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Adobe Huts and the Chagas Bug

BOLIVIA | Thursday, 6 December 2007 | Views [2001]

We checked into our very rustic Hostel Los Lipez, in this tiny Pueblo, home to only 200 residents. We are the only tourists here. Getting settled in our mud brick adobe wall and thatched roof room, thoughts of the discovery channel episode on Chagas Disease flashes through my mind. This hostel, and particularly our room, is a place that hasn't been maintained probably since it was built. There are cracks throughout the walls, and the bed covers are sprinkled in mud chips that have been falling through major holes in the adobe ceiling, revealing strands of thatch material protruding down from the outside roof. Chagas disease involves a bug that carries a parasite that lives in the ceilings or cracks of adobe mud - constructed huts. The bug comes out at night, bites the sleeping victim, often on the face near the lips, and defecates into the exposed part of the skin. Subsequently, the victim rubs the bite unknowingly, smearing the defecation and parasite into their own wound. One might not know they've been bit until later on, when one’s heart abnormally enlarges, along with one's guts. Without mosquito nets here, I sleep with my buff synched over my face and head, and cover my head with the sheet, hoping to keep safe from the Chagas bugs which I'm sure must be lurking and ready to drop down upon me when the sun sets and we tuck in for the night. We don't sleep a bit; at 4,000m, we keep waking up, gasping for air, and afraid we'll stop breathing if we do fall asleep.

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