above a few days ago.) In terms of raptor migration, diversity is probably at its highest right now, with all species we get in a season currently visible. I think the only regular but rare migrant still missing is Red-shouldered Hawk. We’re still getting a few Swallow-tailed Kites, but that will taper off soon, and Mississippi Kites don’t have much longer to go either. Zone-tailed Hawk is probably the only species currently peaking, with daily counts between 5-30 individuals.

This month I’m not traveling as much on my days off for lack of funds, next month on a whole month of salary I’ll have more opportunity. I’m sticking to Chichicaxtle and its environs mostly, where the birding is often quite decent. This morning on my walk I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary, but noted that numbers of Yellow-breasted Chat have definitely increased. I saw many familiar birds, like the Squirrel Cuckoo pictured above, Ferruginous Pygmy Owls, Altamira Orioles, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers etc.
An interesting butterfly I found was this Pale-spotted Leafwing.

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