13 October 2023 Bogotá to Lima

In search of a Yellow Fever vaccination

Duolingo Essentials: Yo necesito un sombrero como Indiana Jones

Alarm set for 3:30 am but I was awake at 2:30 am only to realise that I had the wrong time for my flight to Lima. The apartment owner had offered to take me to the airport at 4 am for 25 COP so I messaged him to say I needed to leave earlier. All turned out well as I got through both immigration and security to Gate A3 in less than 25-minutes and more than an hour before departure. The only slightly down side was that an Uber cab would only have been 15 COP.

I settled down by the gate and had my first cup of Colombian coffee… very good… muy buena.

One of the Buddha’s psychological insights is that people crave certain things like sensual pleasures, excitement, stimulation and novelty. We also crave to be someone or something or have a certain status. Conversely, there are times and circumstances when we just want to disappear, for the earth to open up and swallow us.  I like to think of this as prompting the ‘self’. 

People watching at the airport… people trying to blend in, or stand out, or not be seen, dressing for comfort and other reasons. One nearly-smartly dressed gentleman’s trousers had obviously had a row with his shoes as there was a greater distance between them then one would normally expect. 

Another example of ‘clothes maketh a man’ was a young gentleman – a priest maybe? – dressed like a crusader minus the metal armour… he might have dressed the part but there was something very unsettling about him.

Aircraft ‘personal space’, boundaries and etiquette in small spaces! I had an aisle seat next to a tall thin young woman of undetermined age who was seated in the middle seat. Her legs splayed at a great angle and her elbows were firmly in control of both armrests. The man next to the window was forced to incline towards the fuselage… and I had to lean towards the aisle… she eventually unfolded the seat tray and appeared to sleep. After we landed in Lima, what appeared to be her brother and mother, seated in the adjacent row cajoled her to disembark with them. She hadn’t spoken a word to anyone throughout the whole flight. Clearly a case of ‘life sucks’.

Notable moments of well-being during this exhausting journey! For example… a deep calm during take off from BOG

It had been another early start but it was worth getting to Lima before 9 am.

Having had no luck at the International Medical Centre in Bogota Airport, I went to the International Health Center on the ground floor of Lima Airport. Everything was looking good to get the vaccination only to be told that they could not give a yellow fever vaccination to anyone over 60. The vaccination would have been provided free to anyone under 60 intending to travel on or around the Amazon and/or planning to enter Brazil.

I was given the name and address of a private clinic that may be able to provide the vaccination. I took a relatively very expensive (45 sol) prepaid taxi to the address provided. After searching and asking around I was informed that the Bellavista International Medical Centre no longer existed. 

I recalled a fairly recent travel blog that said you can get the vaccination at the  Cayetano Heredia National Hospital.

So I ordered an Uber cab at a fraction of the cost of the prepaid Airport Taxi and  for twice the distance! After arriving at Cayetano Heredia Hospital, I went to the window in the small vaccination building. Everyone was very helpful but before I could get any vaccinations – particularly the yellow fever vaccine – I had to go to the tropical medicine centre to get a Medical Order from a doctor covering the yellow fever vaccine. 

I actually went to the window in the wrong building. Mistakenly, I said in my best Spanish ‘I have a doctor’s note’ (tengo) when I really wanted to say ‘I need a doctor’s note’ (necesito). No matter, despite the amused looks, a wonderful young woman named Natalie, very kindly sorted everything out for me. This included walking with me between buildings and doing the translations for me.

Back at the original vaccination building, I was well taken care of and received the all important Yellow Fever shot, and also Diphtheria and Hepatitis B boosters. All provided free of charge.

I could have also had Influenza and COVID shots but I had already had them earlier this week in Ireland.

I took an Uber cab to my hotel in the Miraflores part of Lima. I checked in and had a much needed sleep for a couple of hours.

A late afternoon stroll took me to the seaside to watch the Pacific Ocean pounding against the shore. And then a slow walk back towards the hotel looking out for somewhere for an early dinner. 

I stopped at a ‘La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla’ (restaurant chain) which was very busy but the food provided was wonderful and cheap.

Back at the hotel after 2 days travelling, there was two days worth of laundry. I’m travelling light – like Paddington Bear – with only 4 days worth of clothes, which means I must hand wash clothes every one or two days.

It’s lovely to be travelling again, particularly somewhere that I’ve never visited before but it can also be quite tiring, so time for a much needed early night.

Good night.

Budget Costs:

  • Taxi to non-existent private Health Centre €11
  • Uber to the Public Hospital and the to hotel €9.50 (+tips)
  • Hotel Libre (Best Western) €65 per night
  • Meal at La Lucha €8.50
  • Ice Cream at Dunkin Donuts €2 
  • Savings on not getting vaccines in Limerick – €200 approx.