Ever heard the Tom Lehrer song “Pollution”? That could have been written about La Paz. Don’t drink the water and don’t breath the air indeed. I’ve been feeling a bit queezy each time I come back here, but having said that, it doens’t seem to be the pollution that’s the problem. I wonder if I’m cursed. I’m beginning to think it would be better for me if I stayed in the countryside. All three weekends I’ve come back to La Paz since I arrived in Bolivia I’ve got ill in some way. Not you’re normal stomach problems and altitude sickness, mind you. But fricking weird feeling-odd-for-no-discernible-reason ill. Last weekend I got cold in the same way one usually gets hot with a fever. I had been sitting indoors all morning, and got colder and colder to the point I was shaking all over even though the temperature wasn’t really that low. I went home and got into bed with all my clothes on and covered with 5 blankets, and still felt so shivery I began to feel sick. In the end I went over to a friend’s apartment, and sat in her little patio garden for three quarters of an hour trying to warm myself up in the sun. After that I felt better. But who ever heard of someone feeling nauseous because they were cold?

Then this afternoon, our second weekend back from the campo, it was even weirder. I was with my zooarchaeologist friend in a shop in the witches market, waiting for her to buy a dried llama foetus for her comparative collection, when I noticed that there were big spots of light in my vision – like when you look into the sun, except that I hadn’t and it wouldn’t go away. It continued like this after we left the shop for about 20 mins, and began to get really annoying because I couldn’t see anything properly with these big blobs of light in my vision all the time. Especially as I was trying to buy a rug, and kind of wanted to be able to see what colour it was before I handed over cash. Anyway, after a while it got worse, and then I began to loose all depth perception and most of my peripheral vision in one eye. At this point I freaked out because I couldn’t see to walk properly and the streets are very steep and crowded, so I got in a taxi and came home. A few hours later, my vision has come back but left me with a headache and a very garishly coloured rug. La Paz isn’t healthy for me, obviously. I need to get back to the campo where I just get food poisoning and sprained ankles like everyone else.

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