Saturday, February 25, 2017

Quarantined in Ilheus

Salvador da Bahia - but sent from Ilhabela on 25 Feb.

22 February 2017

We pulled into port at Salvador da Bahia on Monday, 20 Feb.  There was a gorgeous mural on the building right outside our stateroom, sort of a Brazilian Mother Nature – or maybe Mother Brazil, with all kinds of animals and flowers as part of her hair, the ocean in her face, and a couple of trout and hummingbirds as a headdress.  I loved the colors and, well, at least my interpretation of the mural. 

All of us were greeted by several women in beautiful costumes, handing us ribbons that, we guess, welcome us to Bahia.  Richard was told by one of the women that we’re supposed to wrap the ribbon around our wrist, tie the ends in three knots, make three wishes, and wear the ribbon until it falls off.  Neither of us have put the ribbons on, but the ladies were colorful and I’m holding on to my ribbons. 

We spent our morning in the port terminal, cleaning out our email inboxes (I had over 1000 new emails!), and I managed to post four blogs.  By afternoon, I was starting to not feel well, so we went back to the ship.  And, unfortunately, later in the evening I was feeling downright sick, with a fever.  So we finally called the ship’s medical center, while at sea, and ended up with a medical consultation about 1 AM. 

I was pretty sure my cold had turned into bronchitis.  The doctor was pretty sure I had the flu.  He insisted on testing me for it, and ugh that was not a fun test.  (Sorry, but I have a major problem with people poking things into me that don’t belong there.)  Of course, the test was negative, but I was pressured into taking the meds to treat influenza.  On the other hand, I also was given a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which will treat the nasty bacteria that show up with the bronchitis, which is why I had a fever. 

And then I was essentially put in quarantine.  Yup, told I was to be isolated in our stateroom for 24 hours, with twice-daily room sanitizations (complete with our friendly room steward wearing a mask and rubber gloves), plus twice-daily visits by the medical staff to take my temp.  Once I went 24 hours without a fever, the quarantine would be lifted. 

So I stayed in the room for a day, and we called room service for our meals.  (They were delivered by someone wearing a mask as well.)  I had a good book, there were some movies on tv, and with not feeling great, it was okay.  Of course, once I was on antibiotics my fever disappeared, so today I was released from isolation.  And I found out that had I left my room prior to the official lifting of quarantine, and tried to use my card anywhere on the ship (entrance to the dining room, any purchases, even in the casino), I’d have been escorted by security back to my room!  Good thing I was feeling yuck enough to stay in bed! 

Anyway, so I totally missed Ilheus, which turns out to be on the Cacao Coast and is the chocolate capital of Brazil!!!!!  SO SAD!!!!!  How can I possibly continue living without visiting the chocolate capital of Brazil???  CHOCOLATE!!!!  I can’t believe I had to get sick and miss such a wonderful place!  Some people we’ve met onboard visited, and said it was a cute little town with pretty buildings.  But they never found the chocolate market.  So we might have missed it as well.  Sigh. 

We’re having a day at sea today, and I’ve been keeping a low profile.  Tomorrow we were supposed to stop in Vittoria – but the police have been on strike there, and, well, things have been rather crazy apparently.  The cruise company, of course, keeps on top of the security at all ports, and they’ve been advised to NOT go to this stop.

That announcement was a reminder as to why we’re visiting Brazil in this fashion, on a cruise ship rather than our usual hit-or-miss free-spirit manner.  Brazil is going through political and social unrest, with a recently impeached president and corrupt politicians, rampant poverty, diseases like the zika virus, and continuing discrimination and divisiveness based on color and economic status.  We saw the teachers on strike in Belem, and I can’t even imagine a city with all of the police on strike for weeks.  Government workers aren’t always paid (hence the strikes), and every politician is suspected of financial fraud. 

So we’ve opted for a safer way of travel at the moment, with a large organization keeping on top of the political situation.  Plus the company knows what bad publicity it would be if any of their passengers’ safety or security was threatened.  This definitely is a less adventurous way of travelling, but we both felt that given the current state of the country, this was the more circumspect way to go.  Discretion being the better part of valor, and all that. 

At any rate, we’re stopping at Armacao dos Buzios rather than at Vittoria, Buzios being a beach resort town.  It’s supposed to be a beautiful place, with sandy beaches and aqua water and quaint shopping.  (Shopping seems to be a primary directive for some of our passengers.)

We’ll give it a go, and report back when we can.


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