The Island of Fevered Blisters

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Blistery Goodness

I’m not feeling entirely normal in the morning. Bouts of dizziness roll over me on top of the lethargy I normally associate with being awake before midday.  I am sooooooooo not a morning person.  However, this morning is made even worse by a little visit from the blister fairy.  There are blisters growing down my leg, around my ankle, across the top of my foot and on my forearms.  They don’t hurt to touch but I’m now very happy I brought a decent first aid kit with me. I ask Lari if she can wind the bandage on for me after I apply the antiseptic cream liberally.  We decide we’ll find the Novosibirsk zoo and head for the main marshrutka hub in the city.  Don jumps on the marshrutka saying ‘zoopark’, the Russian word for zoo, to the driver before waving us aboard.  It’s the start of the marshrutka’s journey and we sit in the back seats happily talking about what kind of zoo this is going to be.

Hot Blister Action

We’ve read in the guides that it’s pretty famous, one of the largest in Russia, has been around for quite some time and currently houses 4000 animals.  It’s also a part of a number of international programs for preserving endangered species.  Of course, what we’re really interested in is what they do with all the outdoor animals in the Siberian winter and how they got that lion interested in the female tiger to make a liger.  The robust discussion covers sexy lingerie for tigers, beer consumption and whether tigers have nightclubs. And if lions would be let into tiger nightclubs. After this important discussion gets to what music would get a lion randy (“The Lion sleeps tonight” would be his reward after the deed) and if a lion actually makes love ‘like a tiger’, we notice there’s been no sign of anything like a zoo passing by the windows.  Vortex Yulia had said the entrance was massive and the marshrutka would stop right outside it.  We must look suitably confused, because a woman leans over and asks us if we’re looking for the zoo.  We agree we are and she laughs a little.
“This is the right marshrutka, but you’re going the wrong way.  The zoo is at the other end of this route.”
She’s been enjoying our theories about liger production too and felt she had to say something.  We decide to get off and catch the next one going the right way when she tells us we are about to arrive at the last stop, this bus will turn around straight away.  We thank her for helping us and immediately begin a conference to decide if we’re going to sit in the bus for the fifty minutes it will take to get back to the zoo.  It’s been hot inside the small van, so I suggest we go back to the ferry jetty and sit on the boat for the river cruise instead.  The others agree and about fifteen minutes later we find ourselves sitting on a table on the top deck of a large cruiser, sipping cold orange juice.

Ob River Traffic

The boat really just visits Korablik island, in the middle of the wide Ob river and then returns.  Travelling on the river is a nice way to get another perspective on the city and the forests that start from its banks provide a naturally beautiful landscape. The island itself is mostly made from sand and is a favourite beach for all the locals – who are busy filling it to bursting point today.  During the trip I become more and more tired and start feeling like I’m going to pass out.  I’m sure some of the blisters on my leg have got bigger and I feel I have to get back to Vortex Yulia’s apartment as soon as possible.  I rest my head on the table and wish for sleep.  Don and Lari herd me off the boat and into the nearest Metro station to get back as quickly as possible.  It’s still a ten minute walk through the city after that and the heat is making me feel even worse.  I buy a half litre of water and drink it in a few seconds.  I buy another and clutch it as I feel the fever descend over my senses.  Don and Lari leave me at the last corner before the apartment to continue their wanderings.  I arrive and realise I can’t remember what number apartment it is to call Yulia’s mum to open the door.  I call Don and he tells me.  I look at the panel, unable to focus properly, and I press the button, there is a baffled response and the door doesn’t open.  I call Don again and ask if he’s sure; he is.  I sit down next to the doorway and all my energy leaves me, I can’t think any more and start looking for somewhere in the shade to lie down.  Vortex Yulia’s mother suddenly pushes open the door and smiles, waving me inside.  It takes me a few seconds to register and I smile like an idiot; she has just saved me from a nightmare day.  I manage to make it upstairs and my last memory is of finishing the bottle of water before collapsing onto the bed.

Ob River Fishing fun

I wake up a few hours later, still groggy and unquenchably thirsty.  I manage to walk unsteadily to the water cooler they have in the kitchen and fill the bottle repeatedly as I try to satisfy my thirst.  Vortex Yulia’s mother looks concerned and I manage to tell her, in Russian, that I’m sick.  I show her the still growing blisters and she immediately calls Vortex Yulia as I empty the bottle.  They talk and then I talk to Yulia, telling her Lari thinks it’s an allergic reaction to something.
“I’m craving broccoli, tomatoes and pasta; if you find them, I’ll cook something for us all”, I offer.
As I’m talking I hear my voice is very unsteady.
“I’ll be back in a few hours and I’ll bring what I can.  You rest now.  Sleep!”, Yulia orders.
I feel exhausted.  I refill the bottle once more and collapse on the bed.  In those two minutes word has gone out that I’m sick and I get a message from Yana telling me she’s sick as well.  I tell her I’m much worse than her and we have a fun argument over who’s closer to death’s door before I pass out again.

I awake to find Vortex Yulia has almost finished cooking up a sauce of tomato, broccoli and adzhika sauce to go with the spaghetti she’s brought home.  I tell her she’s wonderful and try to sit up.  I feel incredibly hot and decide I need a shower to take the edge off the general feeling of sick discomfort.  Taking off the bandage on my foot I discover the blisters have all grown another half as big again during the afternoon.  The water is bitterly cold, but turns warm the moment it touches my skin.  As I shiver, I slowly realise that’s the hot water and gradually manage to mix in cold water to bring my skin back to some kind of normal temperature.  I must be running a mighty fever.  The overall effect of the cooling water is blissful and energising, I emerge from the shower feeling halfway human again and manage to stay upright sitting at the kitchen table as Vortex Yulia fusses over me.  I feel like I’m coming through the fever part of this sickness.  The dazed confusion and disconnected imagery of the past few hours has been replaced by a general washed out feeling.  The pasta is exactly what my body is craving and I eat a plate and a half of it before the lethargy takes me over again.  As I’m refilling the water bottle and shambling back to bed I realise I haven’t needed to go to the toilet after drinking around three litres of water in the last few hours.  I try anyway and am rewarded with a slow, very dark yellow stream.  I figure it means I need more water and finish another bottle before collapsing for the night.

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