Post-script: A Funny Thing Happened to Felix
At dinner a few days ago, right after arriving back in Cochabamba, Felix suddenly turned pale and complained of a funny feeling in his head. Seeing that he was about to faint I took him first onto my lap in a lying down position, then, when he thought he might throw up, picked him up like a baby and carried him outside the restaurant where we both sat down on the sidewalk, Felix lying semi-prone against me for support, ready to heave into the gutter if it became necessary. We sat that way for several minutes before he felt able to lift his head, and when he did, we looked up to see a hunched-over, traditionally dressed indigenous woman holding out her hand to us, not cupped and begging, but holding a 2-boliviano piece, and offering it to us. Graciously but insistently we refused it, totally perplexed by the entire situation. As Felix started to feel better, we both started to laugh at the oddity of it all. Did she think we were begging? Did she think we needed change so we could use the public bathroom? Was she the woman we had earlier given money to and she had decided to return it? I teased Felix that it was because he looked so pathetic (green around the gills and covered in hundreds of angry-looking bug bites) – like one of those stinky, mangy, almost hairless dogs we’d seen in the Chapare. This coaxed a smile from him, bringing relief to us both that whatever had gripped him was passing. Over the next few minutes he gradually came to a sitting position, then stood, then returned to the restaurant and resumed eating dinner. Strangely, not ten minutes later, the same wave of faintness and nausea came over me and I had to lay my head on the restaurant table to keep from blacking out. It was a good 15 minutes before I felt ready to stand up and another ten before my arms stopped tingling. The only thing we can guess it was is a reaction to being back at altitude. Other guesses?