Sunday, Aug 25: We crossed the border into Brasil fairly
late in the day, and after a check of our medical papers to confirm we had current Yellow
Fever vaccinations, we proceeded north 100 kms to the town of Caceres. We were quite hot
when we arrived, and my wrist was aching from a bug bite I got a few days before. We found
a cheap hotel ($5 including fan and private bath), and headed to the plaza after dark for
a few liters of Skol beer and a delicious pizza! It was a bit of a culture shock to
be back in Brasil, where there are more cars, people have more money, and we don't
understand the language!
Monday, Aug 26: Woke early with my wrist inflamed and in serious pain. I wanted to find
a clinic, but was instructed to go to the pharmacy where I was given some antibiotics and
anti-inflammatory medicine for what was believed to be a spider bite. We loaded the bikes,
and started out towards Cuiaba, a large city 215km to the east. It was brutally hot
(reminded us of Western Australia in the summer), and we had to stop about half way at a
roadside restaurant to have lunch, drink a few liters of liquids, and tighten my sagging
chain a bit more. I had wanted to change my chain and sprockets (which were badly worn)
before leaving Bolivia, but the hot weather made me lazy and I decided to do it when we
Well, 17kms short of our destination, while riding at 100km/h, the chain gave up,
slipped off the sprockets, and locked up yes, not a fun situation! I luckily
managed to get the bike quickly stopped and to the side of the road. It was over 110F/44C,
and the breakdown didnt happen in the shade! There was some collateral damage from
the chain tearing into the swing-arm and front sprocket cover, but nothing major. My wrist
was throbbing, and barely able to move. Erin did most of the work to remove the rear wheel
and maneuver the chain free. The chain was badly warped, and the rear sprocket was so worn
it was nearly missing a few teeth. We got the bike to a rideable state, and rode up the
road to a gas station where we were able to park the bikes in the shade. We had all the
parts we needed, but I could barely help Erin, and some of the heads on the bolts on the
rear sprocket were shaved off. Long story short, it took us 3 hours to make the repairs
a job that normally takes less than 30 minutes.
We arrived in Cuiaba at sunset, and pulled into a plaza area to get our bearings.
Cuiaba is the geometric center of South America, a city of 450,000, and not a very
common place for tourists to hang around. The city is at the northern edge of the
Pantanal, and a launch point for 3-4 day tours into the park to see the many animals and
birds. It is also a fairly expensive city, so it took us almost 2 hours to find a
semi-expensive hotel with secure parking. I couldnt move my wrist, and we had to get
help to maneuver the bikes into where they would be parked.
Tuesday, Aug 27: My hand was larger than before, and I spent another restless night in
pain. After breakfast, we headed out in search of a clinic to try and find medical help.
We eventually find the hospital, and after only 15 minutes waiting, were led into Dr.
Antonios office. I explained that I had had an insect bite (which appeared like a
whitehead) on my wrist, that I had popped it (like a pimple) a few days before, and some
puss had come out. He replied that when I tried to get the puss out, there were probably
some micro-bacteria on my skin, it had now gotten in, and my wrist was therefore infected.
He prescribed Ciprofloxen for the infection (the antibiotic from Caceres was for throat
ailments), an anti-inflammatory, and instructed me to use hot compresses every few hours.
He thought the problem would clear in a day or 2, and told me to return if it did not. We
spent the rest of the day going from air-conditioned shop to air-conditioned tour company
(it was hot!). To our disappointment, Cuiaba does not offer the same budget tours as
further south in the Pantanal. We thought about riding in ourselves, but the heat and my
sore hand made us less than enthusiastic.
Thursday, Aug 29: We returned to the hospital just before lunch. The nurses took one
look at my hand, then went to find Dr. Antonio. The doctor took a quick look at my wrist,
and told me they would need to drain the fluid. We returned after lunch, and the doctor
took us to a small room. The injection of anesthesia was very painful, but seconds later
he made a large incision into my wrist that I didnt even feel. After a fair amount
of puss and blood was squeezed out, the doctor inserted some fancy pliers and began
digging around Erin thought he was checking all the pores. Moments later, he pulled
out a 1-inch flesh eating worm yuck! Turns out I was bit by a fly which inserted
some larva below my skin. This was very similar to what we learned of Bora-Bora in
Bolivia. As Ive already told my mother, there is no after-effects to this, and it
sounds much worse than it is. Now that the worm is out, the laceration will heal and
things will return to normal.
Friday, Aug 30: Wrist is back to normal size and feeling terrific (except for the
115F/46C heat). We find out that my cousin from Boston will be in Rio in 12 days, it would
be good to meet him there, and decide to skip the Pantanal weve seen many of
the same animals in Bolivia already, were tired of the heat, and we dont want
to pay US$90-100/day for the tours.