I decide to take a deservedly long rest. Since starting my expedition in Argentina, I have been looking forward to taking a break in Arizona. Howard and his family have been supportive since the first day. I’m lucky to be in the desert during the rainy season – which here they refer to as monsoon. The desert does receive a certain amount of rain, which is a scenic event as it helps reduce the heat and dust. Interestingly, when the rain goes down, people usually hide like birds on hot days. They stand in the small streets watching all the water gathered by the rain.
My great hosts make life easier. I feel things will change in other places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York. In these states, I think Americans seem to be in another universe. I arrive during the festival of food and decide to stuff my stomach with food and beer. Our connections guarantee my generous project support in invitations for talks and several rounds at the REI outdoor shop. During the last talk at Summit Hut, other outdoor shops bring many people to donate. They offer a $100 gift card to shop at their huge store.
I’m very grateful for the Rotary Club talk, from which I still get a lot of good feedback and assistance. For me to get full support for my project, I might need a formal procedure. I still receive great appreciation from the talk I did for the Rotary Club, which I’m very grateful for. It is also an excellent opportunity to have a couple of media interviews to spread the project’s word.
After resting off for a week, I wonder if my body feels any change from cycling. I’m not sure if the fatigue I’m feeling is caused by a hangover from the several beers I drank. The fatigue, which worsened with time, was also joined by a lack of concentration and bad headaches. Had these symptoms had caught up with me while at home, I would have dismissed them as malaria. I’m certain it can’t be malaria, because I don’t see mosquitoes around here. When I discover I’m suffering from malaria; I conclude that I had contracted the disease in the Amazon – in Brazil. The crazy symptoms had started mildly weeks ago. The challenging weather forced me to ignore my body, but my rest here ensures I have to come to terms with my condition. Having malaria in a place like the US might be another show. The disease scares everyone. I’m worried everyone thinks I’m suffering from Ebola. It fascinates me to see people here observe hygiene closely. I realize folks use all possible means to stay alive. It seems the only condition they can’t fight is obesity. It reminds me of home, where people die for simple reasons, and no one thinks much of it.
The second part of the American experience is that, if your doctor happens to be unfamiliar with tropical diseases like malaria, you might be treated for an entirely different condition. At home, I’m likely to get tested at a lab and grab some medication from along the streets. This operation typically goes for about two hours. Malaria here is a big deal. That doesn’t mean the doctors will take care of you urgently. You can’t just pop in a chemist for drugs without a doctor’s prescription. While taking a test at the University of Arizona Lab, the amount of blood drawn just for malaria testing shocked me. Four test tubes of blood can even take care of HIV testing.